Saturday, December 11, 2004

LIP SERVICE: Sometime - soon, once we've done with this festive season - there will be a new album featuring The Flaming Lips. And it's going to be covers, covers, nothing but covers. These, in fact:

* Bjork – ‘Unravel’
* Miles Davis – ‘My Ship’
* Chris Bell – ‘Speed Of Sound’
* Faust – ‘It’s a Bit Of A Pain’
* Roxy Music – ‘2HB’
* Alfie – ‘People’
* Aphex Twin – ‘Film’
* Mice Parade – ‘Galileo’
* The Chameleons – ‘Up The Down Escalator’
* The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’
* Chemical Brothers – ‘Playground For A Wedgeless Firm’
* Love & Rockets – ‘Saudade’
* Lush – ‘Monochrome’
* Psychedelic Furs – ‘Sleep Comes Down’
* Nick Drake – ‘River Man’
* Sebadoh – ‘One Fire’
* Radiohead – ‘Pyramid Song’
* 10CC – ‘I’m Not In Love’
* Brian Eno – ‘Another Green World’
* David Shirgley – ‘The Jist’

The album, Late Night Tales, will be preceeded by a 7" only version of the Seven Nation Army cover. It might be enough to pretend they didn't get involved with SpongeBob ShowsanyonecanbesurrealbutsurrealisntalwaysinterestingPants' movie.

INCANDESCENT IN THE DECEMBER NIGHT: Ash are doing a whole sudden Christmas special secret gig thingy play live today in - of course - London. Drowned In Sound report Ash will take the stage at Frog just after midnight, which technically means it'll be Sunday, of course. Anyone who downloads the news page from DiS will get in for cheap as well, and you could try printing off this page to see if it'll get you a snog from Charlotte, but we're not promising anything on that one.

WELL, ALL MAGAZINES LIKE TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR THEIR CHRISTMAS ISSUE: We're not sure, of course, but we suspect that Phil Anselmo, former singer with Pantera, will be feeling a bit queasy having been interviewed for the Christmas issue of Metal Hammer, in which he called for Dimebag to be "severely beaten". Probably just a case of really bad timing, as it's unlikely many Pantera fans would have read the piece yet.

A BATTLE BETWEEN EVIL AND EVIL: Nobody likes to see mad, starey-eyed people bringing legal actions over the use of rude words in songs. It's censorship; it's anti-artistry; it's an assault on creativity by the forces of good taste. On the other hand, there are some cheap laughs in the concept of Walmart being sued for selling Evanescence CDs, especially because they're being legally targetted because of WalMart's own policy of censoring the life out of music and refusing to stock foul-mouthed songs.

It was Wal-Mart's obsessive purging of swearing that made Maryland couple Trevin and Melanie Skeens allow their daughter buy the Evanescence album from the store - for there could be nothing on it which would harm their thirteen year old daughter, could there? So imagine their shock when, playing her new album on the way home, the word "FUCK" blared out the in-car stereo. Wal-Mart sold them a fuck. The shop they trusted to protect them from the real world filled their car up with sweary old fuck words. Being America, they decided the only thing they could do would be to sue.

The lawsuit Wal-Mart are now facing is demanding not just that the album be flung from the racks of Maryland Wal-Marts, but that Wal-Mart compensate anyone who brought the album at a Maryland Wal-Mart to the tune of USD75,000. The couple believe that their case is strenghtened because the online store censors the fuck in the sample offered of the album: in other word, corporately, WalMart were aware of the swear.

WHERE APPLE OUTSMARTS NAPSTER: The big problem for companies planning to sell music downloads is that a large, lucrative market has no access to credit cards and that makes selling to them a tricky proposition. Napster's solution is to offer a complicated series of cards that you can trot into a nearby town and purchase, take back to your computer and use to access their music library. Apple, meanwhile, have done a deal with PayPal to take micropayments. The first half a million sign-ups will get five songs free, too.

IT'S WHAT HE WOULD HAVE WANTED: Looking at the page of photos from the vigil for Dimebag, our eye alights on shot 10011 of a pair of cops leading away a guy who's turned up bollock naked. We're not quite sure why anyone would have assumed that something quite so show-offy would be appropriate for a memorial vigil; but equally we're not sure what made the cops think they really needed to drag the bloke away: a crowd of Pantera fans are hardly likely to have been outraged by the sight of a tiny penis.

Donewaiting, meanwhile, have the official statement from Damageplan, written by Vinnie Paul - Dimebag's brother and also a likely target for the bullets. Let's just put it down to grief and fear doing strange things:

With all his greatness and accomplishments on the guitar, DIME will be missed more for his giving personality, charisma, caring for others, love and most of all his HEART!! Twice as big as the state of TEXAS!!!!!!!!!!!! DIME gave it all everyday to each and every one of us and our lives have forever been hollowed without him...Thanks to all of you for reaching out to us in this time of our immeasurable loss. REST IN PEACE BROTHER DIME!!!!!!

Friday, December 10, 2004

AND WE'D JUST LIKE TO ISSUE A FORMAL, PUBLIC APOLOGY OURSELVES: For anyone who has seen our joke on the popjustice advent calendar, we are really sorry and can assure you that we haven't contaminated the mottoes in any Christmas crackers.

BLESS: As Keane plod about the US, Tom Chaplin has revelaed he deals with the temptations of groupies by "thinking about his girlfriend back home in England." By which we presume he means when they proposition him, he thinks of her and says "no", rather than when he's on the job he pretends they're her.

CLARIFICATIONS AND APOLOGIES: Interestingly, Ananova have apologised to Will Young for an article called 'Will Plays Ball Boy with Footie Star'. Hmm, wonder what that could have been about, then? In other awkward media climbdowns, the BBC News Online team have had to say sorry to Vanilla Ice's pet wallaroo: They wrongly described it as a cross-breed. Around 3,000 at the corporation will lose their jobs as a result of the error.

AT LEAST I FEEL BETTER THAN JAMES BROWN: Taking some time off this Christmas is James Brown, coming straight off a Canadian tour into treatment for prostate cancer. He's due to have an op on Wednesday morning. It's likely he'll only need to have his prostrate gland removed, and so he won't require a new bag.

