Sunday, December 31, 2006

Robbie Williams is not going to Adam and Eve it

It's hard to know quite what the most tragic layer of today's story in the People is.

Could it be that Robbie Williams wants to play a cockney gangster in the next moribund geezer flick that comes along?

Could it be that he's "learning" cockney rhyming slang, apparently unaware that films are made with big papery things called scripts which contain the things that the people in them have to say?

Or, could it just be that he's apparently "learning" cockney by watching old tapes of Minder and Only Fools and Horses?

We bet he's watching the Gary Webster era Minder as well, rather than the good stuff.

Why publishers lose money

We've thought and thought, and still can't quite figure out who would be so interested in Matt Willis' life story as to make his memoirs worth a million quid. Especially since it'll be aimed at next year's Christmas market, by which time the last of Busted's fans will have hit puberty.

Still, we'll look forward to using the piles of unsold copies to reach the higher shelves in Book Bargains early 2008.

Can you swap a Free Parking for a Get Out Of Jail Free?

It's not entirely clear which of George Michael's many car-related slip-ups have led him to being charged with being unfit to drive, as there have been so many to choose from. Or perhaps the cops are just bringing a portmanteau case to cover every eventuality.

It's not you, Bob, says Sienna

Sienna MillerIn what we're sure is a genuine outpouring of upsetment and not an attempt to try and get him to back down from his legal threats, Sienna Miller has said that she's "mortified" that Bob Dylan believes Factory Girl blames him for Edie Sedgwick's heroin-flavoured death:

Miller told The Observer she was "mortified" to learn of Dylan's anger. "It blames Warhol more than anyone."

"I'm Bob Dylan's biggest fan. I'm mortified that he's pissed off," Miller, 25, told the Sunday newspaper.

"She [Sedgwick] needed help and no one helped her. It's not that Dylan drove her to heroin addiction."

So, apparently, simultaneously, nobody helped her and it blames Warhol. Curious.

The other curiosity is, if Dylan isn't being at least looked at oddly by the movie, he appears not as himself, but as a composite character.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

There's always been a (insert whatever it turns out like) element to our music

Bono seems to have noticed that U2, as a band, are pretty thin fare these days - and, like the CEO of a fading brand, is promising to do something, anything to stop the rot.

Actually, strike the "like" from that and replace it with an "as".

The next U2 album will sound different, apparently, although he doesn't seem to know how:

"We're gonna continue to be a band, but maybe the rock will have to go; maybe the rock has to get a lot harder. But whatever it is, it's not gonna stay where it is."

Or maybe it will stay where it is, but turn through 180 degrees. Or maybe it'll sound a lot like the other recent stuff, but with an Abba sample or something stuck in the middle. At this stage, the market reports just aren't in to make that sort of judgement.

Our in-house musicofuturoligists predict the next U2 album will sound "exactly like the last one, but there will be a new logo and The Edge's hat will feature a shiny new badge."

Paris Hilton was killed by the internet

In a bemusing misunderstanding, Lily Allen seems to think that Paris Hilton is little more than someone's famous daughter whose career was scuppered by people being able to somehow see through her on the internets:

"Five years ago Paris Hilton's album would have done really well over here in the UK, because we didn't have things like the internet.

"We didn't have bands like myself or the Arctic Monkeys. Now people can see Paris for what she is, and think: 'Go away. What makes you think you have a life?'

"People cheesy enough to buy albums like that should be killed."

Yes, the death penalty for buying novelty albums. It was the copy of the Juliette and The Licks album that did for Saddam, we understand.

Lily's confused take is doubly bemusing when, in effect, her second-rate Amazulu stylings are being driven mainly by the image she's had created on the internet rather than any inherent quality - how the Arctic Monkeys must cringe every time she suggests that they're in some way siblings under the mouse.

And if people look online and see Paris as being little more than a spoiled talent vacuum, that doesn't quite explain why her TV shows, perfumes and other pointless endeavours continue to do quite well.

Allen is so wrong: five years ago, it's not that Hilton's album would have done well. It just would never have been released. It's hard to imagine that Keith Allen's daughter would have got very far with her PR-constructed career, either.

Self-made woman (material supplied by Daddy)

In a bid to stop her from being "spoiled", Bob Geldof has given Fifi Trixibelle a fifth of a million to set up her own PR company.

Fifi is currently thinking up names for her new venture - My Struggle isn't on the shortlist, apparently.

Coxon the way back?

Christmas, eh? It's all about the family reunions, innit? And what could be more festive than old friends putting animosity to one side and re-embracing each other?

Graham Coxon is apparently convinced that Therestofblur are now sober enough to make a reunion workable. According to an insider of some sort:

“Graham left Blur under a hazy cloud. He was worried that returning to the studio with the lads would be like moving backwards.

“Graham is over getting smashed every night and he didn’t want to go back to an environment where he will be tempted.

“But he has finally realised Blur have grown up and have families now.

“They are a totally different band to the one in the Nineties.

“As soon as Damon has finished his tour with The Good The Bad And The Queen in February they are planning to go into the studio. It will be one step at a time.

“It may not be a long-term project — it will probably be one last final Blur album to bring closure to the band. Just how it should have been.”

Hmm. While we can see that closure is a good thing, as we've said before, we'd rather have a decent Graham Coxon solo album than a misty-eyed Blur one which is more likely to chip away another bit of what made the band special.

Rod: To knights, he yours

Well, commander rather than knight: he's been given a CBE as part of the New Year Honours. Rod has affected to be thrilled, even although he must be sucking a thoughtful tooth as to why Cliff and Macca are knights and he's got some crappy medal that used to be given as a prize on early series of Bullseye:

"Although I'm living in California, I'm very proud to be British," he said.

"We will be celebrating the good news later today."

Of course, Rod was so proud of being British he trumped off to live in California to avoid paying his share of the costs of educating and keeping his fellow countrymen healthy. Not quite sure why a person who went off to live in tax exile is considered worthy of CBE status, but I'm sure the Queen can explain it all.

This is now about so much more than the cleaning products

Ah, it wouldn't be Christmas without a spot of family misery, and who better to supply it than the most miserable family of them all?

Heather Mills called the cops, claiming that paintings worth squillions of pounds had been stolen from the McCartney lodge.

When the police turned up, though, they discovered that it was actually a domestic: Paul had popped by and taken the paintings into "safe" keeping (i.e. his).

We're sure that Heather made a simple mistake - after all, if she knew the paitings had been taken by their owner and then called the cops, that would be wasting police time, wouldn't it?

