Saturday, November 06, 2004

PEEL UPDATES: Some new material in the Peel uberpost, including The Times speculation on replacements and the lovers and haters of home truths. Read the whole thing here.

TERRORVISION RETURNS: As far as we can tell, there's no official word that Terrorivision are getting back together for a UK jaunt next year, but the Birmingham Academy is listing a date for the 13th April next year. The Academy reckons tickets will be on sale from 12th November, so we presume there's going to be a formal announcement this week.

[Thanks for the tip to Ginsoakedboy]

GET YOUR HANDS ON MY NEW WOMAN: Can you imagine what it would sound like if The Darkness had recorded Get Your Hands Off My Woman with Roy Thomas Baker, the chap who produced Bohemian Rhapsody, sat behind the mixing desk? We bet you can't, and if you say you can, you're lying.

The good news is, though, that rather than having to screw up your face in a fit of concentration trying to imagine such a union, you can instead get your dirty little harddrives whirring to just such a collaboration, as from Monday, for a month, that's what's going to be available on for ninety-nine pence. (It's in Windows Media 9, but nothing's perfect). If you download the track in the first seven days, you get entered in a draw for free tickets to a London warm-up for the forthcoming tour. It's a song, it's a unique collaboration, it's a lottery. Surely only a chocolate carapace shy of a Kinder egg?

NO WAITING: The judge in the Michael jackson case is refusing to have any fillibustering - Jackson's trial will start on january 31st, and that's final.

Incidently, we were a bit disappointed that in the editing of this week's Have I Got News For You, Mark Steel was able to start a joke about jackson but the actual punchline didn't get shown. Not, we presume, because of legal worries - Paul Merton was able to get away with "He's a paedophile, did you know?" as a joke after chiding Steel for apparently pre-judging the outcome of next year's court hearings. It looks like the joke ended up dumped to make the show fit. Any ideas what Steel's ending was?

OASIS DON'T SELL OUT SCOTLAND: Sure, the Oasis dates at Manchester and Milton Keynes sold out in about five minutes this morning, but tickets for the Gallaghers in Glasgow proved less attractive, demonstrating once again the superior musical tastes north of the border.

Anyway, acting as if shocked by the sudden demand, teamOasis have added extra dates in England. If you stopped loving music ten years ago, you'll be keen to know that the "tour" looks like this:

Glasgow Hampden Park (June 29)
Manchester City Of Manchester Stadium (July 2 – SOLD OUT, July 3 – ON SALE)
Milton Keynes Bowl (July 9 – SOLD OUT, July 10 – ON SALE)

MTV EMAS? CASH IN THE BAG: As Rome prepares to take its turn as a host for the MTV Europe Awards, there's still a lot of arguing going on about last year's event in Edinburgh, which saw three quarters of a million in public money being pumped in to attract the event to the Scottish capital. The debate doesn't even seem to have touched on the question of why the British taxpayer is underwriting a promotional event for the incredibly cash-rich Viacom media empire - is that fine for Janet Jackson's nipples hurting them so much they can't afford a statge and some lights? - but on if tempting the EMAs ot Scotland represented good value.

Oddly enough, Philip Riddle, of VisitScotland, reckons it was a brilliant idea:

"MTV was really important in changing people’s perception of Scotland and introducing us to a younger market. On the back of this, we are marketing various action sports through our various websites. Through MTV we have been able to say Scotland is a funky place and can be great fun."

Rrright... we're not sure quite why Visit Scotland would have felt unable to run adverts for watersports on "various websites" had the MTV awards not been in Edinburgh the year before - and we're also not totally clear on why people would associate a music event in a metropolitan district with the many attractions for surfers and rock-climbers. Do people planning trips for extreme sports choose their destinations not on the basis of where the snowboard runs are most challenging, but on if Christina Aguilera was once seventy or eighty miles away from them?

John Lennon has an opinion, too. Not that John Lennon, apparently "Scotland's foremost tourism expert" share the same name:

Professor John Lennon, of Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland’s foremost tourism expert, said the MTV awards were a "triumph in giving Edinburgh a global reach to the 16- to 25 year-olds that is virtually impossible using traditional media".

Yes, but does that actually make it money well spent? (And since when did a TV programme not be traditional media?) After all, we'd more or less forgotten that the EMAs were in Edinburgh last year; the venue for the fourth-most important music awards show of the year isn't the sort of thing that sticks in people's minds.

Bruce Macdonald, of SQW, said that in addition to the extra income generated at the time of the event, worldwide TV coverage was worth an estimated £8.6 million in advertising. Global print coverage, with 928 newspapers writing about the event, led to a readership of more than 500 million, worth about £4.8 million.

This is a consultant speaking, of course. And these are meaningless figures, because even if they're accurate - and they're little more than supposition - nobody who was planning to spend thirteen million quid on advertising would spend it all in one big lump, aimed at a very, very thin sliver of the demographic, and one - at that - which isn't really that big a spender. Face it, Edinburgh, the people who watch MTV in America aren't the ones who choose where the family is going on holiday next year. Even if you don't want to accept that the people who read about the EMAs, watch the EMAs and log-on for information about the EMAs are the same people, and so it's a complete over-advertising blitz, the "worldwide" effect is going to be negligible. And if you were an advertising director who spent thirteen million quid and it resulted in flogging a few extra weekend breaks to people with boogieboards, you'd be lucky to find a new job writing small ads for a classified freesheet.

The MTV EMAs did a good job - for a low spend, they generated an extra eight million in spending around the event. But trying to claim that last year's pop video prize ceremony is going to offer rewards "for years to come" is to stretch credibility tighter than Kylie's forehead.

PUNKGOTHOBIT: Sadly, the news that Rob Heaton of New Model Army has died has now been confirmed. Heaton was part of the original NMA line-up, alongside Slade the Leveller (nowadays tending to answer the more manageable Justin Sullivan) and Stuart Morrow. His drumbeat was a crucial part of the mix, adding the slight military drive to a band and making the "army" part more than a cutesy name. Although they and their dedicated army of fans spoke up for the underdogs of society, the band had quickly signed up a deal with a major label - although, fittingly for a band often lyrically at odds with American expansionism, they did at least choose to keep it at home by picking EMI. Unusually for such an aggressively lo-tech act, they managed to turn their taut fanbase into a solid, if indistiguished chart career - probably best known through the 1985 hit No Rest and 1993 Here Comes The War. Heaton co-wrote much of the Model Army catalogue prior to his departure in 1998, following a brain tumor.

Latterly working as live promoter and writing film music, the 43 year-old died on Thursday from pancreatic cancer. He's survived by his wife Robyn and son Marlon.

Friday, November 05, 2004

MORE BAD NEWS: We've heard - although not yet seen any official confirmation - that Rob Heaton of New Model Army has died. He's reported to have collapsed while doing some audio engineering work.

IF YOU'RE SO HARD AT WORK, WHY ARE YOU DICKING ABOUT ON A COMPUTER?: Clearly, having hoovered the studio, sorted out the tape cupboard and eaten half a packet of Asda Puffin Bars, Sophie Ellis-Bextor was still trying to find ways to put off having to record more stuff for her album. So she hit on wasting time on the internet, posting to her own official website:

i am so proud of having such an active site. it is really lovely for me to see you all getting so excited about album 3 - as am i.
i can't really be sure as to the sound of this album as the producer element is the last thing chosen but i can say i am about half way through writing and i am genuinely happy with what i'm up to. this album has got to be fabulous so i'm really trying to be patient and do the best stuff ever. i hope you'll think it's worth the wait! in general the songs are a mix of the last two albums plus something new influenced by what else is in my life and what i've been listening to. sorry to be so vague but it's always tricky to articulate sound. anyhow, not too long before you'll be able to judge for yourself... next year for sure.

