Saturday, June 24, 2006


Trouble in store for former Michael Jackson and Madonna producer Dallas Austin: he was on his way to Naomi Campbell's birthday party in Dubai.

Unfortunately, he was taking in a little something.

And they don't like drugs in Dubai.

He's now looking at a possible death sentence, while Naomi Campbell's people are (“Naomi doesn't know anything about this”) trying to keep her well out of it all.


Apparently Kate Moss is now working her charms on Anthony Rossomando. Out the Dirty Pretty Things.

Shitting on your own doorstep is one thing; this is like poking the poop back through your own letterbox and then weeing on the welcome mat for good measure.


Can it be true? Following a strange set of coincedental meetings and stuff, it seems the heftily everyday Ricky Wilson out the Kaisers and the quirky Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer are going out. Together. With each other.

It's like a butcher dating the woman who runs the store that sells joss sticks and wind-up bejewelled music boxes, isn't it?


We're not actually buying this for a moment, but we do love the idea that it might be:

According to a website which read it on another website, the good people at Kleenex have been so taken with the wreck of a life which Britney Spears is enjoying and have suggested that her sobbing might be the perfect way to promote their product.

However, it's not impossible that their Velvet toilet roll brand might want to speak to Kevin.


Oh, the trials of being the currently fabulous - the other night at Prince's New York gig, Lindsay Lohan had a row with Paris Hilton in the toilets, only to discover when she returned that Puff Diddy Daddy had stolen her seat.

What would anyone do in these circumstances, but throw a hissy fit?

Sadly, Diddy's people were able to life Lohan off her feet and carry her away, thus ensuring their dominion over the table.


The intersection between how popular stars think they are, how much people are prepared to pay and the size of venues they appear at has proved difficult to calculate for Madonna.

Although she's sold out the 13,000 capacity London dates on her global tour, the 60,000 capacity Cardiff Millennium show is proving less attractive, with many of the £150 tickets being left unsold.

The trouble is, of course, the only person with the sort of money and level of interest in Madonna to pay that price is going to be on the stage singing that night.

[Earlier: First night of the tour review-of-reviews]


Back in Britain, and Les Incompetents have had to axe their date at the Wireless Festival, after singer Billy Bell was victim of a vicious attack:

The band write on their MySpace page, "We're all still quite in the dark about the situation but what we know is that whilst Billy was on his way back from the Barfly last night (truly one of the most enjoyable gigs we've ever played - thanks guys) some cunt attacked him.

"As far as we know, he got punched, his head hit the pavement hard and he is now unconscious in hospital. There is a serious chance he may have fractured his skull."

We wish him all the best.


Kevin Aviance, the disco icon who was the target of a queerbashing earlier this month, is having his jaws unwired for one day only so he can fulfill his Gay Pride date.


The trial of Phil Spector will go ahead in January, a Judge has ruled.

Spector is charged with the murder of Lana Clarkson; he has entered a plea of not guilty and his defence is expected to argue that Lana's death was by her own hand.

At the same time as the court date was set, part of the complicated but unrelated battles between and within Spector and his staff came to an end, when Spector's accountant David Neste had his case against Spector's personal assistant Michelle Blaine tossed. Neste had sued Blaine, claiming fraud, deceit and negligent misrepresentation. Neste had started his legal campaign when Blaine had claimed the money which Spector had sued her for, believing misappropriation, had, in fact, been taken by the accountant.

We said it was complicated.


We were surprised to read in this morning's Sun that SANDI THOM’s incredible conquest of the States continues unabated.

Really? We hadn't heard of any such conquest, so we were surprised, to say the least. So what form has this conquest taken, then? Billboard chart hits? Madison Square Gardens? Dinner with the President?

Not quite:

The Scots singer, penniless and unknown just a few weeks ago, has now inspired US telly giants CBS to launch a chance-of-a-lifetime talent contest, Living Room ... LIVE!

In other words, CBS are doing a talent show where they want people to send videos of themselves performing at home. Which isn't, strictly speaking, something Sandi Thom invented. Unless there's a twist, where the contestants are supposed to get a PR company signed up before they send their tape in, and then spend the weeks following their victory having their PR team issue releases denying they were a PR confection.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Yes, it's true: in a bid to rustle up some funds to help with people living with AIDS in Monaco, Princess Stephanie is pulling her pop star trousers back on.

Apparently, the single, L'Or De Nos Vies is to be a French Band Aid type affair. We're not sure if there's some sort of ettiquette which covers this type of thing: does one allow the Princess to deliver the first line? Is it acceptable for people to bellow over the top of her in the chorus?


Roger Waters' original plans for his Israel gigs upset some Palestinians; now, his actions while in the country have outraged right-wing Israelis. So, we guess, that makes his visit pretty balanced.

Waters spray-painted on the wall being built by the Israeli government to somehow overcome the threat of terror by inflicting a painful and obvious wrong on yet more Palestinians. Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel have filed official complaints calling for Waters to be charged with damaging IDF property (no, really) and want him detained in the country until police investigate.

So, apparently it's a wall strong enough to stop suicide bombers, and yet it gets damaged by paint? What exactly are they building this out of?


In a surprisingly shouty cap-lock festival of emphasis, our inbox trills with the sound of Ladyfuzz tour dates:


We can only ponder what a "TopShop event" might be, but we bet it's not available in our size.


Ryan Adams, the walking challenge to say something about a Canadian rocker, is plotting to play two dates on the same night in his beloved New York (we'll leave it to you to fight it out if this is good news for New York or everywhere else) and then going to crash all over the US in a stateside tour thingy:

Sayreville Starland Ballroom (July 20)
Baltimore Sonar (21)
Norfolk The NorVa Theatre (22)
Charlottesville Charlottesville Pavilion (23)
Knoxville Bijou Theatre (25)
Myrtle Beach House of Blues (27)
Charleston Charleston Music Hall (28)
Atlanta Tabernacle (29)
Nashville Ryman Auditorium (August 1)
St Louis Pageant (2)
Indianapolis The Vogue (3)


Well, nobody probably expected the Guns N Roses tour of Europe to pass off smoothly, although you probably wouldn't have got odds on it being disrupted because of paternal feelings.

The band have dumped Zurich so Bryan 'Brain' Mantia can go home to be with his pregnant wife.


Meanwhile, they're drafting in a replacement so the tour can pick up again in Belguim. Mantia is getting two week's paternity leave; meanwhile, it's unlikely anyone is going to complain about not getting the proper not proper members of the band.


She probably shouldn't have even attempted it, because as soon as Theresa May launched into a parliamentary routine which - in the manner of local radio - attempted to suggest "appropriate songs" for the Labour party, she was bound to come a cropper. And she did:

“Of course, pop songs can be so relevant to politics,” she said, squinting at her script.

“For example,” she said tentatively, “given his recent problems, I wonder if the Home Secretary should listen to the U2 track I still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for.”

“Perhaps we could have a touch of Dire Straits for the Deputy Prime Minister!” She was interrupted by leery shouts before adding: “With their track Money for Nothing.”