[Thanks to Jim McCabe for the link]

Friday, December 29, 2006

Britney: I'm no longer your biggest fan

Set against the freedom from Kevin Federline, Britney is going to balance another major loss: Ruben Gray is closing down World of Britney:

"As Britney keeps losing her identity and credibility within fans and industry people, so is"

"I think that WoB has had its run... its feet are not holding firm anymore, not because of my ability to run it, but because I believe Britney is unfortunately done (for me at least)."

In other words, we think he's got a girlfriend in real life.

Atomic kit-off (again)

We're not sure if the poster of Natasha Hamilton naked, save for a million nicotine patches will persuade anyone to give up smoking.

It has, however, persuaded us to try and give up going into Boots.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: He bloody hates Tescos

Having spent the period before Christmas getting excited by the prospect of an X-Factor number one, Gennaro has been suffering turkey indigestion thinking of supermarkets selling DVDs like they're some sort of consumer product:

Gennaro Castaldo, head of communications at leading U.K. specialist entertainment retailer HMV described the supermarkets' actions as being "like a cuckoo in the nest that works against the best interests of the industry and other retailers. I can't think of a thing the supermarkets do in a positive way to develop and sustain the industry."

He adds that specialists such as HMV have "almost written off the blockbuster releases as revenue earners" because of supermarket pricing and have been forced to concentrate even more on deep catalogs.

"Giving it away below cost also damages the aspiration to collect DVDs because consumers perceive it as an almost throwaway product," Castaldo said.

Now, I thought my small collection of DVDs I'd bought and cherished because of the programming on the discs, rather than because they were priced with a healthy mark-up for the store. Turns out I was wrong.

It's also questionable to suggest that supermarkets have done nothing for the industry - they've made DVDs an impulse buy and put them in front of consumers during their weekly shop, which surely has grown the market. And, by "forcing" specialist stores like HMV to stock a wider range of movies, they've helped bring about a situation where people looking for something beyond the new releases might have a fighting chance of finding them in town.

The real heart of HMV's problems might be revealed by being a store which feels that offering back catalogue titles is, in some way, an onerous task to be entered into reluctantly.

Slim poll advantage

Besides providing a beach-based night of dancing for the people of Brighton, Norman Cook is using his New Year gig to poll the people on matters of local importance, not least the question of Brighton and Hove Albion's proposed relocation from some tennis courts to a new site in Falmer and the godawful monstrosity they're trying to build on the King Alfred site in Hove.

Local democracy not merely in action, but also bustin' moves.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Victoria Newton is too sexy for research

Let's just glide gently over the details of the Right Said Fred plans for 2007 - guest spot in a Daz advert, I'm Too Sexy being re-released and probably an invite to deliver Channel 4's alternative Queens Message next Christmas, and instead gaze, again, with wonder at Victoria Newton's journalistic powers:

As I revealed in the summer, Right Said Fred were more like Reich Said Fred when they briefly resurfaced to play at a concert in Germany — where they have a huge following — to mark the start of the 2006 World Cup.

Since then they completely disappeared off the radar again — until now.

Er... completely off the radar, except for Richard Fairbrass being one of the contestants on Celebrity Scissorhands every night for a week during Children In Need, eh, Victoria?

Been to Miami? Lovely, Miami.

What is it with Tony Blair and pop stars houses? Having spent time at Sir Cliff's luxury pad, now he's hunkering down for New Year at Robin Gibb's place in Miami.

Blair's people are desperate to stress that it's a proper rental arrangement, rather than a freebie - although, I suspect, if we see a Sir Robin Gibb in the resignation honours we can assume a healthy discount was arranged. It would be even better, of course, if it had been a house swap, and Gordon Brown was being kept awake at night while Gibb watches the pay-porn in Downing Street.

Not that the adoption was a publicity stunt or anything...

Madonna has just fetched up on Live With Regis and Kelly, looking about as comfortable The Queen would on Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow. (We're guessing this was a rerun of some sort.) In the course of her appearance, she invited Regis Philbin to be the godfather of David. Despite, supposedly, her adoption of him still being over a year in the future.

Of course, we're not American, and maybe it's usual for godparents to be approached on TV chatshows. But from where we're sitting it looks a little like a desperate and transparent bid to try and claw back some positive publicity to try and offset the impression that she's a rich woman who bought a child.

Maybe Paul was dead, all along

We're a little puzzled. There's much excitement over the soon-coming Beatles stamps, which feature a variety of Beatles record sleeves. (Not, sadly, the butchered babies one.)

However, our understanding of the rules for stamps is that the only living people allowed to appear on Royal Mail stamps are royals. So... is Paul McCartney actually dead? And is Ringo a secret son of the Duke of Edinburgh?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fire leaks

Due to a slip of the mouse (we're not going to point the finger at too much eggnog, but... well, it is Christmas, isn't it), The Arcade Fire managed to muff their charity single. Double muff, in fact, as their label stuck up the wrong song at the wrong time:

"Intervention" was supposed to be uploaded to iTunes as a charity single benefitting Partners In Health on the 28th of December, but someone at Merge uploaded the wrong song 2 days too early ... The song that people have downloaded from the US side of iTunes is called "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations," and it is the next track on the record after "Intervention." I guess it is sort of charming that we can send the wrong song to the whole world with a click of a mouse...oh well. The real "Intervention" will be up soon, and there will be a paypal link up on for those who have downloaded the songs without paying but still want to give some money to

Still... it could have been worse. They might have really screwed up and sent it to the Zune store.

Bookmarks: Some other stuff on the internet

Creative Review salutes the work of Malcolm Garrett, designer to the Buzzcocks for thirty years: Garrett has also designed a thirtieth anniversary logo for the tour: “it’s a witty take on the original and the fact that the music, the band, the logo itself and much of the artwork, have been around for so long,” he says.

Shemia Miller editorialises in All Hip Hop on sexism in hip-hop and an apparent rolling backwards: Turn on the television and you have Flavor Flav, a man that was in one of the most socially conscious rap groups of all times, Public Enemy. He now flaunts Black women as if they were pieces of meat to fight over his affection.

Ari Gold recalls the trials of being a Gay Pop Star (more gay than star) in The Advocate: At the next meeting, with another gay label, the exec told me that while I was “a pioneer” and I should be “really proud” of myself, he thought I was too niche for their label. Too niche for a gay label? Kind of ironic, since I had just been told by an indie label that my music was too mainstream for their indie sensibilities.