"It's tricky to articulate sound" could be a caveat for any music writer, we guess, so we won't be too hard on her for that. But she's fallen way behind schedule with this one, it looks like - the tours page on her website promises there'll be an announcement of 2004 tour dates soon, and with a year having passed since the last album, we're betting they'd have hoped to have had something for the Christmas market. Not that she's not got a good reason what with babies and sick babies and everything…

EXPECT YOUR STOCKINGS TO BE SMELLING OF BRITNEY THIS CHRISTMAS: She might not shift records quite as surely as she used to, but she knows how to do a big stink: Curious by Britney Spears is the number pong all over America:

E. Scott Beattie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elizabeth Arden, Inc., commented, " The Britney Spears' Curious fragrance was launched in U.S. department stores in September and has exceeded both retailer and industry expectations. It is currently the number one ranked fragrance in U.S. department stores, and while it is early, we anticipate this fragrance will continue to perform well for the remainder of the year."

Jessica Simpson's fragrance - believed to smell of Chicken of the Sea - is currently under development.

YOU'RE TELLING US THAT ALL THAT STOOD BETWEEN BUSH AND RETIREMENT WAS A STOUT BRA?: Actually, we think that Janet Jackson is rather over-estimating the power of her breasts - fine though they are. She worries that had she kept her tits in her blouse at the Superbowl, the nation would have spotted the Iraq war going on and voted Bush out of office. It would be tempting to believe that, Jan, but frankly: a nation that can't think about breasts and the illegal invasion of a sovereign state against the will of the United Nations, costing 1000 servicemen and 100,000 civilians lives at the same time would have been just as distracted by something else.

DON'T PUT TOO MUCH EFFORT IN, FRED: Apparently Limp Bizkit have just gone back into the studio to record the next album, which they're expecting it to be all over by Christmas. Working on the basis of how much effort they seem to put in to the last one, the question is surely why they won't have completed work by Thanksgiving. Fred has stuff to say:

I've been gone for a long time. I don't regret anything that's happened over the past three years. It couldn't have happened any other way. I had some time to explore some other things, and after searching I came to the conclusion that this band was not an accident. There is a chemistry here that I haven't found anywhere else. There's an intention and an electricity that exists which is bigger than the individual members, despite their differences.

Fred, when you say you've been gone three years, do you mean you've been pottering about in the back of the wardrobe? Because out here, the last three years seems to have been full of you - losing Wes, somehow getting confused into thinking that you went to see that kid in hospital, somehow getting confused into thinking you were dating Britney Spears, inviting people onto stage…

Still, good luck with the new album. If you do a double shift tonight, you can probably have it all finished off by Veteran's Day.

STIPE ACCEPTS HE'S LOST TO THE GAMEBOY: Mulling on the falling levels of REM album sales, Michael Stipe shrugs and asks 'what can you do if people prefer X-Box DVD?":

"In the States the mediums through which music are available have become much more tunnel-visioned than before," he said. "So what you get is music that's made specifically to be on the radio. Alongside that, with the advent of computers and the Internet, people have a lot of other things to occupy their time with, other than music. So music in general has taken a little bit of a dip because people are creating DVD libraries - I am, I know that - rather than buying music, and playing Sega games and doing other things. You know there are 500 channels to watch on television instead of 25, so music has taken a little bit of a back seat to other forms of media that have taken over. I don't take it personally."

More Knickers From Kylie

According to Hello (which, we guess, just copies these things straight from press release), the new Kylie pant range has, indeed, been designed and "overseen" by Ms Minogue. Kylie is rather proud of her new clothes:

"LK Legs are for all women, whether it's the sexy secretary or screen icon look you're adopting," observed the singer.

Sexy secretary and screen icons. Yes, we've thought for several minutes and can't think of any other look a woman might want to adopt. Some designers might try and straitjacket people into one type of role, but Kylie gives a choice. Viva Kylie.

"I ate McDonald's every day when we were recording." - Beyonce Knowles, talking about McDonalds, after signing a big contract for tour sponsorship

Beyonce Knowles has revealed the extraordinary lengths she goes to in order to maintain her figure. The Destiny’s Child star sits down to a lunch of six slices of tomato and four slices of cucumber – and nothing else. “I have to,” she admitted. “Photos make you fatter, television adds pounds, and discipline is very important in this profession. “I am not naturally skinny. I am a real woman, I’ve got curves,” she told Bang magazine. “I am a natural fat person, just dying to get out. I go through agonies to keep my stomach as flat as possible – though it is never flat enough for me,” she has said - Beyonce on her diet choices before signing a massive McDonalds sponsorship

Thursday, November 04, 2004

PEEL FUNERAL PLANS: There's going to be a public funeral for John Peel next Friday. It will be at the splendidly named St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds; and will be followed by a private service for family and friends.

MACCA KEEPS QUIET FOR CHARITY: Well, they've found a way to stop people saying "Band Aid 3? When was Band Aid 2?" - they've simply changed the name to Band Aid 20. Which makes it on a par with the Halloween Sequel, which was also called 20 to distance itself from subsequent, substandard revisitings of the original. Adding to the line up is Paul McCartney; but relax, kids, he's just playing bass. Kate Moss has also offered Midge Ure her services - which is nice; he's probably the only person in pop who hasn't already been offered them. Actually, it turns out she wants to sing backing vocals.

SO... THEY'VE SOLVED THAT WHOLE PROBLEM, MADDY?: She keeps some strange friends these days, doesn't she? Now, Madonna's doing a spot of work for Ariel Sharon, appearing in an advert to promote Israel as a really safe spot to go for your holiday.

MANILOW COPIES WELLER: The conkfather has aped the modfather: Barry has got throat problems and axed three dates as a result.

DARKNESS: YOU NEED HANDS? WE GOT HANDS: Still sniffing and dismissing most of the details of Justin Hawkin's hand injury, The Darkness are plotting a warm-up before their huge tour, with a small date at the Nottingham Academy on November 23rd. Tickets on sale from tomorrow.

And the hand? Talk to the hand, say the band:

"Don’t be alarmed by the rumours that Justin Hawkins may not be able to play guitar on The Darkness upcoming UK tour. We can confirm reports this weekend that The Darkness frontman and guitarist, Justin Hawkins, has sustained a slight injury to his right hand, but will be fine to wield his 'axe' before kicking off their Winter Tour starting this month. There was no altercation as was alleged in certain sections of the press.

"This injury poses no threat to either the arena tour or his participation in the forthcoming Band Aid III single. Justin is able to play his guitar with his usual flair. Speaking from tour rehearsals, Justin said that he had accidentally cut his hand but that "everything is fine" and the tour is in "absolutely no danger" of being cancelled."

SIZZLA SCARPERS: With continuing protests against his homophobic hatred, the entire Sizzla UK tour has been dumped. OutRage are, as you'd expect, quite pleased with themselves.

ROCK SICK LIST: Latest tour to be pulled (or, rather, re-arranged) is the Paul Weller romp across the UK. Perhaps as a result of running around with no shirt on, he's gotten a throat infection, and re-ordered his dates so the ones which were meant to start the tour off will now finish it - he's playing Keighley and Glasgow exactly a month after they'd originally been booked for. All other dates are as they were. Providing the Strepsils work.

BONY'S EMPIRE TO BE CHALLENGED: The enormous, lumbering beast of Sony-BMG may yet find its destiny is as two companies, with the news that Impala, the European indies organisation, is planning to challenge their merger. The Impala board has pledged to fund a legal challenge against the European Commission's approval for the merger; and is making a pitch that this is about something more important than merely who gets to swoosh jewel cases about the continent:

"This is about protecting European, as well as worldwide, cultural diversity and self-determination in a world where globalization means Hollywood,'' Impala President Michel Lambot said.

"The news coming in today from the U.S. elections affirms our decision that we need to make a stance against U.S. domination of our cultural, political and economic interests,'' he added.

HERE, AGAIN, MY DEAR: We'd been wondering who would be daft enough to fall for those Rolex spams which seem to be overtaking viagra as the wonky goods of choice for offer from tiresome cons with overfilled BCC headers.

Britney Spears has bought Kevin Federline an expensive Rolex. We don't know about the generic viagra.

Kevin is reported to be thrilled by the gift:

Kevin is said to love it so much the he sleeps with it.

So, that's an expensive, flashy little trinket he sleeps with. And she's just given him a watch, as well.