Although, of course, Prescott didn't actually get his chicks for free, did he? But May was on a roll:

She trundled on: “I suppose the Chancellor might look for Diana Ross’s You Keep Me Hangin on and perhaps the Prime Minister would like the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

“Talking of clashes, perhaps the Chancellor should describe his relationship with the White Stripes track Every Day I Love You Less and Less."

Iain Wright, (Labour, Hartlepool) pointed out May's basic error, and suggested that an appropriate song for Theresa might be Mardy Bum:

"In popular culture, as in other things, the party opposite have got it wrong.

"I'm tempted, with reference to you, to refer to the Arctic Monkeys' song Mardy Bum. But, to be more gracious, I think it would be better to say that I Bet You Look Good on The Dance Floor."

Wright's intervention came too late to stop May from reciting the lyrics to Elton John's Friends Never Say Goodbye, which does at least throw open the possibility that Hansard could find itslef in RIAA copyright strife when it publishes the debate.


Eminem's publicist has been talking about his state of mind following the end of the second marriage to Kim and his mate shooting someone and getting shot back. He's not happy:

"Obviously, he’s grieving," spokesman Dennis Dennehy told the newspaper.

"He is depressed as anyone would be if they lost someone that close.

"He had announced he was taking time off before this happened. It’s his downtime."

Dennehy then announced that anti-depressant were helping Mathers back; although since he had to take time off for "sleeping pill" addiction recently, we're not sure that's such a good idea.


Oh, apparently Princess Eugenie and Empress Eugenie aren't the same personParis Hilton might be complaining about not being able to get into a British festival, but she's in good company - Eugenie, who for some reason is called "Princess" got turned away from the VIP tent at the Wireless Festival. Apparently, nobody knew who she was:

“The bouncer had no idea who she was. When she tried to explain she’s a princess he thought she was having a laugh and told her to go away.”

She did get up later, trailing a small gang featuring Kelly Osbourne, Peaches and Pixie Geldof with her. Now, while all three are famous solely for being children of well-known fathers and fame-hungry mothers, we're still a little queasy at the thought of this bunch tripping over each other. Does the Yellow Pages have a section for Tumbrels?


Rod Stewart seems to have got carried away with his football stadium building. While most people are happy to just keep a bit of grass round the back for a kickabout, Stewart has laid a pitch "like a bowling green", put in changing rooms, and even has a bloke sit outside selling dubious-quality hot dogs.

But what ain't he got? He ain't got floodlights.

The council at Epping has turned down his planning application:

“I really wanted to get floodlights so we could have games at night, so I applied for planning permission.

“The council sent a letter to all my neighbours and every single one objected. I was gutted.”

Maybe, Rod, you could just organise your life so you have your midlife crisis matches during the day? It's not like you're exactly busy otherwise, is it?


You know, sometimes, we wnat the same things as Paris Hilton. She's apparently upset and surprised that she wasn't invited to play any UK festivals this summer:

"I really want to do a festival so I can prove that I can sing."

And, you know, we think she should be given that opportunity. After all, ten minutes in front of the pee-flingers of Reading and we might hear no more of this woman.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

KOOLOBIT: Charles Smith

The death has been announced of Charles Smith, guitarist with Kool and the Gang.

Born in 1948, Claydes Eugene Smith grew up in New Jersey. His father bought him his first electric guitar from a Newark pawn shop when he was a teenager, and the next year introduced him to jazz when he bought him a Kenny Burrel record; the two purchases would shape Smith's life. Clayde's dad then stumped up the $129 for him and his friends to record a single under the name Claydes and The Rhythms. They sold three copies, to themselves, which isn't quite a recoup.

The early formation of the Gang had an element of the Youth Training Scheme about it, as Claydes was working on a US government community programme when he made business and political contacts that led to the provision of some plum rehearsal space in Jersey City for his band; Success was still some way in the future, though, and Smith would drift through jobs driving oil trucks and working in a box factory. The band tried working under the name Kool & The Flames for a while, and scored a record contract when invited to play backing for Walter Foster's audition for Redd Coach.

Foster was not so lucky; he went back to the day job driving James Brown's bus, while Kool and the Flames changed their name to The Gang to avoid confusion with Brown's Fanous Flames.

1969 saw their debut album, which delivered up two Billboard R&B hits Kool and the Gang and Let The Music Take Your Mind. Keen to make a quick turnaround on their investment, Redd Coach sold the group on to DeLite. Their offices shared a block with George Clinton's apartments, and after a chance meeting saw the band dazzled by Clinton's style, the Gang took the decision to add a visual aspect to their act as well.

Things were going well for the band - even an attempt to stitch them up by local police led not to charges, but the writing of Who's Going To Take The Weight - the repeated question of the cops who planted drugs in their rehearsal space. But they were locked in to a terrible contract which saw their money being channelled through their management team; they would slowly work themselves free of it, but end up fighting amongst themselves over money, including one time which saw two of the Gang caught in the middle of someone else's wedding cake.

A series of solid R&B hit albums looked in danger as disco presented a challenge to not just their act, but their entire genre. Despearate to find a new focus, for 1979's Ladies Night the band pulled in a new singer, JT Taylor, and a new producer, Eumir Deodato. The results were astonishing, giving the Gang their first platinum selling album, and a slot in the Billboard Top Ten. It was this latter achievement which Claydes decided to celebrate by changing his name to Charles. (We'd have had a cake or something ourselves, but each to their own.)

The next year, Celebration, gave them their first US crossover number one, and provided a simple fallback choice for any advertiser or researcher looking for a tune to slap over footage of some sort of celebration.

A series of hit singles and albums were to follow and, by a quirk of touring fate, they were in the right place to be the only Americans to appear on Band Aid in 1984.

Things started to fall apart towards the middle of the decade - to the death of original member Ricky Westfield and ill-health of Spike Mickens was added the departure of Taylor; by 1988 the group were in a financial meltdown. Royalties started to dry up; loans taken out in the first half of the decade started to prove harder to service. They were in for a bumpy ride, until 1993. Ironically, their financial salvation was the invention of sampling - royalties for snatches of their earlier hits started to roll in, and the lean times were over. And, in 1996, Taylor rejoined the band.

Charles Smith had remained an active memeber of the Gang until this January when ill-health had forced him off the road; the cause of death has yet to be publicly announced. Manager Tia Sinclair issued a statement on behalf of the band:

We've lost a member of our family, as well as an infinitely creative and gifted artist who was with the band from the very beginning."


We're aware that as many people will be surprised that they're still going as will be upset at their passing: JJ72 are calling it a day:

Reader, we are to let thee know,
JJ72's body only lies below;
For could the grave JJ's soul comprise,
Earth would be richer than the skies.

"JJ72 was born during an Easter many seasons ago; today it dies on the cusp of midsummer eleven years later.

"Mark Greaney, Fergal Matthews & Sarah Fox wish to express their deepest and darkest gratitude to all of those with impeccable taste who helped and supported the band.

"We remember everything, from mechanical birds in Japan to angels in arid Arizona, from broken bones and Berlin birthdays to predatory Portsmouth spiders. For those who disliked and perhaps despised (gasp) JJ72, thank you - how did beautiful photographs exist without a negative?!