(Bunnymen not included) in Beatbox3's only slightly over enthusiastic history of the drum machine: The finest feature being the cancel buttons. This allowed you to modify each beat somewhat to give greater flexibility. The tones generated by this unit tend to go from muddy to raspy. The best tones are the cowbell, which is convincing in a mix, and the clave, which really cuts through. All tones but the cymbal are adjustable to the users liking.

Jacko's lawyer's office must offer great muffins

Why else would Michael Jackson continually be trooping down to his lawyer's office? Now, he's decided that he finds himself short of a pot to piss in not because he's spent his millions on giraffes, paying off children he may or may not have touched and legal bills. Instead, it must be the accountants' fault.

So he's suing them.

Jackson suggests that they were taking two and a half million from him each year, but neglecting to pay any bills. The accountants have yet to comment.

After Brown

The tributes to James Brown have been trickling in - as syrupy stuff tends to - as people's agents and managers return to work after Christmas. Mike Griffiths points out the modest Snoop Dogg eulogy, which is, in effect, more all about him:

That's my godfather, my soul inspiration, the hardest working man in show business of all time. He'll be missed, but his music and his legacy will live on through me, in every way you can imagine.

Well, yes... judging by your bulging police record, that might be true.

George Bush has also expressed some sentiments written for him:

He said Brown was "an American original - his fans came from all walks of life and backgrounds. James Brown's family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers this Christmas."

Bush concluded his statement by insisting that he felt like being a sex machine.

Meanwhile, James Brown sort-of wife Tomi Rae has been locked out the family home. James' lawyer has concluded that, since they married while she was still legally wedded to someone else, and since after her first marriage was annulled she and James Brown never remarried, Tomi Rae wasn't a legal spouse.

Tomi Rae isn't happy:

"This is my home," Mrs. Brown told a reporter for the newspaper outside the gate of the house. "I don't have any money. I don't have anywhere to go."

As mother of James Brown's child, though, she'll probably find things settle down in her favour. The lawyer is reported in the Denver Post this morning as saying that, in effect, Tomi has a house that she'd use when she and James Brown were on one of their regular periods of not being able to live together, so she's not exactly in the snow meanwhile.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jacko double-checking that what happens in Vegas really will stay in Vegas

Just sneaking in as the last Jackson comeback plan of the year: scrub the moving to Ireland bit, and the Katrina benefit single, and recording in London, and the Middle Eastern record label. No, no, Jacko is, apparently, heading to a Vegas residency.

The promoter involved is quite excited:

Promoter Jack Wishna, who is masterminding the singer’s comeback, said: “We are working on several projects.

“He is one of the greatest entertainers in the world and is poised to return to the top.”

The only problem is, of course, he's not actually done any entertaining in a very, very long time - he tends to make dates and either not show up, or just mumble through one verse before blinking off stage. What Vegas venue is going to pony up for that?

Unless, of course, the plan is merely to have him in Ripleys Believe It Or Not.

Dog snoops shop Diddy's shocking dog shopping stock

Trouble for Puff Daddy, as his puffa jackets turn out to be more doggy than daddy. Macys have yanked his coats from their shelves after the Humane Society pointed out the line's faux fur was actually real dog fur.

Diddy dithers he didn't know:

“I was unaware of the nature of this material.

“As soon as we were alerted, the garments were pulled off Macy’s floor and website.”

If it's (one of your) names on the label, Sean Combs, saying "I didn't know I made my overpriced leisurewear out of puppy skins" isn't quite good enough, is it?

Badly driven boy

Damon Gough - he cares about the planet, you know:

"Everybody thinks and assumes we've never had it so good. I'm trying to juxtapose that with the fact that, all this is great, but there's a lot of fucking crap going on as well. There's a lot of the environment being damaged by us conveniencing ourselves with whatever technology or gadget there is and it's potentially damaging."

Presumably, then, it's a different Badly Drawn Boy whose music is currently soundtracking an advert for Hummers in the US.

While on the subject of adverts, how tough must things be for Celine Dion? This Christmas, she's been reduced to appearing in an advert for Walgreens (which is kind of like Superdrug's drunken uncle) in a bid to try and shift her perfumes. We don't know what her parfum smells like, but it's nothing like dignity.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Soulobit: James Brown

We've just heard, further to our posting earlier, that James Brown has died.

Brown was born in South Carolina in 1933 into extreme poverty - at the age of seven he was living in an Atlanta brothel, helping make money through shoeshine and busking.

At the age of 16 he had his first serious run-in with the law when he was caught stealing a car, a crime that saw him spend three years inside. He would go on to be dogged by combinations of cars and cops, winding up inside again for an incident when he fired on police during a car chase. Other blots on his record included an unacceptable habit of spousal abuse, and signing up to Reagan's War on Drugs, a battle he appeared to fight undercover, behind (and doing) enemy lines.

On release from prison, he developed the musical act he'd been working on inside into a gospel revue. His big breakthrough came with 1956's Please Please Please, his first million seller - albeit one for which he was only paid $150. A combination of onstage flair and a determined attitude (it wasn't unusual for "the hardest working man in showbusiness" to turn in 350 gigs in a year) saw him build a steady fanbase and run up a string of hits.

While his temper, attitude towards women and willing embrace of hypocrisy can't be overlooked, it's equally impossible to take away his achievements both as a singer and a businessman. Having said that, the Grammy committee did do their best, never acknowledging Brown until he'd provided Living In America for one of the Rocky soundtracks. Papa's Got A New Bag not worthy of a Grammy; saccharine over-emotive flag-flying bollocks for a pumped-up B-movie is.

James Brown spawned anecdotes as fast as he spawned legal actions. His manager floated a rumour that Brown was planning a sexchange to be able to marry singer Bobby Byrd; he was well-known for fining band members who turned up late for rehearsals. In 1992, he was prematurely obituarised by a TV news broadcast. And, apparently, his eyebrows were tattooed on.

Brown is probably the definitive mess of contradictions: repeatedly in trouble with the law, but in 1968, Brown's Boston gig was given an unexpected live nationwide broadcast as an attempt to calm down the atmosphere following the murder of Martin Luther King. And for every run-in over unpaid tax bills, there was a charitable initiative or sponsorship of food stamps for the poor. A shrewd businessman (he owned radio stations and car dealerships) he also made some astonishingly poor decisions.

But most of all: he was the Godfather of Soul.