READ MY LIPS: It's kind of odd that - having crowed at Ashlee for lip-synching just a couple of days later Lindsay Lohan got caught flapping her gob during an appearance on Good Morning America. The upshot is that she's now pretending to be too sick to sing at all. Or lip-synch at all.

HAS SOMEONE HERE GOT GANGRENE?: We're not entirely sure we believe the story which claims Britney Spear's feet stink so bad when she was on a plane the stewards had to ask her to put her shoes back on. And even if it is true, and it's just her shoes cause her feet to sweat, then we have solutions to that problem.

FIGHTING FOR CHARITY: An attempt to help buff up the image of Ludacris seemed to be a good idea. He donated three hundred dollars worth of toys to a children's charity and turned out to a Mall in Montgomery Alabama to bask in the good feelings. Then the fights started in the crowd, security lost control and Ludacris was asked to leave.

POOL DRIED UP: We don't want to appear hard-hearted, but we're not so sure Drowning Pool has cancelled its tour as a sign of respect for Dimebag but more out of fear that they'd be the targets of the inevitable copycat event. Their statement reckons:

"No one knows why some people do the heinous things they do. Dimebag Darrell was the epitome of rock and roll. He wasn't just a player that all guitarists aspired to be, but the genuine article and a true friend."

Meanwhile, Ozzy Osbourne was woken up yesterday afternoon to be told of the incident - he expressed his shock, before asking what day it was; and Chimaira singer Mark Hunter said he didn't know anybody in a band who hadn't "stolen a few guitar riffs" from Dimebag. Apart, presumably, from drummers.

CASHING IN DECRIED: Still with Peel for a moment, if you've found yourself in front of those "tasteful" displays in the Virgin Megastore - one half starving Africans, one half very large print books about John Peel - and wondered if it might not be worth picking up one of the books, probably best not to: Francis ravenscroft, Peel's brother, has been pretty angered by the rush-release books - "It really is just ambulance-chasing" in his opinion.

For the real thing, there are rumours that the proper biography might be joined by a compilation of Peel journalism - he wrote extensively for, amongst others, Sounds, The Observer and the Radio Times. We really hope the piece from the Observer where he wrote about having to tear himself away from Nelson Gabriel's farewell to Walter to go into a gig at the Norwich Arts Centre is in there, as we've always been curious as to which band it was.

HE COULD STILL BE A CONTENDER: But if they do give the Peel gig to Rob Da Bank, could someone persuade him to return to his given name of Robert Gorham?.

Slightly alarmingly in the piece linked to, Ian Parkinson floats again the idea that "no one person can replace Peel" - which seems to imply that his fiefdom will be split into three parts after New Year: in effect, then, the show will be dead as each of three presenters are likely to have a specialism and the concept of three shows a week of anything goes, built around a steady hand, will be lost. Let's hope they have a change of mind over the Christmas pudding down at Radio One.

(Besides - hiring three people to replace one man? Surely that runs contrary to the Mark Thompson BBC?)

CONGRESS BUGGERS OFF FOR CHRISTMAS WITHOUT DOING DEVIL'S WORK: Some good news from Washington, where Congress has adjourned for the year (how much Christmas shopping do they have to do? I mean, I know they can't rely on dropsy and backhanders to get all their gift needs seen to, but even so...) without having passed any of the insane new copyright laws being demanded by the record industry. Mitch Bainwol, of course, see this as some sort of victory, looking through the RIAA's special glasses:

Mitch Bainwol of the RIAA told the [LA] Times that the lobbying surrounding the legislation raised awareness of the "enormous theft out there that is compromising the vitality of important American industries." Bainwol added, "There is a consensus that there is a problem. We broke down on how you define an answer."

If the theft was that massive, and seen as so important, though, wouldn't legislators have been quicker and more interested when it came to defining an answer?

NO HEART TREMORS FOR SHAKY: Apparently, the rumours running around that Shakin' Stevens had a heart which was about to collapse are all a load of old eyewash - his publicist has explained away Shaky's recent heart check-up as being part of the preparation for his appearance on the Keith Barrett Show; it's well known that the strains placed on the heart during a spoof chat show can be large and so it's recommended that all stars check they're fit before doing so. Nobody's allowed on the Kumars without a signed chit from a medical man and a full sperm count - and that includes the women.

Shaky - whose real name is Shakin' - was apparently amused by the claims he was a heavy smoker, said his publicist:

"I've been in his company socially for many years and he has the odd cigarette after a meal, but that's it. There is no way he's a heavy smoker."

Which is true, but he does need a full dinner to clear his lungs before he can get up in the morning.

NATASHA BEDINGFIELD OFFERS KIDS THE CHANCE TO GRAB THE BOX FROM THE TOP OF HER GIGANTIC STOCKINGS: That's right, Natasha turned up at Great Ormond Street with the world's biggest Christmas stocking - a mighty ten metres by three metres.

Police later confirmed the sweaty, swarthy man who appeared to be following Natasha around, trying to get her attention, wasn't actually a stalker but her brother, Daniel.

DMX: I PRETENDED TO BE A ROZZER: As happens so often, once they turn up in court a musician has abandoned his blustering claims of innocence in favour of a plea-bargain to save their skinny ass. So DMX admitted driving through JFK airport pretending to be a cop. While on valium. He got a surprisingly lenient USD1,000 fine (GBP18 at current exchange rates) and has to give up his Ford Expedition (apparently some American car rather than plans to travel round examining places where rivers flow across roadways, although we'd like to see DMX recreate the opening credits of All Creatures Great And Small sometime).

To complete a bad day for "Call me constable" DMX, as he came out of court he got hit with a paternity suit.

