Saturday, January 15, 2005

THAT'S RATHER REASSURING: Following on from the shooting of Dimebag on stage in Ohio, there's been some humming and hawing about quite what form of total over-recation is called for to ensure that this never happens again. But not everyone believes rules and security and so on are called for:

"I'd have to say, the people heavy metal shows are drawing are coming out with a different mind-set about what's fun," says veteran security professional Bart Butler, president of Rock Solid Security. "But when it comes to gun-toting crazies, I wouldn't say metal shows are any different than any other mass gathering."

Good to know you're no more likely to be taken out by a gun-toting crazy at a Man O'War gig than you are, say, at a riot or the next time you sign up for a Human Be-in.

Paul Bassman, manager of Damageplan, is still puzzled about the whole thing:

"How this man got onstage without encountering security is the most puzzling question," Bassman says.

That's right, I'm sure nobody has ever been at a gig before where people have ever got on the stage, run about, hugged the bass player, sung two lines of a song, kissed the singer, trod on the effects pedal, danced about like a pansy-boy or simply dived off the stage back into the crowd. It just never happens, does it?

The Alrosa, where the shooting happened, may or may not have been making the crowd go through metal detectors on the night Dimebag died, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway as it seems the gunman slipped in through the backdoor. Though, generally, if someone wants to shoot someone, they'll find a way in anyway: what stops everyone being shot to pieces in gigs is that generally, there aren't that many people who want to go round shooting everybody. The metal detectors are just for reassurance.

However, even in the face of the obvious, people are still suggesting that Something Must Be Done, although they don't quite know what:

"Underwriters in general take into account that the (metal) shows are of a different nature than the plain-vanilla type of show," says Jeff Insler, CEO of entertainment insurance firm Robertson Taylor North America.

"If anything, underwriters' perception is that promoters need to take more steps to make sure people don't get into venues with weapons," Insler adds.

...which is just a step away from saying "We really think it might be good if clubowners ensured people didn't get shot to death at their premises." Maybe they could put up a sign?

HEY, HO, LET GO: Apparently - according to Tommy at least - it's what he would have wanted: a slightly alarming looking bronze of Johnny Ramone has been put in Hollywood Forever Cemetery so "fans have a place to come and a way to feel in touch with this music."

Of course, the other way of getting in touch with Johnny's music would be to play a Ramones record, which would probably have a more positive effect on you than dragging off to some showbiz death pit, but that could be just us.

ROBBIE WILLIAM'S NARROW ESCAPE: During the trial of Justin McAuliffe, the spectacularly bile-filled letterbomber, it turned out that he had put Robbie Williams on his list of fifty targets. Most of the people on the list, which he wrote in between scrawling 'Death to them all' and 'Hate' on the walls, had somehow slighted him, although not in any way they'd ever realised doing. Williams was spared getting one of the party-popper and lighter fuel devices through the post because McAuliffe couldn't find an address for him (presumably sending it care of EMI wouldn't work?).

AS THE ROCK STAR SAID TO THE BISHOP...: Back in the days of Thatcher (the mother, not the chap who happily provides helicopters to people planning violent overthrows of governments without knowing what they'd use it for, of course) Runrig used to do their bit of Scottish arts by insisting every copy of their singles sold in the South of the UK was marked "Import." And, indeed, all seventeen Runrig records ever sold in England did, indeed, have that stamp upon them. Now, though, their lead singer Donnie Munro is trying to advance the cause of Scottish Arts still further, by battling Richard Holloway, the former Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, for the chair of the Arts Council. It's not a job with very much future - the council might be axed as part of an overhaul of Government arts policy - but it'll keep him busy while he tries to get a slot as an MP.

MAKES THOSE NSYNC FRUITIES SEEM A BIT LESS INSPIRED: This could be the most extraordinary celeb marketing tie-in yet: Willie Nelson is now flogging biodiesel under his own brand. Disappointingly, he's not using the slogan "Put a Willie in your tank."

MORE FUN WITH THE SIMPSONS: Having so badly botched the Saturday Night Live performance, and then blamed it all on her drummer and acid reflux (neither of which would explain why she bolted and left her band to fill on a live network TV show), and then blown her rehabilitation gig by just being plain awful at the Orange Bowl, Ashlee Simpson is now back again with a whole heap of reasons why, you know, that wasn't her fault, either:

"There were no ear monitors when we went on stage."

In other news: "It was the chisel and hammer" claims shoddy workman

"And trying to sing in a stadium where you can't hear yourself is kinda hard."

To be honest, love, if you really couldn't hear yourself you should be considering yourself lucky. It's odd that professional singers manage to somehow overcome these difficulties without being quite so terrible. As was demonstrated by the booing. All those boos. But apparently, that wasn't Ashlee's fault, either.

"I was facing the Oklahoma Sooners [which had a bigger crowd on hand], and I was rooting for USC, and they played a clip of it, so maybe it was that those people didn't like me."

Perhaps it was. Or maybe you're just rubbish. As it is, Ashlee did manage to squeeze out a Prince Harry style 'apology' that isn't:

"Maybe they were booing at me, maybe they were booing at the halftime show because the whole thing sucked. If they didn't like the performance, and that's what it was about, then sorry to them."

'Sorry' seems to be the aptest word for this whole tale, really. Some civic minded people are demanding that it's time the whole thing was brought to a natural, loving end by petitioning for her to retire:

We, the undersigned, are disgusted with Ashlee Simpson's horrible singing and hereby ask her to stop. Stop recording, touring, modeling and performing. We do not wish to see her again.

She cannot match the sound of her voice that can be found on her CDs, when she sings live. She simply yells the words (sometimes the wrong ones) into the mic.

We are so sickened by her "performing" that we are taking this opportunity to demand that she stop.

They're just shy of 17,000 takers so far.

KEYS ACCEPTS GIG, PROMISES TO KEEP 'EM COVERED: Pegged to sing America The Beautiful before the Superbowl, Alicia Keys has clearly been chosen as someone you can trust to keep her breasts fully covered at all times. The song is being included the event as a tribute to Ray Charles, the last person to sing the tune (now available as a rather nifty pop-up book, by the way) and as such 150 kids from Ray Charles' old school, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

BUCK SAYS HE NEVER, RIGHT: Young Buck - appearing under his slightly less stupid name of David Darnell Brown - has entered a plea of not guilty to charges relating from the violent turmoil at the Vibe magazine awards. Meanwhile, Jimmy James Johnson, the stabee, has pleaded not guilty to punching Dr Dre in the face, the event which sparked the whole lotta trouble in the first place. Dr Dre's face has not been charged in connection with events.

EMINEM: MORE LIKE JEANETTE WINTERSON THAN YOU MIGHT IMAGINE: The ongoing, and now slightly dull, fued between Eminem and The Source magazine almost but didn't turn nasty when Eminem and "approximately" ten stooges turned up outside a radio station where Source publisher Dave Mays was being interviewed.

Words, we're told, were exchanged. Mays claims he'd like to have a proper discussion with Eminem to sort out all the silly bother, which goes back to when The Source publicised the young Eminem's less-than-progressive early raps about black women. It seems that Eminem, on the other hand, is keener to trying to win the debate by turning up and looking menacing.

MOTHER AND CHILD REUNION: Things could be back on the up for Courtney, as the courts have decided that she's once again a fit person to be given custody of Frances Bean. The pair were reunited on Monday.

Courtney's brief statementised himself:

"Frances has been returned to [Love] after a judge indicated satisfaction in Ms. Love's efforts to turn around her life and found it was in the best interests of mother and daughter to be reunited."

We know he's Courtney's solicitor, but we're a little surprised at the claim that the judge may have weighed Courtney's best interests as well as Frances - surely family courts make their decisions solely on the basis of what they believe to be best for the child? It's almost as if the attorney is suggesting that Courtney has been put into Frances care, as much as vice-versa. Which, what with the little girl having to call mommy an ambulance and a stomach pump in the past, could well be the case.

Friday, January 14, 2005

"TWO WOULD BE BETTER THAN NONE": Nobody knows more about coping after the departure of a handsome lead man than Newsround, which has carried on despite John Craven's shock decision to quit a few years back. So, where better to look for how the nation is coping with the Busted than the Newsround reaction report?.

Michaela suggests the band should carry on:

"I think Matt and James should continue with Busted because two would be better than none."

Or, more cruelly: it's not like any of them actually did anything more important than turn up and gurn, is it? We'll bet that Matt and James have considered this course of action, too.

Nicole, from Luton, thinks that she might have wasted her entire life:

"How could busted split? I have stayed with them since the beginning and it is really sad that this is happening now but I wish them all the luck in the world!! Love ya guys !!XXXXXX"

Yes, "stayed with them since the beginning" but Nicole's efforts just weren't enough to keep them together. It's lucky she'd managed to move on before the end of her email.

It falls to Alex to weigh in with the American Pie overstatement:

"Charlie has made a blunder! Real music has died. Busted WERE The Beatles for me."

... although, of course, Charlie's main problem with Busted was that they weren't actually 'real' music. But we're sure Alex is right - they'll probably shunt Top of the Pops off to BBC TWO now or something, you know.

Maisy from Southampton isn't surprised:

"I suspected it would happen all along. In different interviews and television appearances the boys didn't seem as happy as they were when they first came onto the music scene. I never liked Busted so I will cope fine but I feel sorry for all the fans. "

Maisy doesn't explain why she felt that the split would come back when the band came onto the scene and seemed to be really happy, but she obviously has her own methods. If only she'd been able to warn Nicole before she'd devoted her entire life to them...

WHO KNEW YOU COULD MAKE LIMAHL'S CAREER SEEM LIKE A SUCCESS?: Having kicked the pretty one out once, and then kicked him out again, you might wonder if Nick Beggs wonders if he made the right move now he's flogging paintings of phone boxes in Leighton Buzzard on Ebay to keep the wolf from the door.