Brown beat prostate cancer in 2004; severe pneumonia finally took him at 1.45 on Christmas Day morning.

2006's other obituaries

Seal clubbing knife crime

You'd have thought that pictures of Seal would have been of such little interest - especially without his more-famous wife - that he'd find it difficult to excite a flicker of interest in a snap-happy kid with a Christmas camera who was already onto his second memory card.

It's something close to incredible, then, that photographers apparently started drawing knives in a bid to snatch a pap shot of him as he left the Vail ski slopes last week:

The trouble began when five photographers from one agency got in a heated argument with two others from a competing agency while trying to get a snapshot of singer Seal coming off the slopes, Aspen police said.

"There was a little chest-bumping shouting match between two reps," said Terry Leitch, an Aspen police officer. "One group got offended that the other group was trying to block the view intentionally."

Leitch said the altercation began as the photographers were leaving the Gondola Plaza in Aspen. By the time police were called, the paparazzi were exchanging verbal barbs near Ajax Bike and Ski.

Leitch said no punches were thrown, and the knife was only out for a few seconds. However, two members of the group with Ginsburg described the knife that police said they found on Del Palacio.

The Celebrity Babylon Web site posted a feature Tuesday of "Seal and Heidi Klum's clan enjoying a stroll in Aspen." The photos show shots of Seal, Klum and their kids walking around Aspen.

Good god... what if it had been someone famous skiing? Doubtless Britney shots would have seen the photographers going nuclear.

I coughed already... damn

More goodwill messages - let's hope James Brown has a speedy recovery: he's in hospital with "severe" pneumonia. His agent suggests he'll be up and around for a New Year's Eve date with Anderson Cooper.

Not that sort of a date, although who could blame someone for seeking out a carriage-ride with Mr. Coop?

Jingle bell (No) Rock

A twinkling, snow-spattered, light-bedecked merry Christmas to everywho happening by - with especial thanks to our regular readers, and those of you who provide tips and suggestions and feedback.

Even... since it is Christmas... to Robbie Williams.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Clinton robbed

Who'd have the guts to piss off George Clinton? Someone, apparently, decided to risk his wrath by lifting the camera he was using to film a video for Bounce2This. Complete with chunks of the video still in the device.

Police have a lead - the chummy managed to get himself caught on another, security, camera as he was lifting.

Taxi for Mr. Cocker

Another spot of festive gifting: the adventures of taxi driver Jarvis Cocker, in the Don't Let Him Waste Your Time video. Streaming, now from taxi rank to your heart.

Another fall of snow

As if having one band with Gary Lightbody in wasn't enough, now he's starting another one:

"It's called Listen Tanks. It's me and Jack Knife Lee. It's a strange, little, dark, country, folkish beast. It'll be out next year."

It'll be interesting for Gary to discover what it's like to not be able to find anyone to play a new band's music because they're all playing Chasing Cars on an endless loop.

Our Christmas wishes are starting to come true

Maybe there is Santa Claus after all: the total lack of interest in Paris Hilton's pop music has made it unlikely she'll be making any more records.

The idea is to let the music career slip away as unnoticed as her album was.

I I I I I I I can't find my baton

Do you ever find yourself wondering whatever happened to Lisa Stansfield?

Apparently, after Razzamataz she made some records. Now, though, she's taken on a new role as president of the Rochdale Youth Orchestra.

The old one was Sir Malcolm Arnold, who died, leaving a vacancy. Lisa hasn't actually said anything about her new role, but the orchestra have released (as in leaked) an email she sent:

"Just a quick note to say how thrilled I am to be asked to be the new president.

"As you probably know my schedule is often very unpredictable but I would love to attend as many concerts as I possibly can."

Nothing says "I'm delighted" like a quickly-written email making it clear not to epect too much.

A Christmas gift

The lovely people - and they are lovely - at Filthy Little Angels are inviting you to celebrate the festive season with a three CD free mp3 download smorgasbord featuring Jew On Jew Action, Hefner, Helen Love, Want Take Have and... well, loads more, obviously, otherwise it'd not fill three CDs, would it?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Trying to recapture Virginity

If you were in a band "best known for a Kenny Everett jingle", you might conclude there's not much to comeback for. But that's not going to stop Iron Virgin, reuniting some thirty-two years after calling it a day.

Apparently, there's public demand:

Lead singer Stuart Harper, 57, who is now a designer and artist for a tie company in Portobello, said he was "amazed" by the surge of interest in the band.

He said: "I'm quite shocked at the fact that our song is on glam rock compilations and there's an interest in us now. When we were playing, things just didn't work out for one reason or another, so to get some recognition 30 years on is quite something.

"I've looked back at some of the old photos and can't believe how flamboyant we were. I was probably wearing more make-up then than my daughter wears now.

"Thankfully I don't have that 'No Entry' codpiece any more."

Presumably one with two planks nailed across and Keep Out painted on would be rather more apt.

Are there no bands which just stay broken up any more?

My eyes... my beautiful eyes

What could possibly be worse than a picture of Pete Doherty naked? How about Pete Doherty, nude, cuddling with Shane McGowan.

Shane McGowan also bollock-naked.

Thanks, Mario Testino. Shane tells what happened, but... well, it's not really an answer to 'why':

“I had my photograph taken with Mr Doherty recently. It was by MARIO TESTINO.

“Nothing particularly unusual, except he asked us to be naked together, which was pretty unexpected. What’s more unexpected is that we obliged.”

Let's hope that Testino at least had the kindness to not ask McGowan to smile. The teeth as well might have been too much for one photo.

GMex? That won't do nicely, any more

It's never been the most comfortable of names for a venue, the GMex, but at least it made sense: The Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre. Now, though, they've decided it's time for a change, retitling themselves the Manchester Central Convention Complex.

Snappy, huh?

To ring out the old name, Morrissey is swinging into action. He played as part of the first musical event there, back when he was in the Smiths. Now, he's in the middle of a two-night residency which will be the last gigs under the GMex banner.

Morrissey, of course, is the first choice for a cheery send-off.

Arise, Sir Bono of Rotterdam

There can't be many people who still think that Bono is an outsider, speaking truth to power - after all, his little photo-op for Bush during the midterms was a clear indication of what the tax-sheltering, Wall Street property millionaire saw as his duty. But if you still need convincing that Bono is windowdressing for the status quo rather than a challenge to authority, he's happily accpeting an honorary knighthood from Tony Blair:

We understand that Bono is 'very flattered' to be honoured, particularly if the honour - like its French counterpart - opens doors for his long standing campaigning work against extreme poverty in Africa.

