Saturday, March 03, 2007

Place and men

Americans who love a spot of bloke-in-eyeliner and the merest whiff of male-pattern baldness will be crackling with delight at the announcement of Placebo tour dates:

Fri Apr 6 Roxy Boston, MA
Sat Apr 7 Metropolis Montreal, QC
Mon Apr 9 Guvernment Toronto, ON
Tue Apr 10 Theater of the Living Arts Philadelphia, PA
Wed Apr 11 Roseland New York, NY
Fri Apr 13 House of Blues Chicago, IL
Wed Apr 14 Beaumont Club Kansas City, MO
Sun Apr 15 Pizza Hut Park Frisco, TX
Wed Apr 18 Fillmore Denver, CO
Sat Apr 21 The Fenix Seattle, WA
Sun Apr 22 Roseland Portland, OR
Mon Apr 23 Fillmore San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 26 House of Blues Las Vegas, NV
Fri Apr 27 Marquee Theater Tempe, AZ
Sun Apr 29 Empire Polo Field Indio, CA (Coachella)

[Via Brooklyn Vegan]

Avril promises to cheer up a little

Having seen her profile dip when she tried a "grown-up" (i.e. mainstream emo) album, Avril Lavigne has decided to not make that mistake again:

"I was just so over writing such serious songs," Lavigne told Billboard. "Even though they really weren't that serious, I went through a little dark phase when I was 18 and wrote Under My Skin. But I grew out of that. Lyrically, I didn't know where I was going to go on this record. I totally did not even think about it. I had no theme. I was thinking more about the music and the vibe.

"My favourite stuff to play live has always been Sk8er Boi and He Wasn't, the faster songs. When I was on tour, I realized I need to write more of this kind of stuff. Those songs come alive onstage, and I feel like that's the most me."

Yes... you're at your most alive when you're selling records, Avril.

Robbie Williams is not going to be bothered by his mam telling all

Were we locked into some sort of American spa, desperately trying to beat our love of Junior Disparol, we'd be desperately hoping that someone close to us would be busily flogging stories of our shit life to all and sundry.

We're sure that's what's motivated Jan Williams to flog her story to The Sun. Curiously, Jan is an addiction counsellor, but happily, since it would be unethical for her to have her own son as a patient, she's not bound by any worries about confidentiality.

So, who's to blame for Robbie's addictions, Jan?

She blamed the pressure of Robbie’s 12-month world tour on his latest problems — and revealed that turning 30 began the new crisis as he questioned his lifestyle.

But she also revealed being thrust into pop stardom as a teenager with TAKE THAT left him mentally scarred and sowed the seed for his addictions.

Work, time, Take That. Jan's not afraid to share the blame around, is she? We can't help but wonder if there's someone missing off that list, but... no, can't quite put our finger on it.

So, what's the solution? The love of a good woman, apparently:
She said Robbie’s eventual salvation could be meeting his perfect woman.

She revealed: “He has said he would like a family. A lot of people around him have got married but it’s difficult in the industry he’s in.”

It's curious that "a lot of people around" him manage to get married despite it being "difficult in the industry" - it's not like he's in the sodding army where forming a relationship can be hard because of the upheaval and constant, gnawing threat of a partner being killed by plans to surge into a civil war or whatever. Tom Jones has managed to be married for fifty years; countless musicians make good and strong marriages. The ones who don't tend to have character flaws which the entertainment industry finds too easy to excuse - but the original problems aren't created by being a singer.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Every ADF CD comes with Free Satpal Ram... and their other tracks

We're a little surprised at the very idea of an Asian Dub Foundation best of album, but if anyone deserves a career-spanning retrospective, we guess they do. And it'll be a handy 'start here' point for newcomers. Time Freeze: 1995- 2007 The Best Of is out at the end of April; a useful corrective for people who think that London sounds like Lily Allen.

Bragg prepares nice surprise for Pete Doherty

It's all a good cause, really: Billy Bragg is launching an appeal to get musical instruments into prison:

Aware that this year sees the fifth anniversary of the passing of Joe Strummer, I was hoping to be involved in more than just another tribute gig. Hearing the Clash as a 19-year-old had changed my life, so I guess I was looking for a project that underscored the transformative power of music.

"I'm asking musicians, particularly those of you who were inspired by the Clash, to raise the money to provide a prison with enough equipment to help inmates find that same sense of release."

The jail doors initiative would like to hear from you on if you can help.