POPBITCH TWANG: We hate to side with Marty Pellow over the Popbitch mailout, but... you know, we have to be fair:

* During a free show at Edinburgh's HMV this week, Marti Pellow forgot the words to Love Is All Around (Something the rest of us wish we could do too).

... but it was a joke. He was pretending he didn't know what the words were, and even mugged up reading them off a big sheet of paper.

And, as ever, we can't metnion Wet Wet Wet without adding the astonishing fact that they were the last band to appear on Whistle Test.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

In today's Guardian, Alexi Petridis reports on the UK's first-ever mobile gig or something - a stunt by the people at 3, still half-heartedly trying to bark up the extra features of their video handsets despite pretty much having given up on the multimedia elements of their offering in the commercials. He reported the gig - by Rooster, which shows how little 3 were spending on this - sounded like you'd imagine if someone sang down the telephone.

In the same paper, a name from the past - unless it's a different Tommy Udo contributing a letter about how his grandfather used coca-cola to loosen tight rivets, it's a return to the public prints for a former NME man.

Talking of returns, NME carries an article by David Quantick, although it's part of the Peel Memorial and from 1989. Steve Lamacq also returns, for the same reason. The paper has done the man who once dressed up as Jesus for their Christmas issue well - the list of people shuffling through to pay tribute is astounding: they even get a quote from Noel Gallagher, a man whose music we're sure never even made contact with the rag-tag end of a Peel playlist ("he will be sadly missed" was Noel's opinion, which shows why he can't afford to let Liam take on singing duties - not with an ear for a unique phrase like that).

Lamacq says when Radio One axed the Evening Session, he sought out John's advice: 'He said "look at me, I've done virtually every slot on the network, in terms of evenings, afternoons and weekends, and now I've ended up right back where I started."'

Jarvis Cocker says that the news of Peel's death made him feel "abstract... I guess you always expected him to be there because he seemed quite old even when I was a teenager"; Fergal Sharkey pops up again to remember Teenage Kicks.

It's slightly disappointing that the most crackling edition of the paper in ages - prossibly since the Quantick eats camembert with Peel article first ran on his 50th birthday - needed a death to drive it, but it just reflects again the extraordinary influence of, and affection for, Peel.

Elsewhere, there's a sense of an above-the-game issue: possibly because there's been no need for filler. Eminem's foray into politics with the Bush-baiting Mosh - fat lot of good you did, fella; Handsome Boy Modeling School passes judgement on Damon Albarn: "He crosses the fine line between rugged handsomeness and grungy handsomeness. But hey, he still smells good." And there's Le Tigre (although slightly disappointing to think that modern readers of the NME incorporating the Melody Maker need to have what "riot grrl" was explained to them).

devendra banhart - shepherds bush empire - "even pulls off a 20 minute reggae jam"
ian brown - brixton carling academy - "best gig ever"
scissor sisters - swindon oasis leisure centre - Rich Pelley does indeed take his mama: "it's a bit like being at aerobics"

britney spears - my perogative - "confused, jaded and bored", 6
john lennon - acoustic - "interesting, if unnecessary", 8
jukes - a thousand dreamers - "You can practically hear pages of The Guardian turning", 2
xavier - xxx - "hooking lazily around Italian house chords and 70s basslines", 7
totw - eminem - mosh - "still an immensely powerful piece of music"
the used - take it away - "better than anything else on this putrid turd of an album"
gwen stefani - what you waiting for? - "makes you feel sick all the way through"
bright eyes - lua - "the finest wet boy we've got"
u2 - vertigo - "four blokes in a small room making a killer racket"

on the back page there's an ad for Vertigo, funnily enough, and everything about it makes me want to rip up the paper, were it not for it being the Peel Special and so needing to keep it in a box wrapped in tissue paper. But the advert... it's made to look all fly-poster, cheap printed, scuzzy, even although you know it's probably had more design cash poured into than the rest of the magazine, and probably every pair of trousers I've ever owned. And there's a "buy all three formats for six quid" offer in there, too - surely the closest you can get to actually rigging the charts without actually offering a free fiver in each "maxi CD" (what the hell is a maxi CD anyway?). The whole thing stinks of desperation - desperation to seem cool, to seem relevant, to be popular. The funny thing is, if they weren't trying this hard, they might actually be cool and relevant and even more popular.

Finally: A better ad. A full page, just a picture of Peel, what the Coporation call "the BBC blocks" and the lines he wanted for his gravestone: "teenage dream's so hard to beat." Of course, the Tories would probably insist it was a terrible waste of licence fee payer's money. Which is why they get the offers from Busted instead.

SIZZLA EXTINGUISHED: The Aston Villa Leisure Centre is keeping tight lipped on why the planned Sizzla date on Friday has been axed, but the smart money is on it being somehow connected with a police investigation into his gay hate lyrics. His dates in Bradford and London contractually oblige him not to be sexist, homophobic or racist, although offering a stage to a man who has called for murder of gay men in a city where police are still investigating Saturday's murder of a man walking home from a gay bar might seem to be incredibly insensitive.

SOME GOOD NEWS TO LIGHTEN A DARK DAY: Roddy Doyle has ruled out a sequel to The Commitments. He fears that to resurrect the band he created in the book which went on to be a movie might run the risk of being "sentimental." Yes, we know that Doyle's works are 96% sentiment, but let's not quibble with the man; we'd only wind up arguing him into writing a Commitments II out of spite.

THE CARTER FAMILY: The upcoming Jackson trial may turn out to be more star-studded than a party after the Oscars: Aaron Carter, Macaulay Culkin and others are being lined up to describe exactly what their friendship with Jacko involved. Prosecution lawyers are said to be especially interested in what prompted Jackson to give Carter a bright turquoise car.

Hmm... we wonder. We wonder.

I, ELTON, TAKE MYPARTNERDAVIDFURNISH TO BE MY PARTNER...: Same sex weddings took a bit of a bashing last night at the election push-buttons in the US: all 11 states asked shuddered and said "let's just keep it between a man and a woman, like in that Bible book. If men married, just imagine how hairy the babies would be." And just when the idea of love conquering all was at its lowest ebb, Elton John announced plans to marry his partner, mypartnerdavidfurnish.

Actually, it's quite sweet when you think about it. In other Elton news, he's apparently lining up plans to play Vicarage Road on June 18th, in a bid to help Watford take back control of their stadium. He last played the footy ground thirty years ago.

NOT THAT CURIOUS: Poor Australians - not only have they still got John Howard to contend with, Britney couldn't be arsed to fly out to promote her own perfume. Instead, Britney's Curious was launched by a song from Sophie Monk. It's like going to Loyd Grossman's Sauces launch and getting Andrew O'Connor instead.

THAT'S "IF" IN THE SAME WAY AS IN "IF THE SEA WAS SALTY": Robbie Williams has been twittering away to Richard Desmond's Attitude magazine about what a crazy world it would be if he was gay, because, obviously, he's not, just imagine. The very idea! He's been out with Geri Halliwell, and she's a lady, so it would be ridiculous, right, but if he was gay, and let's try and stretch our minds to picture it as if Robbie, who loves ladies, was gay - crazy, I know, but let's just go with it, even though it's, like, totally mad, good god, think of it, but suppose rather than having sex with women like he does, all the time, he found men attractive in a sexual way, Robbie says he'd quite like to do Lee Ryan. But he doesn't really fancy him, of course:

"They've all got their appeal. But if I put my gay man shoes on for a minute, Lee is your archetypal gay's bloke. He's like one of those adverts you get at the back of magazines, the ones with the guys in soccer strips you can phone up and listen to them having a wank apparently. Well Lee's one of them. He is totally a gay phoneline ad."

You see that "apparently"? It's totally clear that Robbie has never called any of these numbers to listen to blond, big-cocked guys stroking their massive shafts firmly from base to tip until they pump jets of hot, salty cum over their chests and thighs. But if he had, he'd expect it to be someone like Lee Ryan at the other end. Doing that. With all the stickiness over their naked bodies.