We crafted two monuments of magnificence for the future aural pleasure and pain of all would be JJ believers and doubters....and for those who care not for the passing of the petulant yet powerful pup....shame on you! Thank you to Hilary Woods for being a dazzling damsel and thank you to all who played music in/with the band. You know who you are. "

We're not sure that they ever did anything much with Sarah Fox, and two albums in an eleven year period (JJ72 and I To Sky) is quite slack by anyone's standards. Okay, maybe not by The Stone Roses', to be fair. But we'll miss them, just a little.


More surprising reunion news: The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Along with the surviving original members (sadly, no Billy Butlin on spoons) Stephen Fry, Adrian Edmondson and Bill Bailey are going to be involved.


Despite having closed down MyCokeMusic due to lack of interest, it seems the fizzy sugar company's desire to lose money on music downloads still burns brightly. They've got a plan:

A spokesman confirmed it was considering options, but would not be drawn any further on whether it was scheming, say, a music download service for mobile phones.

A secret plan, then, but a plan nevertheless.


The rumours that Girls Aloud are going to either split or spit out one continue: Nadine Coyle seems set on hooking up with Jesse Metcalfe, out of Desperate Housewives. Since LA is a long way from Hounslow, it seems unlikely she'd be able to balance appearing on E! Live From The Red Carpet with trudging off to do the odd slot on the Lottery show with her girl colleagues.


The reorganisation of what used to be a collection of distinctive local AM stations into a grey gloop takes another step at Magic, with Dave Lee Travis being dragged back from BBC Local Radio to host a networked Saturday show and Eamonn Holmes doing a slot on Sunday.

The management at EMAP claim this further centralisation of its network is a good thing for everyone:

Steve King, the programme director of Emap's Big City stations, said: "It's important that the Magic AM stations adapt to reflect and respond to our listeners' interests.

"We will be introducing more networked programming focusing on the 60s and 70s music our audiences love, whilst retaining a local feel to the stations with the breakfast and news programming."

Since the news on Magic is, shall we say, somewhat rushed, this means that for the bulk of the time radio licences which were won on promises of local content are going to be delivering programming that isn't.

But we imagine the adverts will be local.

EMAP's management of its radio assets was called into question earlier this week when Ofcom delivered a record fine following repeated lapses at Kiss FM.

The Bam-Bam show had broadcast a "wind-up" call without permission from the target; he'd called the show's answering machine by mistake thinking he was speaking to his HR department and looking to discuss his forthcoming redundancy. Bam-Bam's sidekick called him back, pretending to be from personnel, and subjecting the target to a tirade of abuse.

We didn't know it was possible for an organisation to be collectively open-mouthed, but Ofcom managed it:

In the Committee’s view, to have conducted the hoax telephone call with Mr R was a serious offence in its own right, to then broadcast it was incomprehensible, but to broadcast it without consent was inexcusable, and to broadcast it without anyone with responsibility for the station’s output listening was an abject failure of both compliance procedures and management.

In addition, there were six months of sloppy standards when it came to swearing and inappropriate content:

November last year suggests that for a substantial period of time the compliance of the show was evidently not under proper control. There appeared to be a total inability of management to impose structures to ensure that there was adequate compliance with Ofcom’s Codes and that the station broadcast acceptable material at this time. Senior management at the company admitted to, what they referred to, as taking their “eye off [their] core duty”. These failures meant that an Ofcom investigation of some very serious complaints was not adequately dealt with. For instance, the material relating to the most serious fairness and privacy complaint Ofcom had received was not listened to by anyone senior at the station for four weeks. It appeared to Ofcom that Emap Radio had little control or sight of local management and was not seeing any warning signs until it was too late. Emap Radio admitted that the new procedures they had put in place after another of its licensees (Key 103 FM Manchester) was fined by Ofcom were not sufficient. The Licensee was unable to manage its “talent” and the result was the termination of a number of contracts of on and off air staff.

Perhaps that's why EMAP is so keen to network so much of its output - if there's only a few shows going out, it might be easier for them to keep an eye on what they're actually broadcasting.


Jim McCabe brings the tale of Thom Yorke and the next generation of Bushes to our attention, pointing out the full consideration Yorke brings to every possiblity:

In a post to the band's blog, "Dead Air Space," Yorke wrote that the concert was interrupted for several fans thanks to six Secret Service agents who Yorke was later told had cleared a path for the first daughter's exit and "manhandled ... some poor soul."

How does a Bush-bashing band handle a first-family disruption? Yorke had suggestions:

"I don't know whether we should be A. honored; B. amused; C. bemused; D. ask if she had a valid ticket; E. object belatedly on moral grounds; F. ask again if she had a ticket and question whether this [is] really what our gigs are about; G. don't blame the daughter for the father; H. shut up and smile."

Luckily, Diebold have tabulated the results and it's an A, apparently.


Another Pete Doherty story in the tabloids this morning, with the Mirror claiming that he's signed a tell-all book deal. Apparently, he gets £150,000; in return, the publishers will get a work telling about his life.

Now, obviously, no publisher throwing that sort of cash about really gives a honking she-goose about what Pete did at school, and the money is because the Kate Moss episodes will be a lucrative little chapter or two to sell on to the papers. Kate, apparently, is worried. Says a source:

"She's still in close contact with Pete and she understands his reasons for signing the deal.

"He's not rolling in cash. But she's cleaned up her act and the last thing she wants is for people to be reminded of what was a very difficult time in her life."

We're not sure if they mean when she was putting coke in her nose, or putting Doherty somewhere (possibly everywhere) else.

[Plug: we bet that, with his mind slightly ravaged, Doherty has to rip his early years off of The Libertines: Bound Together]


Yes, it's an unlikely headline, but a website reckons that Rachel Stevens is being lined up for a key role in the next Pink Panther movie.

Yes, we know that asks you to suspend disbelief, and then suspend it further to a land where frogs wear tophats.

But Sony have agreed to let Steve Martin make two more Pink Panther films, and - presumably on the basis of her two seconds of screen time in the Deuce Bigelow sequel - Stevens is seriously in the running for a leading role.

It's almost like a day centre for the formerly famous, isn't it?

[Plug: You can now get Steve Martin when he was still funny on one DVD - Lonely Guy, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and The Jerk. It is a rather low-budget DVD, as the "features" are listed as it being in English.]


Of course it's more trouble for Pete Doherty. It's always more trouble for Pete Doherty. He'd not been paying his parking fines, and so the local council sent a van to take his cars away.

Doherty had his wits about him enough to disable the security gates where he lives (interesting - a security gate designed to keep the junkies in); the council merely removed the gate. And discovered Doherty's wits hadn't come up with the idea of not leaving the keys in the ignition. Not that it matters, as they were going to lift the cars up with a crane anyway.


Just as the Heather Mills McCartney porn story started to wane, here comes Mike 'brother of Paul' McCartney to stir things up again:

“Our kid is having a tough time, but he’s bearing up and getting on with it. Life goes on.”

The family as a whole have been through a lot this year.

“I have just carried on with my life and our kid is too.

“I don’t know if he will try to push the divorce through quicker to get it over and done with.

“That’s up to our kid. His children and I are all here for him as we always have been and always will. He’s my brother and he has been there for me — now it’s my turn.”

“I gave him a picture I had taken of him years and years ago.

“It was one of my favourites, he looks great it in. It was just him on his own without the family — it was a very personal gift.”