Brown's saviours

We'd not hold our breath if we were WIHT - they apparently stumped up the cash to get Bobby Brown's ass out of jail, thinking they'd get something in return:

In a statement, the station says the deal was brokered by morning deejay Kane and Brown's lawyers. Kane says Brown will work at Hot 99.5 for a week, beginning Monday, discussing his trangressions onair and promoting the station off.

"Bobby deserves a clean slate," said Kane. "He has agreed to be a positive role model for the Washington, D.C., community and we look forward to welcoming Bobby to the staff at Hot 99.5. This is something positive, and while he is in town with us, we will be giving back to the community."

Except, of course, he's doing the job because you've paid his child support for him. Assuming he turns up - he's not entirely known for keeping to his side of the deal.

I'm buss-ted

Kelis has managed to get herself into something between a pickle and a problem as she's been charged with disorderly conduct:

Kelis Rogers-Jones, 27, was detained at 4:30 a.m. and charged with the two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence, a Miami Beach police arrest report said.

The arrest report said the officers were posing as prostitutes along a main avenue in the South Beach nightclub district when Kelis started screaming racial profanities at them. She then rushed toward them and had to be restrained by her friends, the report said.

It's far from clear if she was shouting at them because she thought they were hookers, or because she knew they were police. Hopefully that one will be sorted out before they get to court.

EMI rebuffs would-be suitor

EMI and Warners would dearly love for us to view their long relationship as one of the great romances of our time, but it's endless sniping, disappointments and failure to consummate makes it more like Frasier and Lilith. Although they, at least, did manage to get into bed together. Perhaps its more Sam and Diane. Whatever ill-considered pairing they resemble, though, it's all gone cold again as EMI's board formally rejects Warners' takeover bid:

"The board concluded that it is not in the best interests of EMI shareholders to entertain a pre-conditional offer which would entail prolonged regulatory uncertainty and unacceptable operational risk at a critical time for the company," EMI said in a statement.

The implication seems to be it's not worth the trouble it'd bring for the size of the offer on the table.

Jarvis in Meltdown

What surprises us is not that Jarvis Cocker is curating the Meltdown festival on the Southbank this year, but that they've done it for thirteen times before without asking him.

No word yet as to who he'll be inviting along to the Royal Festival Hall, but he's got until June to come up with a convincing line-up.

Re-living The Legend!

We're not quite sure if Everett True realises or not, but his guest dj slot at How Does It Feel To Be Loved (March 2nd, Canterbury Arms, Brixton) is being promoted under his old indie-pop/NME name, The Legend!

We're using the word "under" in the same sense as "a pile of unsold CRE001s under Alan McGee's bed", of course.

Backstage at the NME awards

The NME's News Vulture was promising all the gossip from behind the scenes, but somehow didn't get round to mentioning the whole walkout by Pete Doherty and Kate Moss - apparently Pete took the hump at being asked why he was wandering off carrying a concealed spoon. Perhaps he was planning some sort of special dessert?

More interestingly, though, NV did notice this:

Beth Ditto mouthed the words 'trash' to anyone who was listening when lovely host Lauren Laverne took to the stage.


A bad day for Keith Allen's daughter's brother's mother

While Lily Allen wasn't turning up for her NME 'worst dressed' prize - ironically, she was in Paris at a fashion shoot - yesterday was still a bit of a bad day, what with her mother having her brother arrested and everything.

The brother, of course, is Alfie, as in that song what Lily Allen does about him.

As ever, Lily knows what to do at the time of a family crisis - ring the tabloids:

Lily told The Sun last night from Paris: “I love my family and I wish I had been there to help calm this situation down.

“I have spoken to my mum and Alfie and everything is fine now.”

Yes, we're sure they were reassured by your taking charge of the press coverage.

The quick fix

Happily for the tabloids - who, after all, would find the real journey back from mental illness to be frustratingly slow - Britney Spears has gone outside and not attacked anyone with a brolly:

BRITNEY SPEARS looks smiles better on a supervised trip out of rehab – grinning from ear to ear and with daft doodles on her hand.

The baldy wore a brown wig and jaunty cap as she left the Promises clinic in Malibu – and looked far happier than the raging madwoman we saw attack a car with an umbrella last week.

The fact that Britney actually looks like she's prescribed out of her mind and has doodles all over her hand isn't allowed to spoil the happy ending:
Brit's doodling all right again

Hmmm. Let's hope.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

RIAA attempts to throttle filesharers

Having seen little reward for its efforts in other ways, the RIAA is apparently trying a new tack: coming via the hosting companies to attack mp3 bloggers.