Aah! You see: it's nothing to do with Bono's love of shaking hands with heads of state and smiling modestly as lists of his many achievements are read out in public. It's not because it'll look good on the headed notepaper of his venture capital company. It's not even the thought of the rinky-dinky medal. It's just to help with all his campaigning work.

We're a little curious, though: could Bono elaborate on the doors which are currently closed to one of the world's most famous and tireless self-promoters which would suddenly be opened by a knighthood? Are there, perhaps, drug companies which give an extra ten percent discount on presentation of the medal?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gennaro Castaldo watch: His most wonderful time of the year

If there's a point where Gennaro Castaldo really comes into his own, it's the annual race for the Christmas Number One. It's likely that, were he to be on Mastermind, this would be his specialist subject.

Of course, with that one off the X-Factor running away with it this year, there's not much room for analysis. For Gennaro, it must be like being called in as a pundit prior to a match between Manchester United and Rushden and Diamonds:

"It is absolutely no contest," said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

"If sales reach 750,000 that would make it the second biggest single of the year after Gnarls Barclay's 'Crazy'," he told Reuters.

"It is already the fastest ever music download in Britain. She sold 100,000 in the first two days," he said. "She [Leona] is outselling everyone else by a margin of about 10-1."

"The market in singles is ebbing away. But after the X-Factor, mums and parents go out to buy the winner. At 3.99 (pounds) it's a no-brainer as a stocking filler," he added.

Actually, we're a little confused as to how, if the market in singles is ebbing away, this isn't the best selling single of the year, especially since Crazy was a proper single by a proper group and not a TV-spin off.

Sadly, Gennaro wasn't given room to discuss the story slightly closer to his office, HMV's bleak Christmas. It seems that not even Gennaro's tireless appearance in any and every article about Take That has managed to persuade people to enter their increasingly tatty and poorly laid-out stores:

The music and bookshop owner said it expected the high street environment to remain difficult for the rest of the year as it reported group like-for-like sales fell 1.3 per cent during the 12 weeks to December 16.

Chief executive Simon Fox said: "We recognise we face very tough and rapidly changing markets and have to work hard to offset this."

Which will probably mean they'll hide the music CDs even more next year.

Oh, good, another singing actor - just what the world needs

Of course, it might turn out that Halle Berry has a wonderful singing voice and the album she's preparing is not merely a vanity project.

But the question, of course, is if you're such a great singer, why are you making your money acting?

"I've always loved to sing and my album will show people that I can do more than act."

Yes, it'll show people you can persuade record companies to take still take a punt on actors who wish they were something else, despite the words "Keanu Reeves" acting as a great warning to all who dare.

Has the festive fruit punch gone to his headline?

According to Victoria Newton in this morning's Sun, Tom Meighan has been going round telling people that Kasabian are going to "headline Glastonbury" next year.

Victoria trills that she "can't wait", although prehaps she should have waited a little to check the news - because either Tom is confusing the second and main stages, or else Glastonbury has really, really lowered its standards for the coming season.

Pour myself a cup of ambition

It's probably for the best that Jessica Simpson has asked for her "contribution" to the Kennedy Centre tribute to Dolly Parton to be wiped.

After all, how, exactly, does someone pay tribute to a genuine legend by getting some flittering half-life to do one of her songs? "Hey, Dolly, we love you so much we're going to make you sit through the ritual humiliation of one of your tunes." It's a bit like throwing a tribute to a great chef by hiring McDonalds and telling Ronald to ensure it's cheeseburgers all round.

Adding insult to the original hospitalisation of an idea, Jessica Simpson was attempting to sing Nine To Five. Jessica Simpson singing a song about day-to-day wage-slavery. No wonder she couldn't get the words right - it must have been like singing in Polish for her.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

2006Music: We could have just done this post and slept all year

It's been a bit of a threadbare year, all round. You only have to look at how people have been trying to convince themselves the Arctic Monkeys (off the internet) are heart-stoppingly exciting rather than the sort of band you wouldn't mind seeing as support sometime to get the sense of a year in which the pickings have been fairly thin.

Not, admittedly, as thin as the dire attempts to try and create some interest by barking up a "war on emo", mind. We're pacifists here, but even we can't find it in ourselves to protest against a supposed war on middle-class American boys who are a bit shit at putting on eyeliner. Especially when the "war" boils down to little more than Kasabian having a pop. Kasabian against My Chemical Romance. It's like being made to read a match report from a Conference match that isn't even on the pools coupons, isn't it?

With indie filling up the doldrums, the doldrums are going to have to find space to build a holding area for the grey sludge of PR-created singerish-songwriterish who are showing the supposed democratization of MySpace up for what it is: Keith Allen's daughter and Sandi Thom comparing Ugg boots over the face of humanity, forever.

Mind you, it's not fair to blame it all on Rupert Murdoch's MySpace. The axing of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops have created a world where even if we did get a decent pop star, we wouldn't know what to do with them. And who would want to be a popstar, anyway, when it's becoming clear the lack of a proper pension scheme promises nothing more than an old age devoid of dignity?

Boy George had a taste of cold, hard reality as he got stuck into cleaning streets as a return for wasting police time back when he got confused about all the cocaine in his flat; then, he had to watch as Culture Club hired Sam Butcher to take his place in the reunited band. Having decided they couldn't take to the road with the street-sweeper, they instead chose some sort of binman version of the real thing.

Still, at least the other 80s George managed to keep out of court, although his habit of being so "tired" he has to stop his car wherever he is. Even in a busy intersection. There's no actual law against cottaging, but George's trip to Hampstead Heath could still see him heading to his solicitors - he's threatened to sue photographers who invaded his cruising privacy.

Taking a slightly less cold version of reality, Steve Strange cut hair to get himself into the Guinness Book of Records on Celebrity Scissorhands, while Jason Donovan claimed he'd allowed himself to be humiliated in the jungle to allow his kids to see a different side of their Dad. When that side is a man prepared to risk eating kangaroo bollocks in order to promote a comeback tour, you wonder if the kids might not be better off living unaware of those depths.

The winner, though, when it came to 80s popstars on reality TV was Pete Burns who - despite having a face like a badly-inflated beachball and arriving in a police-time-wasting "monkey" coat - triumphed on Celebrity Big Brother. No, he didn't win it, of course - Chantelle did, taking Ordinary Boys singer Preston as her prize. Preston was elevated to Ok! Magazine status, and his band promptly relegated from third-generation semi-serious mods to plodding background workhorses for Christmas market balladry which would shame the Andre-Jordan massive.