It's quite a sweet gesture, although we're sure Paul is able to remember what he looks like on his own without a family around him.


So far, we've managed to get through the World Cup without having to mention the partners of the England team, despite them having a former Spice Girl and a former Girl Aloud amongst them. (Oh, maybe not former yet on the last one.) And because of the clunking nickname given to them - the WAGS. Apparently it stands for wives and girlfriends, although we thought it was a reference to the over-enthusiastic but essentially useless bit that hangs around a dog's arse.

Prior to England going to give the Swedes a lesson in what a team incapable of winning the World Cup really looks like, though, the partner's coach to the airport turned up late. As anyone who's ever flown knows, if you arrive late at the airport, you don't get out on time.

Victoria Beckham made a fuss. And a scene.

Although we do love this bit of the Sun's report:

Rio Ferdinand’s pregnant girlfriend Rebecca Ellison, 25, is believed to have been on board and Posh was said to be concerned for her health.

Apart from the question of why, if Ellison is so close to delivery that two hours in an airport make a differnce she was about to make another flight, (why, indeed, someone who's so close to delivery is making so many flights anyway), let's just relish that report's content - they're not sure Ellison was on board, and they're not sounding entirely firmly behind Beckham being worried about her health either.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


In an unusual move for British property owners, Elton John is insisting his Atlanta penthouse is worth less than you might think.

The trouble, it seems, is that the state of Georgia has said the place is worth $4.6m; Elt's tax consultant is fuming:

Sir Elton's tax consultant, Craig Klayman, says the figure is too much, and could lead to him paying more tax.

"I just don't see how the county can justify that number," said Klayman.

I'd recommend him inviting me to live next door; I'm sure I could help force the area's property prices downwards.


It's hardest, of course, for the Top of the Pops site to deal with the news, as it admits:

OK, not the most upbeat news story we've ever run, but the BBC has announced that Top Of The Pops is to close, after a run of 42 years on TV.

Oh, bum.

Generally, though, the coverage of the axing of the Pops amongst people whose jobs aren't tied to the brand is summed up by a nostalgic tear, coupled with a grim sense of the inevitable.

It's Chop of the Pops barks The Sun:

For decades TOTP, with its theme tune of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, was compulsory viewing for kids.

Well, no; they never used Led Zep actually, but never mind.

But audiences dwindled away. Beeb chiefs considered axing it in 2003, but it was saved by a revamp which brought in star interviews and non-chart acts.
That failed to stop the rot and last July it was shunted from its high-profile Friday BBC1 slot to a Sunday night slot on BBC2. Viewers halved.

Actually, it wasn't in a high-profile Friday slot on BBC1; it was going out opposite Coronation Street and so in the worst slot in primetime broadcasting. And the non-chart acts had started appearing long before 2003 and… oh, never mind. Jimmy Saville pops up with a quote or two – we imagine he's been waiting a long time for this day – and Mike Read offers his scintillating take on the axing:
"It was a situation that was obviously coming. The show could have done with creative thinking. They needed to woo people back.”

They needed to bring the audience back, did they? What a pity you'd not been taken on as executive producer, Mike. That would have been a useful insight.

Meanwhile, the Mirror goes with Stop of the Pops:

In recent years TOTP has had several facelifts and relaunches. But ratings continued to plummet and last year BBC1 chiefs shunted it into a Sunday night graveyard slot on BBC2 where even fewer tuned in.

The graveyard slot of, erm, seven in the evening.

Jimmy Saville turns up to offer his opinion, but the paper manages to connect much more directly with the show's history:

Former Pan's People dancer Babs Powell said: "It's the end of an era but sometimes it is best to remember things fondly."

Babs, sadly, doesn't mention which things it's better to remember with pain and hatred and disgust – although the era of the Zoo dancetroupe might fall into that, we guess.

If you really want a considered opinion, of course, you need to ask a former pipe man of the year:

Dave Lee Travis, host into the 80s, said: "There are plenty of outlets - MTV, iPods, videos, a million ways to access music. It's no wonder it was squeezed out of the modern world."

"Are we going to watch Top of the Pops tonight? No, I've got an iPod."

It's the Daily Mail which gives us the first sighting of the Jackie/Jocky Wilson story.

The Mail manages to get through to Jimmy Saville – he appears so often in the papers today we suspect that he might have had to get the bloke from the Grumbleweeds to pretend to be him on the other line – but Tony Blackburn actually manages to offer an opinion based on having watched the programme at some point in the last ten years:

'I remember seeing a show with Jeremy Clarkson who was very, very funny,' he said.

'But he had a rap act on and said, "Well, that was really awful." And I thought, "The kids won't like him saying that." Then they had Bucks Fizz on.
'It went down well with the mums and dads but they were trying to be all things to all people.'

He's not entirely right, of course – the strength of the Pops was that it used to have a democratic approach to who got on the television – if you sold enough records, you were in. It was the all-things-to-all-people approach which meant it worked, because the rules which brought you Ken Dodd also offered up the New Model Army; and if one show might wind up with three football teams doing their records on, the same structure could bring the famous multi-Madchester edition. I can't think of any other TV show in the pre-multi-channel era which (providing you didn't say anything rude about the Queen or mention sex) was quite so simple for people to aspire to appear on.

Later revamps lost that, and the problem with the show cited by Blackburn isn't that it had Bucks Fizz next to a rapper, but that somebody was making those choices rather than relying on the caprice of the charts to create that sort of gear-shift by accident.

The Daily Telegraph seems sad to see the back of the programme, even although for much of its 42 years on air TOTP has surely been the sort of thing the paper rails against:

Iit is almost inevitable that the moments seared on your cerebral cortex correspond with your own teenage awakening, that special period when pop suddenly flares in the adolescent psyche.

Luckily, though, Neil 'My mate Bono' McCormick comes to his outraged senses:

Mostly, of course, it was a sea of dross in which genuine pop idols fought to stay afloat among the flotsam and jetsam of the hit parade while being insulted by self-glorifying presenters patently out of touch with the music (whoever imagined that David "Diddy" Hamilton was an appropriate host in the era of punk rock?).

But July 30 will be a sad day for all of us who grew up under its spell; for every overgrown teenager who secretly dreamed of the day when they, too, might be at the centre of that set, surrounded by gawky teenage dancers and sneered at by DJs in dubious knitwear while cameras zoomed frenetically in and out and your lips moved, almost in sync with the song.

At least we've still got a month and a half to fulfil our ambitions.

Neil, nobody is going to buy your People I Don't Know Are Trying To Kill Me single.
Not even if it gets a personal endorsement from Ian Blair, telling us that purchasing it is the only way to ensure our freedoms. The date with Fearne Cotton isn't going to happen.

(We noticed while we were waiting for the telegraph to serve up the page that it was calling in data from bs.serving-sys, which seems to be a surprising level of self-awareness on the part of the paper.)

The Times headline is pretty poor: The fat lady gets ready to sing for Top of the Pops - it's not an opera programme, is it?

Arctic Monkeys refused to appear recently, believing that the show had little relevance to fans who had discovered them through internet file-sharing.

Not, of course, that The Times has any reason to even imply that MySpace has killed the Pops, oh no. Right, boss?

