Saturday, September 30, 2006

No Moby for Courtney

Before she decided to go with Linda Perry - who, frankly, isn't all that, judging by how much better Pink got when she dropped her - Courtney Love had been toying with getting Moby to produce her next album.

He's clearly miffed at not getting the gig, judging by how sniffy he is about the demos:

“Courtney sent me a CD of demos and I thought the music was remarkably good, It reminded me of Irish protest songs or old Bob Dylan. It was just her with an acoustic guitar."

That might sound positive, but the use of "old Bob Dylan" rather than "early" or "young" says it all...

Rock sick list: Jet cooled

The cancellation of Jet dates is little cause for sadness; they'll be reorganised as soon as Nic Cester's throat is back to normal. Whatever normal means in this case.

The dates were part of the band's attempt to make America interested:

"In Australia, we say, 'I am absolutely gutted,' when the gravity of the situation is overwhelming. After all the work we've done on our new album, Shine On, and on making this tour something special, all of us are very disappointed with the news of Nic's laryngitis.

"Our sincerest apologies to all of our fans. When we return, it will of course be with a vengeance."

A vengeance aimed, we suppose, at throats. Or maybe laryngitis.

Avril says sorry, says record company

Only the most cynical will read that Avril Lavigne's apology for spitting at photographers has come through her record label and assume that she's had very little to do with the apology:

"I'd like to sincerely apologize for my behaviour with the paparazzi.

"It's trying at best dealing with their insistent intrusions. I meant no offence to my fans, whose relationship I truly value. I have and will always go out of my way for my fans. My behaviour was a reaction to the persistent attack from the paparazzi."

So that's the sort of "sorry" we used to do when we were little and didn't really think what we'd done was wrong at all, and besides it was someone else's fault.

More to the point, if Avril is annoyed by the "intrusions" of the photographers, why did she go back to a place where she knew they were the second night? Why did she and her husband, Squibsy from Sum41, taunt the photographers by doing elaborate snogging in front of them first, rather than just drive off? And if she meant no offence to her fans, why did she sign autographs for them "fuck off"?

More questions than answers.

Murray in haste...

This week has seen the launch of Radio One's bemusing new In New Music We Trust schedule - where the idea seems to have been to try and plough the idea of music without boundaries into the ground by making as many tiny, genre specific shows as it's possible to cram in the early hours of the morning. The central plank in this reversal of pledging to "keep it Peel" has been the gifting of the main focus of the new schedule to Colin Murray, who gets two hours, four nights a week to do the anchor programme - which is closer to a revival of Nicky Campbell's old late-night show than anything from the Peel/Jensen/Radcliffe era.

The whole strand just feels driven more by flipchart than heart and ears - In New Music We Trust was originally a marketing slogan used to launch the Zane Lowe show. It made a lousy advert, but far worse for an explanation of what the station is all about in the late-night hours. In new music we trust? To do what? It's a rip from the US coins In God We Trust, but at least that makes some sort of sense - you can see what they might be putting their faith in, and why. But how does one trust in new music? What if it's rubbish, made by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Timmy Mallet, say? And trust it to do what?

Martin Wheatley has reported back on some of the other shows in the strand on Zapsmart, most interestingly pointing out that for "Jo Whiley An Hour Of In Live Music We Trust" (snappy name) you get a few Kooks songs (sliced up into individual chunks) scattered through some other live pieces - not entirely new, and with the watering-down of the focus by other stuff, not entirely trusting the music to be interesting enough. Martin also points out that there's now no concert programme on Radio One at all.

We had been intending to focus our review on the first Colin Murray programme, but BBC Radio's listen again feature had apparently decided it was too shamefull. So we chose the very second Colin Murray programme, from Tuesday 25th September.

To be fair, the music on the programme isn't bad, but with the likes of Ice Cube's Today Was A Good Day and the White Stripes' Hotel Yorba in the first hour, it's not exactly the freshest new music, nor marching too far from the comfort zone. We've nothing against 6Music, but we're not sure why Radio 1 would be getting so excited about a programme which could fit comfortably in its daytime schedules.

The programme - away from the playlist - is a bit of a shed. "Stand by for the Radio One Black Hole" announces Murray; it seems at first to be refreshing self-criticism, but then it turns out that it's the Big Idea. They invite listeners to send in URLS of music they've found online, and then Colin and co play it. It's not a bad idea - there is an element of "how the hell do we work YouTube and MySpace into the mix?" - but we're not entirely sure we believe that the music is actually being selected while the programme is broadcasting. How do you make sure everything is across BBC editorial standards if you're only playing it seconds after you've heard it?

Still, the segment throws up a track from Gym Class Heroes (called New Friend Request) which makes it worth the faffy coating.

There's a clunking bit of business between Murray and his producer near the start where Colin promises to play Bright Eyes for him, only to put on Art Garfunkel rather than Conor Oberst. Do you see? He does the gag again, in case you didn't. Those of you with long memories will recall Marks Radcliffe and Riley doing a similar gag back on the old Radio 5 with Russ Abbot and Joy Division's Atmosphere; perhaps it's down to acquired tastes which you found funny.

Worse: repeatedly through the programme, Murray keeps claiming the show's USP is mental illness: "we've got a schizophrenic record box", this programme has "schizophrenic honesty". To slip up once and mis-use schizophrenic to mean "liking more than one thing" would be a forgiveable clunker; to have built the entire show around misrepresenting a mental illness suggests a lack of judgement and a failing of leadership. What makes it even worse is the intention - to suggest a show full of bits of totally different things - is as misplaced as the execution is ill-advised. Like people who claim "I'm totally mad, I am", this show is nothing of the sort.

Although the Nicky Campbell night-time show is a fair model of where we are with this, there is another ghost of Radio One past hanging around this programme. Murray drops in tiny chunklets of comedy sketches - often just the punchline stripped from the build-up - without any real connection to anything before or after. It took a moment or two for us to realise what was going on, but then it all became clear: It's the bloody Adrian Juste show, isn't it?

A daytime show dressed up as a night-time show. We'd probably like it more if we liked Murray's style more; we'd like it more if it was an attempt to push the afternoon show into more eclectic territory instead of a bid to try and make evenings a little less left-field.

Full coverage: Rhode Island nightclub fire

In 2003, the Station Nightclub in Rhode Island caught fire following an accident with Great White's pyrotechnic display. Over 100 people died in the resulting fire, numbers far higher than they should have been - it was subsequently revealed the club had used flammable soundproofing material.

Yesterday, the owners of the club, Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, were sentenced for their role in the deaths.

Jeffrey Derderian, who was also slapped with 500 hours of community service and three years probation, said in court: "This tragedy has our name on it. I wish I could give you back what you lost, but I know I can't."

Survivors are being helped by the Station Family Fund

These are the stories on No Rock which have tracked the disaster and its aftermath:

25.02.03 - Fred Durst is "horrified", forgets own role in festival disaster
02.03.03 - Great White singer Jack Russell asks for immunity before testifying
20.08.03 - Health and Safety levy 100,000 fine
29.09.03 - Great White's drummer in car crash
10.12.03 - Indictments issued - manager, owners face 100 charges of involuntary manslaughter
23.04.04 - Band disown 'Burning House of Love'
25.04.04 - Unofficial 'Burning House of Love' release pulled from stores
24.07.04 - Families file lawsuits
31.01.05 - Jack Russell takes the fifth
19.07.05 - Familes demand right to test foam for their own legal action
29.09.06 - Light sentences for nightclub owners attacked
10.01.07 - Great White rally for seals as family fund runs dry
07.04.07 - Great White members ask to be excused from case
20.09.07 - Manager Bichelle up for early release
04.02.08 - CBS affiliate settles 'blocked escape' claims
17.02.08 - Survivors struggle because of 'hair metal' profile
02.09.08 - Great White offer million dollar settlement
26.06.09 - Co-owner released from jail

Great White fire sentences attacked

The two brothers who ran the nightclub where more than 100 died following the Great White indoor fireworks display have been sentenced.