Burns might not have won, but he left with his star reascending and his dignity more-or-less intact. The star continues to ascend; a run of substandard digital TV programmes and a spell in the big house suggests the dignity burnt up on re-entry.

Pete Burns, of course, hasn't been the only pop star to have legal woes this year. The Bulgarian Madona has been
fighting for her very (made-up) name; Procul Harum took a disagreement about royalties to the bench;

Snoop Dogg's 21 inch baton caused a minor airport hullabaloo, although nothing to compare with his Heathrow ruck. Spike Lee has had more than enough of Snoop's sexism and general bad behaviour - but now that Tony Blair feels comfortable balancing his "respect" agenda with overlooking Snoop's caution under section 4 of the Public Order Act in order to share canapes with him.

But then it can be hard to throw off the allure of rubbing shoulders with the stars for politicians, can't it? Did George Bush feel upset when U2 and Green Day recorded a Katrina benefit single and made a video with a very slight suggestion that the US could have done more? Or would the sting have been soothed somewhat when - as Rolling Stone pointed out - Bono popped down for a photo-op with the President while he was campaigning during the mid-terms in the seat formerly held by Mark Foley, the page-flirting former Republican congressman?

It's been a crazy year for Bono, of course: he discovered he was Dutch, happily allowing U2 to avoid paying taxes at the higher Irish rate. "Who wouldn't want to pay less taxes?" asked The Edge, apparently without thinking through what it would mean for the One campaign's call for governments to direct 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid. Not easy if people avoid their taxes, surely? But then Bono seems happier suggesting that we can all just spend our way out of poverty, hilariously launching the Red campaign which wants people to use a credit card to buy stuff to 'help' Africa. The idea really does seem to be that we should remove the problem of third world debt by taking on a small portion of it as our personal debt instead. Of course it doesn't make much sense, but then he's been busy trying to force an unwanted tower on the people of Dublin to help channel more cash out of the Irish economy towards the Dutch one, and he's had the strain of that court case about his trousers to worry about. It's too much for one man, dammit.

Another man keeping busy was Pete Doherty: in between popping in and out of court, Doherty has managed to fight a photographer, kick a reporter and, apparently, stick a syringe into a comatose girl in the interests of art. Back in April, Pete's cousin was left comatose in the street outside a building in Aberdeen; this month, Pete absented himself from the scene as a man lay in the street. This time the ambulances didn't make it in time.

At least his mother has managed to spin quite a lucrative book out of the turmoil, so it's not all bad.

More families sticking together, as Madonna headed off to Malawi to adopt an orphan and came back with one whose father was, inconveniently, still alive. The obvious solution was to nip onto the television and tell the world that, when David's father said he went to visit, that simply wasn't true. She also claimed that she'd broken no adoption laws, as there were no adoption laws, before also insisting that she'd complied with the non-existent laws completely. Still, at least Maddy's trip to Moscow date went off relatively
quietly, after the venue was shifted on the bemusing grounds that the original site ran the risk of tempting students to fall out of windows.

Still, at least the baby accessorising saved us from her earlier attempts to remind us she existed: Back in March, she was reduced to trying to remind us about that time she kissed Britney.

Not that kissing Britney is that difficult. Paris is getting a go. She'll take all-comers. Except Kevin Federline, obviously.

That oddest sensation, sympathy for Heather Mills, ran through our veins as The Sun launched an attack on the woman it desperately wanted all of us to call Lady Mucca (the lame-ass nickname was so misjudged even Paul McCartney would blanch at using it.) The paper spent several days showing pictures of Heather from a sex book, frothing about how disgusting it all was, while making the pictures available online so that its readers could be disgusted in private at a time of their choosing. The paper never quite explained why it was bad for Heather Mills to appear in sexy photos, when a lot of News International business plan relies on the appetite of British public for buying pictures of young women in sexy photos.

The sympathy, though, can only run so far, and as McCartney and Mills-McCartney have continued their public war of attrition, you find yourself hoping the judge will give them a divorce and pass custody of the money to a foster family.

David Cameron's attempts to reinvent the Tory party as something other than a bunch of in-fighting toffs started to come apart when he launched a bemusing attack on Radio One for encouraging knife crime by playing hip-hop. Lethal Bizzle wrote to him to suggest he might look like a white, upper middle class member of the ruling classes by making a sweeping generalisation about music coincidently enjoyed by young black men; Cameron didn't reply but instead damned Bizzle in the Mail on Sunday on the basis of, erm, someone else's lyrics.

Cameron better watch his back: Dickon Edwards of Fosca stood for the Greens in a council election this year; surely Number Ten deserves its first reformed Romo PM? Come to that, does Jessica Simpson's departure from music hint at freeing up time for a run at the White House in 2008?

Robbie Williams was as successfully not gay this year as he's been every year of his life, although his inability to let go of the past got him into trouble when he wrote a song slagging off Nigel Martin-Smith. Victoria Newton gleefully printed the lyrics in her Bizarre column, and then not quite so gleefullly ran an apology. Newton had also claimed that Williams was going to turn up at the Take That reunion concerts. But he didn't.

Indeed, without a Robbie to ruin what would have been a perfect reunion, the band decided to do it themselves. By sticking around afterwards, doing grown-up ballads. Thank God the public sent All Saints packing and East 17 sent East 17 packing double swift.

Away from all this creative activity, the RIAA (and its client organisations like the IFPI and the BPI) have been quietly pursuing their strange new businesses. The lack of anything approaching investment in music by the record labels suggests they have embarked on a new business model of trying to get money from suing kids, bringing lawsuits and then admitting they don't have evidence, trying to force songwriters to receive less from records and even even persuading Microsoft to pay them a tax on sales of the Zune and a slice of YouTube revenues from Google.

We don't know if the RIAA companies are currently employing more lawyers than musicians, but it seems likely. They could even get them to make the records, as it can't be worse than watching musicians trying to offer legal advice. Mick Hucknall's bid to pass off copyright extension as a "socialist" measure shows where that would lead us.

Perhaps that accounts for the slightly dispirting 2006 - if you want to make it in the music industry in 2006, you're better off studying IP law than trying to learn how to play a guitar.