EVERYTHING THAT EVER MATTERED: As if the resurrection of the Wedding Present and Anderson and Butler burying their differences wasn't enough to bring a warm feeling of hot, hot joy to the heart of the shambling indie-boy, now Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers have reformed the House of Love. New album, new single, new tour:

Feb 5th - Zodiac, Oxford
Feb 6th - Arts Centre, Colchester
Feb 9th - Fez Club, Reading
Feb 10th - ICA, London

We'll be scouring the web for news of the Bogshed revival.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

BIT - O, THAT IS: The death has been announced of Country and Western singer Jerry Scoggins. Unusually for a country singer, Scoggins original career had been as a stockbroker; he'd been trading stock during the week and taking a back-up role to Gene Autry in the Cass County Boys. It had been looking like stockbroking would win out after Autry retired from singing when Scoggins was invited to record a theme song for a sitcom pilot. The programme got picked up, and Scoggins' introduction to The Beverly Hillbillies became a fixture on American TV. In 1996 the Western Music Association inducted the Cass County Boys into their Hall of Fame.

Jerry Scoggins died on Tuesday from natural causes, said his family. He was 93.

ROCK SICK LIST: We're feeling a bit rough ourselves, but we're in fine fettle compared with Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill, who's suffering from a kidney infection and only able to get through dates on the current UK tour with a shot of adrenaline, a car on standby in case he needs to get to hospital and a guitar tech ready to understudy. We think we'd have been tempted to sit this one out.

IT'S STILL A MYSTERY: Although the police have spoken to witnesses who believe they heard the gunman who killed Darrell Abbott accuse him of splitting up Pantera, they say it's unlikely that the reasons behind the attack may never be known. They've named the killer as Nathan Gale.

WE DON'T ALWAYS AGREE WITH MAGAZINE POLLS: ... but we think Blender's worst ten songs of the year more or less hit the money spot-on:


PRESUMABLY SHE'S THE ONLY PERSON WHO DIDN'T SEE HERSELF ON HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU: Since the chances of turning a pop career look increasingly slight, and panicing that she's heading for nothing more than "She was the voice of an angel, but what happened when Charlotte grew up" pieces for years to come, Charlotte Church is now trying to get a gig as a TV presenter. We notice this story suggests she's "presenting" the Christmas Top of the Pops - by which we're guessing they mean she'll get the chance to try and link one piece without fluffing too badly. Trevor McDonald reported himself to be "unconcerned", yesterday.

PERSPECTIVES AND PROPORTIONS: No sooner had Dimebag hit the ground than the internet rumours and opinions were set flying: so far we've heard that it's all a Velvet Goldmine stunt, and the shooting wasn't genuine; that it serves rock fans right for not "caring" when Tupac was shot, and someone who claims to have been at the show:

he was yelling something about how "you broke up pantera.... you ruined my life.... what about phil??? he needs heroin money..." or something like that then i saw the gun and he shot DBD right in the head... when DBD went down he kept shooting... then he turned around for bobzilla then vinnie... teh hole time i thought it was part of the show... i had blood on me i was so close... i'm still freakin' out here...

... but then we suspect this is a show which nearly the whole world will claim to have been at.

YOU JUST KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, DIDN'T YOU?: Thank you, Band Aid 20 - now we're going to have to contend with Jermaine Dupri and We Are The World 20 as well. Apparently Quincy Jones called him and suggested it. Thanks, Quincy.

Michael Jackson isn't likely to be on this version. We might forgive them if they call Bananarama.

In other charity news: Linking to Tom NYLPM's band aid pisstake raised three goats for charity. Yes, "goats" not "groats".

STARTING THE COUNTDOWN: Multimillionaire, businessman with some questionable attitudes towards his staff and DJ Dick Clark has had a stroke. Although hospitalised, Clark's people say he'll be back at work for his traditional New Year's Eve show.

THE GREAT THING ABOUT CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS IS YOU CAN LIE-IN AND SKIP 'TODAY' ALTOGETHER: For we can think of nothing better than slumbering away peaceably while an edition of Today guest edited by Bono is transmitted. Last year it was Thom Yorke and Stephen Hawking. This year, we're getting Sarah Ferguson and Bono.

OHIO UPDATE: NBC4 are reporting that Darrell was definitely killed.

GIG ENDS IN MURDER: Really nasty news from Columbus, Ohio, where a man walked on stage during the first song of Pantera spin-off Damageplan's set and started firing on the band and the crowd. At least four people were killed and two wounded before a policeman shot and killed the gunman. Chris Couch, who was in the crowd, takes up the story:

The witness, 22-year-old Chris Couch, said he was standing about 30 feet away from the stage when he noticed a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and hockey jersey walk up to the stage, followed by a bouncer and another club employee.

The man in the jersey climbed onto the stage, started yelling and shot the guitarist five or six times at close range, Couch said. He said the gunman also shot a bouncer who pulled him off the musician.

None of the victims have yet been named, but witnesses say that guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott was shot at close range four or five times.

THAT'S PRESIDENT Z: There's absolutely nothing silly or stupid about Jay-Z being given the title President and CEO of Def Jam. It's not stunt hiring at all. In fact, we've heard he intends to be popping in for the meeting about where to source the recycle bins for the office.

WHAT'S IN A NAME: While we don't doubt for a moment that Napster is a more recognised brand name than iTunes, as a survey in the US found, we do wonder how many of the 79% who said they'd heard of it know that it's now a teeth-pulled legal service. And, of course, hile iTunes may only be known by 46% of respondents, there's a broader question: how many have heard of the iPod?

BOB'S BACK: All well again and reporting for duty: Bob's fit and working with Franz Ferdinand again.

AND WHO SAID IT WAS TURNING INTO A CIRCUS?: Glastonbury's big draw for 2005: a bloody ghost train. At the same time, the second stage will be featuring a coconut shy and one of those machines you hit with a hammer which tells you how strong you are.

ALL FRIENDS TOGETHER: We're not sure what is the most bemusing - why a guy like P. Diddy would want to cosy up with George W; or wy Bush would happily arrange a sightseeing tour and joke and josh with a man with such a shady collection of instances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, often with the wrong weapons. But then again: being insanely rich does tend to transcend any boundaries, doesn't it?