Michael Derderian has been given four years; Jeffrey, his brother and co-owner of the Rhode Island Station club, has been sentenced to a ten year suspended stretch.

The Derderians had installed flammable foam in the body of the club, as soundproofing. The fireworks set the foam alight. The pair cut a deal to avoid a trial, and ensure their sentences were lighter - a deal which has angered some of those who lost friends and relatives in the fire. They'd already been enraged by what they perceived as light sentences for others involved:

"I don't need to tell you how distraught and disgusted I was when I learned you decided the man who literally lit the fuse that night would serve no more than four years," said Diane Mattera, whose daughter Tammy Mattera-Housa was killed in the fire, referring to Great White manager Daniel Biechele, who pleaded guilty in May. "The only thought that kept me gong was the promise that when September came, things would be different.

"When September came, there would be a trial and there would be no way the brothers would get away with their crimes."

Jackson, Rowe settle dispute over custody of money

Michael Jackson has dealt with another piece of the legal business distracting him as he prepares to release his benefit single following the recent destruction of the World Trade Center: he's sorted out the custody problems over two of his kids. Their mother, Debbie Rowe, had been demanding something - more access, or money, or just to let them see the sky for once in a while - and now she's not. According to Rowe's spokesperson:

"We're still dealing with the details but it addresses all of the disputes between the parties," said attorney Marta Almli, who represents Rowe. "I can't say anything about the terms of the settlement but I don't think it would have happened if both parties didn't agree it was appealing to both of them."

Almli refused to be drawn on if the settlement included any promise that kids could sometimes go outdoors properly, and not in a giant plastic bubble.

Luckily, the settlement was managed without the father having to be involved, otherwise it could have been really complicated.

We believe the phrase is "one for the dads"

"Girls Aloud release calendar" isn't entirely news; "Girls Aloud do some sexy photos" isn't either. "Girls Aloud open blouses for calendar" stops short of being earth-shattering, too, but it's enough for The Sun, whose Tom Wells is unafraid to sound like a fourteen year-old boy who's never seen a cleavage before. Nadine Coyle is dressed - almost - as a policewoman (alright, she's dressed as a stripping policewoman telegram on her way home after a boisterous stag do); Tom attempts to describe the image:

WHAT’S all this ’ere then? It’s Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle as a sexy policewoman — and yes, we know, she makes a pretty arresting sight.

It shows Nadine, who dates Desperate Housewives hunk Jesse Metcalfe, in a plunging top and flashing her white bra — with a police badge pinned to it.

She completed the naughty look with a pair of black hotpants and a policewoman’s hat.

That’s what we call a SPECIAL constable. Not sure where she keeps her handcuffs — but who would mind having their collar felt by Nadine?

Good lord man - surely the subs must have helped you by editing out the odd "and you can see her tits and everything."

Robbie Williams is not allowing a Buy It Now option

There's something distinctly cheesey about multi-millionaires selling their old tat through eBay, even when it's something like a car. Good lord, Robbie, if you're tired of the Smart car why not give it someone who needs a car rather than trying to scrape back a few more quid off the back it?

Have you no shame, man?

He's asking his aunt for money this Christmas.

Eat more sugababes

The celebrity weight storm is just getting ridiculous now. At least someone should take Victoria Newton aside and ask her to come up with an opinion, rather than twisting in the wind. Say what you like about Trevor Kavanagh - and we've got some choice phrases - but at least the Sun seems to know politically where it stands, and when it changes, it does so with at least a little decorum. It doesn't flip between Cameron and Brown and Ming from page to page. Bizarre, though, knows no consistency, so a day or two after trying to make Charlotte Church feel like a porker for enjoying eating food, there's cheers for the Sugababes making the ludicrous claim that they enjoy kebabs:

Amelle said: “We went to a premiere the other week and afterwards we were starving. We had the dodgiest kebab ever.

“It was tortilla-style and it wasn’t the best — but we do like a bit of doner.”

It was only after she got home that she realised she meant "dogging".

Keisha raged: “I have a 14-year-old cousin. I asked her if she wanted something to eat and she said ‘No’ because she had to watch her figure. I was never like that at 14. It is really bad.”

Heidi added: “This whole size zero thing really upsets me. I was at a hospital the other week and a lady came over and asked for an autograph for her 13-year-old daughter who was in a clinic with anorexia.

“It is so unrealistic. There are going to be loads of young girls now desperately trying to get to a size zero like all these Hollywood stars. It is so sad. It upsets me.”

Which are sentiments that should be wholeheartedly endorsed. The only trouble is, these are the photos the Sun is using to illustrate the articles: thin, pretty women in skintight pvc minishorts and catsuits.

Now, it's true that the "size zero" concept might be raising false expectations in young girl's minds. But to pretend that you're living on a doner kebab diet and squeezing into these sexy outfits - doesn't that also raise a slew of false expectations, too?

Buy to me to the Zune

So, Microsoft have finally announced the name of their slightly ugly and sometimes brown music player - the Zune will be listed at USD250. Which is pretty much the figure that WalMart had leaked a couple of weeks ago.

It's not a meTooiPod, though, it's totally differnet. It's um, got an FM radio in it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

In it for the money

Last week, Lily Allen was moaning that she wasn't going to foot the bill for a family-friendly version of the album. Now, Mark Anderson writes to us with something from today's Metro:

"Lily Allen recently appeared at G.A.Y. dressed as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but she is not pleased to see bootleg T-shirts with that image of her on them. 'I'm not getting a cut now am I?' she said."

Good Lord - we're surprised she's allowing a date with herself to be auctioned for charity. Though we bet the lucky winner finds he's not only springing for the date, but will have to settle the bills at the restaurant and have to pay for Lily's taxi fare home at the end of the evening.

We know many popstars are motivated more by the bottomline than art and love and passion, but at least most of them manage to stop sounding like a bloody farmer moaning on about the EU's set-aside rates and how it's killing them while they're driving round in a shiny new 4x4.

Kasabian might never go home

Let's not call them "sons of Madchester", because they hate that.

Nephews of Madchester, Kasabian, are planning on extending their winter tour of America, presumably avoiding falling into the trap of Oasis of not registering much beyond the hotels they stay in.

To help Kasabian "crack" America, as it's always called, they've got a couple of other things alongside this willingness to actually work at it. One: They're going to appear in Playboy - not naked, and certainly not with comedy plastic breasts strapped on.

Two: Mass-market sludge always sells in the US.

Dirty Pretty Things cause Fopp to panic

Dirty Pretty Things did an instore at Fopp on Wednesday night - it was pretty eventful, by all accounts.

The Sun paints a picture of mayhem - Carl Barat encouraging fans to storm the stage, bouncers panicing and locking fans inside the store in case they looted. (We're sure that can't be the case - locking a crowd inside a building would be a major breach of health and safety laws and reckless.)

The Sun, of course, weren't there. Neither were a lot of people, as it seems the locking was more about keeping people out than keeping people in.