YOU REALLY DON'T HAVE TO: ... but it's the last day of voting at the Best of Blog awards, and you could make all the difference between us coming fifth or sixth. Or perhaps you'll vote for the vastly superior 3Hive. Anyway, voting's here.

STEALING CLOTHES: We're not sure if we're more confused by how anyone who would want to steal Gwen Steffani's dress from a museum or by the dress being in a museum to begin with.

Anyway, this is the one which has gone missing:

Apparently in was in a Fullerton, Califronia museum, but isn't now. The museum's curator reckons the dress could be worth £2,500 or so. Which isn't much when you consider that Nell McAndrew's wedding dress is currently at three and a half grand in the Sun's Tsunami Appeal.

... and that's not even all that nice.

DOUGHBIT: Another 70s legend has died, with the news that cancer has claimed the life of James 'Jimmy' Griffin, founding member of Bread.

Born in Memphis, Griffin relocated to Hollywood in the 60s, where he was to meet David Gates and Robb Royer, forming Bread towards the end half of the decade. He was with the band for five years before quitting in 1973; a reunion with them in 1976 quickly descended into bitterness and lawsuits. Griffin's guitar and harmonising vocals is prominent on all the Bread hits, including Make It With You, Baby I'm-a Want You and Everything I Own, many of which have enjoyed a fine afterlife on Gold format stations well into the 21st century.

In 1970, Griffin won an Oscar as co-writer of For All We Know on the Lovers and Other Strangers soundtrack; it was a hit for the Carpenters. He also wrote for Conway Twitty (Who's Gonna Know) and Restless Heart (You Can Depend On Me).

He never quit music - forming Black Tie with Randy Meisner in Meisiner's post-Eagles period, and having made his home in Nashville was popular on the live scene in the 90s with his band The Remingtons.

Griffin, who was 61, is survived by his wife Marti , his daughter and a son.

PSYCHEDELOBIT: The former drummer with Jefferson Airplane, Spencer Dryden, has died. He was 66, and had been fighting colon cancer for some time.

Although his heart was in jazz, he had been working as strip club drummer, providing the beats for the beating off, when approached to replace Skip Spence on the tiny little stool for Jefferson Airplane. Spence had quit to go on a musical journey which would eventually see him form Moby Grape. He was with band from 1966 through to 1970, playing on Somebody to Love and White Rabbit, and was with the Airplane during their Woodstock appearance. The band continued after his departure, morphing into Jefferson Starship and then Starship, before their reign of terror was to stop.

While Airplane did their worst, Dryden drifted from project to project: first the Greatful Dead's hobbyesque New Riders of the Purple Sage and later with a hotch-pot of Country Joe's Fish, Big Brother and Quicksilver Messenger members in Dinosaurs in the 80s.

In 2003, Spencer's home and belongings were wiped out in a house fire, and last year Bob Weir of the Dead and Warren Haynes from Gov't Mule played a benefit gig which raised the money to give him a pair of new hips.

Although Dryden sat out the 1989 Jefferson Airplane reunion, he did meet up with his ex-bandmates for their 1996 Hall of Fame induction and was with them again to mark the release of the Airplane DVD.

Apparently some sort of half-nephew of Charlie Chaplin, Dryden married three times, and is survived by two sons, Jessie and Jackson. (We're not sure if they're old enough for this to have been stunt naming.)

YOU'VE GOT FOETUS ON YOUR RELEASE SCHEDULE: The now totally new-look Pitchfork (less wild west hero, now more some sort of acid-trip take on a government 'surviving terror' leaflet) reports that Jim Thirwell is reactivating the variations-of-band-with-Foetus-in-the-name that were in the first vanguard of don't-call-it-goth, and there's to be a proper album, Love, sometime around the start of spring. First album in five years, of course. That's one hell of a gestation.

HOW CLOSE WE CAME: John Lennon nearly chucked the guitar after two lessons because it was "too hard", says Colin Hanton, who was in The Quarrymen with him. (Yeah, Colin, I was Mollie Sugden's bridesmaid, but I don't go on about it all the time...). Hanton says that it was only seeing Lonnie Donegan that made him give it a second go.

Imagine, for a moment, though, a parallel universe a bit like The Wish episode of Buffy. No Lennon. Yoko wouldn't even be famous enough to count as obscure. Ringo might have got a few more songs there. Noel Gallagher would just have this gnawing feeling that he was missing something. Liverpool airport would be called Professor Redmond Central. On the other hand, without that famous bed-in for peace, the last decades of the 20th century might have been ruined by almost perpetual conflict around the planet. And you're still wondering if I'm going to crowbar in a reference to Alyson Hannigan in a corset, aren't you?

BUSTED FOR GOOD: Pyres are being built all over the country with the news that Busted really, truly have split and aren't ever going to play together again.

The band have statemented:

"Following the departure of Charlie Simpson, Busted announced today (Friday 14th Jan 2005) that they have decided to split up."

Matt Willis, once his future (Celebrity Big Brother - harshly mocked solo album not selling - difficult drug problems - manager of a Mr. Jiffy outlet) had stopped flashing in front of him said:

"It's a really sad day for all of us but we've always said that if one member left then we'd call it a day. The last three years have been unbelievable and I'd like to say a massive thank you to all our fans - you've been amazing."

James Bourne, who had been rocking, clutching his legs and whispering 'but nobody thought Robbie would be a success, did they?' over and over, had this to say:

"I'm devastated that Charlie has chosen to quit Busted, but I have to respect his decision and I fully support him and wish him all the best for the future. I would like to say a personal thank you to all the fans who have made the last three years the best years of my life. I'll remember these years forever."

Charlie, meanwhile, is still really excited and believes that people are just dying to transfer their affection to Fightstar:

"I'm incredibly proud of everything that we've achieved in Busted. We've enjoyed some of the best times in our lives together. I wouldn't change one single bit of it. This has been a really difficult decision and I hope the fans will understand."

... but even as he was speaking, the last groupie was fishing her knickers off and the floor and quietly let herself out the hotel room.

Tony Blair cut short a session ringing Gordon Brown's phone number and pretending he wanted to order a pizza to say "This is a dark day for music; a dark day for Britain. We must now put our faith in McFly to carry forward the name of pretty boys pretending to be stars."

LULU BETTER THAN THE SKIDS - OFFICIAL: So, the results of that Best Scottish Band ever poll are in, and Belle and Sebastian have proved once again just how many email accounts their fans have, romping home. Further down the list, we're surprised to find Big Country pulling a pretty impressive 13th, which makes them more popular than Franz Ferdinand (presumably the good people of the northern Kingdom were taking a 'wait and see' approach with them. Even Spare Snare will be surprised to be on the list, we suspect:

1 Belle & Sebastian
2 Travis
3 Idlewild
4 Wet Wet Wet
5 Sensational Alex Harvey Band
6 Simple Minds
7 Teenage Fanclub
8 Bay City Rollers
9 Primal Scream
10 The Proclaimers
11 Texas
12 Mull Historical Society
13 Big Country
14 Snow Patrol
15 Franz Ferdinand
16 Bis
17 Deacon Blue
18 Fish
19 Jesus and Mary Chain
20 Mogwai
21 Runrig
22 Trash Can Sinatras
23 Del Amitri
24 Orange Juice
25 Nazareth
26 Beta Band
27 Biffy Clyro
28 Altered Images
29 Aztec Camera
30 Eddi Reader
31 Goodbye Mr Mackenzie
32 Fire Engines
33 Delgados
34 Arab Strap
35 Vaselines
36 Associates
37 The Pastels
38 Eurythmics
39 Aereogramme
40 Blue Nile
41 Boards of Canada
42 Rezillos
43 Incredible String Band
44 Cocteau Twins
45 Dogs Die in Hot Cars
46 Spare Snare
47 Average White Band
48 Lulu
49 Skids
50 Shamen

LIAM TO TAKE REVENGE ON GERMANY: The Oasis boys are obviously still angry about the time they got their sorry asses twatted in Munich, and they're now going to try and engineer their last laugh. The poor Germans are going to be 'treated' to the first live run-outs of the new Oasis material at the Hurricane and Southside festivals.

We don't imagine for a moment that they're trying to soft-launch the new songs after the big, fanfare debut of the now-scrapped sixth album blew up into their slightly unusual faces.

KILEY EYES: Presumably, you'd already be going to see Bright Eyes as Conor parades his way round the country, but if you needed more persuasion - the mighty Rilo Kiley have been named for support on the tour. Here are the dates again:

9th March Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
10th Leeds Metropolitan University
11th Glasgow QMU
12th Manchester Academy 2
13th Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
14th London Astoria

Conor shifted his position slightly in bed, his left leg extending from under the duvet far enough to give him a pleasant chill to balance the warm glow from the sticky load he'd just sprayed over his thigh... 'This,' he thought, 'will be quite a tour...'"

BILLY, DON'T BE A PAEDO: If only the Criminal Records Agency worked properly, we'd be suggesting that bands seeking to recruit members for long post-success slogs round the Butlins circuit ought to be getting background checks on the people they're getting to knock out the hits. There's been a few cases where the shady ringers brought into these touring concerns have turned out to be a bit murky, and the latest is the conviction of John Chambers for possessing kiddie porn. Chambers has been a member of Paper Lace and The Tornadoes, although he wasn't in either band for their glory years - he didn't pick up the Lace bass until some nine years after Billy Don't Be A Hero made number one.