WIRELESS NOT WIRE-LESS: As if roaming all over 6Music wasn't enough, this afternoon Nicky Wire is guesting on Five Live, making himself comfortable in the Simon Mayo studio. Fans, admirers and passers-by are being encouraged to send and text in questions, although it's unlikely 'when did you stop being cool?' will actually be put to him. The answer, of course, is somewhere after this:

and before this:

BRIMFULL OF ASHA: We're not sure she realises she might have problems with the name (there's already an Asha's Indian restaurant in Liverpool) but we're kind of excited that Asha Bhosle has teamed up with a former Harry Ramsdens chief executive to open an Indian restaurant chain. When not being a Bollywood singing sensation and getting hymned by Cornershop, Bhosle has already built up a chain of Asha's through Kuwait and the UAE.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

WHO CALLED FOR THE PULL?: Nobody seems entirely sure who demanded Ebay pull the Negativland/U2 iPod from sale - and there's not actually any real legal basis for the sale to have been stopped. Unless - as is just about possible - Negativland made a complaint about their pictures being copied for the modified box nobody would appear to have had any grounds to demand the item be yanked: the U2 iPod was being resold, as is the owner's right; the Negativland CDs were included in the sale (and hence they were "licensed"). Curious, isn't it?

TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FOOLS, MONEY UPHELD: We're frankly bemused - where on earth have Harvey Nichols found 300 people dumb and rich enough to pay two hundred and fifty quid for a pair of jeans "designed" by Victoria Beckham?

... you can get that look with the four quid Tesco Value sort. And there's no waiting list, although the queue at the self-serve checkout can sometimes snake back a little.

OH, JESSIE: We're starting to feel a little bit sorry for Jessica Simpson: she and Nick Lachey did a special edition of the Newlyweds for MTV, and it got good ratings - so she assumes this means the public don't believe the rumours that the Simpson wedding is more or less over:

"It reassured us that people still like us as a couple, and they don't believe all the covers and rumors," Jessica said. "It really made us feel good about our relationship again."

Uh-huh. It's not people wanted to watch the start of the last few days, then, Jessica?

Oh, and by the way:

You're so no Barbara Bach.

JUNE 20TH: SHOT VIDEO. DISCOVERED PULLING GAFFER TAPE OFF YOUR NIPPLES REALLY SMARTS: Things have gone a bit quiet for Pink recently - the planned biopic of Janis Joplin is apparently on hold; after a really disappointing album there doesn't seem to be much in the way of a rush for her to return to the recording studio. So, she's dreamed up a new project: she's going to turn her diary into a film. And she's going to star in it. The plan is for it to be called The Diary of Pink, interestingly enough.

THE BRILLIANCE OF BONO: Bono was one of the celebs who backed a high-profile anti-bullying scheme, whereby kids were encouraged to wear a blue wristband to show they were against the concept of kids getting picked on. It doesn't take a genius to guess what would happen next, although apparently Bono and his chums didn't see it coming: wearing an anti-bullying wristband has become the schoolyard equivalent of giving frail OAPs tshirts with the words "Don't mug me, I can't fight back" to wear: bullies are targetting the kids with the wristbands. Nice one, Bono.

TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE CAN'T BE WRONG. OH, HANG ABOUT: The power of pulling together a genre-specific style and the wide-open market of pop has been demonstrated again, as this woman goes double-diamond (or twenty times platinum):

Yup, Come On Over Shania Twain (which sounds like an invitation rather than an album) has become only the sixth album to reach that level of cultural ubiqiuty - and she's the first woman to get anywhere near that level of sales. Only The Eagles, Pink Floyd, Jacko, Billy Joel and Led Zep have also managed to sell twenty mill of one album, which makes Shania officially bigger than U2, Madonna and, of course, Kim Wilde.

THE PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE THE MUSIC THE NATION LISTENS TO: If you don't wonder why we find it a little scary that Clear Channel controls so much of US radio, you might want to scroll to the bottom of the Arizona billboard page and join us in our being scared. They already run venues, ticketing companies and outdoor advertising groups in the UK: let's try and keep them out of the broadcast media.

THOMPSON TWINGE: So, there was very little in Mark Thomspon's plans announced yesterday to worry music fans: certainly none of the wilder threats of Radio One sell-offs or suchlike were floated. He did, apparently, invoke John Peel's name in a "it's the sort of BBC John Peel stood for" way, which is a trifle icky - we could see Alistair Cooke signing up for outsourcing your back-office operations but we somehow don't picture Peelie nodding along with the creation of a department to manage P45 issuing.

Thompson's big theme - if the BBC stops paying money for health and safety inspections in White City, we can pump the cash into programmes - seems to be a bit thin on the actual programme ideas, but he mentioned a couple of times something called the 'alternative proms' - we're not quite sure what this is (it sounds, in the words of Alan Partridge, like "just a title"); it's not even clear if it'll be new classical music or rock. Or what. We have a sneaking suspiscion that it might never happen. But we're already wondering what the Last Night of the Alt.Proms will look like - presumably they'll end with a rousing chorus of the Pistol's God Save The Queen?

GRILS ALOUD TIX, ANYBODY?: If you feel you can risk being in the same room as Cheryl tweedy, you might want to go right now to Clear Channel's online ticket service - where, in just ten minutes, the tickets for the tealadies' first tour will be going on sale.

CRASHED THE VOTING: Once the people of Ukraine have finished sorting out their voting scandal, they might fancy tromping over here and helping sort out the British problem: it turns out that there were text-message voting problems at the Record of the Year last weekend. Some people were getting multiple responses to a single vote, which would seem to suggest that the results themselves can't really be trusted. A t-mobile spokesperson (and, hey, it's neat to leave it to the sponsor to clean up the mess, ITV) explains:

"We have been working with the third party provider, Netsize, in this case, to identify the cause of the problem.

"Netsize are finalising their investigation but would like to assure all affected customers that they will be entitled to a full refund.

"It seems that there was a technical fault. We apologise to all customers affected."

Yes, a full refund is all well and good: but can we trust the claim that Thunderbirds was the best-loved single of 2004? I'm making a flag with Richard X and Rachel Steven's face on it, and am going to sit outside the Granada studios in Manchester until the poll is re-run.