Idolator reports that Side One Track One, Country Pinball Machine and Shameless Complacency have all been kicked into touch by their hosting companies following their distribution of Kaiser Chief, Avril Lavigne and Wilco mp3s respectively. If we were a website hosting a copy of Brianstorm by the Arctic Monkeys ripped from the Zane Lowe show, we'd be treading very carefully right now...

Prizes for Primals: NME awards

We can just about understand the fairly late slot for the Channel 4 showing of the NME awards, but tonight's programme on E4 not starting until 11pm tonight hardly seems festive: E4's Thursday nights are pretty full, but you'd have thought they might have wanted to give it a slightly less buried slot. Especially as, by the time it's on, everyone's going to know the winners. Even if you missed them on Popbitch earlier (before they disappeared), you can see them now on

So, who got fingered, then?

Well, nobody, as they use square awards these days. So, who got cubed, then?

Best band - Muse

The continued quiet Muse revolution claims another gong. Bloody mystifying, isn't it? Muse are great, sure, and you meet lots of people who like Muse - but I don't think I've ever met anyone who would say their affection for them stands above all their other passions. And yet Matt Bellamy has had to have an extra chimney and mantle put in, just so that he's got enough room to display his prizes.

Best international band - My Chemical Romance

With NME trying hard to be an international brand, and since is doing a pretty good job from its New York office, we're not quite sure the concept of a 'rest of the world' prize is sustainable in the long term. Especially so if it's going to be won by the likes of My Chemical Romance. And it's kind of worrying that there's enough manufactured Goths amongst the readership to let MCR win, but not support circulation against Kerrang.

Best solo artist - Jamie T

That's a bit of a surprise. It's not quite proof that NME Awards are alternative but do at least retain the ability to surprise everyone - even the NME, we bet.

Best new band - Klaxons

We imagine The Kooks will feel shocked, The Fratellis will feel robbed, and The Horrors will be annoyed when they sober up.

Best live band - Kasabian

This is closer to what we expected. The dull, middle-of-the-road band getting the prize. Give it twenty years, they'll be Ocean Colour Scene.

Best album - Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am...

We imagine they'd started engraving their name on this one before they'd even drawn up any shortlists.

Best track - The View: Wasted Little DJs

A fair victory, although it does mean Carl Barat has gone home empty handed.

Best video - The Killers: Bones

Really a prize for Tim Burton, of course. They should introduce a handicapping rule here, where they'd divide the size of the vote by the amount spent on the clips.

Best music DVD - Arctic Monkeys: Scummy Man

It's interesting that any category where My Chemical Romance were up for a prize that marked what they did, not who they are, they failed to win. I suspect that even if you divided votes by cost, the Monkeys would have romped home even more convincingly.

Best live event: Reading/Leeds

We still don't know who is in a position to compare a festival they went to with all the festivals they didn't.

Best radio show: Zane Lowe

HE SHOUTS A LOT, DOESN'T HE? SHOUTY SHOUTY SHOUTY. (Actually, Lowe has calmed down a lot since he crossed to Radio One - indeed, if he gets any calmer he might even be able to dep for Parky on Radio Two.)

Best TV show: The Mighty Boosh

There's not much chance of this going on for an NME/BAFTA double, is there?

John Peel Innovation Award: Enter Shikari

We're not quite sure what this award is, or what they've done to win it. Presumably it must be for something other than merely having a name which is nearly an anagram of instructions on how to have sex with a pop star.

Godlike Genius award: Primal Scream

Again, we're not sure what the genius is here. It's a little late for acknowledging the genius of Velocity Girl, isn't it?

Oh... we appear to have caught up with the coverage...

Brown and out

Having sent someone out to sell the CD machine and raise a few quid, Bobby Brown has paid off his child support and been set free.

His lawyer has basically admitted that Brown is a nobody stuck with a somebody's bills:

"Although this agreement was put in place when he was Bobby Brown the star, this agreement is being enforced when he is not always able to find work," [Phaedra] Parks told The Associated Press. "He hasn't made an album in quite some years."

You can almost hear her thinking "I'd better get my bill in quick."

Foxy: Oh, actually, I am guilty

Having called a press conference to deny charges of assault and resisting arrest, when it came to court, she decided she was guilty after all.

Her 'fessing seems to have saved her from a trip back to the big house:

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson said Brown's sentence will continue the six months' probation she is already serving. But Jackson warned that if there are any other probation infractions, "I'm reserving the right to resentence you to jail for one year."

Doubtless she'll change her mind again overnight.

NYC drops the N-word

New York City has announced a sort-of ban on broadcasting the word "nigger", in the hope it might stop the casual use of the racial slur in the entertainment industry.