WE SEE NOTHING UNUSUAL IN THIS: Actually, there's only one thing slightly unusual in Meat Loaf's announcement that he has two bears who have their own personality, and that's that one of them is called Mani (the other, if you're wondering, is Marietta rather than Reni).

YOU'D HAVE TO SAY: THAT'S A BETTER PACKAGE: If we were R Kelly, we'd be a little worried at the evidence that the tide of popular support seems to no longer be with him. Jay-Z has picked up the pace on the tour they were sharing, replacing Kelly with P Diddy. And Mary J Blige. Also Snoop Dogg, Pharell Williams, Slick Rick and Professor Griff. And Foxy Brown, Kayne West, Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes. The re-badged 'Jay-Z and Friends' jaunt now looks about six thousand times more appealing than ever it did when Kelly was stinking up the place. Not that we'd condone the use of pepper spray to get an improved bill on a tour. That would be wrong.

NO GUTS FOR A SHOW: Fans hoping to catch one of the remaining twelve dates for LL Cool J's US tour will be disappointed as "an abdominal ailment" has lead to Ladies Love deciding to spend time in bed instead. He statemented:

"I am extremely disappointed to have to cancel the rest of this fun and successful tour. I apologize for disappointing my fans who have already bought tickets."

BUT SHE'S LESS SCARY THAN HER HUSBAND, SURELY?: Seems the number one choice for Las Vegas Halloween parties was to go as Britney Spears.

NEVER DID KIM CARNES ANY HARM: Jessica Simpson has knocked back an approach to be the face of 7-Up because she's "holding out for Pepsi or Coke." We're just afraid she's burned her boats now, and will be begging Ben Shaws for the Suncharm contract by next summer.

MAN, BONO KNOWS HOW TO PLUG: Not that there's anything wrong or new in a band hooking up a TV programme to promote its new album, but the extent of the linkage between U2 and CSI to plug How to Dismantle An Atom Bomb is impressive. Bono and his boys really are a well-oiled promomachine, aren't they?

AMERICANBANDOBIT: Terry Knight, manager of Grand Funk Railroad, has been murdered. During a row with his daughter's boyfriend, Donald Fair - all three shared a house - Knight was stabbed several times.

Knight - who was also know as Richard Knight and, sometimes, Richard Knapp - helped create Grand Funk Railroad in the sixties and steered their career for the best part of a decade. Knapp had founded the group on a lie - the Flint dj told a band called The Jazz Masters that he was personal friends with Jagger and Richards; they invited him to become their lead singer on the strength of this. In 1968, the Masters reformulated, and Knight elected to remain as manager rather than singer. It was at this point the band chose their new name, which they pinched and adpated (unsurprisingly) from a railway line. It was Knight's shrewd skills as a manger which helped the band gain national fame: he invested USD100,000 on a billboard ad in Times Square for their Closer To Home album; the gamble paid off and gave the band their first Top Ten record. In 1971 the band sold out Shea Stadium, something previously only done by The Beatles.

Things took a sour turn shortly afterwards, when the band replaced Knight with Andy Cavaliere. Cavaliere was a short-term incumbent, himself being replaced by John Eastman, the father-in-law of Paul McCartney. Many years of legal wrangling between the Railroad and Knight ensued; eventually Knight received a huge cash settlement.

GLASTO 2005: It doesn't seem like thirty seconds since we were splicing together pictures from the BBC Glastonbury webcam for Glastonbury 2004, and yet we're already getting confirmation of bands for 2005. Outkast appear to have accepted an offer to appear on the mian stage; Razorlight have been approached but not decided; the first headliners on the newly renamed John Peel Stage will probably be the Undertones. Of course, at the moment, the whole thing's a bit Ohio as no licence has been granted.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

STILL THERE WAS A WAY/ TO HEAR HIS VOICE AGAIN: There's still a chance to hear John Peel: the BBC World Service has confirmed that it intends to broadcast the programmes he'd recorded to fill his regular Friday slot (first airings 9.30 am GMT); the Ravenscroft family have requested that the shows get played.

EGG TIMER EMPTIES FOR LIBS?: It's looking like it could be all over for The Libertines - Carl Barat has told the NME he and the band have no plans to do anything after the end of the year. Besides the running problems of former Lib Pete Doherty and his drug circus, Barat apparently needs some sort of operation and whatever it is will put him out of action "maybe for some months." So that's probably that, then.

THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO STRIP: Selling into the Christmas market comes a live Christian Aguilera Stripped DVD - perfect for the person who values jiggling buttocks over a decent singing voice. There's going to be special features, of course - not, sadly, fully dressed versions of the videos, but this stuff:

[Whoops... stuck the original address instead of the local version there last night...]

PRIZES FOR EVERYONE: Do you know what the highest non-military honour is in Canada? Apparently it's the Order of Canada, and it's just been awarded to Joni Mitchell. The prize is in recognition of her forty years of engaging and inspiring people with her music, at least according to Canadian Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. Wonder if the twenty year-old Mitchell would have been happy at picking up a gong...

CONFUSED OLD MAN ENTERS TALKS WITH GRANADA: As if the ongoing spiral of Pop Idol, X Factors and Fame Academy isn't dispiriting enough, cackling loon Malcolm McLaren is planning to launch a show dedicated to finding - wait for it - the worst artists from a pile of wannabes. Erm... hasn't that already been done?

ROD THE SOD?: Wading into court as he surfaces again at the top of the US charts, Rod Stewart is being sued for return of three quarters of a million bucks. Oklahoma based promoter Howard Pollack had given Rod the cash towards a nine-date South American tour; he was late with the next tranche of cash so Rod axed the dates. Pollack wants the advance back; Stewart is counter suing for the rest of the promised two million dollar fee.

GOT TO BEAT GETTING A PARKING DISPUTE: Nobody much likes jury service, but we'd imagine the people called in to hear the case where Severina Vuckovic is suing might feel a bit happier about their lot: Vuckovic wants to be able to show the court a sex video of her fucking a bloke in order to prove the website violated her copyright. Or possibly just to get them onside. The website don't want the whole court to watch, but asked that a court-appointed sex expert see the video to determine if Vuckovic had "demonstrated anything not previously seen in the porn industry", which could qualify for copyright, [news agency] Hina said. "I do not think she has shown any new sexual art."

IF YOU HAVE A VOTE, AND HAVEN'T USED IT YET: Use it, already. Shirley Manson was out at the weekend campaigning against Bush.

HERE, MY DEAR: In a touching little display of the value of true love, Britney has apparently given her dancing monkey husband all the cash from the sale of their wedding photos, on the grounds that she wouldn't have had the cash if she hadn't married him. Well... that's not totally true, Britney... people would have paid for pictures of you marrying anybody. On the other hand, Federline's wedding probably wouldn't have raised a cent if he hadn't been marrying you. Which would mean that, really, he should hand the wedding cash straight back.

Still, probably makes sense to let him have it now. It'll make things a lot smoother in a few months.

WILL WORK FOR MILLIONS: We'd suggest Donatella Versace might think twice before agreeing to Madonna's demands - Maddy wants twelve million to advertise Versace. Surely now that Madonna's appeared in Gap ads, she would be a slightly unlikely choice to front up a proper fashion house campaign? Surely she's proved that she's just very, very High Street?

SWEET CHILD OF MIME*: Probably taking the sheen off the news that Oasis are touring next year is the slightly more glittery announcement of dates in UK and Ireland for Destiny's Child. You can see them, and, yes, even throw your underwear at them, at Earls Court (June 2nd), Birmingham NIA (5th), Manchester MEN arena (6th) and Lansdowne Road, Dublin (9th).

* - although they might actually sing live

FLOGGING PHONES NEVER DID WYCLEF JEAN ANY HARM: This week's edition of the Orangey Telephone Programme features Amanda Holden, the not-as-good-one out of the Les Dennis - Amanda Holden marriage thingy that was in all the papers.

This week, Lauren isn't even acknowledging that she's there, and while Holden appears to be holding a "gun", Laverne seems to be praying. Probably for a BBC Three series.

And the interview? Holden titters that she "wouldn't say no to Kylie". Which is great. If we had any influence, we'd send Kylie, a massive strap on and a small jar of vaseline round to Amanda's house to see if she's telling the truth or merely trying to bi-up her profile a little.