CRAZY OFF WORK: Enjoy Beyonce across the next twelve months while you can - she insists she's taking a break in 2006 to have her ovaries dealt with by Jay-Z. This means, we calculate, there's unlikely to be a new Destiny's Child album before 2009 which, on the evidence of this year's, isn't going to be much of a struggle to get by without.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

LET'S HOPE SHE DOESN'T READ HER SPAM: We're not entirely sure why, but it seems Barbar Streisand has a big beef with the Cialis ads airing in the States. (It's a type of impotence pill, and apparently shows a man enjoying the health benefits of that particular drug).

STEREOPHONICS ANNOUNCE NEW DRUMMER: No, no, come back; it's interesting: he's Argentinian, like corned beef and... you know, um, Paul Robinson's second wife (third wife?) from Neighbours... if he ever married her. He was very taken that her hometown was Buenos Aries - "it means beautiful winds" he explained to Jim. This was after he'd been shot by Terri the Plumber and turned from Good Bloke into a lean-mean-trading-with-Mr.Odagawa-machine. Can't recall what happened to her, but she was probably a bad 'un. Oh, the drummer is called Javier Weyler but, frankly, twenty year old Australian soap plots are more interesting than anything the Stereophonics are every likely to do.

IDOL THREAT: You might have assumed that the reason why there's not been a Billy Idol album released in the last ten years because Billy knew, in his heart, that there wasn't really any need for one. But, oh no - it turns out he's spent the last ten years having a sulky girl-fight with EMI. But now... all that's over.

Billy Idol will have a new album out next year - Devil's Playground. Oddly, it's been waiting for a release slot for the last nine months or so...

GAMMY GRAMMY HAMMY SPAMMY: Good work, whoever did the BBC News Online coverage of the Grammy nominations - obviously keen to make sure they keep hold of their job in Mark Thomspon's new, slimmed-down, Mancunian-facing BBC, they've taken the trouble to shake the British nominations out of the never-ending list. Thus we know that Joss Stone is line for two awards - best pop vocal album and best new artist; Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand is up for best rock performance by a duo or group. Jamie Cullum, Elton John and Eric Clapton have also got nominations in what are already being called 'the most punchable Grammys ever.'

Amongst Americans, Usher and Kayne West are both heavily nominated, and Ray Charles reaps the rewards for being dead by getting seven shortlistings. To avoid cluttering up the main page, we'll stick the full list of nominees in the comments section...

WE'RE NOT ENTIRELY SURE: ... but can announcing your reunion tour on Larry King Live - as Motley Crue did - be considered in any way rock, or come to that, roll? Tommy Lee even asked Larry if he was allowed to say "ass." (For the record, he was, and so he did).

THANKS, DAD: It seems, if the internet is anything more than just a snake pit of rumours and lies, that Britney's hacked off with her dad for using her to push his business - seems Jamie Spears told investors that if they put up the cash for his smoothie stand, he'd get Britney to pop by the Malibu location three times a week to help trade. Brit's pissed off that he could use her like this, trying to squeeze a living off her fame - especially now she's got a husband to do that for her. We're just wondering who would have fallen for the pitch in the first place - presumably Jamie made it sound more plasusible by suggesting she might just do a couple of visits in a week when she was touring China?

If you'll excuse us, we're off to check up on Buster Pearson's hot dog stand: it occurs to us that not only has he paid us back for the big pump-action mustard and ketchup dispenser we bought for him, but we've never once seen Delroy or Deniece down there....

PARIS IN THE STUDIO: Even although it's already been given an identifying label for its big toe and had the last rites muttered over it, Paris Hilton is still having to talk about her music career. Apparently she's covering both Bowie's Fame and Blondie's Heart of Glass on the album, due to be delivered in large quantites to Poundland and Family Dollar next year. Shouldn't you try something a little closer to your talents, Paris? Like clapping?

GOOD LUCK, BABY: Emma Bunton, who doesn't want to be known as Baby Spice any more - indeed, she makes a point of always mentioning how just because she was in the Spice Girls, that doesn't mean it has to be mentioned like people wouldn't remember who she was otherwise - is poised to follow Geri, Robbie and Kylie into achieiving a disappointment in America when early interest from a few hipsters fails to turn into a US career.

Still, as she heads off to do her best, she can at least take comfort from the really brilliant exchange rate right now. She could make more money bringing iPods back with her than she's liable to make from the performances.

BEG, STEAL OR BORRELL: Razorlight are one of those bands who really split the world into comfortable groups: those who are prepared to overlook the slightly hackneyed nature of their music because there's something simmeringly beautiful about Johnny Borrell; and the rest who frankly would rather take their chances with Bradley Walsh. If you're in the first group, you'll be huddling yourself with joy at the news JB will removing his shirt and prancing about the stage three times next year - at the very least - with Razorlight dates in February:

Manchester Apollo Feb 5th
Glasgow Academy Feb 6th
Alexandra Palace Feb 11th

I DON'T WANNA DO AN ASHLEE: As she heads off for the press push to promote the inevitable album (now an essential part of any bubble-head's brand extensions), Lindsay Lohan is adamant she doesn't want to lip-synch. Presumably she'll be standing there with her mouth shut and having moving lips CGIed in in post-production, then.

BUCKETHEAD WISHES TO ANNOUNCE HE'S STILL AVAILABLE: The members of Janes Addicition who weren't Perry Farrell have decided to keep going, creating a band they're calling The Panic Channel and pulling in Steve Isaacs (who once did lead vocals in a production of Tommy, were your blood not running cold enough already). Janes without Farrell sounds to us a little like Kwik Fit without a spanner set, but it's Christmas, so we wish 'em luck.