MARLEY'S GHOST: After all the excitement of the news of Bob Marley being moved off to maunder in Ethiopia comes the denial: The Marley Foundation says Rita's words have been "twisted":

Desta Meghoo-Peddie told BBC 1Xtra: "She does express honestly and candidly the fact that Bob, as a Rasta man, loved Ethiopia and she would love to see the day where he is laid to rest in his father's land, and she has never been secretive about that.

"But we have never ever put out anything saying Bob is going to be exhumed, and returned home, and it is very painful to see something so wonderful is being twisted."

No reburial then; no new funeral. I've been baking seed cakes for nothing.

A ROW OVER THE WAVE: There's great upsetment - and not a little surprise - that tickets for the sell-out Welsh Tsunami benefit have appeared on eBay. Some of the sellers say that they intend to give their mark-up to the appeal - although one of the organisers was on the news last night saying "but there's no way of knowing if they really will" - well, no; but then again, there's no way of knowing if people who pledge cash to Children In Need really will go down the post office the next day to make good. In fact, it appears that in most disaster appeals, you're lucky if the world governments make good on three-quarters of the cash they've promised - quite often it's a lot less than that.

While the sellers aren't doing anything wrong, it does seem a bit creepy to be scalping on this particular charity gig - it's such a callous error of judgement we wonder if Prince Harry has got a couple of lots on the go right now.

But [The Millennium Stadium manager] Mr Sergeant told the BBC Wales News website that he found it "unpalatable" that some people would want to profit from a good cause.

Oddly enough, as he was saying that, The Stereophonics [New album to promote] were added to a bill also featuring the Manics [New album to promote], Aled Jones [trying to cross over from religious boradcasting ghetto], Charlotte Church [hoping to try and launch some sort of pop career]...

Which reminds us: After a week, still no word from First Great Western on if they intend to donate their bumper pay-day from the concert goers to the good cause.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

NAPSTER LOOKS INTO THE ABYSS - AGAIN: You thought everyone was happy with the new, all-compliant Napster, didn't you? Only it turns out that isn't so. Sight Sound Technologies is trying to get them shut down: they're unhappy that Napster is infringing one of their patents. Napster had been negotiating its way out of trouble, only to piss SightSound off by asking to be allowed to distribute videos for free. Now, SightSound have asked the District Court of Western District, Pennsylvania, to force Napster to close. Again.

We're not sure we'd be taking out any long-period subscriptions with the service until this one's been settled.

CLAY NOT GAY: The hair-products and teeth American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken apparently refuses to do interviews with gay publications. Next magazine writer Matt Bell says it's not for want of trying:

"We tried to get an interview with the sexually ambiguous pop star... but his publicist told us he'd 'never talk to a gay magazine!' Well, why pray tell, is that?"

Perhaps it's because he's afraid that if he talks to gay magazines, people might think he enjoys doing it with boys. Hard to believe, of course, but there you go. But before we run away with that idea, let's not forget what happened when Alonso Duralde of The Advocate Online asked him right out "A lot of your fan base thinks you’re gay. Any comment on that?":

He looked right at me. Then, without a word, he looked at another reporter and called on him. Mind you,up to this point almost no reporters had been called on—it was one of those yell-out-your-question-or-forget-it situations. But Clay was definitely not going to answer my question, not even to give me some “I love all my fans” or “It doesn’t matter what people think, as long as they buy my album” bromides. I got nothing from him. I got the brush-off. I got a freeze-out worthy of Joan Crawford.

MAKES HALF A MILL FOR A DATE WITH GERI SEEM CHEAP: We're looking forward to the forthcoming BBC Two look at Kabbalah, as it seems set to underline just how astonishing the whole set-up of Madonna's new belief system is. A BBC guy paid £1,500 to have a dinner with Madonna and camera-pointy-husband Guy, during the course of which they decided to clean up Chernobyl by doing a spot of chanting:

"...chanting that culminated in everyone turning to the east, pushing the air with their hands, and crying out 'Cher-er-er-er-nobyl' at the top of their voices. They thought they were curing Chernobyl of radiation, using the power of Kabbalah to drive away the evil."

It might sound crazy, but it's not unprecedented. Two years ago, a group of British cinema managers gathered at a secret location in Knightsbridge and chanted "Swep..taway.. swep... taway" over and over. The lord heard their chanting, and the evil of Swept Away was banished from their cinemas' schedules.

A SONGWRITER'S WAY WITH WORDS: Darius is just starting to comeback - although, really, it's more shifting to different form of semi-obscurity - following his Dad's remission from cancer, and as part of the process, he's done a chinwag with Sky News. In the course of it, he describes Seal as "a total legend of mine", which seems to imply that he thinks he made him up.

Asked if Pop Idol meant he had a stinky, smelly stigma attached to him, Darius is thoughtful:

Maybe it has been harder in some ways. But then, I supported Shakira once in Paris in front of 40,000 people, which was a dream. None of them knew me at the beginning, but by the end 40,000 people were cheering along to my music.

Perhaps, Darius. Or perhaps they were just cheering because you'd come to the end of your set?

In places like India it's the same. They have no pre-conceived ideas of me on a telly show because they didn't get Pop Idol over there. When they like my music that's enormously gratifying.

And yet, despite these success the world over, Darius isn't going to be setting his cap at US success:

Europe yes, America no. I am going to really go for it in Europe, but if Robbie (Williams) can't do it in America then I'm not going to try. It just seems too much.

This is more than a little sad - the belief that somehow Robbie's rebuff from the States is an indication that the country is somehow impenetrable is just crazy. Actually, Darius - who is quite happy to do small gigs, sing live, go all over the place, even do horrible jobs like holding Geri Halliwell's hand on a kind of date - probably had much more chance of finding success in the US than Robbie 'After you've fetched me the world on a plate, I'll have the moon on a stick' Williams ever could. Plus, wouldn't you love to see Robbie watching Darius have a Billboard Number One? Wouldn't you just?

WHO SAYS THERE'S NO POINT TO THE ORANGE PLAYLIST Besides ensuring Lauren Laverne isn't forced to take dates from aging billionaires to pay for her catfood and eyeliner, it also has great "exclusive" stories. This week, for example, Bob Mortimer "reveals" his role in securing Javis Cocker's freedom after The Brits stage invasion.

"Reveals" in the sense of "tells a story that was in all the papers at the time". However, it is a pretty good story:

I became aware that Jarvis was being held under a kind of false imprisonment.

"His friend came and found me and asked me to help, presumably because I used to be a solicitor.

"We went to Jarvis's room and blocking the door was all Michael Jackson's security, these huge beasts that wouldn't let us in.

"The police came and asked them to move away and they wouldn't. So I said 'I'm his solicitor, I'm representing Jarvis Cocker you have to allow me access to my client or I'll sue you and your boss, blah blah blah...'

"So they let me in and I was like 'Jarvis what the f*** have you done?' - and he said - 'I showed me bum to Michael Jackson and they've locked me in here'.

"I went to the Brits people and said you have to let him leave, they too tried to shift Michael Jackson's security and they couldn't.

"Eventually the police had to pretend to arrest Jarvis so that they could get him out, when we got back to the police station they let us go. So that's where the 'Free Jarvis' campaign started."

Oddly, this week's photo shows Lauren and Bob actually making the programme rather than in the traditional, slightly uneasy posed shot. Maybe this is the first programme where Lauren didn't look as if she would rather be doing some ironing while the guests ramble on:

"WE HAVE ALREADY ESTABLISHED WHAT YOU ARE; NOW WE'RE JUST HAGGLING ABOUT THE PRICE": We've often wondered exactly where the point came when you had more money than sense. What would it look like? Now we know, it looks like 72 year old Dickie Lugner paying half a million quid for a date with Geri Halliwell.

When we first saw the headline 'Geri paid £500K for a date' we did at first think 'Blimey, where did she get that kind of money?'; when we found out that was what she was charging, we were even more puzzled. We don't know how Lugner made his money, but someone who has so grossly overpaid for something which has the going rate of a bag of chips and two snakebites clearly doesn't have a great deal of financial nous.

ISLEY REJECTS IRS CHARGES: Late last year, the IRS hit Ronald Isley with a slew of non-tax paying related charges; Isley has entered a plea of innocent and will face trial from March. The claims include an allegation that Ronald had been banking cheques intended for other members of the Isley Brothers, including the now-dead O'Kelly.

BRITNEY SPEARS' BRIGHTNESS QUESTIONED: Hard to believe, but a famous name has stated his belief that Britney might be a bit thick:

"She was really quite up herself and couldn't be bothered. Sorry, but she's the sort of person who does an interview looking over your shoulder at the people advising her. I think her trouble is that she's not very intelligent."

He continues, "She doesn't know what's the right thing to say. You'll say to her, 'So tell me about the new record.' And she'll say, 'It's cool, it's fine, it's hanging out.' She gives the same answer to everything."

And, believe me, when someone with the gravitas of Eamonn Holmes says your thick, boy, that must sting.

THE CELEB CIRCLE JERK: It's not especially surprising, but Robbie Williams says he really wants to be like Bono. But Robbie, you are, chuckles. You're over-rated, overexposed, dressing up vapidity as if it was profound, and it's ten years since either of you made a decent record.

ON THE SAUCE: How many more times, guys? If you're driving a car stuffed with drugs, make sure you drive carefully. Better, if you're pissed, don't drive at all. If D'Angelo had taken our advice, he wouldn't now be looking at DUI and drug possession charges. But, oh no, he knew better; got stopped, and now has a date in the courtroom on Tuesday. Plus, he'll forever be haunted by his mugshot:

Meanwhile, Emilio Navaira is also looking at a court booking: the grammy winning tejano singer was stopped in San Antonion after losing control of his SUV. He said he'd only had "three drinks", but then someone who thinks that an SUV is about the right size for a car probably has larger drinks than the rest of us.