THE REPUBLICANS REALLY ARE FEELING THE HEAT: As if sending Dick Cheney all the way out to the Hawaiian islands to try and shore up the vote there wasn't indication enough that the GOP are feeling twitchy about the outcome of the election today, they're also having a mini-rant at Rock The Vote.

Their beef is that MTV/RTV campaign isn't as impartial as it suggests, and - horror of horrors - it's secretly trying to get the Democrats into power. (This, of course, all flows from the laughable idea that Viacom is a company full of liberals, or possibly even socialists, and MTV - the biggest single exporter of the American Dream worldwide, with its Cribs and Bling and Real Worlds - is somehow communist). Searching around for "evidence", they found the mock draft card email and the PSAs about a possible draft. What more proof could there be, suggest the Republicans, that RTV is biased?

Of course, it's an interesting and tacit acceptance by the Republicans that the Iraqi and Afgahn campaigns are actually unpopualr - for if everyone was thrilled with what Bush is doing in their name overseas, wouldn't a draft be a positive thing? Give everyone a chance to put their lives on hold and go and support their government, actually doing something actively for the War on Terror? Indeed, couldn't the democrats argue that RTV - by implying that good ole' Donny Rumsfeld is going to offer everyone this latter-day Golden Ticket to the front line?

HE'S HIS OWN SPECIAL ENVOY: There's trouble and violence in Haiti at the moment; seventy-nine at least have been killed since protestors supporting deposed President Aristide marked the anniversary of his leaving by calling for his return to power. Into this mess has walked Wyclef Jean, from the mobile phone adverts, believing that he can help restore peace and calm to the island, while at the same time promoting the virtues of the two pence text to any network. To give him his due, he made straight to the Bel Air neighbourhood, at the heart of the problems, and he plans to talk to people from all sides. Easy for him to do, of course, as his network gives him a bundle of unlimited anytime minutes and cheap landline access.

PRIZE FOR NOT GIVING UP: Peter Gabriel, who used to run about with a lawnmower on his head, has been given a prize honoring him for not dying and stopping the whole dressing-up-as-a-flower business. The Music Industry Trusts' Award was presented to him by Richard Branson at a ceremony in the Grosvenor House Hotel attended by Michael Stipe, Bono, Martin Scorses and... well, you get the picture. Apparently someone wins the award every year for their "outstanding" contribution to the British Music Industry.

Those of you with weak constitutions may wish to skip the next paragraph.

Michael Stipe's message of congratualation was: "I'm proud to be on the Earth at the same time as you are. If anyone deserves this award, it's you."

TOO DAMN NEAR OUR HOUSE: Oh, what have we done to deserve this? Oasis are going to come to Milton Keynes, trailing their fans after them like a raggle-taggle bunch of thirtysomethings. It's part of what the band laughingly refer to as a "tour" - Hampden Park (June29), Mancheter City's ground (July 2nd) and MK Bowl (July 9th). They're asking GBP32.50, which seems to be a bit of cheek considering how rubbish they were at Glastonbury, when even the perpetually upbeat Michael Eavis said he was disappointed. Anyway, we imagine they'll find enough people happy to shell out the cash.

BABYSHAMBLES ANNOUNCE FUTURE CANCELLATIONS: As it's looking less and less likely that The Libertines want Pete Doherty back, he's making the best of things with a fairly big Babyshambles tour. Dates would be, then:

Belfast Limelight (December 11)
Dublin Village (12)
London Forum (13)
Glasgow Barrowlands (14)
Blackpool Empress Ballroom (15)

IT'S WHAT PEEL WOULD HAVE WANTED: As a small thanks for "saving Radio One from chart hell", Snow Patrol are offering a free download of Teenage Kicks. Their cover version, rather than the original, or Busted's version. Or Dawn Chorus (Liz Kerhsaw and Carol Vorderman), come to that.

DIDN'T WE CHASE YOU LOT OUT OF HERE?: Sure, a reunion warms the heart like a child's smile, but surely there should be some sort of gap between split and reunion? Otherwise just coming into work every day would be a reunion, wouldn't it? Nevertheless, Atomic Kitten are planning to reunite for a Christmas single, resurrecting Candle from the debut album in a bid for that all-important number two position. The idea is to try and help their "solo careers" before everyone forgets who they are. Oh, you have already, have you? Never mind.

BRANDY SNAPS: Following on from a not-notably-well-received album Afrodisiac, Brandy and Atlantic Records have gone their separate ways. Perhaps most ominous for Brandy and her future career, Atlantic made no special effort to keep her on board. Still, there's always the sitcom for Fox next year. How can that possibly fail?

IT'S SPITE, I TELL YOU: R Kelly has made good on his promise to sue Jay-Z over the joint tour that fell apart. Now, you might have thought that Jay-Z had kicked Kelly off the tour after the business with the pepper spray. Kelly's version is that he was forced to quit the show because of the pepper spraying, and reckons that Jay-Z was motivated by jealousy that profit was splitting 60-40 in Kelly's favour. (In itself incredible - who besides Kelly would have thought he was the bigger draw?). Kelly's lawyer says that the tour, meant to be the perfect marriage between hip-hop and R&B is now set to be a terrible divorce. It's sure going to be messy.

AG STICKS UP FOR DA IN FACE OF MJ: Michael Jackson's efforts to have Tom Sneddon removed from the child molestation case (on the grounds that Sneddon, um, wants to see Jackson convicted) should be rejected, says California's attorney general. Bill Lockyear said pushes from the Jacko team to have Sneddon removed were based on "conjecture and unfounded speculation." He concluded that even if the Jackson camp had proved Sneddon had personal animosity towards Jackson, that alone wouldn't warrant his removal from the action.

HAWKINS FINE: Apparently, reports that Justin Hawkins had seriously injured his hand were way out of line - the Darkness website suggests yesterday's news of total severance of the hand, replacement with a hook and so on were wide of the mark. The injury has been downgraded from serious to a cut hand, and he's meant to be able to play the guitar just fine. The drunken brawl has also been dropped from the story - that never happened, either.

SOMEHOW, WE SUSPECT "DAY-TO-DAY RUNNING" NOT PART OF THE PORTFOLIO: It's the gift labels give to keep their big stars on board - almost literally on the board: Universal are thinking of offering Jay-Z the President's job at DefJam. Big office, happy payday, and probably someone else to do all the work. It's a pretty sweet deal.

HERE COMES FRANZ FERDINAND AGAIN: If we were American, and we'd been an enthusiastic early adopter of the band, we'd be less than tickled that our supporting of the group is being rewarded by seeing the Franz Ferdinand album get a re-release with an extra disc of stuff now the band are on Epic. The second disc will be rare and b-side stuff, which is nice for anyone who's not been buying the band's stuff to date.

POPPAGAIN: Congratulations to Steohen Stills and his wife Kristen, just re-parented with the birth of their second son. They're calling him Oliver Ragland, the Ragland coming from Neil Young's full name. (They could also have chosen 'Percival' or 'Kenneth'; or even 'Neil', which might have been popular with Oliver when he grows up, we suspect.

RIAA MEMBER ATTACKED FOR DOUBLE STANDARDS. NO, HARD TO BELIEVE, I KNOW: Big legal rumpus in the US, where an online Spanish sports magazine has filed an action against RIAA member Univision. The heart of the legal strike is that images owned by CentroDeportivo has turned up on Univsion forums. Univision's defence? That the pictures were posted by individual users, and that they can't be blamed iof people choose to use their network to breach copyright rules. Which would probably have worked, were Univision not part of an organisation which has spent much of the last decade attacking file-sharing networks and dismissing as rubbish those companies' claims that they can't be blamed if people use their network to breach copyright.