Last night Chris Cowey, one of the show’s former producers, said: “ToTP doesn’t belong to the BBC — it belongs to the nation. It hasn’t been given the respect it deserves.”

This is true, to an extent – it has been thrown into dark corners and hidden in the schedules – but it's not solely the BBC's fault the audience for it has slipped away.

The nation, of course, cannot be relied upon to value the things which make it what it is.

The Guardian's Culture Vulture worries over what this, and the death of Smash Hits, means for our pop health:

today's pubescents have no dribbling recollections of Pan's People, the literal-minded dance troupe who acted out songs as artists sang them.

But that's their loss. Naff or not, TOTP provided the rest of us with lasting memories. My definitive one is being newly arrived in London and watching it for the first time, when Wham! were on doing their first hit, Young Guns. They wore espadrilles without socks, a fashion revelation to me.

Okay, so the implication is that the end of the show might kill off our souls, but at least our chiropodists will be less outraged.

Meanwhile, the media-centric Organ Grinder also sheds a tear or two:
Nobody really cares anymore but its legend will live on.

There's a shed load of stuff in the Guardian webpages and on their blogs, to say nothing of the other papers, which hardly feels like nobody actually cares.

For an international readership, Reuters tries to explain the show, by calling upon Paul Gambaccini to sketch in the background:

Former host Paul Gambaccini said it was required listening for generations of pop fans, but has suffered because famous artists are releasing fewer hits each year.

"It was the news of pop music," he told BBC radio. "Nowadays, the major artists don't release hit records more than once every two years -- consequently the news isn't very interesting."

Yes, there have been months where presenters had little more to do than turn up, look into the camera and say "No new Eric Clapton record this week, either. So now, Top Gear…"

Perhaps surprisingly, The Independent didn't bother contacting Jimmy Saville and instead spoke to Janice Long:

"My memories are just feeling so incredibly lucky. For me, the main thing was to be standing there next to the bands you'd worshipped for such a long time."

The most astonishing thing is that Janice was, apparently, the first woman to present the show – and they reckon it used to be behind the times.

Obviously, most of the papers have reached for a fact-box of great TOTP moments, most culled from TV Cream's Pops feature, we'd imagine.

Meanwhile, the blogs mark the news in their own way:

Through Chromewaves we learn of Tripwire's flowers-in-clingfilm instant YouTube memorial to the show.

"If it means we don't see Jimmy Saville on TV any more, even better" comments a visitor the The Pie Shop, apparently not noticing that the only time in the last five years Saville has been near a camera has been to deliver eulogies to TOTP. (Alright, and Celeb Big Brother).

Lost In London fixes the axing in a context both pop-cultural (Smash Hits, The Face) and televisual (Grandstand, most notably – actually, at this rate, there aren't going to be any sacred cows left for future executives to axe.)

Out of touch, bumbling and puzzled as to what makes teens tick; the BBC's 'Auntie' tag has never seemed so apt.

Really? But most of the people who are upset at the end of the show are amongst the nasal-haired and waistline-expanded of middle-age; the teens aren't really that bothered. Dumping a format older than their parents which they don't watch is hardly going to upset them, is it?

We were very taken with Interstate4Jamming conflating the Pops sunset with Dan Rather's exit from NBC. Even the summation of Dan's leaving could fit the slow, two-month wind down of TOTP:

"Almost everyone I heard Tuesday said that while Rather had likely stayed longer that he should have at Black Rock, the company's decision was a classless move, at least the way it was done."

FreakyTrigger's Do You See squirms at having to agree with Noel Edmonds:

Top Of The Pops, as a show, may not be packing them in like it used to. And much of that is due to the music television on demand. Nevertheless it was THE music chart show, and as such it lent far more legitimacy to the Official Radio One chart than just being on Radio One did. Radio One is a silly pop radio station, Top Of The Pops was on BBCTV, after the news, and as (shudder) Paul Gambacini says rightly, it was the News Of Pop. So its very existence lends a degree of legitimacy to pop music. Maybe pop music itself does not need this legitimacy, but the BBC does: if it wants to hold on Radio One and even Radio Two. By completely ditching pop to the commercial broadcasters, it is signing the death knell of Radio One. Again not necessarily a bad thing - but probably a bad thing for the BBC.

It's a strong point – the weekly round-up of singles sales could be seen as providing a public service, in the same way the classified football results or the stock market closing figures are, and broadcasting it in the face of apparent apathy could even have made the Pops claim a position on a par with BBC Parliament, which broadcasts non-stop coverage of MPs you don't recognise discussing things that don't affect you. Although they do have a dance troupe to liven up the Agricultural select committee these days.

However, the BBC isn't abandoning pop – there's the Jools Holland thing still, the coverage of Glastonbury, 1Xtra, Radio 2's slow journey across the musical landscape. I don't think you can say that taking TOTP off the air is going to harm the Corporation's claims to cover pop music in a serious way, and certainly not that it leads from that that Radio One must be doomed. Indeed, it illustrates nicely why Radio One is so distinct from its commercial rivals – it's changed, adapted, grown and expanded over the last forty years in a way that TOTP has failed to do. Back in 1980, you couldn't really explain what the difference between the bulk of Radio One and the TOTP worlds were. But imagine, say, Ras Kwame or Gilles Peterson trying to be pressed into presenting the TV show in the way that, for example, Peel, Long or Jensen were able to be. Radio One no longer expects its presenters to be able to put in a turn as light entertainers, and is happy to leave them to what they're good at.

Popjustice is just heartbroken at the waste:
But it is mostly a bad thing because - unlike Smash Hits - it could have been turned around. It wouldn't have been easy, but it was possible.
Oddly, nobody seemed this upset when Big World Café was axed.


The Kooks are already rehearsing their speechs for Hall of Fame acceptances:

"I think what we're all doing could surpass Britpop because the musicians that we know seem to be up for anything. It's that whole non-cliqueiness thing. If you ask them to come and have a jam with you, they're gonna do it."

Now, it's not just them, you see - they're suggesting there's a whole scene (albeit a non-cliquey scene) featuring them, Jamie T, Mystery Jets and The 747s.

Yes, it really does make Pulp, Suede, pre-infighting Blur and Elastica seem like... no, it's hard to think they've managed to eclipse the Britpop scene. Although this unclique clique have already outstripped Lionrock, Camden Lurch and the Cognac Cossack groups in the pantheon of pop.

"If you ask them to have a jam, they will" - of course the bloody 747s will, they've not got much else to be doing, have they? We do love the suggestion that there's no 'us' and 'them' here, as if someone from Morecambe could send a text and Jamie T and The Kooks would be setting up in his cellar for a muck-about within the hour.


Sometime sidekick turned solo slitherer Nicky Wire is plotting a second appearance, and this time it's not going to be tucked away in the corner of some literary festival. Purple Turtle, Camden on July 1st.

He's being backed up by Secret Society, or possibly a secret society, we're not sure which. If they have exposed knees and covered faces, you'll know its the latter.


Juliette Lewis and The Licks are coming back for another tour of the UK, which proves that she's really serious about this music stuff and isn't just doing it as a sideline between movies, oh no.