Chris Chinchilla got in, but saw the queues:

The we met up with another friend and through some superb last minute blagging I got three press passes to the Dirty Pretty Things in-store at Fopp on Tottenham Court Rd. Which was very interesting if a little hairy, loads of people weren't allowed in and kept banging on the shutters shouting "Let us in", and Gary (drummer) wasn't playing for some reason, but kept appearing on stage to rapturous applause... Shame the music isn't all that...

Vilte got close:

By the time we got to the actual place (Fopp), there were some HUUUUUGE queues, and we weren't able to get INSIDE the room where DPT's were playing, so that was quite dissapointing:((

However, I did see a quite a lot of Carl, some Anthony, a little of Didz and even Gary who wasn't even playing! They did around like 8 songs and it was great, because I've never seen them live before.

After the gig finished, me and Chris waited for like over an hour to get some stuff signed, and we met some cool people there. Sadly the queue for it was ENORMOUS, and verrrry verrrry slow, so eventually we had to leave empty handed, which was the worst part of the day...

Sezzera has photos and some video - it seems crowded, but not the edge-of-meltdown-of-society you might expect from The Sun's account.

And although the people kept out were disappointed, they were still giddy enough - and it sounds, from Emily Noir's blog like Carl and the boys tried to make up for it:

They let all the lucky bastards with wristbands in to see Dirty Pretty Things and we were all standing outside banging on the grate and screaming "Let Us In". So Carlos (being the beauty that he is) dedicated 'Blood Thirsty Bastards' to us, quite fitting.

The signing was a pisstake, that was wristbands only as well, so again we had to wait outside. Then the security guard came out and said we won't be getting in so we ran round the back and waited for like an hour. I went to look down another stairwell to see if anyone was there and I came back to the stairwell we were all lingering around and at the bottom was Carlos smoking a fag and looking bloody gorgeous. Once they'd finished the signing they left from the front entrance so we rang round and I got a photograph with Carl and he was telling me I should of wrapped red tape around my wrist and got in that way.

We still don't understand how locking people in with the stock would protect it, anyway.

Kurt Cobain: The final sell-out

It's hard to even know where to start with the cover of David LaChaepelle's new book: Courtney Love posing with a Kurt-lookalike in a recreation of Mary and Jesus.

It's hard to say what's grinding our teeth the most: the whole "shouting 'poo' in church'" attempt to court controversey by going for a supposedly sacreligious theme, for all the world like it's 1995 and Madonna's making a Pepsi advert.

Or perhaps it's the attempts by Courtney to try and claim Mary's role in the Cobain hagiography - perhaps dressing as Pilate might have been witty, and self-aware, and defensible. But Mary? Talk about the girl who always needs to be the princess.

But, ultimately, what stinks the worst is the supposedly grieving widow digging up her husband's corpse (yet again) for a couple of minutes of buzz and the cover of coffee-table book. Why not just hire a stall and charge people a few quid for a ride on the body, Courtney?

Most rubbish survey of all time - official

What on earth were the mobile phone company thinking when they decided to try and promote themselves with a fake-news survey focussing on "which celebrity would you most like to hang up on?"

Apart from the lameness of the original concept - a survey, again; can't you afford proper advertising? there's the puzzling execution: hanging up on people is something you do when someone annoys you; since mobile phone companies are amongst the worst offenders for cold-calling you, do you really want to reinforce the link between annoying, unwanted phone calls and mobile phones?

And what exactly does it mean anyway? The survey found Paris Hilton followed by Victoria Beckham were the most we're most hung up on hanging up, but what can we extrapolate from that? That half of Britain is currently being plagued by calls from Hilton? It's not impossible - we'd imagine she must misdial a lot - but it seems unlikely. So if people were getting calls from her, it's likely they'd be friends or colleagues, which means they'd be less likely to want to actually hang up.

Or are the company saying that people want to ring Paris up simply so they can hang up on her? Isn't that illegal?

It's all very confusing.

Avril's phlegm

To find oneselves surrounded by photographers and having to spit at them once is unfortunate; when it happens two nights running, it starts to look like you're doing it for sport.

The second time, Avril Lavigne added some abuse to her act:

Proud of her new trick, Avril returned the next night to indulge in a repeat performance, this time, screaming: "Bitch!" as the gozz ball hurled towards photographers.

By all accounts, her aim is pretty good.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Oasis: No plans

There's nothing in sight from Oasis in the future, reckons Noel Gallagher:

“There's no plans to do anything. Saying that, there's no plans not to do anything, either. We're not like other bands in that respect.

“We're masters of our own destiny and take these things one album at a time. The last time we sat down and planned an album, it turned into 'Don't Believe the Truth,' and that took three years to record."

Hmm. No fresh ideas about what they could do next. Well, they've not had any since about 1992, so there's no surprise there.

When children of famous people attack. Each other.

Bob Geldof's kid and Keith Allen's kid are at it again.

At Reading-Leeds, Lily spat at Peaches' shoes.

Now, there's been a falling out over the overwrought GCSE essay on Islam that Peaches was inexplicably allowed to read out on Channel 4.

Allen wasn't impressed:

"I watched her on Richard and Judy - she was like 'You know, I just really think, that, like kids in this country just like, don't know enough about Islam.'

"What do you know about Islam, you useless oaf?"

The 21-year-old singer however, really let loose when off air, declaring she wanted to "kick the shit out of" the 17-year-old.

It will be a happy day when that pair meet each other over the dispatch box, won't it?

Scissors cut from FYE

In what would seem to be more of an own-goal than a wise move, Scissor Sister's new album Ta-Dah has been dropped by US retail chain For Your Entertainment and its parent organisation Trans World Entertainment.

Trans World have thrown a little hissy fit after Jake Shears singled out the chain for criticism on overcharging - he pointed out that their $18.99 price tag on the Raconteurs album was a little steep at a music industry conference.

TWE CEO Jim Litwak has been hoping for a "sorry":

"All [Scissor Sisters’] had to do was pick up the phone and talk to us. But they didn't elect to do that. We were ignored, and he made those comments. So who's the injured party here?"

Who is the injured party here - that's a good question. We notice with interest that FYE's response to being questioned about the high price of a CD on their shelf was not to justify the price by demonstrating why it's a fair rate, or to shrug and say "if you don't like it, don't pay it", but to have a childish tantrum and choose to drop one of the major releases of the second half of 2006. At a time when customers are choosing to buy online instead of in stores, mainly because the range of stock online is so much wider, is it really wise to send out press releases bellowing "we don't even have some Top 40 albums in stock because the artists dislike our ridiculously high prices"?

Yes, Litwak. You're the injured party. Because you've shot your own bloody foot off.

"...and two pockets - one for new syringes; one for used..."

As if the whole "trying to get straight" business wasn't enough to keep him busy, Pete Doherty is apparently being lined up to design some clothes.

By Gio Goi.

Now, if this sounds oddly familiar, exactly the same story appeared last October.

Perhaps it's just taken him ages to decide between velcro and buttons.

Even Linkin Park realise they sound dated

The trouble is, that while Linkin Park have noticed that sounding like Linkin Park is about as contemporary as riding a penny farthing, they don't seem to have much idea what to replace it with.

The next album, then, will be fudgey and casting round for something, anything, to try and ease the stench of nu-metal carcass that clings to their fingers:

We're going for the music that inspired us, rather than the nü-metal type of sound," frontman Chester Bennington said of the band's third studio album, due next year. We're ripping that out. It's completely gone."

You might think this would call for self-belief, but it sounds like they're going to go with self-delusion instead:

We've always been known for mixing a lot of different genres of music and not pigeonholing ourselves in one particular sound, but by doing so, we've kind of pigeonholed ourselves into our sound. It sounds strange, but there's a common thread that people are going to expect, and we're trying to pull that out of the new music."