IT WAS LIKE AN ALL YOU CAN EAT... OH, YOU'RE AHEAD OF ME: I believe that the next version of Microsoft Office will actually autocomplete the 'all you can eat' gag when you start typing about Jimmy Buffett opening another branch of his Cheeseburger in Paradise fast food chain.

DOING RIGHT BY YOUR MATES: Nobody ever believes you when you tell them "I'm off to make a success, I shall be back for you once I'm rich..." - certainly Jason Orange is starting to think that maybe Robbie has forgotten him - but Franz Ferdinand are different. Drummer Paul Thomson has set up a label just to release stuff by the band he left behind, Pro Forma. Sweet.

BASHIR JOINS THE TRIAL: Michael Jackson is probably gathered in a small room with his advisors right now, trying to remember what he said about Martin Bashir after the airing of Living With.... "Uh... I might have said he was a salacious ratings chaser... and that he betrayed me... there might have been a bit about him making a terrible programme... do you think that could be problem now Martin Bashir will be giving evidence in the trial?"

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

OKAY, SO THE SECOND TIME IS FARCE... WHAT ARE THIRD AND FOURTH?: Like a slightly paunchy grandfather returning to prizefighting, Tony Wilson has resurrected Factory records for a fourth time. (Yes, fourth - there was the one that got flogged to London when it ran out of cash, Factory Too... we're buggered if we know what the other one was). It looks like it's going to be downloads only, perhaps at first, which suggests this more a labour of love than a well-resourced outfit. Still, you can't help but admire Wilson for talents at getting right up, dusting right down, and starting all over again.

Northside are rumoured to be mulling putting together a demo tape.

NAPSTER IN TROUBLE?: The announcement by the RIAA-endorsed neutered Napster that its cutting download prices to the same level as iTunes, 79 pence a pop, suggests that they're having trouble getting people interested in their product. There's a couple of ass-covering statements from the company - they say the move is "in response to an upsurge in record sales over the festive period" and, according to Leanne Sharman, UK general manager:

"With Napster clearly on its way to success we wanted to further fuel our growth with more attractive pricing and create an even broader appeal to music fans," said Leanne Sharman, Napster vice-president and UK general manager.

"By dropping our store prices in preparation for the launch of Napster To Go we are able to offer UK music fans an unbeatable proposition – their choice of how they want to consume music online – via downloads, subscription, or portable subscription – all at low cost and integrated into the most feature-rich and community focused digital music environment in the world."

So, from the first statement, we're supposed to think Napster is seeing itself in competition with physical CD sales; and yet Sharman says the idea is to go for "more attractive pricing." But there's no reason to suppose that Napster are cutting prices for any reason other than the traditional reason retailers drop their prices: to get people interested in what they're trying to flog. No successful shop cuts its prices unless they have to.

NAPSTER IN TROUBLE?: The announcement by the RIAA-endorsed neutered Napster that its cutting download prices to the same level as iTunes, 79 pence a pop, suggests that they're having trouble getting people interested in their product. There's a couple of ass-covering statements from the company - they say the move is "in response to an upsurge in record sales over the festive period" and, according to Leanne Sharman, UK general manager:

"With Napster clearly on its way to success we wanted to further fuel our growth with more attractive pricing and create an even broader appeal to music fans," said Leanne Sharman, Napster vice-president and UK general manager.

"By dropping our store prices in preparation for the launch of Napster To Go we are able to offer UK music fans an unbeatable proposition – their choice of how they want to consume music online – via downloads, subscription, or portable subscription – all at low cost and integrated into the most feature-rich and community focused digital music environment in the world."

So, from the first statement, we're supposed to think Napster is seeing itself in competition with physical CD sales; and yet Sharman says the idea is to go for "more attractive pricing." But there's no reason to suppose that Napster are cutting prices for any reason other than the traditional reason retailers drop their prices: to get people interested in what they're trying to flog. No successful shop cuts its prices unless they have to.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: About time too, there's only 353 days left
We're not sure, but surely the gap between the 2004 Review and the 2005 Preview issues of the NME has to be the longest ever? Anyway, having paused for a pre-Christmas, Christmas, The New Year and the Franz special, we're finally down to the 2005 crystal-meth gazing. Compared with last year, when it was proudly proclaimed to be the year of the Oasis Return, this year is looking much better: Bloc Party are on the front. There is a pokey Chris Martin tucked in the corner, but we can pretend that's not happening. It is, of course: there's a report from the studio, where the Play are using the riff from Computer Love on one of their new songs (which is like taking the engine from a Bentley to use as a doorstop); and writing exciting new lyrics: "You and me are floating on a tidal wave together/ You and me are drifting into outer space." Thanks for that, Chris.

News reports that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are planning a "total change of style for 2005" - the main change being they're going to actually stick a record out towards the end of this year, something they've not done since 2002.

Peter Robinson takes on Liela Moss from Duke Spirit: She claims she never watched Z-Cars, but she does like hill-walking. That's the problem with outdoors, like Smog said: you risk missing something good on the TV.

Cat Goodwin, NME picture assistant, gets an oped slot to suggest that in the light of the Tsunami deaths, watching popstars kill themselves might be a little more sick. She also suggests that William Blake was talking bullshit when he said "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." She should be writing more, trying to find an interesting picture of Chris Martin less, although frankly, she describes Coldplay as "the best British band, which suggests that maybe she shouldn't.

So, who are the NME pinning their 2005 hopes on? Kaiser Chiefs - "grouting" says Peanut, "is very similar to indie music"; Kano, who provided 16 Bars for Fit But You Know It; The Bravery, whose Sam uses the medium of the film Twins to explain themselves: "The bands we're compared to are Danny DeVito; The Bravery are Arnold Schwarzenegger." (Which is actually the wrong way round - The Bravery are the funny, inspired, energetic one); The Game, apparently about to piss over 50 Cent's sales records (say his record company); Nine Black Alps, the indiest indie band ever; The Longcut, the first Manc band to sign to Deltasonic; The Arcade Fire, with Win admitting that he wanted Regine in the band because he fancied her; The Subways, beaten in a Welwyn Garden City best band contest by a now defunct reggae act; The Magic Numbers, who are either so good or so rubbish Noel Gallagher bought them a pint. And, of course, Bloc Party.

This year, then, is looking pretty good - not only does there not seem to be any bands who've been included because otherwise there'd be an empty page or two, but there feels like a genuine sense of excitement in the way the paper covers them. While some of the previous years "Here comes..." issues have read like The New Republic previewing another four years of Bush, this feels like hearts are really coming back into it.

And then there's Bloc Party. A band who are proud of having library cards. It could be a great year.

pete doherty - news year eve dates - "it was like Beatlemania" says reader Jane, who would have been all of minus 23 when Beatlemania was happening.
guided by voices - chicago metro - the final gig is reviewed by Carl Dalemo from Razorlight: "The whole venue is begging for the band to go on... just one more song..."
the tears - london heaven - the first gig: "the tears have picked up from the moment they left off a decade ago... the chemistry remains"

the chemical brothers - push the button - "some moments worth salvaging", 4
kissogram - the secret life of captain ferber - "weary, witty pop songs", 7
entrance - wandering stranger - "the international son of cosmic blues", 8

totw - the others - lackey - "a corkscrew in the head of Keane fans"
park attack - tongue n groove - "the kind of [thing] popular in New York in 1983"
little barrie - free salute - "the Toploader its okay to like"

Next week, it's going to be The Killers.You can almost forgive the bastards for slapping Bono's gob on the newsagent's stand for two weeks, can't you?

NOT ACTUALLY FOREVER, THEN: The Salvation Army have announced plans to close Strawberry Fields, the children's home that was in that song. Penny Lane by the Beatles, we think it was. The charity says that, blimey, have you seen how much they could get if they let it be turned into pokey flats to be marketed at ridiculous rates as 'Manhattan style loft apartments' ("they are 'responding to change' and it is 'now preferable for children to be cared for within a foster family or in a small group home, rather than within large residential institutions'").

YOU'VE GOT TO DIG UP YOURSELF, LIVELY: Rita Marley has announced plans to exhume Bob Marley's remains in order to allow him to be reburied in his spiritual home, Ethiopia:

"Bob's whole life is about Africa, it is not about Jamaica," Rita said. "He has a right for his remains to be where he would love them to be."

The re-internment will form the centrepeice of a month of Marley themed celebrations in the Addis Ababa.

I'M MY OWN MOTHER: If you fancy some old-fashioned family values, how about Sharon allowing Kelly Osbourne to play her in the Osbournes TV movie? We have a little while to wait until this wonderful project hits the screens, as Sharon is having trouble casting someone as Ozzy (although we imagine Jack keeps coughing politely whenever the subject comes up):

"It has great potential but it will be hard to cast someone to play Ozzy.

"He is rather unique, you see, and it will take a big man to fill those shoes."

What do you mean? Even my Dad can do an impression of Ozzy Osbourne, and he doesn't even know who he is (note to self: check his medication levels); Ozzy is so easy to do even John Culshaw manages a decent version on Dead Ringers. Not being able to find someone to play Ozzy is like a schoolteacher saying that there's nobody able to carry off the role of 'tree' in a school play.

WE'RE SENDING HIM A FIVER TO HELP HIM THROUGH THE WINTER: Although he may have earned twenty-two million quid less in royalties last year, we imagine Robbie Williams won't be complaining about the two million he still managed to pocket for not doing very much. Although it is Robbie, and "Williams won't be complaining" does sound an unlikely phrase.

WHAT I GO TO SCHOOL OF ROCK FOR: We're sure The Samaritans will be sticking in a couple of extra phone lines as the rumours grow that Busted are about to split for good. Charlie seems more and more determined forever to make Fightstar his full time job; tittle suggests the trio haven't spoken to each other since they played Wembley, and in short: it could all be over.