The dates, should you wish to be this close to her, are:

Brighton Concorde 2 (September 26)
London Mean Fiddler (27)
Manchester Academy (28)
Sheffield Leadmill (29)
Edinburgh Rock Festival (30)
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (October 2)
Dublin The Village (3)
Glasgow ABC (4)
Leeds Cockpit (5)


Websites which know about this sort of thing (and Karl T) seem convinced that Pete Doherty has found a new home at Domino.

No, no, that doesn't mean the anti-abortionist pizza company will have to change their pledge that you can be certain you'll get your pizza within a few days of ordering it, or maybe something a bit like it, or perhaps just a request to hand over the tip.

Domino records. Like we say, it's all rumours and guesswork so far, but we think the chatter is more solid than anything we've gone to war on in the last few years.


The remaining 3AM girls are trilling with delight about how Robbie Williams' eating habits show that "he'll never be a snob."

It seems that while staying in Paris, he went to McDonalds.

We think that probably sums up his character right there - like people who take their PG Tips to Spain because you can't get a "proper" cup of tea in foreign.

"The funny thing is no one in McDonald's even recognised him. They just thought he was yet another Brit fresh off the Eurostar."

They didn't have a clue who he was? Just fancy that.


The people who have moved into the late John Entwistle's home have decided they're going to flog the furniture it came with. Why?

They say it's spooky and creepy.

They really know how to talk up an auction, don't they?

There's rumours they'll also take offers on a demonic lawnmower and hedge clippers which threaten to drag all who use them to the very pit of hell for an eternity of misery and torment. They won't split them, though.


If we understand the details correctly, Richard Ashcroft only wanted to help the young people.

Unfortunately, he did it by crashing drunk into a Chippenham youth club offering his assistance. While looking "like a tramp."

Police were called, and an £80 on-the-spot fine was issued - sadly, there's no record of if this involved a Blair-pleasing march to the local cashpoint.

Won't someone, though, think of the children:

“He was very strung out and close to tears at one point. He kept saying he wanted to work with kids, that he wanted to do ‘good things’.

“He wasn’t aggressive, in fact he was quite charming and friendly. He kept hugging some staff and kids.

“But when the police arrived he was almost begging to be arrested. They told him to go quietly but he wouldn’t.”

The local twelve year-olds have been warned that it's illegal for them to buy cider for Richard; the local women's institute have doubled their guard.


Before you even click on a news story proclaiming that "The Minogue sisters are supporting France in the World Cup", you just know that it's going to be a quote from Dannii rather than the more diplomatic, and strangely more popular, Kylie:

Kylie and I have to support the French team because of Ollie," Dannii told Closer magazine.

"Trouble is we’re going to get burnt on the cross by our Aussie relatives for doing it."

She added: "Kylie has been telling me about all the players she likes from being forced to watch the game with Olivier. We now both like Brazilian player Ronaldinho. His footwork is pure magic."

We're a little confused here - if Kylie is "forced" to watch football, then it would seem neither of the sisters care for the game; and how does Dannii know she likes Ronaldhino as it seems she only knows of him from her sister talking about him?

Dannii's support for France shouldn't really come as a shock. It's only a couple of years back she was praising Jean Marie LePen for "striking a chord" with the French people.


We know for a fact that Britney's idea of hiring a male nanny for little Sean was inspired by her love for Farm-era Emmerdale and the success of former village communist Archie Brooks when he went into child-care.

Now, Fedon Studioline is hoping for a plane to drop on "manny" Perry Taylor's head.

(Incidently, is it just us or is "manny" perhaps the most ugly construction of the tabloid press to date? Unless it's actually cleverer than we give them credit for, as the Spears' male help is called Taylor, and Lord Manny Shinwell's first role in the trades union movement was in the cloth-making industry.)

Anyway, a "source" says that Kevin insisted it's Mr. Mom or me. Although having heard how poor his rapping skills are, he probably said "it's mumster... minster... mons... sack the bloke.":

“Kevin didn’t like seeing Perry holding his son while out with Britney. He instructed her to drop the ‘manny’ before their reunion last week where they decided to get their marriage back on track.

Kevin was uncomfortable with Taylor being so close to Britney and his son. He felt she was trying to taunt him.”

Why does Kevin feel that people are trying to taunt him and his stupid everything all the time?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Oh, God, here we go again:

Michael Jackson is heading for court.

This time, he's "being sued by F. Marc Schaffel for $3.8 million in what Schaffel says are unrepaid loans and expenses, unpaid salary for work on a charity record and his share of proceeds from two TV specials that were produced to bolster Jackson's battered reputation after child molestation allegations surfaced."

We'd imagine that Jacko could try saying he was going to pay by results, and the fact that he's still seen as a bit of a dodgy junior-toucher means it wasn't a job done.

Meanwhile... what's happened to that Katrina benefit?


Plucky combination of brand-extension and half-assed bandwagon jump-aboard MyCokeMusic has accepted that it was flogging a dead horse and has shut up shop. It's rumoured that Apple had threatened to launch a drink called iCola if they didn't, but probably the fact that nobody had heard of the service and felt a bit weird buying music from a fizzy drink was more pressing.

Coke, of course, aren't admitting the whole thing was their third-biggest waste of cash, after trying to launch Dasani Tap Water in bottles in the UK, and New Coke. Oh, and the original version of Tab, of course:

"In 2004, the digital music scene was just developing and the only way for Coke to offer access to music downloads was to open our own store. That's not true today and there is no need for Coke to continue to run a store," said the statement.

That makes sense, except, of course, they were buying-in their services from Peter Gabriel's company, so they weren't running their own store and other ways of delivering music downloads were possible.

We're only sorry this means that we're unlikely to see Corona's Koola brand reborn as a DRM-free music provider.


Despite all the bravado about the show must be going on and everything, The Rolling Stones won't be playing Frankurt. Apparently, they couldn't find a venue to take the show now they're working round tree-falling and rehab sessions.

Ticketholders for the concert will be able to go to other Rolling Stones dates in Germany for a reduced price.

We hope that's as well as a full refund.


Just heard: Top of the Pops is being axed this summer.

The BBC TWO experiment hasn't taken, and with the international versions and other spin-offs dropping, it's not had much of a function to perform providing footage for other outlets.

Even so, it's going to leave a bit of a hole. It might have become functionally unwatchable, but it was nice to know it was there.

Unless, of course, this is a Heinz Salad Cream type "axing" designed to try and rally support for a brand in trouble. We suspect, though, that it's not. It's all a bit of a shame.


Founding Arctic Monkey Andy Nicholson is now permanently out the band, according to the band:

"We are sad to tell everyone that Andy is no longer with the band," his former bandmates said on their website.

"We have been mates for a long time and have been through some amazing things together that no-one can take away."

... although they have got their lawyers looking into ways of doing so.


Part-time Corrie actor and 6Music presenter Craig Charles has been accused of all sorts in the press this morning - mostly of a taking crack cocaine nature. The BBC (and Granada) are having to pretend they're interested:

A BBC spokeswoman said: "These are very serious allegations and we shall be talking to Craig Charles about them."

A spokeswoman for Coronation Street said: "We will be seeing Craig today to discuss the situation and we will be looking into the allegations."