So... are you suggesting, Chester, that you've got so many musical influences going on in your work that you've been straitjacketed in sounding like Linkin Park? Rather than - as musicologists would testify - having taken the line of maximising sales to the baggy-shorted fools who thought Fred Durst was smart?

Megaman is innocent - official

After three trials, Megaman has finally been cleared of murder by a jury.

Dwayne Vincent, 27, had denied charges of encouraging and supporting his friend Carl Morgan in shooting Colin Scarlett in 2004.

Morgan - a producer of Megaman's So Solid Crew - was jailed for life in October 2005 after being convicted of Scarlett's murder; that jury had been unable to reach a verdict on Vincent; a second jury was discharged in April this year.

Megaman wasn't entirely happy at the final verdict:

After the verdict, Mr Vincent said he felt "like a broken man".

He added: "I have finally been released from a system which has been designed to keep people behind bars whether they are innocent or guilty.

"I was an innocent man from the beginning - nothing has changed and nothing will ever change."

Back from the dead... sort of

So, it turns out the bloke who died who had told his wife he'd written Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini hadn't written it at all:

Paul Van Valkenburgh told his wife he was Paul Vance, who wrote the song. But he wasn't; the real Paul Vance is still alive and well. And living in Florida.

HMV slashes cost of CDs

It's taken them a while to get round to it, but HMV seems to have finally accepted that the supermarkets and Amazon aren't going to raise their prices anytime soon, and have slashed the price of large swathes of their catalogue CDs and DVDs.

The price cuts kicked in at the start of September; today the company admitted that it was bounced into the move because of falling sales and predicted that its margins might be squeezed by two to two-and-a-half percent.

We've already established what you are; now we're just quibbling about the price

Apparently, if you want to go on a date with Lily Allen, you can. There's some sort of celebrity charity auction thing, and currently the bids are at over two thousand pounds.

Reading it again, it appears that people are paying to spend time with her, rather than - as would seem more logical - Lily is paying people to hang out with her.

Liz McClarnon is currently at over five grand - she's worth twice as much, then, as Allen and she's engaged.

Burberry treads on a Rake

We're sure Burberry will be crying their eyes out at the news that The Rakes are boycotting them over their use of fur. Alan Donohoe has written to the CEO of the beige-check company:

"Every year, millions of animals are trapped, drowned and beaten to death in the wild and strangled, electrocuted and skinned alive on fur farms. The fur trade is a violent, bloody industry, and the cold-hearted killing of animals for 'fashion' is indefensible.

"The Rakes will not shop at Burberry or participate in Burberry's ad campaigns until it pledges to stop supporting cruelty to animals and adopts a permanent fur-free policy."

Burberry haven't, noticeably, cancelled any marketing campaigns as a result. A spokesperson for the company giggled "oh no, whatever will we do if The Paddingtons and Selfish Cunt join the boycott?"

Of course he bloody has

Peter Blake has been lined up to do the Oasis best of cover.

It's more surprising they haven't dug up Brian Epstein to organise the launch party.

Zeta-Jones dumped

Former David Essex collaborator Catherine Zeta-Jones is about to be dropped as T-Mobile's spokesperson in the US, according to reports.

Although nothing's been confirmed:

T-Mobile did not return calls or emails last night.

A spokesman for Zeta-Jones, 37, did not return calls.

That's probably down to T-Mobile's patchy coverage. We used to have trouble getting a signal when we were with them.

It could actually be worse for Z-J:

The Wall St Journal reported: "The company has decided to drop Ms. Zeta-Jones from its advertising in favor of a more man-on-street approach to marketing, people familiar with the matter say.

"Ms Zeta-Jones may continue to appear in some ads until her contract expires next year, but eventually she will be phased out."

Couldn't they just let her go home? The idea that she's going to be "phased out" is slightly alarming - like she's going to go the way of the one2one brand and disappear completely.

Actually, that doesn't sound that bad. Carry on, T.

In happier times

Pete Doherty has vowed to stay clean for Kate. Yes, we know, we know, but that's what the 3am Girls reckon:

Pete, 27, was overheard telling a pal: "I'm off the drugs and I'm determined to stay off them. I'm more healthy than I've been in years. The only drugs I'm on at the moment is a little bit of booze.

"I'm going to do it for the lads and for Kate. We've been though a lot together, everyone has stood by me during my darkest moments.

"It was torture for them, I know, they could have gone off and formed another band but they stuck with me. It's payback time now. I have to stay clean for the band and the fans.

"Any available time off I have I'll go back to The Priory to see my doctors and the other residents, some of whom have become my friends. At the moment I'm trying my best to keep away from other junkies and situations where there's a lot of drugs.

"I was really worried that I couldn't be creative without the drugs but now I know that I can. I think I'm writing some of my best stuff yet. Our fans have been through a lot with me, too, but we've got a great EP coming out which we're very excited about.

"And we've enough material ready for a great new album."

You'll note that "Pete was overheard telling a pal" all of that - even if the Pal was on drugs or something, surely about a third of the way in he would have butted in "yeah, yeah, great Pete. But it's all about you - you haven't asked anything about me..."

The 3AM Girls know it's hard to trust Pete, but they've got proof:

Cynics who scoff that we've heard all this before should check out a note Pete has posted on a fan website, which echoes his claims to be a reformed character.

He writes: "No palming stones off scallies in alleys, not with the missus here anyway. Oh, and probation's weekly tests and court, and the wilful destruction of my entire life.

"Do you think they've sown some seeds in me at that Priory gaff? Expensive fucking seeds, I fancy, although it could be cheaper than getting bang on it this autumn."

Ah, well, we know he's lied about his rehab in the past, but if he's posted a message on some website, how can we doubt him?

GLC dis MTV band

MTV are currently churning out a series based around failed boyband members pretending to in any way interested in being in a new boyband (not to be confused with the Five reunion, of course).

We're sure the appearance of Goldie Lookin' Chain at Upper Street's first gig was a genuine event, driven by GLC's dislike of boybands and not, in any way, a stunt designed to draw attention to anyone or anything.

Rather oddly, the Sun's report ends on the words "Like the GLC would say, guns don’t kill people — rappers do." Although, erm, nobody was killed, and no guns were involved. But apart from that...

Pete pops into pharmacy

The worst thing about the apparent sighting of Pete Doherty buying syringes?? It's not just that he's let his friends down. It's not that he's let Kate down. It's that he's let Victoria Newton down:

JUST three days and 15 hours after leaving The Priory, PETE DOHERTY has been spotted buying SYRINGES.

I had really hoped the BABYSHAMBLES singer’s latest trip to rehab would be his last.

Of course you had, Victoria. In exactly the same way political editors hope Gordon and Tony stop sniping at each other, and football journalists hope that teams will simply stop.

I am so disappointed. Pete’s latest stint in The Priory was supposed to be a new turning point for the junkie rock star.

But it is time to face facts and realise this treatment is not working for him — as my picture of the singer looking bloated and sweaty on his way to yesterday’s gig proves.

How could you do it, Pete? How could you let Victoria down so?

It's not all bad news, of course: The Priory is doing rather nicely out of his recent stay there:

A concerned source at the rehab hospital where JUSTIN HAWKINS and TOM CHAPLIN from KEANE were also treated, told me: “The girls turn up complaining of suffering from anxiety and start asking about Pete.

“Pete has even visited some of the girls and helped them write poems. They are hooked on his every word — it’s frightening.

“They think being in rehab is cool . . . it’s not.”