RIAA MEMBER ATTACKED FOR DOUBLE STANDARDS. NO, HARD TO BELIEVE, I KNOW: Big legal rumpus in the US, where an online Spanish sports magazine has filed an action against RIAA member Univision. The heart of the legal strike is that images owned by CentroDeportivo has turned up on Univsion forums. Univision's defence? That the pictures were posted by individual users, and that they can't be blamed iof people choose to use their network to breach copyright rules. Which would probably have worked, were Univision not part of an organisation which has spent much of the last decade attacking file-sharing networks and dismissing as rubbish those companies' claims that they can't be blamed if people use their network to breach copyright.

OXFAM GOES GOTH: We're delighted to hear that Huddersfield Oxfam is taking itself off in a Goth direction - although if we read the story right, it hasn't actually got any black PVC pants and long, floaty spider's web dresses, just hoping they'll turn up. They're making an effort, though, as their manager explains:

"At the moment we only play Radio 2, but I do plan to bring in some goth CDs for the customers to listen to. You never know; some people might decide they want to become goths as well."

WE DON'T GET POP SCANDAL LIKE THIS IN THE UK: Kim Hyun-jung, a Korean pop singer, has managed to alienate a large portion of the Korean public with the lead track from her latest album.

Who is it who feels singled out and slighted by her music? Erm... men with Type B blood. It's got so bad now that Kim has had to make a statement explaining the song Type B Men is meant to in praise of Type B blood, and - yes - some of her best friends have Type B blood. Even her Dad is type B. And so on.

ADDITIONAL SKILLS FROM KIM WILDE: So, we've got a big piece of paper we're keeping track of Kim Wilde's many roles on - so far we've got singer, gardener, expert on Fell Paths, knowledegable about the menopause. And now: she's endorsing an Awards programme - the STARs - for "unsung heroes in the learning and skills sector." Oh, and she looks good in futuristic punklite clothes.

Monday, November 01, 2004

SMASHING PUMPKINS: We were quite proud of our attempt at a cat, carved into a pumpkin last night. Then we saw these:

Yup, that's the Edge, rendered as a squash by a chap called Michael Pekala. He did a whole slew of
U2 pumpkin art. If we were demons, it'd keep us away.

GOING WITH THE HERD: I suppose the grudging thing we could allow about Band Aid III is that they're going about it with a bit more gusto than Band Aid II - it's amusing the number of people who keep asking "when was there a Band Aid 2?" They've managed to shake off the ghost of that project, which we think of as the Fresh Fields Charity Single ("it's only Sonia") and are attracting some people who don't have to do this sort of thing. Latest name signing up is Damien Hirst, who mercifully is only going to design the sleeve. We've made up a small box containing jokes about bags of grain cut in half and such like, and left it on the Sun's doorstep, for them to pick through for tomorrow's edition.

THIS SOUNDS LIKE THEY'RE WAITING FOR SOME 'OH, GO ON' FROM THE CROWDS: Just like Elton refusing to release Candle In The Wind until public sentiment "forced" him to change his mind, The Undertones don't think it would be appropriate to release Teenage Kicks. We think we should call their bluff, and go with Bis' We Love John Peel as the memorial single instead.

CONFUSION IS NEXT: ... and we thought the point of the legal swoops were to stamp a serious message that non-authorised filesharing is wrong, yeah? As if the discussions between record companies and eDonkey weren't then puzzling enough, Sony BMG has signed a deal with Grokster. What will happen under the Mashboxx initiative is that surfers who attempt to download Sony BMG music through the peer-to-peer network will be able to find the music, but have to pay for it through a legit server. Now, we could be wrong here, but isn't that going to offer legitmacy to the network? Can you argue that people will be able to say definitively that they know they were outside of the law if, sometimes when they try to download copyrighted material, they're alerted to the fact and asked to make a payment? And if people do pay up when prompted, would the RIAA be able to argue in court that they were knowingly breaking the rules when they didn't pay?

And, far more significantly: the big labels insist these services are ruining music. And yet they're doing deals with them, deals that can only stack up on the basis that these networks have lots of people visiting them swapping music. Isn't it a bit hypocritical to be suing people for using something in exactly the way that you're simultaneously using to promote your business? It's like suing people for going to the Virgin Megastore.

WE BET THEY DO: The BPI is keen for the "hardcore" filesharers it's targetting to keep the RIAA happy to settle out of court - and we can understand why it might feel it better for them to hand over cash without having to make any sort of a case in front of a judge and a jury. It might be interesting for you to know - if you're thinking of changing your ISP or upgrading to Broadband any time soon - that BT Openworld, Wanadoo, Telewest and NTL have gleefully handed over their customer's private contact details to the BPI, a self-appointed trade association.

The BPI had insisted that they were going after "hardcore" file sharers, although it turns out that the "worst" offender was only allowing access to a folder with nine thousand tunes in, which makes you wonder what the BPI thinks "hardcore" means - doubtless they blush when they see Page 3 because they think it's hardcore porn; and they think the Birdie Song is hardcore dance.

THERE'S DESPERATION, AND THERE'S DESPERATION: It's funny that whenever Geri Halliwell is seen out on a young man's arm, "friends" quickly pop up to say "they seem like an odd couple, but she's convinced he's the right man." At least when it was Chris Evans or Robbie Williams, they were the right men at the time to help push a single. But, bloody hell, Geri: Darius? Are you kidding? That's not even going to sell a single to Darius, never mind the general public.

YEAH, REUNITED 'CAUSE WE UNDERSTOOD...: Also back together after "difficulties" are Wet Wet Wet, who played their first gig together in... oh, years at the weekend. They dipped their toe back into the water with a private gig at the Mar Hall Hotel, Bishopton. The invited audience said they sounded "better than ever" - although, to be honest, they're going to have to go some to improve on the years of blissfull silence they've just brought to an end.

REUNITED... AND IT FEELS SO GOOD, FROM A PR POINT OF VIEW: Single women all over Britain will be breathing a long, cold sigh of relief that Chris Evans and Billie Piper have got back together. In true fairy-story style, their marriage was sparked back into life when they met in The Groucho Club. Rumours that Chris hit on Billie, and had been at their house for two days before he sobered up enough to work out he'd pulled his own wife cannot be confirmed at this point.

TEN THOUSAND FOR THE GIG. TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY THOUSAND FOR NOT TELLING ANNIE LENNOX ABOUT IT: In what might be the most expensive gig of alltime, and certainly is the most over-paid appearance, Bill Gates paid Sting over a quarter of a million quid for an eight song set. We love that it's possible to actually determine exactly what Sting's price is now, down to the penny. We're thinking of starting an appeal to see if we can get him down to our Christmas party. He won't be asked to sing any songs, we just have plans involving a pile of day old-lard and a bunch of hungry schnauzers. Worth 273k of anyone's money, surely?

BAN THIS SICK FILTH: With the music industry apparently still convinced that legal action is the way to stop people file sharing, it looks like it's up to the legal download services to come up with a scheme to stop the practice of not paying for music online. Which makes some sort of sense, since illegal downloads barely register a blip on the record companies' bottom lines, whereas they are liable to do proportionately more damage to the legal download services.

Anyway, Wippit have taken a lesson from the evangelical far right of America, who attempt to bully TV stations out of showing programmes which will "destroy" the fabric of American life (for example, they might show Ellen Degeneres in the same frame as a woman, prompting most of Kansas to turn into lesbians) by writing to advertisers and threatening a boycott of their products. The new music world equivalent has seen Wippit writing to companies whose ads have appeared on eDonkey pages insisting they stop their support for this sort of thing.

The companies they've approached - NatWest, KLM, Renault, O2 and so on - seem to be pretty compliant with the demands of the company, even though they all feign surprise that their banners have been running in such odd company.

First Direct's comments are interesting:

"We never asked to be on that site," said a First Direct spokeswoman, "and were quite clear we don't want to be on those sorts of site because we don't think we should be supporting something that could be used for illegal behaviour."

The key word here, of course, is "could be." The last thing you need this lunchtime is us running through the long list of legitmate uses of eDonkey, or, indeed, suggesting that large chunks of the stuff slewing about the network isn't actually breaching copyright. That means, though, that First Direct are really saying they don't wish to associate themselves with something simply because it could be a means of exchange for illegal activites. We don't know if anyone's told them yet, but money - the stuff that they exist to deal with - is quite often used to buy illegal guns, pay hitmen, reward Jeffrey Archer, procure hookers, and even, rolled up, to snort cocaine. We're a little confused as to how First Direct feels able to bring itself to be "supporting something that could be used for illegal behaviour" in this way. We expect them to quitting the financial services industry by teatime.