ROCK SICK LIST: Bad news for Marianne Faithfull fans - her tour has been put on ice. Marianne collapsed after a seizure in Milan and doctors have told her she's exhausted and needs three month's rest. There's a statement:

"At first it was hoped Marianne would be well enough to resume the tour after a week’s rest - the six most immediate concerts were postponed last Thursday morning.
"Doctors, however, have now advised Marianne to take three months’ total rest and the remaining dates on the tour have been pulled. All the shows will be re-scheduled for the spring of next year.
"Marianne’s exhaustion is the consequence of a gruelling work schedule that started with her summer stage performances in ’The Black Rider’, director Robert Wilson’s celebrated and award-winning theatre production. 'The Black Rider' opened at London’s Barbican Theatre in May before transferring to San Francisco in August - Marianne starred in some 75 performances of the opera before the production’s American season ended in mid-October.
"Once ’The Black Rider’ had finished in San Francisco, Marianne immediately embarked on a promotional tour of Europe in support of her ’Before The Poison album, released at the end of September.
"She then went into rehearsals with her band to prepare for the European tour, which opened in Iceland on Thursday 11th November. Marianne had played dates through Scandinavia and in Germany before reaching Italy on Wednesday."

We hope they didn't make her read through the statement before the released it - it goes on a bit, and if she's feeling a bit under the weather...

WE'RE SHOEHORNING THIS IN: We've never been entirely sure which American media giant is the most evil: could it be Fox News, or could it be Clear Channel? We now think, though, we have a winner: Clear Channel is going to start taking its news feed direct from Fox. At present the deal is only for Clear's talk stations, but that's enough to catapult Neocon News Network into the largest speech-radio news provider position. Carry on like this, and they won't even need to bother having the pretence of an election in 2008.

NEWS OF THE BABBIES: Congratulations to Ben Harper and Laura Dern, who had a second baby last week. The girl is a sister for their three-year old lad Ellery.

WHAT DO PRETTY BOYS DO?: There was a time when Neil Tennant claimed that he was going to base The Pet Shop Boys career on Menudo: in other words, when he and Chris got too old to look comfortable on stage, like the boyband, they'd step aside and draft in younger, cuter people. Of course, it might have been better if he'd stuck to his word, although there would have been a PSB problem matching the Menudo problem: an awful lot of former members all over the place. Sometimes, you catch a glimpse of the post-Menudo life, as this weekend in Florida when an otherwise unremarkable news story about a SWAT team in a car crash was enlivened by the news that one of the team was, yes, a former Menudo: the wonderfully named Miguel Cancel.

YOUR HISTORY: For reasons they have chosen to not disclose, Mull Historical Society have swapped the downloadsplan - out goes Peculiar and This is Hope, instead. All available through their website. We note, by the way, that the actual Mull Historical Society have appeneded the words "(not the pop group)" to their webpage. MHS are also doing the full-on Mark and Lard hit, joining Radcliffe on Radio 2 on Wednesday. and Riley on 6Music on Saturday.

NEW ROCK DISEASES: Albarn Syndrome - a compulsion to insist anyone vaguely famous you meet should record with you. Named after Damon Albarn, who in the later stages of the condition announced plans to record with Dennis Hopper.

Monday, December 06, 2004

WHEN AGING TEENYBOPPERS ATTACK: Maui V Reyes, a reporter with the Philippine Daily Enquirer, got to meet Hanson recently for a piece.During the course of the interview, she asked if she could take a couple of pictures of Isaac as he was getting his head shaved. Isaac and the band's manager were happy for her to go ahead; Zac, however, was less keen, shoving the reporter out the way "hard." So, she included this in her report - and then the hate mail started...

OUR APOLOGISE TO AMERICA: Apparently, Duncan James from Blue has got so angry with people taking the piss out of him all the time, he's going to pack his little suitcase and run away to America. Duncan believes that, in Hollywood, he can support himself as an actor and that "everyone's pleasant" there. Well, we're sure that's true - they'll open their hearts and homes to a washed-up boyband star who thinks he can act demanding roles in movies; we've heard that America in general, and California in particular, have got a real shortage of deluded pretty-boys to fill out audition queues. "Some days," a Beverley Hills producer told us, talking exclusively, "you have to drive around for twenty minutes before you can find a half-decent chicken."

THERE MIGHT BE A POINT SOMEWHERE, BUT IT'S LOST ON US: We've already been sniffy about the stunt casting of Kelly Osbourne - who clearly isn't fat - as "the fat girl" in Life As We Know It. But we could probably all have maintained the fiction, since, of course, Kelly doesn't have the vomit-stained-finger thinness of the usual teen girl stars:

And, of course, the idea of trying to create a character who people with an ordinary body shape can identify with is something quite noble for a TV company to do. Only it gets blown when the actor rages about Not Being Fat and how terrible it is that the producers tried to make her look fat. Regardless of whatever the series sets out to do, Kelly's managed to reinforce the "having a belly is bad" mantra which makes so many people's lives a living hell. Is this the first instance of an actor is bullying her character?

CHEER UP, MISERY GUTS: Well, we do agree with Bono up to a point on this one: rock stars should really stop complaining about how hard their lives are:

"I do hate whingeing rock stars. The life that people have given us is amazing. We don't have the same worries other people do, like how to pay the bills. In return we only have to do one thing. The deal is, don't be crap - that's all anyone's asked of us."

It's good advice - although somewhat undermined by Bono using his next breath to praise the "poetic and pop" Robbie Williams, a man who has elevated the pity-me school of pop to such a level it could sustain its own department at Cambridge University.

WE'RE ALL SO SORRY: In the spirit of the season, Jon Bon Jovi has apologised to the Beckhams for calling his son Romeo: although, really, it's his son he should be apologising to.

Jon explains that he had no idea that Sticky and Thicky had named their second spawn Romeo:

"We actually called him Romeo thinking it was the most beautiful, original name in the world, only to find out that David Beckham had already chosen it - so we apologise to the Beckhams for that."

Yes, the Beckhams had got there first with this "most original" of names. And we did hear that some bloke had used the name for a character in some film or something once a while back. And Lil'Romeo. And Romeo from the So Solids. And Romeo Rodriguez and every sixth Hispanic in the world, of course. You might have a lot of sorrying to do there, Jon. Still, the next kid should be fine - we'd imagine you'll be on much safer ground calling them Jesus.