The ban is symbolic - there's no actually punishment attached to the offence. Chris Rock - whose act, under the rule, falls outside the law 78% of the time - was less than impressed:

Rock said politicians were trying to divert attention from real problems: "Enough real bad things happen in this city to worry about how I am going to use the word."

Although well-meaning, the decision to ban the word rather than condemn the act would seem to cause more problems for black artists than white racists.

Anderson shelters

Brett Anderson - now officially filed under "yes, a little craggy but you still would" - is about to embark on his first ever solo UK tour. It's to promote his first ever solo album, with its first ever solo single, Love Is Dead. We think that Love Is Dead threatens to burst into a Careless Whisper sax-solo at any minute, but that's not to be considered a bad thing.

Dates, then:
May 1 -Bristol University
2 - Manchester Academy
4 - Glasgow QMU
5 - Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
6 - Newcastle University
8 - Cambridge Junction
9 - Shepherd's Bush Empire

Judge takes dislike to Diddy heroin

Puffing Daddy has been struck down by a court for failing to honour another undertaking to not call himself Diddy in the UK. The original Diddy - Richard Dearlove - has won another court battle which will stop Nu-Diddy from calling himself Diddy on stage when he plays Wembley.

We're a little puzzled as to why, though: we can see the vague possibility of confusion between, say, two records by different Diddys side-by-side in the shops; but is anyone going to suddenly hear Puff sing a line that says "call me Diddy" suddenly think "hang about... I thought this was Sean Diddy, but now it sounds like it's Richard Dearlove."

Judge Kitchin decided it wasn't as simple as that:

The judge ruled: “The second verse refers to Mr Combs as ‘Diddy’ as he invites the listener to ‘mainline this new Diddy heroin’. Mr Combs expressly refers to iTunes and asks the listener to ‘Download me in every resident’. He refers to his CD as ‘my CD’s in 3-D holograms’, and finally refers to his shows with the words, ‘the live show’s a hard act to follow man’.

“I see this as straightforward advertisement by Mr Combs of his CD, his songs which can be downloaded from iTunes and his live shows, all under and by reference to the word ‘Diddy’.

“The listener will understand he is being encouraged to buy the Press Play CD, to download the songs and that the live show is an event well worth attending.”

To be honest, that sounds like P Diddy's not just passing himself off as someone else but indulging in some false advertising, too.

The suggestion that lyrics are adverts is a curious legal precedent - does this mean that when Sam Fox sang "touch me, touch me" she was attempting to enter into some sort of contact contract?

How P Diddy must hate Dearlove. How he must fume everytime he thinks of this fairly-obscure British bloke making him dance to his tune. Especially as a further trial is being lined up to see if P Diddy is breaking the agreement online, too.

Today Brisbane; tomorrow... Minehead Butlins

Wilco have announced a world tour, which - thanks to All Tomorrows Parties - includes a stop-off at Butlins:

04-16 Brisbane, Australia - Tivoli
04-18 Melbourne, Australia - Palais Theatre
04-21 Sydney, Australia - Enmore Theatre
04-22 Perth, Australia - Metropolis Freemantle
05-19 Somerset, England - Butlins Minehead (ATP vs. the Fans)
05-20 London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
05-23 Cologne, Germany - Live Music Hall
05-24 Berlin, Germany - Kesselhaus
05-25 Hamburg, Germany - Grosse Freiheit
05-26 Dresden, Germany - Alter Schlachthof
05-28 Frankfurt, Germany - Mousonturm
05-29 Paris, France - Bataclan
05-30 Ghent, Belgium - De Vooruit
05-31 Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Paradiso
06-02 Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Sound
06-14-17 Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo

May? Does that give Chris enough time to choose a hat?

Coming this Spring, the first proper Pet Shop Boys tour since ages ago. Dates:
Gateshead Sage – May 24
Wolverhampton Civic Hall – 25
London Hammersmith Apollo – 27
Manchester Apollo – 28
Brighton Centre – 30

New White Stripes: Bit of a Oddie-ty

Are they sure? Word has been handed down from Coca-Cola's Jack White about the next album:

"We are doing our best (whatever that is) to release the album as soon as coporately possible.

"And though we are tired, worn, weary, hungry, cold and left without an ounce of nutrition between ourselves, we are in the midst of planning performance type shows around the world."

The name, apparently, is Icky Thump - which is almost, but not quite, the name of the Yorkshire martial art practised by Bill Oddie's character in The Goodies. That, actually, was Ecky Thump, as featured on the seminal movie poster featuring Oddie in a cloth cap and frock promoting Ecky With Drag-On.