It's equally odd that Wippit are insisting that NatWest and Renault refuse to have anything to do with eDonkey: after all, as this week's Economist reports, most of the major labels are said to be in negotiation with the company. If they're happy to deal with the company - and thereby acknowledge that it is a legitimate concern - how can Wippit call for other groups to shun them, supposedly in the name of protecting the major's own copyright?

IT'LL BE ALL RIGHT ON THE LIGHTS: Fresh from having invited Michael Howard to appear in their next video, Busted have agreed to help the military-industrial complex some more by agreeing to turn on the Christmas Lights in London's busy Regent Street. Busted will be appearing on the stage with the big button at 5.15 this coming Sunday.

The last couple of years have seen Will Young and Daniel Bedingfield do the lights honours, and it hasn't harmed their careers one bit, has it?

AMERICA? MAYBE NEXT YEAR: Coldplay haven't played a single gig in the US this year - presumably relying on the whole sharing-a-bed with Gwyneth thing to do the promo work for them - but they had planned to an event in LA. Now, though, the station hosting the Chris Martin/Johnny Buckland gig has pulled the date making a vague promise of doing something in 2005 instead. Now, who wants to offer 200 words on why British bands have trouble making it big in America?

DANCE MUSIC, YOUR TEN YEARS IS UP?: Not that it'll bother people who actually make dance music, or dance to dance music, but according to the UK music industry, it's over: the Brits has dropped the Best Dance category in favour of a Best Live Act award. It appears to be something to do with Fergal Sharkey and the government, as it's the Live Music Forum who've been called in to help with the new category.

WHAT'S THIS? FRANKIE GOES TO BOREHAMWOOD?: The big search for a new singer to replace Holly Johnson has ended; Ryan Malloy will take lead vocals at the Trevor Horn silver jubilee bash.

This is him:

Yes, that's what we said, too.

ESTHER WILL BE PROUD: Although she's been around for ages, Sheena Easton has become one of the youngest ever celebs to get into the Las Vegas Hall of Fame. Indeed, she shared her induction with Debbie Reynolds and Jack Jones, which makes her practically foetal in LV HofF terms.

DARKNESS FALLS: Actually, it's not quite a fall, but The Darkness have managed to screw themselves up a bit - Justin Hawkins got drunk, had a fight and put his hand through a window. The severed tendons had to be operated on at the Princess Grace Hospital, and it could be several months before he can pick up his plectrum again. More seriously, a hand out of action is going to make zipping up those catsuits damn nigh impossible.

DESTINY DISSING: Little icelandic puffin Bjork has had a go at Beyonce for doing work for advertisers. Now, while we'd admit she's got a point, Bjork is on exactly the same shaky ground as the anti-adists in Radiohead: if it's bad to "sell your soul to the devil", why is it okay to do promotional work for the Olympics, which is surely one of the worst global corporations and one of the biggest brands there is?

DESTINY DISSING: Little icelandic puffin Bjork has had a go at Beyonce for doing work for advertisers. Now, while we'd admit she's got a point, Bjork is on exactly the same shaky ground as the anti-adists in Radiohead: if it's bad to "sell your soul to the devil", why is it okay to do promotional work for the Olympics, which is surely one of the worst global corporations there is?

POLLY AND MOZZER: We reckon that the news that PJ Harvey is going to be supporting the reinvigourated Morrissey at his Christmas dates (Glasgow SECC on December 13th and Birmingham NIA on December 14th) is probably going to demand consideration for bill of the year.

PEEL UPDATES: In case you've not spotted it, we've been updating the main Peel post to try and reflect some of the many, many tributes and articles. Over the weekend, there's been suggestions of what should happen now, many favourite anecdotes, and, less welcome, a eulogy from the BNP.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

This time last week Peel Acres merely referred to the place where John lived and usually broadcast from. Now, of course, it's an apt description of the amount of newsprint that has been produced in his honour - mostly - and remembering a man who we suspect would be genuinely surprised and probably totalled embarrassed by the depths of feeling pouring out. A lot of it is covered in the Peel uber-post on No Rock, but there's a few things worth singling out. Not least the Independent, which carried Andy Kershaw's not entirely shaded suggestion that the moving of the show to straddle midnight was killing him - "You're bigger than the BBC" replied Kershaw, encouraging him to resist being shunted off. Although, of course, for a man repeatedly described as self-effacing throughout his many obituaries this week, bursting into Andy Parfitt's office insisting on being given the breakfast show would be exactly what he wasn't about. We're not sure if it was appropriate for Kershaw to mention the timeslot and its apparent toll so soon after the death of his friend - although we understand his anger, the effort of being over a thousand feet above sea level for a man reportedly very badly out of condition, with a severe type of diabetes may have been more than enough to steal him, without any effect of some late nights. Of course, Andy Parfitt had given a couple of press interviews in the first couple of days after Peel's death was announced saying how hard it had been to persuade him to take the holiday in Peru in the first place. So maybe, inadvertently, management had killed him after all - but with kindness.

Trevor Dann offered some memories for the Independent Arts & Books Review - and it turns out Peel had something in common with his fellow East Anglian based dj: "I [Dann] was an advocate of the A10; [Peel] preferred the A505 right round Royston to the A1. For weeks, he'd keep me informed of various time trials that he'd done using different routes, all proving that he was right in the first place."

Perhaps the oddest claim in all the coverage was the Daily Mail's, that he was a "stalwart of middle England" - although he probably was, the middle England he represented wasn't the one imagined by the Daily Mail, a Tory voting yeoman paradise which exists in solely in the mind of toffs who live in London townhouses; it was a much more settled, co-operative place, and - crucially - one which values institutions like the BBC and the opportunities they offer everybody to get on air.

Disagreeing with the Mail, Ian Pring sent a snotty letter to the Guardian complaining that Peel wasn't Middle England enough: "If a piece of rock or pop lasted longer than three minutes, he had no time for it. And in the late 1970s he introduced an inverted snobbery into rock music criticism by using his position to present any band that ever tried to do something more ambitiuous than the working class rants of the Sex Pistols as middle class and pretentious. Class shouldn't have aplace in music, but John peel helped keep it there for over 30 years." We have no idea who Pring is, but we're guessing he's a public school boy who had his prog rock demo cruelly ignored in 1979. There's so just many flaws in his argument - how many fifteen minute chunks of hardcore dance has he played? If he was so busy making a fetish of the working class, how did Chapterhouse ever get a session?

Other matters: The Economist featured a Music Industry Special Report, which is one of those things that the music industry hates: an impartial, cool eye being run over their businesses. The Economist chided the industry as it "rarely develops new artists into long-lasting acts, relying instead on short-term hist promoted in mainstream media" - so much for the RIAA's boasts about how they develop the next generation of artists off the profits from today's giants. Instead, as the paper makes clear, the labels are basically just driving today's new acts into a short-lived cycle, like a farming raping his fields for a couple of years of massive yields and not worrying about how the ground will be left barren. And the metaphor carries through, too: the Economist points out that, for an industry which relies for much of its sales on back catalogue, it's coming dangerously close to not replenishing that catalogue at all with its current crop. Mind you, the industry has never been as good as it likes to think at developing talent anyway: An impala survey suggests that 65% of the Major's back catalogue comes from bands that were developed by the indie sector.

There's also another kicking for the RIAA's fascination on the internet as being the cause of all evil: The Economist has seen a survey which suggests that the drop in American sales had little to do with the web - At least two-thirds to three-quarters of the drop was down to other factors. That report was produced by, um, one of the major labels. So even they know they're fighting a paper tiger. But, hey, it's easier to throw a few lawsuits at teenagers than to have to explain to shareholders why their business is fucked. It's just a pity the BPI are adopting the same angle.