BE PREPARED: As it's more than likely it'll see some single action next year, you might want to leap on to Arjan Write's bluffer's guide to what Harajuku Girls by Gwen Steffani is all about. Harajuku seems to be Tokyo's Carnaby Street, a place frequented by those with the money to burnon fashion but no inspiration of their own.

BAD NEWS FOR CRACK DEALERS IN LONDON: Well, that's going to leave them with a load of unwanted cocaine on their hands: Killamangiro has taken Babyshambles to number eight in the chart which, of course, means Pete Doherty is going to kick crack. Come on, Pete, a promise is a promise.

Mind you, he'd also promised to play XFM's charity show at the weekend, turned up two hours late, caused a scene and had to be thrown out the venue. So we're not entirely sure we're going to close our baking soda sales business just yet.

SHE'S KNOWN IN NEW LOOK/ SHE'S GOT A CARD THERE/ COME BACK TO ME AND I WILL MAKE THINGS BETTER: There we've been, demeaningly thinking of Girls Aloud as the Top Shop Spice Girls when they go and prove us wrong: they've signed up as the face of New Look.

PEARL JAM SANDWICHES: We're a little concerned for the delicate heads of the children from Walmer High School from Port Elizabeth - they've been forced to record a single with Eddie Vedder. It's notable before the kids flew from South Africa to Seattle to make the record, they'd never heard of Pearl Jam. Presumably otherwise they'd not have got on the plane. It's all for charity, though, so you can't be too grinchy about it. Not too grinchy.

A SINGER IN NEED OF A DECENT SONGWRITER MUST SOMETIMES EAT CROW: There's something less-than-convincing about Robbie William's apology to Gary Barlow, but we're sure it's not inspired by William's desperate need to find someone who can feed songs into his crushing noise-churning career. Not at all.

ODDLY, ARTISTS DON'T AGREE WITH RIAA-BPI WAILING ABOUT PEER TO PEER: Not that anyone actually believes the record labels when they pretend their lawsuits are about protecting artist's interests, but a new Pew survey suggests that artists aren't bothered at all: Only three per cent believe the internet "hurts their ability to protect their creative works."

WONDER DISSES EM: Well, it's nice to know that Michael Jackson still has some friends - calling Eminem's MJ-baiting video disappointing. Wonderfully, Wonder manages to be snitty as well as chiding:

"Kicking someone when he's down is not a good thing," Wonder was quoted as telling the music industry trade publication. "I have much respect for his work, though I don't think he's as good as (late rapper) 2Pac. But I was disappointed that he would let himself go to such a level."

Yeah, it's really sad to see someone descend from the lofty heights of suggesting that lesbians should be raped to making fun of an attention-seeking celebrity, isn't it. If Wonder had really wanted to turn the knife, though, he'd have said "I don't think he's as good as Vanilla Ice."

What is bemusing is that Wonder doesn't think Eminem has any right to have a go at Mickey because, erm, he's white:

"He has succeeded on the backs of people predominantly in that lower pay bracket, people of color. So for him to come out like that is bull."

Yeah, you shouldn't question how the multi-millionaire (or, at least, former multi-millionaire) Michael Jackson conducts himself because there are black people working for shit wages cleaning gas station toilets. That makes sense, Stevie.

THE COAST IS CLEAR: We stumbled across Music is a Virus while looking for other stuff online; we were delighted to find a blog combining queer politics with mp3 files, especially since they've got Curve on offer at the moment. Yum.

THE COAST IS CLEAR: We stumbled across Music is a Virus while looking for other stuff online; we were delighted to find a blog combining queer politics with mp3 files, especially since they've got Curve on offer at the moment. Yum.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Another Sunday edition
If the rumours that have found their way into Private Eye are to be believed, The Observer Music Monthly might not be much longer for the news-stand: there's a predicition that it'll be going the way of all woodpulp come March.

The NME is in the second week of three weeks of Cool List fun, offering a CD showcasing some of the acts caught in last weeks controversial, crack-endorsing Cool List - including Art Brut, Babyshambles and Joanna Newsom. There's no space for The Libertines, which is odd, considering that Carl was joint number one choice, and they have found space for Goldie Lookin' Chain. Next week, it's posters. Carl probably won't be too upset, though: he's nabbed a spot in the next Client video, which will more than make up for it.

The big news picture is from U2's ego parade at the side of the Brooklyn Bridge; supposedly the "biggest guerilla gig" in the world, although it clearly wasn't: MTV filmed the lot, and there's no way Viacom would have been involved post-janet's nipple unless all the paperwork was in place.

The Bees make up a CD with Buffalo Springfield and Prince on it.

Xzibit takes on Peter Robinson: Peter offers him a large amount of bread in the form of openings to make gags about how usher is clearly gay, huh huh huh, and X duly makes himself many helpings of nusery-insult sandwich.

Ian Parkinson - head of "specialist" music at Radio One - pops up to defend Rob De Do Do Do De Da Da Da Bank in the light of last week's slating at the hand of Duncan Bell. He doesn't really give Rob much of a ringing endorsement, basically painting the picture of a man sent over to keep the shop going while the accountants decide if it's worth saving. No wonder Bank's sounded less comfortable and confident this week - listeners have been noticing that he's starting to try and distance himself from some of the music he's playing , and you'd have to wonder the extent that the boss describing him as "holding the fort" and "minding the shop" - in other words, hinting that this is only going to be a short-term gig - has influenced that.

Kasabian are the cover act, claiming to be the best band in britain; the claim seems endorsed by the strapline "1989 The Stone Roses... 1994 Oasis... 2004 Kasabian" - so that presumably means we can expect one decent album and then a quick descent into drug-addled tosh. Tom Kasabian thinks we need our "eardrums saving."

There's a 28 IF style shaking of Eminem's Encore, sifting the evidence to see if Eminem is now dead. It's done in a way that, if it is the end, they can go "told you", but if there's another album they can say "Only joking..."