... and on from anywhere

Whereas his former mate spends his days playing with shooters and trying to kill penguins, Carl Barat seems to be more interested in, you know, making music. The ggod news is that work has started on a second Dirty Pretty Things album. Barat tells the NME:

"We're not interested in making some archetypal self-indulgent second album. Every band feels pressure for their second album because it's supposed to be an elevation from the first one, but we've seen a lot of second albums come out over the past year and most of them aren't really about anything, they're just about trying really hard to write hits. We'd like to be able to do what Nirvana did which was to write songs that were popular but also have integrity."

Presumably without the blowing-your-head off bit at the end. Or Courtney.

Please, no Courtney.

Jamelia: Someone still loves you - Boris Yeltsin, perhaps?

Good news for Jamelia: a mysterious Russian is digging deep to play a gig for them. It was the "sort of money" Jamelia couldn't turn down, apparently - which puts her fee at anything above fifty quid. We're sure she's not going to bother sullying the deal by asking where the guy's cash comes from or anything.

Robbie Williams is not expecting a package

The most interesting of tonight's NME awards has been leaked, as it seems Robbie Williams has waltzed the worst album prize:

"People voted in their thousands with nearly every vote directed at Robbie's feeble offering," reveals our source. Never in the history of the Shockwaves NME Awards has there been such a concerted effort to get one album-named at the worst."

The history of the Shockwaves NME award goes back, what, one year? The inclusion of the sponsor's name in that quote suggests it was an intentional leak to promote the awards.

There are, apparently, plans to Fed-Ex Robbie's prize to his "rehab" clinic, but since they won't even let him have get well soon cards delivered to him, IPC might be better off keeping its cash in its pocket.

The real scandal, of course, is how Johnny Borrell came to be so badly robbed in this category.

Mills at five

This is the extraordinary moment where the world discovered Heather Mills is dating Flavor Flav.

Actually, it's not - it's a bizarre illustration from the Sun's coverage of yesterday's McCartney v Mills court hearing. We're a little at a loss to explain why the paper thought it so significant she left the court building at five that they felt the need to superimpose a giant clock on the picture - was there a 3AM Girl hanging about who needed to be taken out the shot? Is it part of an new educational remit - "telling the time with Heather Mills"? There was also a shot of Macca leaving at 5.20 with, yes, a giant clock to illustrate the point.

The paper insists:

Lady Mucca, 39, later stormed from the building after a judge threw out many of her lurid claims against the pop legend

but doesn't actually bother with any of the details of these "lurid claims" being "thrown out" - you'd have thought a judge throwing out details in a divorce petition would have been worth some deeper coverage, but instead the court report actually consists entirely of a few words:
Inside, both Macca and Mucca occasionally leaned over to whisper to their solicitors.

Neither of the warring couple was called to give evidence in the witness box.

And the first half of that sounds like a guess. Suggesting that the judge had taken such decisive action and not being able to stack it up seems curious.

Still, at least Sun readers are better informed than users, who were told at the start of the week:
Paul McCartney has opted to avoid a potentially messy court case in his already resentful divorce battle with Heather Mills, by paying her a one-off lump sum.

Sorry, Ry?

We're not sure, but we could have sworn that Ry Cooder just implied that he knew President Bush stole the last two elections because his imaginary talking hobo cat would have been able to see right through it.

We'll need to listen again when the interview turns up on the Today website after nine o'clock.

Billie Piper is a bit of a Fox

It's not all dodgy ITV bulk-made Jane Austen adaptations for Billie Piper, you know. She's going to get married again. The man filling the Chris Evans role this time will be Laurence Fox, who is playing Lewis to Lewis' Morse in Lewis, if you see what we mean.

T bags bigger pot

Using the old stand-by of "we must beat the touts", T in the Park has persuaded the local council to allow them to sell an extra 5,000 tickets for this year's festival.

The tickets will be sold - quickly, we'd imagine - from 9 on March 9th, via the website.

Geoff Ellis persuaded Perth & Kinross council with this argument:

"We have been involved in full consultation with all the services and indicated last year that this is what we were looking to do.

"We are confident 80,000 is a good figure.

"I'm not saying that 85,000 is too much, but 80,000 seems just right.

"We feel the numbers should not go any higher to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of our customers when they come to the festival."

Later on, we'll be inviting a mathematician and a philosopher to explain how 80,000 can be just right while 85,000 isn't too many.