It's fascinating to see the Mirror running (once again) pictures of what it claims are famous people taking cocaine. Doubtless Ian Blair will be pledging to spend hundreds of thousands investigating this one, too.


You heard right. Assuming you're using a screenreader. Ten years after their last studio album, there's a new Portishead album on the way. [That link goes to, which has got that game-rollover banner ad at the moment and keeps crashing our browser.]

Geoff Barrow announces:

"We've had our meeting with the label it was really positive....which makes the whole thing so much easier to deal with nice people...The tracks are in a right mess but sounding like a album for the first time in years they (are) a bit weird though. Its great its nice to think us old gits have a few tunes in us without sounding like coffee table Zero 7 - Moby - chill out shit!"

Ragu spaghetti sauces at the ready, Portishead generation.


So, no surprise there. Dave Stewart, it seems, has come up with an imaginary band (Platinum Weird), full of backstory and everything, and supported by a spoof documentary.

Nothing at all like The Travelling Wilburys, then.


In a bid to prove something or other, Q magazine pulled together a band full of people who couldn't play their instruments, got them a MySpace site and waited to see what would happen.

Alan McGee offered them a gig at his clubnight.

We're not entirely sure this is quite the scoop they think, though. Certainly, in the early days of Creation (and, come to that, the mid-period) not playing instruments was never the highest barrier to entry.


Britney Spears knows how to stop people talking about the state of her marriage. No, no, not trying to avoid sending Fedex Hammertime's car back to the shop in front of the paps or avoiding posting 'screw you' poems about someone messing with her heart to the official website.

No, she wants to take control of the media:

“You know what? I need to create my own magazine. I need to come up with my own thing and say the real deal.”

The idea of a celebrity-owned magazine franchise is an appealing one - something even more supine than Richard Desmond's celeb stable. "Really, Everything Is OK, Honest!" perhaps. But constantly having to pull "Kevin is a worm" issues because he's turned up only slightly smelling of strip-joints carrying a bunch of petrol station flowers might prove to make it difficult to turn a profit.


It's been so bloody long since he's made a record, Justin Timberlake releasing an album seems almost as much of an insult to the beautiful world of pop as Paris Hilton or Kevin Federline. To be honest, he's actually done less for the gaiety of nations recently than Seezer off Big Brother.

But, of course, what you want to know is what does Victoria Newton think about his comeback?

I reckon it’s a cross between MICHAEL JACKSON and PRINCE — very pimped out.

She's not heard it yet.

I RECKON Justin has an open musical goal to score a huge hit.

There’s no other male solo star who can compete, to be honest.

ROBBIE WILLIAMS has gone off the boil a bit recently and he might be cheeky but he’s not always sexy.

Robbie’s Close Encounters world tour kicked off in Dublin with a whimper rather than a bang when a stunt backfired on the opening night.

And his last few singles have limped to disappointing chart positions.

So I’m thrilled Mr Timberlake is now coming back to Britain to shake things up.

So, Victoria's going out on a limb suggesting that a man with a massive record company machine behind him is going to sell quite a few copies of his album.

To take a disinterested view, though, the whole thing sounds like a man trying too hard. The new single is called SexyBack; the album is called FutureSex/LoveSounds. Are you sensing a theme here?

We've always taken the view that someone who has to underline "this is all about sex, ooh, it's so sexy" doesn't really have it - look at R Kelly, or Anne Summers; drawing attention to the supposed sexiness of something is the act of a sniggering virgin.

Getting your record company spokesperson to draw attention to it is the act of a sniggering, shy virgin:

“The new album is all about sexiness. Justin is going for an adult feel — sultry and enigmatic.

“He wants it to be mysterious and raunchy. The tracks are mainly big club tunes with a hip-hop and R&B feel and Justin will launch his single SexyBack with a few exclusive late-night club dates. He will come on stage with a full band in the early hours of the morning.

“It’s all part of a campaign to keep the record sexy.”

For some reason, this is starting to sound very like George Michael in the Fast Love era to us.


Obviously, it's hard to be too grumpy about a story which features a little girl coming out of a coma, but can we really believe Claudia Amber Dealwis opened her eyes for the first time in ten days when You're Beautfiul came on the radio?

We think that what's obviously happened is that hospital radio - like all other radio stations - plays James Blunt's song so bloody often that it just reduced the odds that it was him on when she came round.

Monday, June 19, 2006


A few years back, in 1999, Boy George tied up with BT callboxes to invite all-comers to have a go at joining him on backing vocals on a remake of Culture Club's Karma Chameleon.

If the rest of Culture Club were upset at the suggestion they could be replaced by anyone stood in the street bellowing, they may have been waiting for their revenge to cool quite considerably. But now, it's a very cold dish indeed:

The rest of Culture Club are advertising for someone to replace George now they're getting back together:

"We want a unique vocalist with a brilliant voice take part in a 2007 World Tour and TV series.

"We do not want a karaoke Boy George 'lookalike' but a charismatic and unique performer in his or her own right with something truly fresh, contemporary and original to offer."

We've got fond memories of Ronnie Corbett doing Do You Really Want To Squirt Me on The Two Ronnies, so they might want to talk to him; and Warren Mitchell seemed to enjoy "singing a little Boy George" in the Chain, but really, if the band want to make George really squirm, they should just invite Marilyn to take his place.


You're starting to see your mid-life crisis coming over the hill; you find your car keys in odd places, and you don't remember putting them there. What do you do?

Us, we'd try and avoid aluminium saucepans and buy one of those whistling key-fobs.

Liam Gallagher, though, rings up Gwyneth Paltrow and asks if she can send a Kabbalah bloke around to exorcise the house.

A source has filled in the detail:

"A week ago he lost his keys and then they turned up in a kitchen cupboard and no-one had moved them. And now two pans have gone missing.

"Sometimes he will hear sounds that don't make any sense."

Like somebody moving slowly down a hall, faster than a cannonball, presumably.

Normally, when Liam finds himself caught with a ghostly presence that is making a nuisance of himself, he gets Noel to sack the drummer and hire a new one.

But it's perhaps useful for Liam to discover there are forces in the world which won't respond to being hit.


Did they forget to invite Anita Dobson as well?

The Foo Fighters' Saturday night show managed a segment with Roger Taylor and Brian May joining them on stage. Apparently they asked them along, too, and everything.

At the end of the show lead singer David Grohl said to the audience “I'd like to thank you for making this the most unbelievable show of our lives. We will always be there for you guys”.

The simultaneous spinning of Kurt and Freddie in their graves cancelled each other out.


Mark Stoermer, the Killers' bassist, has been talking all about their new album. He probably wasn't supposed to, but you know what bassists are like when they've been bought a Big Mac meal:

"Overall it's still pop songs by a rock band, which is what we liked about ourselves before and I think other people did too. It sounds different, but it still sounds like us."

Actually, if there was going to be any astonishing new sound for the band, the bassist would always have been amongst the last to find out, now we come to think of it.


Modest Mouse have announced they won't be off making their noises in bits of America as they'd promised for America; They're staying back in the studio to finish their new album. And also trying not to flunk math this year.