Isaac Brock out of Modest Mouse has done hard time for, um, driving while taking laughing gas; he pretended to be suicidal to avoid getting raped. Now, of course, he just dresses up as a giant crow. The wonders of rehabilitation, eh? Elizabeth Fry would be proud.

delays at becky matthews house - she won a gig from them in some sort of competition. Colin Fox manages to plunge the gig into darkness by leaning on the lightswitch.
conor oberst - London ULU - "most of the fans probably go straight home to spend the rest of the year quaking under the duvet"

bloa - gnayse - "the title is the only daft thing about it", 8

totw - dangermouse - encore - "absolutely brilliant"
elliott smith - pretty (ugly before) - "what a waste"
ash - renegade cavalcade - "US friendly dumb rock"

AMERICAN WELSH: A year after it got its UK release, Cery s Matthews is about to bring cockahoop to her new home. Welsh Americana in a sweet package.

JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE FIRST DOESN'T MEAN IT WAS WORTH DOING: Will there be, at any point in the future, a day when anyone is going to be in any way impressed that Ludacris recorded the world's first live mobile phone ringtone? Thought not.

Antonio LA Reid thinks it matters, though:

"For today's savvy fan, the lines between new music and technology are blurring at an astronomical rate. Cellphone ringtones and graphic images are increasingly becoming competitive pieces of the overall marketing plan for our artists. There couldn't be a more exciting and innovative way to kick off the Red Light District campaign for Ludacris, and IDJ is proud to be on the cutting edge of this development once again."

We know, we know. We cried salty tears at this - big, salty tears - that someone who did at least used to have some interest in the actual music could spout such a load of twitoidical meaningless mush. He might as well have his arse replaced with a flipchart.

FEED THE EGO... LET THEM KNOW IT'S ALL FOR CHARITY: There was rather a good piece over on ACME post-Band Aid, where Alan pointed out that Damon's "I'll just make the tea, me" was a classic, shining example of the sort of fake humility that Bono could probably be granted a trademark on. It's somehow perfect, then, to discover that Bono has decided to claim that it was his idea all along. Apparently it's number one, now.

IT'S NOT A REPLACEMENT, MORE A... UM, DIFFERENT HOLE-FILLING THING: After ten years, of course, and with all of their values unbuckled over the course of that decade, there's no reason why the Manic Street Preachers should feel obliged to defend hiring a second guitarist; but, of course, as we edge towards that raw anniversary this December, suddenly having a second guitarist on stage could be seen as requiring some explanation. Not, of course, that Guy massey, who is popping up on the new UK tour, is a replacement for anyone, not at all, says Nicky:

“It was a difficult decision to come to, but we just needed (another guitarist) desperately. We always have done, James has played three guitarist parts at times, and done backing vocals at the same time.

“Guy is an Abbey Road engineer who’s engineered a lot of our records. We’ve known him since 1996. We always knew he was a good guitarist, and it’s not like a big obtrusive thing, it’s not like he’s replacing Richey, good God no. Like I said tonight when we played ‘This Is Yesterday’, I sat at my desk and wrote the lyrics to ‘This Is Yesterday’ with Richey and nothing’s ever gonna replace that. It’s just a musical thing.”

Of course he's a replacement. And there's nothing wrong with calling up some extra musical support to help out. Indeed, you'd suspect Richey would feel more aggrieved at the 2004 Manics suggesting there's a role for him that's being left empty than the pulling in of someone else to add some extra music noodling.

MEN IN BLACK ARMBANDS: Poor Will Smith, deviating from the Only Allowed Line that September 11th is the worst thing ever to have ever happened to anyone, ever. Four months ago, he suggested in an interview with a German newspaper that September 11th hadn't changed his life:

“No. Absolutely not. When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I’m sorry, it makes no difference.”

In other words, Smith was suggesting that for some people in the US, they've experienced a level of personal suffering which will always inform their lives far more than absorbing the suffering of others second-had. You might think this is self-evidently obvious, but of course: you're not allowed to suggest that September 11th isn't the worst thing ever. And as soon as the people at
Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood (no, we're not making them up) had translated the article, they were outraged. Their take was, well, special:

It is interesting to note that, on a certain level, Smith is comparing American police officers, those charged with protecting society, with Islamic terrorists intent on destroying America and everything it stands for. Smith implies that racism is so rampant among America’s police that it is a threat equal in magnitude to black America as that of international terrorism. Instead of seeing 9/11 as a traumatic watershed event that contributed to uniting black and white America and healing racial tensions, Smith seems to believe that the terrorist attacks have had little impact on what he sees as the poor state of race relations in the USA.

Erm... he doesn't actually suggest that there are levels of racism "rampant" amongst US cops at all - clearly the "racist cop" is an example of why black Americans might be uneasy. But then people who believe that September 11th "healed racial tensions" in America (that must have been something we missed while reading the shit slopping about the internet about how terrible the Muslim, Middle Eastern cab drivers, unpatriotic immigrants and Arab employees of Dunkin' Donuts and... but you get the point.

BRITNEY'S BITS: It's not just Britney who's worried about her fertility - she's been trying for a baby with Kevin for four months and is starting to panic that it's never going to happen. But in a far worse position are the editors of the celeb papers - they've been running 'Britney Gravid' stories for the last half-year, convinced that it's only a matter of time, and so sooner or later they'd have to be right. Maybe someone should get some herring over to Britney pretty sharpish.

Britney thinks the problem might be with her, as kevin already has kids. Apparently friends have suggested that they could try re-creating exactly what Kevin did around the time his previous partner got pregnant, so he's going off to find someone rich and famous to shag behind Britney's back.

HERRING AID: Apparently Jennifer Lopez is do desperate to have a baby, she's adopted a whole a new diet - she's cramming down herring and lentils in the belief that this is going to make her much more fertile. Perhaps, but we can't see Marc Anthony being that keen on bouncing up and down on top a woman who's just consumed a load of oily fish and gassy pulses.

MIGHT MAKE UP FOR HER STALKER BEING GIVEN A FIVER FROM THE POOR BOX: Sheryl Crow has at least had something nice to celebrate after a bad week: She's been elected to the Missouri Academy of Squires. No, we're not entirely sure what it means, but we bet she either gets a really cool robe or at least a giant bejewelled key.

And a plaque. We're betting on a large plaque.