We're not exactly sure how flogging a few extra tickets will "beat the touts" - wouldn't it just mean more tickets for the touts to have to flog? Unless Ellis is calculating that by cramming in another 6.25% fans, it'll be so cramped in there nobody would be prepared to pay through the nose to get in.

Ditto, op cit

Beth Ditto has shared the benefits of her wisdom with the Daily Record this morning. It's interesting that the other two out The Gossip are condemned to a Rest-of-Razorlight low profile - and, while we understand that the editors probably seek an audience with Beth alone, we're not sure that it's particularly punk to have one member grab all the limelight.

Anyway, today it's the "did I mention I'm up for sexiest woman against Kate Moss" thing again:

Beth is not keen on people trying to pit her against other women in the public eye.

She said: "They like to put you up against one another, but I'm not like that. They did it with me and Kate Moss, saying you're fat and she's skinny.

"My only issue was that the editors would rather put a model in a musicmag than afemale musician."

Hang on a minute... the NME editors haven't put you and Kate "up against one another" - you've been shortlisted for sexiest woman with four other people, based on an reader's vote, and nobody (apart from you) has arranged the women based on body mass index. You're also up against Lily Allen, Karen O and Kate Jackson, and yet you don't keep on banging on about that, do you?
"I don't have anything against size zero as such, but as a feminist, I ask why aspire to be a zero? A zero is a nothing.

"When women aspire to be a nothing it says something about our culture. You should be glad for what you have."

Um... you do realise that size zero is merely a dress size and there's more pressing concerns than the semiotics of the word.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wolfgang Puck food is safe to eat

You and I, we have little in the way of food danger beyond the odd risk of e coli in Taco Bell, or the chance that Cadburys can't be arsed to deal with leaky pipes. If you're famous and glittering, though, your risks can be so much more epic.

There was Beyonce, for instance, enjoying being on the front of Sports Illustrated with a delicious buffet catered by Wolfgang Puck and some model friends.

The only downside, of course, is that the caterer had a staff member with hepatitis A:

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed that an employee of Wolfgang Puck Catering was recently diagnosed with the disease, and has strongly urged anyone who attended the SI party, or any of the 13 other events catered by Puck between Feb. 1 - 20, to get an immune globulin shot by this afternoon to prevent illness from attacking their system.

Hepatitis A can cause loss of appetite, so that at least is good news for the models there - that'll save them a fortune on the appetite suppressants.

The street party falls silent

Oh, bugger. That's what you get when you put your faith in the 3AM Girls. This is currently on Music Week's subscriber website:

Jamiroquai is not quitting music, despite reports in the Daily Mirror this morning.

The soul star reportedly told the paper that he is fed up with touring and wanted to spend the rest of his time flying his helicopter and "looking for the right lady to have children with".

But a spokesman for Jamiroquai says he is considering his future options after separating from Sony BMG, and is taking a break before beginning work on a new studio album for release next year.

However, when he's seen how happy he's made people when they thought he was giving up, maybe he'll do the decent thing.

Bassey in the mud

Now, this would be a headline act to behold: Hello reckons Shirley Bassey has been approached for the living legend slot at this year's Glastonbury. Having said which, we're not entirely holding our breath:

There has been talk of it, but we are not making any comments as yet," said a spokeswoman, adding "Nothing is ever ruled out."

Clearly waiting for a counter-offer from Reading/Leeds.

Reclaim Northside

Unlikely reunions keep coming thick and fast: now, Northside are prepared to face down the blame again. They've got a tour lined-up and everything, though sadly without the Pale Saints.

Orange glow

Tangerine Dream are about to release a new album, Madcap's Flaming Duty, in memory of Syd Barrett; as part of the launch (and to mark their 40th anniversary) they've just announced a London gig to play the whole thing, from cue-up to run-out, at the Astoria Friday 20th April.

Mother, fetch the bunting from under the bed - it's time for a street party

Sometimes, you have to read things twice to make sure the news you're reading is every bit as good as you think. To save you the trouble, we'll just write this twice:

Jay Kay has quit music
Jay Kay has quit music

There's a statement for you to savour:

"I haven't been happy there for a while," Jay admitted. "I've had some ups and downs but in the end the downs were just too many. When we talked about me leaving, I jumped at the chance."

"I might be back if I get my inspiration again, but who knows," he told [3AM]. "I'm bored. I don't want to go back on the road. We all need a rest to be honest. I don't need the money or a deal. One minute I would be promoting a single with one team and the next they brought different people in and expected me to go along with it.