Of course being in rehab isn't cool. Justin Hawkins and Tom Chaplin are doing it, for God's sake.

Chris Martin's friends can't wait for 2008

It is, of course, the sort of thing new parents with too much cash will tend to do: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have produced a twee calendar featuring the kids.

Apple, for example, appears with some apples. Moses, we guess, is surrounded by the tribes of Israel.

Of course, being modern celeb parents, they didn't actually make it themselves; they subcontracted the whole affair to the Nanny. Still, it's a nice chance for them to bond.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Never said hello again

Another bout of Cerys Matthews tourage is being set up for winter. It's a national tour, set up for November:

14th - Caernarfon, Galeri
15th - Newport, Riverfront
16th - Milford, Haven Torch Theatre
18th - Brecon, Brycheiniog Theatre
19th - Porthcawl, Grand Pavillion

National tour of Wales, admittedly. But it's still a nation.

Run's child dies

Some sad news from the US: Joseph Simmons - Run from Run DMC - and his wife have announced their baby dided shortly after birth. The pregnancy had been followed by MTV as part of one of their many reality series; last week, staff at Ridgewood's New Valley hospital discovered the foetus had developed with organs outside the body. Although successfully delivered, the child lost its fight for life shortly after birth.

Chinless Ferry heckled on catwalk

Otis Ferry - who spends much of his life killing stuff for fun - had his jolly turn on the Burberry cat walk interrupted by PETA activists in Milan.

The protesters were more enraged by Burberry's use of fur (on this occasion) but capturing a huntsman as well is a bit of a two-for-one.

Otis doesn't appear to have a proper job, so it's nice he's been able to pick up a bit of work pretending to be a model.

Jamelia tells Beyonce where she got it wrong

Obviously, Jamelia hasn't said it to Beyonce's face - or, more likely, yelled it through the intercom at one of Beyonce's front gates - but Jamelia thinks B-Day is rushed:

"I heard Beyonce recoeded B-Day in two weeks. When you write an album you need to take breaks to re-connect with your self. I'd have liked it if shed have been more adventurous. I like the single, I do think the album is good. It's just not great."

Sorry, Jamelia, that's just b-llocks. You have to take breaks "to re-connect" with yourself? What, does recording a song make your soul come detached, like a bungee jumper's retinas?

Of course, Beyonce has shown up other R&B singers who take several years to put together a couple of songs by knocking out an album in a few days, and that's going to go down badly.

How did we survive without them?

Yes, it's true: The Five comeback is on.

With four of them.

Ritchie Neville, Scott Robinson, Abs Breen and Jason "J" Brown have all been rounded up - we picutre Abs going round like Adrian Edmondson in Happy Families, reuniting them - and are back.

They're not going to call themselves Four (or 4our), though:

Robinson said that would not prompt a name change, adding: "Five's a brand not a number."

No... we're pretty sure it's a number. One, two, three, four... yes, Five.

What can we expect?

"I just hope everybody is going to want to hear our stuff and see what we are doing now," Brown told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"Five years later it's going to be a little bit different - not kind of arms in the air - but we are still a full-on pop band, and we are really looking forward to it."

So, it's not "arms in the air" - by which we understand that if they want to leave the stage to go to the toilet, they'll just go without asking permission first.

But is this little more than the unemployable in search of past glories? No, no, no, said Ritchie, stuffing his pockets with the free mints:

"We're not clutching at straws. We don't need the money. We're going to be back bigger than ever."

If they don't need the money - and who doesn't believe them - we would challenge them to prove that by offering to hand any cash they might make over to a charity. Unlss Ritchie was lying, of course.

There's good cause for this reunion, too:

"We're just coming back because why shouldn't we have another crack at the madness?" Brown added.

Yes. That's the perfect reason. Madness and crack.

Plan B: There is no Plan B

Citing perhaps the weediest ever excuse we've heard ("tiredness"), the entire autumn Plan B has been shunted back to sometime in the New Year.

Tiredness? Tiredness? What's next - "tour cancelled because I fancied a bit of a sit-down"; "tonight's gig has been cancelled due to me needing a nap"; "US Tour axed - Plan B has got quite a few episodes of Lost to catch up on on his Sky+"?

Alex James churns to cheese

In the future, Alex James will be thinking less about music, more about curdling: He's turning into a cheese magnate:

"The more I think about cheese," wrote James, "the more I like it and the more I want some, which is why I'm taking matters into my own hands and venturing into the world of independent cheese making."

"My heart always beats a little bit faster in the cheese aisle of a French supermarket," added the star. "The Italians, too, eat more cheese than us, as do the Danes. Danish cheese is not as well known, but well worth exploring." suggests that making cheese is a change of direction for Alex, which suggests they haven't heard Me Me Me.

Gothobit: Sabine Dunser

We've only just heard of the death of Sabine Dunser, singer with Lichensteinian goth band Elis.

Dunser fell ill during a rehearsal session for the band, who had just finished work on their second album. The 29 year-old suffered a cerebral haemorrhage; although she was hospitalised she died the following day.

At the time, the band issued the following statement:

"Deeply confused and sad, we have to inform you, that Sabine isn't among us anymore!

"[During] the band's rehearsal on Friday [July 7], Sabine suffered a cerebral hemorrhage [from] which she died a day later at the hospital!

"[Out of respect for Sabine's] family and friends, we have decided to take the homepage from the net.

"We need time now to decide if and how we approach further and we will not answer any mails at the moment."

The band have elected to continue; they have recently taken the first steps in seeking a new vocalist.

Bye, then, Lily

Not so much running-before-walking, more travelling-at-hyperdrive-before-crawling, apparently Lily Allen is taking rooms in LA, the better to disappear quickly ("run her campaign to conquer America").

Lily has started her assault on America by battering the verbal crap out of Paris Hilton. We know, we know, such a daring target - short of a blind, lame, elderly donkey tethered to a large pole on a short rope, we can't think of a more risky target to launch an attack on:

"People like her are useless," says 21-year-old Lily. "She thinks she can milk the world for what she's worth. She's taking money off people that haven't got much.

"Why doesn't she do something worthwhile, like work for the UN?

"She's hideously untalented. Her music is auto-tuned. You can hear it. I know because my sister saw her in Ibiza and said it was the worst thing she had ever heard.

"I worked for two and a half years writing my album... I find it hideous that she's come in and not worked for it at all."

You go, Lily - why should the pop world be choked up with chancers churning out by-the-numbers pop who only get heard in the first place because they've got famous dads and had priviliged upbringings, eh?

We're slightly confused, though: if Lily beleives Paris would be better off doing "something worthwhile" like working for the UN, why doesn't Lily do something more worthwhile, like working for the UN?

But then, doing a bit of press to push a re-release of a single you recorded so long ago London was still being called LDN is hard. Oh, you couldn't tell how hard:

"I had 15 hours sleep last week," she says. "The other day I was lying on the floor near a conveyor belt in Heathrow airport just kicking myself in the head! It's not really very glamorous.

How does someone kick themselves in the head? Unless they have a removeable head, of course, like a cartoon ghost.

"I do feel slightly insane but it is the best job in the world. There are a lot of highs but there are also a lot of lows.

"In this job there's a lot of travelling, a lot of free alcohol being poured all over you and it can be quite hard to deal with."

Ah, yes - it's so difficult dealing with people giving you free stuff. I tell you, these people who live in poverty think they've got it tough - they should try having people come up constantly trying to give you stuff without even asking for money in return. Then they'd know what tough is.