2006Music: Surf through the year

As a way of wishing you a Merry Christmas, here's our annual round-up of the year on No Rock and Roll Fun:

Our review of the year
Other people's best-of lists
Some of the music we've liked this year
The year in musical obituaries

A week-by-week trail through the year:

01 January 2006
08 January 2006
15 January 2006
22 January 2006
29 January 2006
05 February 2006
12 February 2006
19 February 2006
26 February 2006
05 March 2006
12 March 2006
19 March 2006
26 March 2006
02 April 2006
09 April 2006
16 April 2006
23 April 2006
30 April 2006
07 May 2006
14 May 2006
21 May 2006
28 May 2006
04 June 2006
11 June 2006
18 June 2006
25 June 2006
02 July 2006
09 July 2006
16 July 2006
23 July 2006
30 July 2006
06 August 2006
13 August 2006
20 August 2006
27 August 2006
03 September 2006
10 September 2006
17 September 2006
24 September 2006
01 October 2006
08 October 2006
15 October 2006
22 October 2006
29 October 2006
05 November 2006
12 November 2006
19 November 2006
26 November 2006
03 December 2006
10 December 2006
17 December 2006
24 December 2006 (after it happens, of course)
The year in awards and events:
ITV Greatest Hits
Grammy nomimnations
NME cool list
Children in Need
Radio 1's new late-night line-up
Jackson at the World Music Awards
AMA nominations
MTV European Music Awards
Q awards
Mercury Prize 2006
Reading-Leeds and Creamfields
V Festival
T in the Park
Kerrang awards
BET US awards
Ivor Novello
Robbie Williams first night
Morrissey first night
Madonna first night
Manchester Passion
MTV Australia
NME Awards
Winter Olympics opening ceremony
French NPR
Take That partial reunion in full
For those of you who like charts, these are the twenty-most read individual news pages from No Rock over the last twelve months:
1. Heather Mills McCartney's educational porn shoot returns to haunt her
2. ... and haunt her some more
3. What does KT Tunstall's braces tell us about her sexuality? (Nothing, actually)
4. McFly go to GAY, get naked
5. Rumours of a more recent Heather Mills nude photoshoot
6. RIAA ask for more time to find the evidence it claimed to have against one of its victims
7. Paul Walters, Terry Wogan's producer, dies
8. News of the World predicts its picture of Pete Doherty shooting up will persuade Kate to drop him
9. Britney Spears offers to take off clothes for Hollywood role
10. Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne's 2004 spat
11. Purplemelon seek publicity by asking Heather Mills to flash them
12. Celebrity Big Brother: Preston who and Pete Burns what?
13. Anti-aboritionists unveil statue of Britney giving birth
14. When Heather Mills tried for a soft porn career
15. Vince Welnick - no longer grateful, but actually dead
16. SXSW line-up in full
17. Peel memorial round-up
18. Martin Gilks of the Wonderstuff dies
19. The Levellers turn property tycoons
20. Chris Martin insults a fat woman
The stories we highlight on the top left are pretty randomly chosen - sometimes they're things we're especially interested in, sometimes they're not, and sometimes they remain unchanged for weeks on end while we actually write stuff. But, for the record, these have been the 2006 left hand highlights:
Madonna: Jesus loves me
Arctic Monkeys not on MySpace
Coming soon: K-Fed the movie
Madonna gets shop job
CIA to track MySpace
Pete chooses Portugal not court
JJ72 give it up
Corgan moves in with Love
Geldof unimpressed with G8
Noel gay "in a manner of speaking"
The end of Penny Lane
Rivers: Weezer no more
Tom R defends Bob G
Lance Bass comes out
Murdoch's beach blanket Bono
Arthur Lee dies
Mansun prepare best of
Ashlee Simpson's nose runs
U2 turn Dutch
RIAA to dead: 60 days to pay
Jarvis podcasts
Robbie reckons Louis would
Kevin Shields plans a trip out
Guy turns Madonna off
Sandi Thom collapses
Heather Mills - naked in 2006
Doherty v the middle class
Not that Brian May
Mos Def beats Bush
Be Your Own Pet split
Brix Smith's house
Bunnyman on trial
Arab Strap split
Green Day support Bono
Noel banks cheques, sobs
Lily Allen swears for kids
Preston drug zombies
MTV: give us content, trust
Embrace disengage
Liam ends DPT gig
Embrace tightens
Robbie: No hug for Moyles
Fatboy says no to Dave
Kate kills Babyshambles tour
Kate kills Babyshambles?
Madonna: Jesus loves me
Arctic Monkeys not on MySpace
Coming soon: K-Fed the movie
Madonna gets shop job
CIA to track MySpace
Pete chooses Portugal not court
JJ72 give it up
Corgan moves in with Love
Geldof unimpressed with G8
Noel gay "in a manner of speaking"
The end of Penny Lane
Rivers: Weezer no more
Tom R defends Bob G
Lance Bass comes out
Murdoch's beach blanket Bono
Arthur Lee dies
Mansun prepare best of
Ashlee Simpson's nose runs
U2 turn Dutch
RIAA to dead: 60 days to pay
Jarvis podcasts
Robbie reckons Louis would
Kevin Shields plans a trip out
Guy turns Madonna off
Sandi Thom collapses
Heather Mills - naked in 2006
Doherty v the middle class
Not that Brian May
Mos Def beats Bush
Be Your Own Pet split
Brix Smith's house
Bunnyman on trial
Arab Strap split
Green Day support Bono
Noel banks cheques, sobs
Lily Allen swears for kids
Preston drug zombies
MTV: give us content, trust
Embrace disengage
Liam ends DPT gig
Embrace tightens
Robbie: No hug for Moyles
Fatboy says no to Dave
Kate kills Babyshambles tour
Kate kills Babyshambles?
Bono "hates" U2
The iPod thriller
Mick Hucknall hails "socialist" BPI
Britney dumps Federline
Madonna's shoot kills lights
Don't look at Mozzer
Borrell unsure - Razorlight or solo
McFly make rubbish girls
Timberlake quits music

Lest we forget: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

2006Music: What we heard

As ever, attempting to list everything musical that made us put our pants on our head and dance around like herbally-enhanced monkeys would prove impossible; these are just some of the highlights of the highlights:

Cansei De Ser Sexy - Cansei De Ser Sexy

Their music is our hot, hot sex

Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo To Anywhere

To be absolutely honest, Carl Barat doesn't seem to miss Pete as much as Pete seems to need him

Fields - 7 From The Village

If they fail, we all fail

iForward Russia! - Give Me A Wall

Punctuation, off-timing, numerically themed titleage: who, seriously, wouldn't send iFR! one of your kidneys in a jiffy bag if they asked?