"There was no way in hell I was doing that. I'm just tired of the format and wanted to call it a day with them."

Yes, so low had Kay's star sunk that he was reduced to "breaking" the news through the 3AM Girl's column - presumably Newsround would have been the next port of call.

"High demand" leads to Glasto extension

Michael Eavis has announced an extension to the Glastonbury registration deadline - instead of closing tonight, it's going to be pushed back to the fifth.

Numbers had picked up to the point where some 260,000 people had registered by this morning, and were apparently still coming in at 1,500 an hour - although, presumably, not round the clock.

At least it's a bigger figure than the number of tickets available. This seems to have given some peace of mind to Eavis, who told the BBC:

It's gone very well. It was a bit slow to start with, but it's picked up and reached a bit of a crescendo over the past two days.

"People have taken it all very well because it does seem like you have to go through a lot of obstacles to get to the festival. They could have said `it's not worth it'."

You start with Morrissey... and work your way down to this

Although Morrissey has ruled himself out of the Eurovision race, that doesn't mean Britain won't be represented in Helsinki by some top-flight entertainers.

Oh, actually: yes, it does. Justin Hawkins is going to be competing.

As is Natasha Hamilton - yes, Atomic Kitten's Natasha Hamilton.

And so are Big Brovaz. Yes, the poor man's Fugees (all phew, no gee) who are planning a comeback in early Spring.

Oh, and Brian Harvey, fresh from the newly rebroken East 17 and hoping that no rogue potato might frustrate him again.

And Scooch. Yes, Mike Stock and Matt Aitken's proof that Pete Waterman was the magic ingredient. They're embarking on a second comeback - you'll remember, of course, they reunited in 2004.

The only fresh face - the Chantelle in a room full of Prestons, if you will - is Cyndi. Such is the reek of old men at the youth club with the other contestants, we did make sure it was a new popstar and not Cyndi Lauper.

God help us all. We're backing France.

Today's piece of Beth Ditto self-promotion

Try and work your way past the question of what she was doing with a poster of Noel Gallagher on her wall at all, and ponder Beth Ditto a moment:

"Noel said I had one of the best voices in rock. To me that's great. I had a huge poster on my wall in junior high. This was in Arkansas, where no one has heard of Oasis."

Curiously, she berated Scissor Sister fans for never having heard of John Waters, and yet apparently she assumes that Oasis fans will constantly be rewinding their tape of Pink Flamingos.

And you can't fault Ditto's ability to make it all about her - supposedly praising Noel, she manages to make it clear how she's got a brilliant voice and how she was the coolest teenager in Arkansas.

Legendary stupidity

You just know that something special is going to happen when Victoria Newton opens a page with the words:

I'VE always considered soul star JOHN LEGEND a very credible artist.

Have you, Victoria? It comes as news to discover you think of these things at all, much less that you've ever weighed the credibility of John Legend.

But, do tell us what has caused you to turn your whole world on its head:
John told Star magazine: "I bought [Paris Hilton's] single Stars Are Blind.

"I thought it was a great song and should have done better even than it did.

"I'd do a song with her. It would be an interesting experience."

"Even better than it did", of course, would mean selling two copies. If Legend really wanted to work with Hilton, of course, he'd not mention the music career at all - we're supposed to all pretend that never happened, aren't we?

Well, so long as Guy's happy

The belief that the "adoption" of David Banda had less to do with David and more to do with Madonna and Guy doesn't actually vanish when listening to Guy Ritchie's Dad:

“Guy flew out to LA for work a few weeks before Madonna and the kids.

“They are all out there together now. She just went out to be with him and the kids.

“Madonna wants them all to be together and they are very happy now.

“Things have settled down and are great between them. Since they have had David they feel very content.

“He makes them feel very happy, they feel blessed.

“They may have had their problems but they are now a very functional and happy family unit."

Hmm. Call us cynical - oh go on, we know you do it behind our backs - but rather than David making a difference, if they're happy now, and Madonna has only just flown out to LA, and Guy's been there for weeks, doesn't that suggest that Madonna's marriage is at its most effective when she and Guy are in different countries?

Robbie Williams is not worth 37p for a card from the local newsagents

Robbie Williams' mum wants us all to send him get well soon cards, even though he won't be able to have them until he's out of his "clinic".

Always one to spot an opportunity for a branding exercise, Victoria Newton (or perhaps Emma Pryer) has come up with this horrible item, instructing us to print it out, fill it in, and send it to her to dump in the recycling bins at Wapping ("pass on to Robbie for when he comes out. Of hospital.") It does have his face on it, so perhaps that'll make up for the otherwise totally crappy nature of the "I almost thought of you" message - it's not even foldable, it's a flat picture of a stand-up card.