SEND FOR COLT SEAVERS: Good god, Judge Dread Blunkett's only been gone a couple of weeks and already the country is sliding into a sea of scofflawing and anarchy. Take, for example, Lee Ryan - convicted of smashing up photographer's equipment, and ordered by a court to pay two hundred quid. Apparently, the photographers haven't had a penny, so a warrant has been issued for Ryan's arrest. Lee's spokesperson says it's all a terrible misunderstanding:

"Lee's representative paid the costs by credit card on the day of the court case and that marked the end of the case as far as Lee was concerned.

"He is amazed and upset to hear that the matter appears to be unresolved and will be looking into how the mix-up could have occurred immediately."

Is it just us, or is there something lacking in the whole penalising element of Ryan's sentence that he got someone else to put his fine onto a credit card? In effect, not only has he got someone else to do his sentence for him, but it seems to be Mastercard who have been fined.

We actually wonder if what happened was something like this:

Ryan: God, two hundred quid? We'd have to have another four number ones before Mr. Manager would give me that much... would you pay for me, Mr. Minder?
Mr. Minder: Go stuff yourself, Ryan. I'm here to make sure you don't lick no more electric cables or get locked in the toilets again, no more
Ryan: Please...
Mr. Minder: No
Ryan: I'll try and swim in the goldfish tank at the restaurant again
Mr. Minder: Oh, alright, then. You wait outside.
Ryan: Thank you. [Exits]
[Mr. Minder takes out a paper, reads it for ten minutes, and follows Ryan out]
Mr. Minder: There you go, Ryan. I stuck it on my credit card. All sorted.
Ryan: Thank you. Can we get ice-cream?

WHICH COUNTRY DO YOU MEAN?: One of the joys, we guess, about music is that you can find anything in it you want, and assign your own meanings; and, we suppose, if Who Moved My Truth? is listening to country on US radio, then she presumably will hear nothing but ole'fashioned family values and support for the country. But it's disappointing that anyone can really believe that

"country music is typically about traditional values. NOT EVERY SONG, but many songs still proclaim the joy of marriage, the importance of family, and the regret for foolish mistakes."

It's a little like suggesting that the great thing about Goth is that all those songs about graveyards really encourages young people to get out in the open air and get some colour into their cheeks. Country music about the joy of marriage? Would that be "you picked a fine to leave me Lucille", or maybe "d-i-v-o-r-ce-e" that you're thinking of? Likewise, suggesting that country is the home of mindless patriotism is to ignore the long tradition of country singers who call the president to account - from Steve Earle during the current war, right back through Country Joe and the Fish and beyond.

Like we say: you can find any meanings in music you choose. But it's claims that country musicians are Republicans in stetsons which stops a lot of people from really discovering the true, contrarian heart of country music.

THE UNDEAD: The cloying panic rising in our stomachs isn't so much worrying that the 1000th number one is going to be Elvis, it's more the sudden realisation that a twenty-five year old corpse looks set to number one every week until May. Lord help us all.

JERMAINE WONDERS: WOULD IT BE DISLOYAL TO SEND HIS CV?: Huffed up that cameras have been banned from the Jackson trial, Sky and E! have come together to produce a dramatic reconstruction of the court action. They're going to churn five half-hour programmes out every day - so, the sort of high production values we've come to associate with Sky, then. We're not quite sure quite how much "entertainment" value E! believes there will be in reports of young children allegdly being abused, although we have heard there's quite an audience for that sort of thing.

EVERYBODY'S ON SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST: On the basis that it really did Franz Ferdinand no harm at all, there's going to be a huge Edinburgh presence at this year's SXSW. Dawn of The Replicants (a band we've heard nothing from in way, way too long), Idlewild, Aberfeldy and Hobotalk are making the trip; even more astonishing: so are The Rezillos.

GRUFF ON HIS OWN: Not since Plug was spun out of the Bash Street Kids to front his own comic has there been such a risky solo project as Gruff Rhys playing a few dates on his own (Colwyn Bay Theatr Colwyn February 10; Harlech Theatr Ardudwy 11; Penarth Paget Rooms 12). The last time he was out on his own would have been that Today appearance...

SOMEWHERE AT APPLE HQ, THERE MUST BE PICTURE OF BILL GATES AND THE WORDS 'NEVER AGAIN': Obviously, as Mac lovers, we're most swimmy about the creation of an affordable, entry level Apple computer, but from a music industry point of view, Steve Job's announcement of a new member of the iPod family: smaller than a packet of chewing gum, and fifty quid for 512Mb suggests that Apple have no plans to allow their lead in the music portables sector fall at any end of the market.

HEAD DAMAGE:Daryl Paulmbo has had a resurgence of his crohn's disease trouble, so Head Automatica have pulled their shows again - they'd been down to support the Used through January. No word on replacements yet. Get well soon, Dary.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY TRANSATLANTIC SPECIAL: Being a collection of things culled from papers on the American news-stands over the Christmas period.

The New Yorker decided to see if music could make you happy like an old friend, and so found a bunch of Beatles fans, hooked them up to a heart rate monitor, and played them one of the mop-top's records. The conclusion? "True love never dies." Sadly, they didn't then try playing them something by The Plastic Ono Band, but then again, there are ethical considerations even in pop science experiments.

Entertainment Weekly had a dire warning to sound: Alanis Morrisette is preparing her sitcom debut - it's going to be a music business version of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and she believes it will "dispel the myths" about her. Presumably the big myth, that she really can't be as hunourless and self-regarding as she seems.

EW also realised that - hey - maybe American radio might not be all its cracked up to be, and the internets could prove it. They featured a site called, which it feels shows there's a whole audience not being served by the mainly Clear Channelesque American. Oddly, though, promosquad seems to be throwing most of its weight amongst blue jean adulty rock grunts like Phoenix, which doesn't really seem to be the most obvious segment being overlooked by American radio.

Wes Anderson is asked about the way he uses film in music, and reveals that when he was making The Royal Tenenbaums, George Harrison was too ill to enable the clearing of rights to Hey Jude. So then he decided to get Elliot Smith to cover it. You might think he'd have quietly dropped the idea after that.

The Boston Globe scooped up an armfull of celeb-endorsed perfumes and got people who work with smells to give their opinions. Trash collector Nick Wozniak was one of the experts, pronouncing Beyonce's to be "like washer fluid... Windex or something" and Jessica Simpson's "like a peanut butter cookie". One whiff of J-Lo, however, resulted in "ooh, that one's bad."

Also in Boston, The Weekly Dig's review of 2004 included a full apology for having run a feature praising Dido.

Out Front Colorado spends some time with Rufus Wainwright: "After Poses was out, I got really disillusioned with pop culture and what they wanted. After a while, I just decided to be a snob... Mia Farrow and Genn Close are like these huge fans of mine..." Well, give him his due, when he set his mind to being a snob, he does it really well.

Something we've wondered about ourselves is puzzling The Onion AV Club: "Gwen Stefani is often touted as a rare 'real' personality in the pop environment, but what has she ever conjured besides the image of a Californian girl in a band with a bunch of boys?"

Paste is making Uncut's monthly CD look a little poor now - it gives everyone a free CD (this month including Alison Kraus, The Arcade Fire and Minnie Driver - but nobody's perfect); subscribers, though (and for one month only, everybody) gets a free DVD. A decent one, not the rubbish ad-box affair The Sunday Times does (was doing?). The DVD even has a mission, to try and recreate the 'oh my God what was that' spirit of early MTV.

Paste have also stolen a trick from the NME, introducing a band index - it can only be a few months before they go the whole hog and buy into the cult of Tim Jonze.

Nick Rhodes speaks of his relief when the Durans got back together: "thankfully, nobody turned up with a sitar or a heroin addiction..." - the words "or Warren" can be taken as read, of course.

The Donnas defend their decision to take part in ads for Target (Superdrug writ large) last year by pointing out it got them a gig playing Hello Kitty's 30th Birthday party.

"I'm not Britney Spears" says Neko Case, which is kind of like Rick Stein mentioning he's not running a branch of Burger King. She defends the short running time of The Tigers Have Spoken - 35 minutes - by pointing out that "just because a CD can hold more doesn't mean it should" - which is fair enough, but just because you can charge full price for half-an-album, equally, doesn't mean you must.

Paste are excited by Julie Dorion, because she's different to other indie stars. "Little could be less glamorous for an indie rocker than a profound longing to wash dishes and put the children to bed." Indie rock being, perhaps, one of the last bastions to fail to understand that having a kid doesn't mean you cease to exist.

The tale of Dan Messe and Hem is told, almost suggesting that there is a god, or a fate, or something at work: Hem's vocalist Sally Ellyson was working as a producer for CBS' 48 Hrs, missed the initial ad for a singer placed by Dan; by the time she found out about it, Messe had lost interest; he listened to her tape, but only - it turns out - by accident. There is no masterplan to the universe, but sometimes it looks like there might be.

If left to Peter Buck, apparently, the new REM Around The Sun, would have been "even slower and more acoustic" - which would probably be measureable in beats per hour. Meanwhile, Michael Stipe reveals something Bono once told him, which might explain a lot about recent U2 work: "every song doesn't have to be great, just do what we do." It's a curious point of view - that it's more important to just knock out the songs than to worry about making them as great as possible.

We thought Out Front Colorado might have had the most astonishing fact of the lot when it revealed that Manhattan Transfer are including Rufus Wainwright songs in their set, but then Paste announces that Tom Waits used to be really good friends with Fred Gwynne, who played Herman Munster for a living.