"People do get very tired and a six-week break in the Priory seems like quite a nice thing. I went into rehab when I was 18 for depression and it made me so much happier in my life."

Oh, yes. We often go and have a few weeks at a thousand or so grand a throw at the Priory. It really cheers us up, like throwing hot coins to orphans does. People think Lily Allen is coasting on her background, you know. How unfair is that?

Itsybitsyteenieweenieobit: Paul Vance

The writer of Catch A Falling Star, Paul Vance, has died in his Florida home.

Born Paul Van Valkenburgh, Vance's most famous work - he was also responsible for Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini - was written with partner Lee Pockriss. Vance boasted that his hits took just 25 minutes to write. Maybe so, but it took him even less time to sign away the rights; he never made any money from the works - although if anyone would want to profit from Timmy Mallett and Andrew Lloyd Webber's cover of Polka Dot Bikini is debatable.

Vance also worked as a painting contractor and served in Korea; he was 68.

[Update: It turns out this bloke had lied to his wife; he wasn't Paul Vance at all]

Brown deals

Good day for Foxy Brown, as all charges - including the one about "making terroristic threats" - against her have been dropped following a deal between her and ex-employee Rasheeda Ellis. The deal means neither of them can talk to the press about it, so we might never find out exactly what "terroristic threats" actually are.

This isn't connected, of course, with the separate manicure fight legal business, which lumbered Brown with three year's probabtion.

Ashlee Simpson makes people cry

Jessica Simpson reportedly burst into tears watching Ashlee Simpson in Chicago.

A lot of people felt like that, forced to watch her bounding around the stage in hotpants and stockings while trilling songs. Some other people didn't cry, because their burning eyeballs evaporated the tears as they formed.

Bob Geldof's joined-up thinking

Bob Geldof is on Today at the moment, suggesting that perhaps something should be done about the problems many in the developing world have getting hold of clean, safe drinking water.

It's a very good point - everyone has the right to potable water, and it should be an easy problem to fix if the world puts its mind to it.

Strange thing, though, is that Bob is calling for this, and yet was happy to consider Coca-Cola as a sponsor for Live8 - indeed, until campaigners found out the two parties were negotiating, there were a series of "ongoing talks" to try and seal a deal. As one activist pointed out at the time:

"Coca-Cola is responsible for creating severe water shortages and pollution in India, and thousands have lost their livelihoods as a result. It is absurd to think that a poverty creating company can sponsor a poverty alleviating endeavor such as Live 8," said Amit Srivastava, director of the India Resource Centre which campaigns with Indian communities to hold Coca-Cola accountable.

We could solve the water problems in the developing world. We can, we must. And we could do it a hell of a lot faster if Geldof started holding corporations to account, instead of offering them sponsorship opportunities.

[Plug: Wateraid works in 17 countries providing water, sanitation and hygiene education to some of the world's poorest people.]

I'm Not Dressed

What we especially like about this morning's photos in Bizarre from her nude video shoot is that the Sun puts a photo of Pink with clothes on next to Pink naked - presumably in case you don't recognise her without her clothes on.

She was undressing for the video for Nobody Knows. And, of course, the publicity.

Charlotte Church revives "seafood diet" joke

Charlotte ChurchA couple of weeks ago, to try and shore up interest in her "comedy-chat show", Charlotte Church claimed she was putting on weight because she was eating crisps and junk while she was making it.

Of course, Charlotte Church is chubby in the same way that George W is an orator.

This morning's Sun starts to claim she's "piling on the weight" because she's eating double the normal number of meals:

CHARLOTTE Church is piling on weight because she eats SIX meals a day, her mum said yesterday.

Blimey. Either Chazza is a porker, or her mum is a cow, or both. Which is it?

Erm... neither, actually. It turns out rather than saying "Charlotte is putting on weight because she eats loads", her Mum was making a little joke while talking about how often Charlotte cooks for her rugby-playing boyfriend:

Maria said: “She loves feeding him. One reason she is so curvy is she eats almost as much!”

Which is hardly the same thing.

Snorting at Kate Moss

This is what it will be like, now, Kate Moss - she's no sooner back with Pete Doherty than she's got The Sun looking up her nose:

And last night fans were asking what the odd-looking substance could be — with some suggesting talc, others toothpaste, and some even ZIT CREAM, after The Sun revealed blonde Kate’s crop of spots yesterday.

Of course, there’s no suggestion that Kate, who went into rehab after being filmed hoovering up cocaine, took drugs at the gig.

"Fans" in this sense is used not to mean people who watched Kate join Babyshambles onstage during their Carlows Music Factory gig - who, after all, wouldn't have been able to see the tiny, tiny "substance" unless blessed with fully-powered bionic eyes, it's more "people on the Sun news desk."

But we're glad they've cleared up that they're not suggesting she took drugs. Because otherwise it might have looked like they were.

Meanwhile, Courtney Love has apparently revealed that she does "Buddhist chants" for Kate.

Apparently, not for Pete.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Set radio free" begs radio person

People who listen to a lot of FM radio in Britain may think - those of them who have synapses which works - that the commercial sector has basically been left alone to do what it wants, chasing ratings and attempting to push just one boundary - that of how low the lowest common denominator can be.

Apparently, it's not like that at all. It's totally over-regulated, and caught in a straight-jacket of strict formats and promises of performance. So reckons Andrew Harrison, who leads a commercial radio trade group, RadioCentre.

So, he's not entirely impartial when he suggests that Ofcom should be told to instruct radio companies to stick to the promises they made when they were handed lucrative, limited-in-supply, licenses to broadcast to our homes and businesses and cars. But he must know what he's talking about, right? He'll be someone who's spent his life working in radio, yes?

Erm... no; he used to be a marketing bloke with Nestle (not, we should stress, directly involved with Nestle's 'try powdered milk' marketing campaigns in the developing world). So he knows more about the advertising world than radio.

"What we need is for Ofcom to set a liberal environment so licence holders can thrive and make money. That is in the listeners' interests."

Why, exactly, is it "in the listener's interests" that licence holders "make money"? Obviously, it's important for a commercial station to be able to stay afloat, but if your passion is for, say, talking books, or punk, or garage, you might feel your interests were better served by a company which broke even and played readings, or punk, or hip-hop, rather than one which made loads of money and stuck to the Top 40.

Oddly, from the point of view of listeners who enjoy plurality ahead of supernormal profitability, the impression of Ofcom, the Radio Authority, and the IBA has been an environment of increasingly light touch while the radio dials themselves have become increasingly packed with sameish sludge. It's not clear how commercial radio could become any less regulated right now, unless breakfast shows were to be allowed to call themselves "the cuntfuck flaps hour", Lily Allen is called in to chant "Sugar Puffs are the best" over and over, and stations were free to decide what frequency they go with. We'd like to see the managent of Juice and City having a fight over who's going out on 100FM today.

Of course, there is a segment of British radio where regulation doesn't reach, and those are the pirate stations. Perhaps Andrew Harrison wants the radio industry to use them as their model: "This is Horizon FM broadcasting from a towerblock roof..."

What's curious is what happened to pirates when they went legitimate: look at the cases of Kiss and XFM. Regulation didn't stop them changing their playlists until much of what they do would be found elsewhere on more long-term mainstream stations; what it did do was turn the focus of the efforts from love of the programming to making money. Maybe Harrison was too busy selling Smarties and Milo to notice.

The Jacko Katrina benefit single might be put back a little

It seems even a bottomless supply of cash is not enough to satisfy the Michael Jackson's needs, and he's left Abdulla Hamad Al-Khalifa's record label Two Seas without so much as a white label being completed.