Even more interesting is the claim by Sam Yagan that his company, eDonkey, has had meeting with of "three of the four majors" about how they can work together. Now, that's confusing, isn't it? The RIAA trying to tell you that illegal filesharing is wrong and bad while simultaneously trying to do a deal with the bloke who makes it possible - why, it almost would unpick any of the "educative" effect of those legal actions were people to think about it.

Even had the NME turned up on time, it would have seemed a bit like a missive from another a time, crashing out on the day after our Princess Diana moment. With the Scissor Sisters on the cover, with a really beautiful set of blue-themed pictures, oddly, the NME felt a bit like the future rather than being out-of-date.

Having said which, their news kicks off with a Stone Roses reunion (or rather Mani popping up onstage at manchester during the Ian Brown set), which is more like suggesting Brett Anderson and Neil Codling shopping together would be a Suede reunion. And Noel Gallagher was there, too. We imagine someone from security will be in trouble for letting him through.

It comes to something when the NME US election feature is a more weighty piece than the one in the Radio Times (they, by the way, have an article on the Simpsons and an article on Dead Ringers, and not a word about, you know, the chances of the Supreme Court being turned into a far-right playground or a pre-emptive war on a nuclear power or anything. Because that's not what it's about... it's about Bush saying "misunderstimating.") NME grill various Americas on how they intend to vote - generally, they plump for Kerry, although without very much enthusiasm. It's all useful information for the Republicans, who have, we're sure, taken names and are making arrangements for voting slips to go "missing" even as we speak.

Peter Robinson takes on Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. He chooses Dannii Minogue to put up his shelves, rather than Kylie, because she's dirtier. Ah, but can she handle a plumb line?

The new think-pieces are split between Dan Martin calling for young bands to get smart, and, um, Maggot from GLC calling for the BPI to get off the kid's backs. Tv On The Radio are interviewed, though, and seem to be offering exactly what Martin wants - David Sitek almost spits with contempt at the idea that pop can be anything more than a platform, that it can be the message itself: "How deep can you get in three minutes anyway?" (Shipbuilding? White Riot?)

The Scissers piece is happy, fluffy stuff: Jake Shears realised he was gay when he heard the B52s' Cosmic Thing and Deee-Lite's World Clique; we guess the boys who'll be feeling everything snap into place this coming year will be what's known as a "knock-on effect."

Dominic Masters of The Others then turns up a few pages later - he's fairly relaxed talking sexuality at first - "if you're a 12-year-old bisexual and you don't see any difference between a boy and girl, it's pretty fucking difficult explaining that to everyday people in Somerset" and happily brings up mention of his partner, Johan in the context of proving "you can be normal, everyday indie kids and shag boys"; when Tim Jonze asks him a further question, he snaps "I thought you'd be better than to sensationalize something like this but if you find my partner's sexuality central to your feature, read that article [in AXM]." Which is a little unfair, as Jonze didn't really appear to be pushing for a shock horror angle, and Masters had just been talking about the joys of going out for a meal with your transexual partner in Newquay. It's especially odd coming so soon after complaining that Morrissey and Franz Ferdinand avoid the subject: can you really want to take a stand on your sexuality and then get pissy when people ask you about it? Can you have a pop at Mozzer for keeping his private life private when you want to do the same?

But before we can arrive at answers to these questions, we're swooshed off to the next issue, which is crack in the community. Jonze, of course, wrote a piece for dazed and confused questioning the level of crack use amongst London's Burning bands - although in this weeks Letters Page he clarifies that "to suggest that every band within the M25 is made-up of evil drug-trafficking scum-sacks is the kind of scaremongering that will only result in ridicule or a staff job at the Daily Mail" - so it's interesting for him to put his theory to one of the bands involved. How can a scene based around community espouse a drug that's ripping communities apart. Masters' response is curious - it's almost an inversion of Chris Morris' gag about how it's okay to use heroin if you're middle class: apparently, yes, in Birkenhead and Burnage and Moss Side, yes, crack has done bad things but "It all goes back to this idea of personal choice... we haven't had a death on our hands, and it's because we preach this idea of regulation." Eh? It's free choice, but regulated free choice? Then Masters goes a step further: it's only a problem if you're weak. "if you're a weak person, then don't have a drug habit. You'll be on it forever." But, Dominic, how do you know if you've got an addicitive personality unless you become an addict? Isn't it like offering someone a bag of peanuts and, when they're on the floor clutching their throats, suggesting "you shouldn't eat them if you've got a nut allergy"? It's all a very confused picture, and the sort of stance which might work within a warm commune, but sounds dangerously like a woolly endorsement once you've got a nationwide platform.

At long last, someone's had the guts to compare Britney Spears and Selfish Cunt (the band, not her husband). Britney manages to win on the basis of having sold lots, lots more records.

Tim Jonze is off asking about sex again on page 41 - the Hidden Cameras ask him to perv the interview down. This comes after he suggests Golden Streams is actually called Golden Showers.

hope of the states - belfast mandela hall - "a hurricane of a show"
biffy clyro - glasgow barrowlands - "moments of abject loveliness"
the boxer rebellion - sheffield zero - "devastatingly tuneful"

kings of leon - aha shake heartbreak - "I fell in love with it immedeatly", 8
the 5678s - teenage mojo workout - "the numbers don't add up", 5
leonard cohen - dear heather - "the best of Leonard Cohen was released in 1975", 7

totw - the dears - lost in the plot - "next stop, Fearne Cotton's place"
britney spears - my perogative - "In summary: fuck you, world"
black wire - the face - "quality"

Anthony Thornton is had up on the defend your iPod feature to argue his way out of having Mr Blue Sky there. Anthony, you really should meet my wife.

And, finally, to the Wall Street Journal, which noted a trend which we had missed: for some reason, muses the WSJ, British advertisers seem obsessed with Elvis Presley. It's true, you know - probably stretching back to that One2One Kate Moss one.

SEAT WTHOUT A SETTLEMENT: Vivian Distin, the first Mrs. Johnny Cash, found herself down on the San Antonio River Walk a couple of weeks ago. Fifty-three years ago before, she and the young Johnny had been walking down there, when they sat to carve their names in a bench. She was surprised to find not only was the bench still there, but the words "Johnny loves Vivian" were still legible in the cedarwood. Touched to find this link to her past, Vivian asked the local authorities if she might be allowed to pay for a replacement bench, and to keep the original. Not only did the council say 'No', they ripped the seat up and locked it away as it was now valuable. We expect they'll put it up on Ebay before the month's out.

ROCK STARS QUIT KILL ROCK STARS: Obviously, we have a great deal of affection for the marvellous Sleater-Kinney here at Stole Their Song Title For Our Site, and we're glad that the Kinney move from Kill Rock Stars to Sub Pop is an amicable one:

Sleater-Kinney have signed to Sub Pop Records. We are very excited about our new label and are looking forward to working with all of the wonderful people there.

We parted amicably with Killrockstars last year. After a decade of playing music we decided that we wanted to try something new. We will always consider KRS to be part of who we are and have much love and respect for them.

On November 5th, Sleater-Kinney will begin recording a new album with producer Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios in rural New York. We will spend much of November and December working on the record, with hopes of releasing it in late spring/early summer 2005.

THIS WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT TOUR TO FOLLOW: Although, when we suggest following the Fatboy Slim tour of North America, you wouldn't actually have to do the gigs to have an astonishing time, because there are some wonderful unusual venues:

Toronto Film Studios (November 10)
Chicago Metro (12)
New York Drive-In Studios (13)
Seattle The Premier (December 7)
Los Angeles Natural History Museum (8)
San Francisco Mezzanine (10)
Dallas Forest Theater (11)

PEPPER ASAULT FALLOUT: Jay-Z not too impressed with R Kelly's claims that it was one of Z's guys who pumped pepper spray into R's face, and has kicked Kelly off their joint tour. Kelly, who is already in a bit of a hole, has decided to keep digging by issuing a statement saying that the "fans deserve better than this" - well, to be honest, we kind of feel that an R Kelly/Jay-Z tour without the first half probably is about as good as it's going to get. Apparently Kelly's lawyers are thinking about taking some time off from the child porn business to bring legal action.