There's more on the state of American radio: Patty Loveless has, in effect, capitulated: "When I look back to 1994 and a detailed song like Here I Am, I wonder if it could get onto the radio today. We had to cut parts out of On Your Way Home to get it played on radio. Not words, but little bits of music. It hurt me to do it. But I did it." So, it's not enough to ensure that the lyrics are flat enough to fit the formats; nowadays, you have to cut off the spikes from the music as well.

On the other hand, there are signs of other openings: Paste now has a slot on CNN Headline News.

Any speculation that Paul Weller might be coming to terms with his status as pub quiz answer and sometimes seventh or eight influence named by skinny boy bands can be discounted: "I still have my self-doubts, but there are some aspects of my talent that I don't doubt anymore."

Maybe we can try and stir some extra self-doubt on your part, Paul. Rather than being too cruel - and playing you every dirge you've made since Mick Talbot went off to see if the hat shop would take the boater back - we'll just mention that when Skyscraper told Franz Ferdinand that American magazines suggest they're influenced by The Style Council, Alex hasn't heard of them.

"It's Paul Weller's band" chips in Nick.

"Oh, God" replies Alex.

Skyscraper is a hefty publication - it's enormous, it's perfect bound, and although we thought the reviews sections in the early days of the battle between Select,Vox and Q to be the most comprehensive had got out of hand, we never saw anything like the hundred pages of album ratings Skyscraper has to offer. And if it's weighty in its ambitions, it's even weightier in its desire to treat music as a serious matter. Very, very seriously. Franz Ferdinand are told they're not going to be treated in the same way as all the other American papers have treated them. And then The Chinese Stars are asked sternly if they take music seriously. Nervously, they say they do, only to be upbraided: "Well, why nipple rubs on website pictures? Why the all-denim (even shirtless denim) concert uniforms?" Presumably The Ramones would have got extremely short shrift from the magazine - not just uniforms, but silly names too.

Still, putting the music at the centre can draw out some interesting perspectives. Nic from !!! reveals the band's masterplan: "a journalist once said to me that when British and American music separated in the 90s it got boring and he was determined to bring them back together. Bands like the Rapture may be into that, but we've been more about bringing black and white music back together."

The Robot Ate Me's Richard Bouchard also lets something slip: "off the record, a lot of On Vaction Part II was basically making fun of [The Postal Service's Give Up] album.

You can't be sure if the prediction in My Back Pages, Denver's Twist and Shout record's own regular pop paper, that this coming year might be Denver's year, is as much hope than certainty, but with Czars, Sixteen Horsepower and Love .45 lining up, they could just be right.

A few miles north, and Fort Collins residents are able to enjoy a new freebie music paper, The Front. It's astonishing how many music papers (often free) even quite small towns are able to support in the US; and it's a pity that there isn't a similar range of publications in the UK. Mainly it seems to be a lack of advertising support which does for the titles which do try - but its not clear if British mags are just rubbish at selling ad space, or if British advertisers are more reluctant to take space.

Anyway, The Front considers the work of Marilyn Manson, suggesting he's always managed to keep the faith of gothy-esque because he's never been "too well done or too polished", which is just wrong: the only thing more polished than Manson's over-done PVC is the production sheen on his records.

Glossy Losing Today has reached issue five, albeit after a hiatus of three years. There is a promise of another edition in November 2004, but we saw no evidence of that. It comes with a CD and, yes, it's named after a Slowdive song.

Valerie Trebeljahr from Lali Puna suggests in passing that the problem with Riot Grrl was "the term was commercialized", which seems a little extreme: can any genre which hasn't generated a "Best... Album in the World Ever." Valerie's first album was Sade's Diamond Life. Thank god she discovered Stereolab.

In the Fierce Panda piece, Simon Williams confesses he turned Elbow down on the basis that they had a crap name.

It's while we're reading Kazu from Blonde Redhead talking about how they've signed to 4AD that we suddenly realised something: more and more American bands are (like Scissor Sisters) signing their primary deals with British labels, and yet American magazines are writing about more and more British music - three quarters of the live reviews in Losing Today are of gigs in Britain; there's also a lot of fairly obscure Brits like Fiel Garvie interviewed. We don't know quite what it means, though. Perhaps we're just swapping.

Maximum Rock and Roll readers are angry. Not because of Iraq, or even Bush winning again. No, what's pissing off Karl Bakla is "punk guys dating Abercrombie and Fitch chicks." So, we're not quite in the realm of open-minded punks yet, then.

The magazine itself has more important things to worry about: Javier Couso Permuy of Sin Dios files a report from a visit to Iraq, the primary purpose of which is to pay homage to Jose Couso, the journalist assasinated by the US military during the war. Not the sort of thing we expect to see in Heat any time soon.

Back with music, and MRR has got news of what Thee Headcoatees are doing now that Billy Childish has made them obsolete: Kyra Rubella and Bongo Debbie Green are now trading as the A-Lines, producing "Lasy Punk" and singing sometimes in Flemish.

Resonance also delivers its music with a political stance, although it allows Kathleen Hanna to get away with her usual slightly vague "whatever you do is fine" approach: "Isn't every person on the planet political in one way or another" she says. No, Kathleen, a lot of them aren't. That's the problem. Johanna tries to make some sense of the claim, offering that "status quo politics are invisible", which is bollocks. The work done to maintain the status quo - the central banks, the courts, the G8, trade agreements - is anything but invisible. Thats kind of why it's so difficult to shift.

And, still hanging about in the corners of some Borders was the November Wired, the one which came with a free CD to demonstrate the wonders of Creative Commons licences. They don't ask the Beastie Boys - who offer a lot of support for the rip and mess approach - how it is they managed to let their music come out on copy protected CDs in Europe, which is a bit of a missed opportunity.

But they do strike gold with an interview with former RIAA head Hilary Rosen. First, she reveals just how weak the music industry's grasp of the issues actually are (again). Defending the plea for copyright extension, she bristles "farmers can leave their property to their children, why shouldn't songwriters be able to leave their songs to their children?" But they can, Hilary. Some day, the Beckham kids will inherit Beckingham Palace; some day, Rufus Wainwright will be able to take his fan Mia Farrow back to Loudon's old place. What farmers kids can't do, though, is go to the baker's kids and demand money for the corn their dad delivered to them in 1903.

Then, though, Rosen does make an astonishing admission: the RIAA legal campaign against illegal downloaders has lead to "a chilling effect on other, legitimate users [of P2P networks]. Many musicians and consumers fear using pieces of other's songs, even for non-commercial purposes." In other words, the "educative" aspect of the RIAA war on its own consumers has totally failed. It hasn't stopped people who are downloading; it's just scared off people from actually using music in ways they've always been able to. Brilliant work, gang.

And finally: we don't have anything to bring you from the Improper Bostonian. We just really like the name.

AAAH...: We'd been wondering why there'd be so much twittering about Brian McFadden being "in love" with Delta Goodrem recently - and now all becomes clear. The pair are about to release a duet, and clearly - with neither of them exactly interesting the British public - this is a bid to try and spice up the single's chances. We wonder if the label has thought of putting little "They might have done it" labels on the CD cases?

If this single doesn't work, it could be bye bye Brian as far as his contract is concerned (and, probably, the same is true of Delta's chances). But Brian knows why he's not yet achieved the dizzying, mistifying levels of success of Ronan Keating:

"It's been hard and the split with Kerry has not been good for my career."

That's it! Being in every half-witted tabloid and gossipmag solidly for a year really will have harmed your sales. Unless you think that, perhaps, the British public rate new releases on the basis of the singer's morality? You don't think that, perhaps, releasing pisspoor tracks might have been worse than the way you treated your ex-wife when it came to selling records?

ANOTHER CELEB HITCHING: After a two-year engagement (which is longer than most pop stars' marriages) Nas and Kelis have got officially married. To each other. Kelis had to scrap some London dates in order to attend her own wedding, which suggests someone either has trouble with her Outlook Calendar or it might have been a bit last minute.

ALL BOYS: We're a little disappointed that when New Order return with their Waiting For The Sirens Call album on March 28th, they're not going to be the classic line-up. Gillian Gilbert has left...

... and is being replaced full-time by Phil Cunningham. He stepped into her shoes once before, when she had to pull out due to family crises, and was keen to get a chance to have a go with the rest of her wardrobe this time round. is reporting the new album is going to be like the classic dancey-period late-80s Order. We think that means John Barnes will be rapping on quite a few of the tracks.

GO AWAY, DAD: We're not sure quite what's prompted 50 Cent to growl at his Dad and tell him not to come out of the woodwork to try and get some cash off him, but he's making it clear in no uncertain terms that he won't be amused if the absentee parent pulls a stunt like that.

ARMY MODS: We'd have thought that Bjork would have been a little wary of unsolicited packages, what with her history, but it seems she does happily open jiffy bags which turn up at her flat in Chiswick, and has ammassed quite a pile of unrequested remixes of Army of Me. After ten years worth of these things coming in, she's decided to stick them all out on a double CD Yep, an 2CD set of nothing but Army of Me. All the money the record makes will go to charity, assuming, of course, that it makes any - not that Oasis have ever had problems flogging albums where it's just variations on the same song over and over again.

If you'd like to be part of this unprecedented-except-for-that-Toms-Diner-album project, there's still time to send remixes in: the addy is 128kbs mp3s and, we're sorry, but we can't return any pictures.

PARTY PARTY: It's way, way, way too short, but Bloc Party have announced a microtour to promote the Silen Alarm album. They'll be doing their stuff come March:

01 Edinburgh Liquid Room
02 Sheffield Leadmill
04 London Forum
05 Portsmouth Pyramid

... and the warming up the crowd and checking the stage duties will be done by Chromeo (not, as we heard at first "Old Meo", the member of the Matchroom Mob with "loads of dapper suits") and, in London, an extra slot with Battle in it. Battle is the new name for Killing Moon, which is a bit of a trade-down in name terms.