Gene - Peel Sessions

A fair collection, although it does confirm they really only had two great moments which they milked repeatedly

Giant Drag - Hearts And Unicorns

Quite possibly the final Giant Drag album, and even if it's not you should cherish it like a love letter from your sixth form days

Nanci Griffith - Ruby's Torch

The widest-eyed heir to Patsy Cline delivers a collection of torch song magic

Luke Haines - Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop

Long-awaited return of Mr. Haines, now dressed as the man from Del Monte for reasons we can't quite figure

Hot Puppies - Under The Crooked Moon

I say we'd better put them in/I hear they use a theremin

Howling Bells - Howling Bells

An Amazon reviewer claims "This album will appeal to you if you like bands such as Coldplay", which is a bit like selling the best sex you've ever had as "appealing, if you're fond of sweating"

Jarvis - Jarvis

He's not Jesus, though he shares the same initials. And now he's been resurrected to save us all.

Joan As Policewoman - Real Life

The far, far more appealing string-driven sidekick of Antony and The Johnsons

Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home

We suspect, from the little skip our heart does every time, medical evidence alone would finger this as our album of the year

Cerys Matthews - Never Said Goodbye

Interestingly, she gave this one much more of a push than Cockahoop - and it feels more of a finished product, too

Tift Merritt - Tambourine/ Bramble Rose

Perfect 'start here' double-pack re-release

Metric - Live It Out

Still trying to shake off the "new Elastica" tag, although there are worst tags and you've got to love the shaking

Joanna Newsom - Ys

Five tracks, no waste, the unmistakable stamp of confidence that comes with Steve Albini in the booth... surely Turner Prize material?

Placebo - Meds

Obviously, to accept this a return-to-form, you'd have to accept the form to which Placebo returned so splendidly this year was form worth recapturing. We do.

Rails - Life's A Lonely Road [Myspace]
Kind of the place where REM were prior to Dead Letter Office

Rishi Rich - The Project

Packed with collaborative, imaginative goodness

Riz MC - Post 9/11 Blues [Myspace]
The heart of political pop is, thank god, still beating

Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope

The next person to even suggest she's "like Alanis or Tori" gets it, I swear

Tilly and The Wall - Bottom of Barrels

The Pipettes, only without the gimmickry and all the better for it

Various - CD86

Valiant attempt to celebrate 20 years after by collecting stuff from names we've got etched in hearts: Siddeleys, Hurrah, The Hit Parade, Another Sunny Day...

Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked

They say they do not fuck around. They aren't joking.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones

We don't care what anyone says: Karen O is still the coolest person in rock

Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You...

If you must have your ass kicked, who else would you want to do it?

2006Music: Valette

This year's collection of musical obituaries:

Sanders Barber Junior : Doo-Wop pioneer

Syd Barrett : Genius

Keith Bender : Man killed by Proof in nightclub shooting

Robert Broudie : Brother of Lightning Seeds' Ian

James Brown :Godfather of soul

Ruth Brown : R and B singer who fought Atlantic for a fair deal

Darren "Wiz" Brown : Lead singer with Mega City 4

Lumumba "Professor X" Carson : X-Clan rapper

Janette Carter : The last of The Carter Family

Ian Copeland : Promoter and brother of Stuart Copeland

Billy Cowsill : Cowsill Family member

Ivor Cutler : Genius

Brian "DJ Swing" Daley : Club DJ

Desmond Dekker : Reggae giant

Robert Dentith : Kerrang radio dj

Tara Devi : The Nightingale of Nepal

J Dilla : Rap producer

Sabine Dunser : Elis singer

Freddy Fender : Tjeano, country and gospel singer

Danny Flores : The "Tequila" man

King Floyd III : New Orleans based singer

Alan "Fluff" Freeman : Pick of the Pops and Rock Show presenter

Freddie Garrity : High-kicking leader of the Dreamers

Bruce Gary : The Knack drummer

Martin Gilks : Wonderstuff drummer

Lynden David Hall : Mobo-lauded soul singer

Lula Mae Hardaway : Songwriter and mother of Stevie Wonder

Bryan Harvey : House of Freaks guitarist

Joseph Hill : Culture singer

DeShaun "Proof" Holton : Eminem protege, D12 member and gunman

Johnny Jackson : Jackson Five (but unrelated) drummer

John Junkin : Writer and Beatles film co-star

Eugene Landy : Brian Wilson's psychiatrist and mis-advisor

Arthur Lee : Genius

Henry Lewy : Joni Mitchell's legendary engineer

Pio Leyva : Buena Vista Social Club singer

Peter Ling : Crossroads creator and Matt Munro songwriter

Arif Mardin : Producer and record company executive

Andy McGoldrick : Dirty Do-Goods guitarist, manager and club promoter

Kim McLagan : Model, wife of The Face's Ian McLagan and former wife of Keith Moon

Grant McLennan : Go-Betweens singer-songwriter

Dick Nolan : Canadian country singer overshadowed by early novelty hit

Tony Ogdon : Musician behind the World of Twist

Gordon Parks : Civil rights photographer and film score composer

Wilson Pickett : Soul legend

Jesse Pintado : Napalm Death guitarist

Gene Pitney : Singer now permanently 24 Hours From Tulsa

June Pointer : One of the Pointer Sisters

Billy Preston : Silky-smoothed voice singer

Israel Ramirez : Busta Rhymes' bodyguard

Lou Rawls : Gravelly-voiced singer and civil rights campaigner

Andy Richardson : Fan beaten to death trying to protect friends at a Korn gig

Jockey Shabalala : Ladysmith Black Mambazo singer

Charles Smith : Guitarist with Kool and The Gang

Quinshae Snead : Ashanti's assistant

Mark Spoon : German DJ

Nikki Sudden : Singer and former Swell Map

Alan Synter : Cavern Club founder

Joaquin Tavares : Faith and Disease keyboardist

Ali "Farka" Toure : Farmer and Malian legend

Tony Tyler : NME journalist

Paul Van Valkenburgh : Man who claimed to have written Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny... but hadn't

Phil Walden : Manager and founder of Capricorn Records

Paul Walters : Terry Wogan's producer

Vince Welnick : Last of the Grateful Dead keyboardists

Jack Wild : Teen idol, Artful Dodger and HR Pufnstuff's mate

Johnnie Wilder Junior : Gospel singer