Despite last year's event ending under something of a cloud, Clear Channel has persuaded Reading Council to expand this year's Reading Festival capacity to 80,000:

Mean Fiddler boss Melvyn Benn, who organises the event, said it needed to grow to stay ahead of the competition.

He said: "I need 15,000 [extra] in order to be staying in the marketplace.

"Other events are growing and growing quickly and if Reading Festival wants to maintain its position as the premier rock festival in the world, which I know it does and I want it to, then we've got to grow."

Leaving aside the obvious - that, at best, Reading might be the second-best festival after Glastonbury, but Roskilde, The Big Day Out and maybe even T might have something to say about that - why is cramming more people into the site the way to secure your position? Yes, it might give you a bit more cash to pad out the bill with a few more low-end, second stage bands, or maybe an extra headline name, but kudos and overcrowding aren't the same thing.

Still, if you fancy greasing yourself up and joining the sardine-cram, tickets are on sale tomorrow.


If asked, we would have said that the LostProphets occupy a space in our hearts alongside cockroaches. We surprised to discover Ian Watkins would agree with us. But for different reasons:

"I don't know if it's arrogance or deluded self-belief, but fads and scenes change - and we've survived them all. We're like the cockroaches of rock.

"The benefit of not belonging to any particular scene is that if you're genuinely tied to something you're likely to go down with it."

This belief that cockroaches are indestructable seems to stem from the belief that they'll survive nuclear winters. The LostProphets, to be honest, look like they'd have trouble making it through a chilly autumn.


The lingering feeling that all rockers are, at heart, Mummy's boys who need their parents to wipe their noses isn't going to disappear when you discover that Fall Out Boy still lives with his mother. Peter Wentz says:

"This is the one place in my entire life that doesn't change any more.

"Everything is exactly as it was when I was 14. I feel emotionally sheltered, because at the end of the day, when things are really going wrong in my life, this is the only place I want to go."

His mother says she doesn't mind, although it does mean she has to wash an awful lot of sheets.


Some sad news from the Bonnaroo Music Festival - Ricky Skaggs' bus hit and killed a festival-goer on Saturday night.

In what the local Highway Patrol describe as an "unavoidable" accident, Joshua Overall was hit in the road outside the festival site. It appears he'd jumped across the perimeter fence in order to run into the road.


There have been so many iPod killers announced over the years, with such little success, that it's almost as if the entire US military, say, had been trying for years to kill a man with wonky kidneys living in some sort of cave and yet he still issues tape-recorded messages on a semi-weekly basis.

And here we go again, another iPod killer being lined up by Microsoft. It's important for them to kill off the iPod, having killed off iTunes in September 2004 with Windows Media Player 10, and then again in January this year with Windows Media Player 11 and leaving iPod owners with no way of getting music onto their devices.


The story of the gestation of Beyonce's new album, Bidet - sorry, B'Day - is interesting - that she went off and did it in secret is one thing, of course. But more to the point is the way she financied it herself:

She booked her own time at Sony Studios in New York, paid for it herself and finished the album in three weeks -- a very smart move, considering that most artists have the label pay for studio time and then have to recoup it from album sales. "I'm conscious of budgets," she says. "This might be the cheapest record I've ever done. We were focussed."

In other words, mysteriously, one of the best ways to keep down costs is for the artist to know exactly where all the money is going, rather than when the label "takes care" of it all and then presents them with a bill at the end. Isn't that funny?


You know, with Take That fans no longer in the first flush of youth, they need to realise they have to be more careful these days.

As it is, 200 people needed treatment for exhaustion while waiting for the band to come on in blistering Manchester temperatures (and it's not often you can say that); three people needed hospital treatment.


As part of their ongoing spread of tutting, the RIAA have now latched on to YouTube. Not just people uploading straight musical performances, of course. Now, the RIAA is going after those people who film themselves dancing around and singing to their favourite songs.

Yes, we know that strictly speaking the law is on their side, but this cease-and-desist having fun just shows how unfluid the power of thinking is at RIAA towers. Because what they're saying is that this is the sort of conversation being had all over the world:

- Are you going to buy the new Gwen Stefani single?
- I was, but now I've got a splotchy video of some bloke from Norfolk bellowing over the top of it in his pants, so, really there's no point.

[Thanks to Karl T for the link]


You might think with her money, she'd have a squad of staff with dubious immigration status running her mansion for her.

Not so, says Britney:

"I cook, I try to cook. And I like to clean."

"I’m not desperate, but I’m definitely a housewife."

"I still walk out of my house in rollers."

We're not sure walking around half-undressed is actually the same thing as being as housewife. But we do love the idea of Britney as Hilda Ogden, if only because picturing Kevin Federline as Stan is so easy.


As if to prove that Victoria Newton can't tell dung from shoepolish, having spent most of her life encouraging the pop aspirations of the likes of McFly, Orson (Orson) and Paris Hilton, how does she react to the news that Stock Aitken and Waterman are reuniting?

Oh hit, they're back... many music fans will be crying into their cornflakes.

Eh? While they may have made the odd clunker, nobody who loves pop - really loves it, rather than sees it as simply a supply of idiots in bikinis to fill up column space with - doesn't have space in their heart for at least some of the SAW back catalogue. Their Bananarama stuff for a start, or I Should Be So Lucky. Or... and so on.

They are doing it for a reality TV show, which suggests this time round might be more Sonia than Hazell Dean.

But just in case the programme and single end up a success, Victoria Newton covers herself by ending the piece chirruping I reckon Stock, Aitken And Waterman have got what it takes to create a pop revolution. So, that's "oh shit, they're back, how great." And they reckon The Sun doesn't know what it stands for anymore.


It's going to turn out that it was all part of his art, or something, but Babyshambles in Stockholm collapsed into a brawl.

Doherty apparently jumped into the crowd, knocking people hither and dither, and hurting one girl pretty badly. She wasn't happy, and then, reckons a witness:

“One girl was bleeding from broken glass on the floor. She went ballistic and Doherty started lashing out at people trying to sort the situation out.”

In the end, bouncers ejected him from his own gig.

Mr. Doherty is supposedly back in the UK now.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


There was always going to be problems when Cristal's managing director made some concerned noises about rappers dropping the name of his product all over the place - Louis Rouzaud suggested that while he couldn't ban people from buying his drink, "Dom Perignon and Krug would welcome their business."

Well, it looks like everyone's going to be happy - Jay-Z has decided this was racist and has announced his intention to stock his clubs with DP and Krug instead of Cristal.

It'd all be quite amusing if it wasn't for Jay-Z's cynical attempt to suggest that this spot of brand-snobbery was racist. He should be ashamed of trying to play that card in what is little more than an over-priced wine company worrying that being seen in the company of (what it sees as) so much conspicuous but ill-discerning consumption makes it look like the drink of choice amongst those with less sense than money. Jay-Z should be pleased he's considered so arriviste as to warrant disdain. And, really, admit that Cava would fit just as well for the purposes its used in nightclubs.


Sunday's regular rummage under the YouTube front end. This week, some Australiana:

The Triffids do Stolen Property on The Tube, 1985
Go-Betweens doing Cattle and Cane live
Frente's New Order cover
Live in Berlin, Architecture In Helsinki do The Owls Go
Nick Cave runs through a piano-accompanied Into My Arms solo in 1997