PRESUMABLY JOEY FROM FRIENDS WAS FIRST CHOICE FOR OFFICIANT: Congratulations, of a sort, to this happy couple:

Yes, Vince Neil and Lia Gerardini have got married in a star-studded ceremony. The oddest aspect of the whole thing was that the ceremony was conducted - can this possibly be true? - by MC Hammer. The Associated Press report this as if it's the most natural fact in the world.

HE'D HAVE GOT MORE IF THEY'D NOT ABOLISHED THE HALF PENCE PIECE: As happens semi-annually, a semi-famous rock person has had a go at busking. This time it was Jonsonite Tory Rick Wakeman, pulling in fourteen pence in the centre of York. Rick is a bit surprised - he points out he once played Madison Square Gardens for five solid nights (and still didn't reach the end of the first song):

"They took a lot more notice than the crowd here."

Yes, but if Madison Square Gardens had had an Iceland offering six Birds Eye products for a fiver and a Peacocks with prices cut across the range, you might have found yourself struggling there, too, Rick.

SEAL CLUBBING RAPPERS: Now he's got something almost approaching a profile again, Seal has launched an attack on rappers:

"It's sad when you see the rappers on TV and in the videos making these derogatory videos towards women ... kind of like sexual objects."

It might seem a bit strange for Seal to suddenly get a bit upset about this sort of thing when he's about to marry, um, a swimsuit model...

... but we're sure there's a diffence we're just missing. But Seal has more to say:

"It's sad because we're damaging our own. Like, in different cultures, you would never see that."


He added: "Take for example the Jewish culture. They've been persecuted just like the black people, right? But you never see them eating their own. They don't. But we will.

"I really feel that there is a responsibility and what goes around comes around."

We know it's not what he meant, but with the ages-old slanders about Jews eating babies, he might have wanted to have put a bit more thought into the phrase "You never see [Jews] eating their own..."

Monday, January 10, 2005

BRITS NOMINATIONS: Goodness, there's a dangerous prospect that this year's Brit Awards might reward musical achievement, with a much healthier looking shorlist being announced:

British male solo artist:
Jamie Cullum, Lemar, Morrissey, The Streets, Will Young

We're not sure about the inclusion of The Streets as "best male solo artist", but then there's not really a category for "loosely-organised equipe based around a central figure"; and, of course, there's always the danger that the more schmoozy and predictable Cullum might get the nod because he's so much more international. We find it amusing that Lemar has got a nomination - has he actually done anything much ever? He seems to exist solely to fill out benefit gigs, reality shows and shortlists. And we understand that Will Young's nomination was a mistake - they'd cut and paste the shortlist grid from last years and forgot to delete him from the box.

British female solo artist:
Amy Winehouse, Jamelia, Joss Stone, Natasha Bedingfield, PJ Harvey

Always a tricky category, of course, which is why in previous years they'd just slip the statuette to Annie Lennox and move on. It should go to peej, of course, but almost certainly won't; we'd hope the two she-Cullums Winehouse and Stone split the grown-ups vote. Probably Jamelia, we fear.

British album:
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand, Keane - Hopes and Fears, Muse - Absolution, Snow Patrol - Final Straw, The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free

So, no Libertines then, making this about the only list in the Western World that hasn't put them into the 'best 5' category. But you'd have to say this is probably one of the most impressive line-ups of Albums ever to get the shortlisting from the Brits: it reminds you that the big sale of albums last year was achieved without any of the hokey warhorses (Travis, Oasis, Coldplay, Williams et al) turning in anything new. It's going to be the Frannies, surely?

British group:
Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, Keane, Muse, Snow Patrol

Another snub for the Libertines, but once more a more 'proper' list than you'd expect the Brits to come up with - no McFly, no Busted; not even a Girls Aloud tucked in there - maybe this is because there's a separate 'pop' category, but we can't see why poppy acts couldn't have been considered here, too. Kasabian seem a surprising choice - we can understand why the slightly porridgey Snow Patrol have washed up there, but Kasabian? "They were in the Sunday Times Culture supplement, so we'll give them a vote." We predict a second polite mumbling from Alex Kapranos.

British single:
Band Aid 20 - Do They Know It's Christmas?, Jamelia - Thank You, LMC vs U2 - Take Me To The Clouds Above, Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme, Will Young - Your Game (Voted for by commercial radio listeners)

We're at a loss as to why, if you wanted to ask a question about quality of music, you'd ask commercial radio listeners; it's like approaching a bunch of people at the Republican National Congress and asking them to name the best Socialist philosopher. No, seriously, they reckon Band Aid 20 is a contender for the best British single of last year. Not "most righteous" or "pious", they think it scores on the basis of quality. Who knows how commercial radio listeners will vote on this one?

British rock act:
Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, Muse, Snow Patrol, The Libertines.(Chosen by Kerrang! TV viewers)

We can just about see the way Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines have drifted into this category - although the ghost of the old Kerrang is turning in its grave... not that ghosts actually are in graves, are they? - but Snow Patrol? Rock? They might as well have just thrown Jamelia in as well. Having said which, K!TV was showing the Gwen Stefani video the last time we looked, so god alone knows who's watching the channel these days. Muse, probably, here.

British urban act:
Dizzee Rascal, Jamelia, Joss Stone, Lemar, The Streets.(Voted for by MTV Base viewers)

We're not sure if its a good thing or a bad thing that The Token Black Music Award shortlist is half-white (we know it's a two-three split, but Joss Stone is so painfully pale she counts as doubly white). And again, we're meant to be pretending that Le 'Yes, I could give Darius Danesh a run for his money' mar, Jam 'Did I mention my awful childhood' elia and Dizzee 'Awkward Grange Hill style rap for charity' Rascal are powerful forces to be reckoned with. The Streets should waltz this one.

British live act:
Franz Ferdinand, Jamie Cullum, Kasabian, Muse, The Libertines

The Libertines? To be fair, post-Doherty Libs turned in a steady performance, but weren't doing anything that excessive - and surely the Brits won't be endorsing the turn-up-perhaps ethos of pre-divorce Libs. We'd happily see Cullum get this the minute he does a show that's truly crowd-pleasing, and falls off the piano lid. Especially if it was a piano suspended over a pit of very hungry hippos. We're guessing, but we bet this will be where Kasabian get a small award to show that the Brits are ahead of the loop.

British breakthrough artist:
Franz Ferdinand, Joss Stone, Keane, Natasha Bedingfield,The Zutons (Chosen by BBC Radio 1 listeners)

The Zutons? That reminds us: whatever happened to the Coral, eh? We Vcan see this coming down, Washington State style, to Natasha v Franz

Pop act:
Avril Lavigne, Girls Aloud, Natasha Bedingfield, McFly, Westlife.
(Promoted by ITV1's CD:UK, The Sun, O2 and Samsung)

Wot, no Busted? While we know it's wrong to wish ill on people, since Westlife seem to have no intention of just stopping and going away, it seems the only hope of ever being rid of them is if they have a nasty accident (obviously, being hit by a falling Jamie Cullum and Piano would be our first choice). With such a rag-bag of "promoters" for this category, it could be anyone's. Yes, we saw Avril Lavigne listed there, and it's odd, but at least it must be pissing her off royaly to be slammed into the froth section.

International male solo artist:
Brian Wilson, Eminem, Kanye West, Tom Waits, Usher

This is more like it - yer classic Brits line-up, a total hotch-potch with a couple of guys you weren't entirely sure were dead; someone who's clearly got the nomination because the people voting spend most of their time overseas and hadn't realised he's totally unknown here; a "dangerous" option who's actually as safe as a neutered labrador having a nap; and a bloke who's been nominated in the vague hope that he might turn up and do a song to try and make the Brits of interest to the US networks. Eminem?

International female solo artist:
Alicia Keys, Anastacia, Gwen Stefani, Kelis, Kylie Minogue

Dull, worthy, poorly edited, underperforming... and Kylie. It's not been a glorious year for Kylie, but since it's probably her last hurrah, she'll get it for old time's sake.

International album:
Killers - Hot Fuss, Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane, OutKast - Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below, Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters, U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

Why is Scissor Sisters in the international category? Aren't they on a British label? Don't their records usually count as British under BPI rules? Anyway, if there was any justice, they'd pick up an award here, but it's going to be U2, isn't it?

International group:
Green Day, Maroon 5, OutKast, Scissor Sisters, U2

We've tried to get people to explain the fascination with Maroon 5 to us, we really have. Nobody can actually explain what it is they do that makes them keep turning up at awards ceremonies. We're assuming that what will happen here is, if U2 do win the album award, the Sisters will get this one.

International breakthrough act:
Jet, Kanye West, Killers, Maroon 5, Scissor Sisters

Much as it hurts us to admit it, Jet probably deserve this one. The formbook, though, probably means it'll get given to Maroon 5 - which may well be the last we ever see of them.

Brits 25 best song award:
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart, Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights, Queen - We Are Champions, Robbie Williams - Angels, Will Young - Leave Right Now (Voted for by BBC Radio 2 listeners)

As if to disprove all those articles saying how cool Radio 2 is, they've somehow got the Williams and - oh, Huwedwards, Leave Right Now onto the shortlist. And so they'll probably go and make one of those the overall winner as well. Maybe The Right Thinking People should just agree to throw all our weight behind Kate Bush?

Outstanding contribution to music: Bob Geldof
Hey... we love I Don't Like Mondays, but beyond that... what contribution is this he's being rewarded for, exactly? The Vegetarians of Love?