Apparently, Jacko is now establishing a new company, the Michael Jackson Company, which could perhaps release an album by him sometime next year. It's also going "to manage his affairs", which will probably call for a quite high proportion of paralegals to creatives.

Wipe out

Erase ErrataWherever you are in the world (except Africa, most of Asia and South America), you're not that far from an Erase Errata gig this autumn:

October 01 - San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
14 London, England - Frieze Fest
15 Bristol, England - TBA
16 Leeds, England - Brudenell Social Club
17 Glasgow, Scotland - Nice N Sleazy
18 Belfast, Northern Ireland - Pavilion
19 Dublin, Ireland - Hub
20 Cork, Ireland - Triskel
21 Berlin, Germany - Festsaal Kreuzberg
22 Hamburg, Germany - Molotow
23 Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Paradiso
24 Brussels, Belgium - TBA
25 Paris, France - Point Ephemere
26 Milano, Italy - Magnolia
27 Barcelona, Spain - Apollo 2
28 Madrid, Spain - TBA
29 Lyon, France - Le Sonic
30 Brighton, England - Pressure Point
November 12 San Francisco, CA - Cafe du Nord
16 Canberra, Australia - Transit Bar
17 Sydney, Australia - Spectrum
18 Melbourne, Australia - East Brunswick Club
20 Perth, Australia - Rosemount Hotel
22 Adelaide, Australia - Rocket Bar
23 Brisbane, Australia - Powerhouse (Ladyfest)
25 Wellington, New Zealand - TBA
26 Auckland, New Zealand - TBA

Plug: This year's album: Nightlife Music

Faded pop singer launches musical role

Yes, yes: We know Ashlee Simpson has started in the West End in Chicago (described by The Guardian as "the new pantomime", so secure is its reputation as where celebrities' careers go to die); far more interesting is Donny Osmond's Broadway debut as Gaston in Beauty & The Beast.

Be Your Own Pet name new drummer; not quite a foetus

If Be Your Own Pet weren't already sickeningly young and bouncy enough, their average age has now taken a further plummet: the new drummer, John Eatherley, is 16.

He's well connected already, explains the NME:

The 16 year-old is a long-time friend of the band, and is not only a member of guitarist Jonas Stein's side project Turbo Fruits, but is also in bassist Nathan Vasquez's second band Deluxin.

Clearly, not enough homework.

Robbie Williams is not opening the front door

Robbie Williams dispute with Ashley Hamilton over the She's Madonna track is getting a bit odd now. Hamilton co-wrote the song, apparently, but then Williams took it elsewhere to get it finished, he says; Hamilton has wound up without credit - either financial or kudos.

Hamilton and Williams have - apparently - been exchanging words, with Williams seeming to acknowledge Hamilton's claims are causing problems:

Robbie was dramatically forced to concede in one of the calls that he may have to bin the disputed track allegedly telling Ashley "I'll pull the song off the record."

With Nigel Martin-Smith threatening legal action over another song on the record, this LP could wind up more of an EP at this rate.

The reports this morning claims that Williams has been hitting Hamilton with a slew of texts and calls - with one day Williams supposedly ringing him ten times to call Hamilton a liar. So no loss of the sense of proportion, here then.

Today's Mirror suggests:

Robbie appeared to have lost the plot entirely when he told mates that one of singer/songwriter Ashley's associates had threatened to "set 50 Cent" on him

No loss of proportion at all.

The lengths people will go to to stop Five

The big relaunch announcement for not-quite-Five fell apart before it had even begun: they'd chosen London's Scala nightclub as the venue for the now-not-surprising news that they were giving it another go; Police have sealed off the club.

Apparently it's due to the investigation following a weekend stabbing.

Blunt pops off to Kosovo

The row over how rubbish the support for Britain's troops in hotspots is flares up from time to time; there's many claims that equipment doesn't turn up, and when it does, it might be wrong, or broken, or simply unusable on account of it being an empty shell, like the TVs on display stands in IKEA.

The latest blunder? Troops in Kosovo asked for someone to be sent out to entertain them. They got James Blunt instead.

Not that there's anything tasteless about it, mind

When life gives someone else lemons, the Sugababes see an opportunity to push their lemon-style drinks stall.

Despite having had little or no previous connection with him, the band have grabbed some coverage by offering to sing for Richard Hammond, the Top Gear presenter who suffered terrible injuries when he crashed his car last week:

Amelle said: “Richard is a cute bloke with a great smile — of course we’d sing for him.

“I love Top Gear. Richard is a great presenter and JEREMY CLARKSON is brilliant too.”

Keisha added: “Richard is really popular. It was a shock to hear about his crash.

“If our singing can do any good we’re happy to perform.”

We like the way Amelle stresses they like Jeremy Clarkson - so if he has a major, life-threatening injury at some point in the future, at least they can claim that they've always liked him, and it doesn't look like they're a crowd of ghouls gathering round any bedside with a twenty-four hour news channel at its side.

It's such a rotten idea anyway - who, when in hospital with a massive brain injury, would want strangers at the end of their bed singing "Hole in The Head"?

Steven Tyler mulls taking his C onto Oprah

Steven Tyler has taken the sort-of brave step about talking about having Hepatitis C, although it's slightly less brave that he waited until he was more-or-less cured to talk:

"It is nonexistent in my bloodstream, where it's like a complete cure. I've had hepatitis C for a long time, asymptomatic. I've been pretty quiet about this.

"The band took a break about three years ago. (My doctor) said now is the time, and it's 11 months of chemotherapy (interferon) so I went on that, and it about killed me.

"Hepatitis C is the one that, of all the people in this room, at least three have it and don't know it. It's the silent killer. I may go on Oprah and talk about this. I hope you don't mind me mentioning that."

It's the silent killer, unlike... well, TB is quite noisy with all that coughing.

Mills told: Shop somewhere else today

Heather Mills must be getting sick of her youthful indiscretions coming back to haunt her; if it's not the periodic rediscovery of pictures of her giving a blow-job to a bloke for a book, it's the shoplifting she's fessed up to more than once.

An over-efficient staff member at a Sainsburys SavaCentre (yes, apparently they've not got round to rebranding them all yet) in Tyne and Wear saw Heather trying to pop in for a bag of rocket and a packet of Murray Mints, and seemed convinced that she was under some sort of ban for having nicked when she was a ten year-old:

One shopper said: “A woman worker went up to Heather and stopped her going in. She said, ‘Excuse me, Heather, you know you’re not allowed in there, you know the situation’.

“Heather replied, ‘For Christ’s sake, that was years ago. Do you honestly think I’m going to shoplift now? I’ve moved on from there’.

“But the woman wouldn’t budge. Heather walked away, head down. You could tell she was horrified.”

We're not sure we quite buy this verbatim report - "I've moved on from there" sounds like the sort of thing Ronnie Kray might say in this situation rather than a likely Heather Mills reaction.

Sainsburys stress there isn't a ban on multi-milionaire former shoplifters entering its stores; indeed, Savacentres were such a bombing idea they can ill-afford to send anyone away from them.

Man admits: "I beat Bell"

Christian Briggs, a thirty year-old New Zealander, has admitted the attack on Billy Leeson. His late-night assault on the man better known as Billy Bell from Les Incompetents put Leeson in hospital, in a coma.

Appearing in Snaresbrook court yesterday, Briggs pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm. The case was adjourned for medical reports and victim statements; the attacker - who works as an architectural technichian - was said to be "of previously good character."