POSSIBLY NOT QUITE WHAT HE HAD IN MIND: We admire Ricky Martin's determination to end exploitation of children, and his concern that post-Tsunami Thailand might be offering numerous untracked opportunities for kids to be sucked into the netherworld without many people noticing. The trouble is, when he tells CNN:

"A lot of children in Thailand became orphans after the tsunami. They are perfect preys for the traffickers to go on with their business. We cannot let this happen[...] These are 600,000 children that could be perfect -- could be preys for the traffickers. We're talking about a third of the population of the victims. They can be abducted. They can be forced into prostitution. They can be forced into child pornography, organ trafficking. It is a really scary business, but this business is generating $7 billion a year. It needs to be stopped. [...] awareness is the most important thing. There is a lot of denial about this issue. This issue is so dark. People don't want to even hear about this. And I just need to be very, very stubborn about this issue and talk. Talk, repetition, I think, is the most important thing that we can do to educate someone."

... he sounds less like someone trying to stop an enormous injustice, more like a travel agent trying to sell Gary Glitter an all-you-can-eat buffet? Maybe Martin should try and focus his media interview slots on why its wrong, and how it will be stopped; the punishments that are already in place and how offenders will be caught?

CAN A LEADEN DOG SWIM IN THE NORTH?: We're not entirely sure we quite believe the quote in its entirety, but we don't doubt that's more than smidge of truth in the reports that Minnie Driver is a bit surprised quite how badly her records have stiffed. The Sunday Mirror has her appealing to her mother in some horrible fish and chip shop in Malibu ("Malibu's sea god fantasy-themed Granita restaurant"):

"Oh mummy, I put my heart and soul into it but they're trying to ship me off to Canada to promote it," Minnie moaned. "Why do I have to go to Canada? I don't want to, mummy."

... BUT SHE DOESN'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT: What matters is not that people know you do the right thing, but that you know that you do. Take, for example, Jennifer Lopez's charity work at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles - "I don't like to do my charity work in public" she, um, tells Latina Magazine in a, er, big feature on the charity work she does.

"It's an important thing that no matter how much money you have, you can go someplace if your child is sick."

Yeah, J-Lo, you're so right. Here's an idea, then - why not let the state collect taxes from you to pay for socialised medicine, free at the point of delivery?

PRESUMABLY TRACK 5 OF 'THIS IS MY TRUTH' WILL BE AVOIDED...: It seems the Millennium Stadium's firm commitment to the Tsunami benefit has unlocked a load of confirmations for playing - now, it's more than Aled Jones and Lemar, as the Manics have said they'll play; also making definite travel plans are Badly Drawn Boy, Snow Patrol and Embrace.

Tickets have been flying fairly well from the box office - 45,000 had moved by teatime yesterday.

BANDS IN PIECES: Nobody's quite sure what's happened, but it seems Ikara Colt are busy looking for another drummer; they might find someone in the wreckage of the McCluskey split.

The McCluskeys have apparently oozed out the following statement:

"The three piece rock band known as mclusky have disbanded, as of friday january 7th, 2005.

The reason for this parting is private, though probably not as entertaining as you'd imagine.

Personally, I would like to thank all the people, places and times that occured on or near us.

I`m grateful for the love and to to a lesser degree, the hate. There'll be more music soon, from all of us. "

Also giving up the ghost (don't you hate it when bands carry-through on News Years Resolutions?) are The Unicorns, who have apparently agreed not to work together for a while. (What would that be, then: a trial separation?)

IT TAKES A VILLAGE, IT SEEMS: So, although it's being dressed up otherwise, Radio One is axing the Peel Show. In place of the one show covering all musics, there's going to be one thread - One Music, which is currently a website. The new guys helming the programme will be affable Huw Stephens, who co-hosts the Thursday Wales opt-out, 1Xtra's Ras Kwame, and Rod DaBank. All excellent presenters, and the shows will doubtless be packed with great stuff, but it's a little like seeing the collection broken up and shipped off in pieces.

CREEPIER AND CREEPIER: Apparently, to mark the 25th anniversary, the Brits is going to come over all like The Simspons. That's the dysfunctional family from Brookside, not the yellow ones from Springfield. Because we can't think of a single Prince song that Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield could duet on that won't sound slightly icky coming from a brother and sister. We're not religious, but we're lighting candles in the hope it won't be Get Off.

YOU'VE BUST YOUR LABEL: Then: Ministry of Sound was riding the crest of a dance music boom, respected and cooler than the heart of a baked alaska.
Now: Ministry of Sound are promoting a keep-fit video featuring the dancers from the Eric Prydz video.

TSUNAMI GIGS: More Tsunami stuff: James Walsh from chubindie giants Starsailor is going to be doing a solo set at the Belfast Tsunami aid mini-fest on Sunday 23rd. Therapy? are also going to be there, along with a load of local bands, spread across three rooms in the Limelight.

ORIGINAL STUPIDS (C) MICROSOFT 2005: There's not been much doubt that Bill Gates is more a lucky huckster than a intellectual heavyweight, and that these days his thinking is restricted to little more than "shall I use the waffle maker in the east kitchen or the west kitchen" and "with all these zeros on my bank statement, is that a quillion or a gazillion dollars?" But even by the standards of a man who believed that Windows XP was ready ship, his outburst about calls for copyright reform is surprising:

QUESTION: In recent years, there’s been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, “We’ve got to look at patents, we’ve got to look at copyrights.” What’s driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?

BILL GATES: No, I’d say that of the world’s economies, there’s more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist.

... thereby revealing he doesn't understand anything about the copyright debate, nor, indeed, much about the differences between Communism and Socialism, and precious little about either of those, too.

CHERYL TWEEDY ATE MY HOMEWORK: There's something quite cruel about the new Radio One competition, where you can win pop stars being ordered to spend the day with you at school (Radio One just seems to accept that its listeners will be at school these days, then). The winning entrant will get to choose between Lemar, Girls Aloud, Feeder, Daniel Bedingfield and - oh, god help the poor head teacher - Goldie Lookin' Chain. The musicians will be expected to take part in lessons - "No, Tweedy, seven times seven isn't seventy-seven..." - including PE, which should be a hoot if it's Daniel Bedingfield. Our sweetest hope, though, is Gripper and his gang enter and get GLC down for a spot of ear-twisting and stealing their dinner money. Guns don't kill people, the blue goldfish do.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

MUSIC ON THE TV: Did we really hear Cat Deeley correctly on this weekend's CD:UK, praising "Gordon Brown's brave public support for Band Aid"? Unless our ears are wearing out either Deeley has discovered a talent for political satire, or she really hasn't thought that one through very much.

AND I THINK I CAN EXPLAIN THAT...: The total balls-up where Fairfield Warde high school tried to honor old boy John Mayer, only for him to be frogrmarched off the premises as a "security" threat has become a running sore for headteacher James Coyne. And he's attempted to explain exactly what went wrong with, um, limited success:

"I guess I'm disappointed with the attention it's been given," Coyne said Monday. "A complete explanation wasn't provided in the news stories. The one thing that didn't come out is we very much wanted to honor John, but we wanted it to be in an atmosphere appropriate for the students and safe for everyone concerned. We have a great deal of respect for what he accomplished and think he has a positive message for the kids. He had a dream and he followed it."

That's right, dammit - it's so disappointing when the media latch onto something like a school bundling its honoured old boy out the back door and into a carpark from an event designed to praise his success.

Coyne says that the problem was that Mayer only accepted the invite two days before the event and " that did not allow enough time to hire security and police officers to keep excited fans at bay, [Hall of Fame Committee Chairman James] Conley said.

Anyone who's ever seen the Yellow Pages for that area will acknowledge that it could take days, maybe even weeks to search the listings for 'security' - and you can just picture the number of excited fans we're talking about here, who'd be making their way out to Fairfield to see John Mayer.

"I'm sorry it happened," Conley added. "I'm not apologizing for anything, because we did our part. He just didn't give us any time. You have to have security when someone of his stature is around. What do you see when you go to a concert? Men in front of the stage with shirts that say 'security.' All we had was me, and I'm 68-years-old."

Well... yes, it's true at gigs you do often see men with tshirts that read "security" - that would be at a gig, mind. This was a school event where only students and teachers and a few family members were gathering. It was hardly likely to be Altamont.

Conley said he was standing near [Fellow inductee JJ] Henry's baby, who was fast asleep in a carriage.
"That could have been a disaster," he said. "'Having John Mayer there ... with no security?'"

We don't know for certain, but we suspect that Battleship Potemkin may have made a deep psychological impact on Mr. Conley. People - babies - excitement? You don't even need the Odessa steps to see how all that could end up.

We're actually not sure how Henry and the other inductees must be feeling about all this, to be honest: the message seems to have been that the school decided they were so obscure they needed no protection from braying crowds at all.

Aside from the potential for a frenzied crowd of students during a full day of school just before the holiday vacation, Conley said it also would have been unfair to some students if Mayer was allowed in. The auditorium could not house the entire student body, Conley said, and teens who did not get to see the popular performer would have been disappointed.

... but Mayer hadn't invited himself - he'd been invited in the first place. So what would they have done if he had said he'd go all along? Or would the students who'd missed out been okay and not disappointed as he'd RSVPed promptly?

The story gets better when Mayer does turn up, and the teachers panic that he might be spotted:

When Mayer arrived at the school, he was led into Coyne's office, where the headmaster said they discussed the security situation and made a tentative agreement for him to come back to the school.
Coyne said he waited until the bell rang so students could change classes without seeing Mayer in the hallway, adding he "could understand why Mayer thought he was stalling him."
"He was accompanied to his car as a courtesy," Coyne said, "and I thought we had agreed to do it at another time. Because he is such a celebrity, his presence in the school at that time wasn't something we thought was a good idea."

Still, we guess the main idea behind the Hall of Fame had been to raise Fairfield's profile around the planet. They really managed that.