The band split at the start of the month, although they stressed that was unrelated to the attack.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Temple shocker

We're not entirely sure we're buying that the rejected, Sin City style video for Cooper Temple Clause comeback single Homo Sapiens was "leaked" onto YouTube - if it was done under the counter, we doubt their PR company would be sending us emails telling us about it.

Still, they're nice boys and it's a good video, so we're happy to pretend we're part of sticking it to the man by posting the link, rather than playing a role in a carefully-orchestrated web2.0 style media campaign.

Robbie Williams is not popular with the NUJ

This is a tough one: if you had to decide which side to support in a spat between Robbie Williams and the 3AM Girls, who would you go with?

In this case, it's 3AM who are in the right - or at least, the Daily Mirror is. In a music industry which pays lip service to the idea that creative artists are rewarded for their work, Williams attempted to do the opposite. Photographers at his Milton Keynes show were told they'd only be allowed to shoot on the understanding that they gave copyright in all images to Williams and his management company; and that they would image approval.

The Mirror told them to get stuffed and ran a blank space instead.

Interesting side note: under his 2002 record deal, EMI has an interest in revenues from Williams' live activities, and thus would benefit from removing the rights of photographers to make a living by selling their own work. It's not quite the sort of copyright theft EMI rail against when they're acting as part of the RIAA-BPI, but it's similar.

Q axes free CDs

The time-honoured way of shoring up music magazine circulation, the cover-mounted freebie CD, has had its day. Or so reckons Q, anyway, which is dropping the giveaways as part of a redesign which attempts to pin down exactly what it is that the magazine is about.

Q will now focus on usefulness, entertainment and quality, [editor Paul] Rees said.

Apparently, people who buy Q want "luxury":

"Monthly magazines have tried to be weeklies and distilled all the editorial down and forgotten that the reason people buy monthlies is to luxuriate in them. That's what you need to do — make it luxurious."

He added: "You have to not be instant. Trying to dive in there straight away with a band like the Arctic Monkeys — you can't stand out by trying to capitalise on that. You have to do things in a more considered way."

We think this means "a bit more Mojo-ey", in other words. Rees doesn't suggest how long he'd expect the Arctic Monkeys to be going before the new Q would mention them - in the meantime, it's going to be back to McCartney covers every other month, we suppose.

Cartoon art

And from a ficitional band in a comic strip to a real band in a cartoon - the new Art Brut video, Formed A Band [Quicktime] is online for you to look at using a computer and eyes. There might be some unkind souls who suggest that the real Art Brut are more of a cartoon than their pen-and-ink alter egos.

Not us, though.

Musicians strip

We're a sucker for a good music-related comic strip, so were delighted to come across Bassist Wanted, which is kind of like - if you'll allow us - the Doonesbury that hangs about backstage at the Black Horse and Rainbow. We especially enjoyed the mini-saga of central band, the Ambulance Men, as they set up their (second) MySpace page.

BPI calls for Jamie Cullums, not hospitals

In what might be one of the most surprising examples of special pleading we've seen outside of the nuclear industry, the BPI has called upon the government to give tax credits to underwrite the music industry's A&R functions.

In other words, redirect money from hospitals and education into the private companies of the record business.

They think it's a justified cause because:

A comparison with government figures from the DTI shows that record companies are as high as the pharmaceutical industry in their commitment to R&D.

Hmmm. So, the BPI believes that the work of uncovering the next Lily Allen (a process which would involve shouting "does anyone here have a daughter" through the door of the Groucho Club) is somehow on a par with developing a cure for cancer or a vaccine against river blindness? It seems to have missed the slightly more pressing point that drug research and development is a slightly more exacting process than sending a bloke off to the Barfly and hoping he'll remain sober enough to avoid getting punched by the girls he's hitting on before he gets a chance to find out the name of the support band's manager.

More importantly, are the record companies as deserving of our support as the drugs industry? If pharmaceutical companies were run as poorly as record businesses, and followed the same, safe path, we'd be in a country where the only drugs available for everything would be sixty-three slightly different variants of aspirin, a load of drugs being offloaded by American parent companies which don't actually work, and several dozen actual cures for everything locked away in the vaults because "the marketing guys don't think the GPs will prescribe them."

Still, let's just praise whoever it was at the BPI who spotted that there was a useful similarity between A&R departments and pharmacy businesses. One of them is known for burning through large sums of money pushing vast quantities of drugs around the place, while the others produces medicines.

Copy dates

More live dates - again, mostly in London - from Xerox Teens, who'll be going all the way from Hoxton to, erm, Cheltenham:

Sep 28th - The Bar & Kitchen, Hoxton (with Pink Grease and Vatican DC)
Oct 5th - Barden's Boudoir, Dalston
14th - Barfly, Camden
20th - The Hub, Cheltenham
28th - Hedges And Butler, London W1
Nov 3rd - Lock Tavern,Sheffield
Nov 7th - Artrocker Night, Buffalo Bar, London

Novel books diary dates

Good news from the My Latest Novel camp: they've landed a slot supporting The Hidden Cameras on a double-dream-date tour this autumn:

Novel + Cameras:
Fri 29 September Leeds Josephs Wells
Sat 30 Manchester Night And Day
Tue 3 October Glasgow Oran Mor
Wed 4 London Union Chapel

And then a couple of headline dates in their own right:
Fri 13 October Glasgow The Classic Grand
Sat 28 Greenock Arts Guild

Sparks fly as BBC slaps down their dick

Sensing the ability to turn a small row into a PR opportunity, BBC London's decision to not play Sparks' new single on the Jono Coleman breakfast show has brought forth a flurry of press release:

"Ron Mael this morning raged: "the BBC has officially killed off our new single dick around, ostensibly through rather childish objections to the title, an innocent reference to the idle life.

That a piece of music can be condemned purely by its title without the 'decision makers' even having the decency to open the cd case is a travesty and an insult to both us as the creators of the music and to the listeners of the BBC"

To be absolutely honest, we're not sure the extent to which not getting played on the 179th most popular breakfast show in London is "killing off" the single, especially since the band found out they were banned while on the Jono Coleman breakfast show. Unless they think that being given a live interview is part of the BBC's plot against them - "they distracted us from appearing on the Chris Moyles show by tempting us up Marylebone High Street."

Russell mael responded "the reaction from the public to this record has been nothing but positive so the BCC (sic) should stop trying to be the morality police when it is so clearly misplaced"

We're not entirely sure what this means - that it's misplaced for the BBC to be the morality police? Or just misplaced on this occasion?

To be fair to Sparks, this does seem to be a slightly over-zealous interpretation of the rules, and, yes, we'd be a bit fed up at being dicked about like this. But there's an element of over-reaction on both sides, surely?

Cat scratches Pope

Figuring "I'm already on the no-fly list, so where's the harm", Yusuf Islam has had a go at the Pope's deliberate stirring of the Islamic pot.

Thinking back to his days when, as Cat Stevens, he was a bit of a Catholic himself, Yusuf shook his head:

"At one point, I used to believe that the pope was infallible," Islam said, referring to teachings he received while attending a Catholic school as a boy.

The pontiff "should have looked elsewhere if he wanted to quote but we respect the pope and his position," he said, adding it was good Benedict had retracted his statement "in a way."

That way being, of course, as grudging a way as possible.

Carter breaks off Peniche

No sooner had Aaron Carter got engaged to Kari Ann Peniche onstage, than he's broken it off again:

"I got caught up in the moment and proposed. I then realized it was a hasty thing to do and I am not ready for marriage quite yet."

There is no reason to suspect this is all to do with a desperate attempt to drum up some interest in the Carter family reality series for E! tv.