We're heading down to the newsagents later to see if they've got a "Stay away from the chemist, but best take a few months off work" card, perhaps with a picture of Mark Owen on it.

Doherty takes things zoo far

We've often wondered what sort of cummerbund throws rubbish into animal enclosures at the zoo. Now we know:

Pete Doherty.

It's not so much that he threw a joint into the penguin enclosure at Burford's Cotswold Wildlife Park; it's that someone who would try and pass themselves off as smart and sensitive would toss anything into a cage where an animal might eat it. You'd have thought that Pete might have sympathy for animals that have been rounded up and locked away behind bars.

The Sun, being something of a nihilistic publication itself, struggles to find any reason to come down on the size of the penguins, but then has a flash of inspiration:

It was a scene that would shock fans of animated movie Happy Feet — about a tap-dancing penguin and his pals.

Good lord, they can't run a story about someone poisoning animals in a zoo without having to find a celebrity angle for the victims.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Victoria's big adventure: Deal or no deal

While we'd love to believe that there's really ten million dollars sitting in an NBC account with Victoria Beckham's name on it, we're a little unsure as to the exact status of the Victoria Beckham NBC reality project.

The Daily Mail reckons it's a done deal; Simon Fuller is enthusing:

"The Americans were falling over themselves to sign Victoria up for a TV show but we had to choose the right deal for her," Fuller was quoted as saying in a British paper. "NBC won out in the end as they have really taken a shine to Vic's hilarious sense of humour and they want to capitalise on this."

Perhaps Fuller is confusing "meeting with Beckham at NBC" with that episode of Seinfeld where they pitch the butler idea.

Notably, NBC seem cool:
An NBC spokesperson declined to comment on any pending deal.

And, when pushed, even Mrs Beckham's people were a little less enthused:
Beckham's spokeswoman said that the precise details of the series were still to be finalised, and gave no timescale for transmission.

A half-idea the network don't even want to admit to and no idea when it'll go out, fronted by someone the Americans barely know. We can see Posh hobbling down to the bank already with all those millions.

Sony BMG in another awkward moment

Following the very high profile condemnation of its shoddy Deep Purple release by Ian Gillan, Sony BMG have had to scrap the album and are trying to explain what happened:

Sony BMG said it was recalling the album and would investigate why Gillan was not told about its plans.

A spokesman for the company said: "Sony BMG is not in the business of releasing albums without the knowledge of the artists.

"It is in our interests to work with artists, so they can promote their records and continue to work with us."

The label then scratched its two corporate heads, pointing out that the record had been released before and it wasn't a problem then - perhaps Ian Gillan knew nothing at all about that time, boys?

History is written by the victors: Borrell speaks

Talking to the tireless NME New York staff, Johnny Borrell has been trying to play down the repeated stories of trouble in his group, Johnny Borrell and the Razorlights:

"We had an argument on stage but what it was about was neither here nor there," he told NME.COM. "The fact is that it was totally blown out of proportion by the all the papers - including yours. I haven't alienated anyone in my band. There certainly did seem to be much alienation evident on stage tonight."

Borrell, of course, talks as if there has only been one small squaring-up and not a long and constant string of reports that suggest he sees himself as being the gaffer. The mere use of the words "my band" would seem to slope in that direction, too.

Downloads send war to the top ten

The need for nothing more complex than a server and an angle to get a single into the c charts looks like paying off from Ugly Rumours, the band that isn't Blair and Mark Ellen's old band. They're heading for the Top Ten with an anti-war cover of Edwin Starr, although as Franco M pointed out to us when he sent us the link to the story, it's not entirely clear what war they're protesting against - Iraq? Afghanistan? The Inch War?

It comes to something when a band feels the need to protest, but not only can't be arsed to write a new song, but they can't even come up with a new name.

Foxy claims police brutality, racism

Foxy Brown has gone over the heads of the criminal justice system to appeal to the public following her arrest last week at a beauticians:

She held a press conference at a Baptist church in Brooklyn to deny police claims that she spat on the store owner and resisted an officer.

She claimed she was dragged half-naked out of the store's bathroom and picked on by police because she was black.

"The only crime I'm guilty of is being a young black woman," she said.

Well... that, and the one you're currently on probation for, where you attacked a woman in a beauticians, of course.

Foxy gets her day in court this week.

The NME awards may now be dead

The last vestige of alternativity the NME awards were clinging to has vanished as the Daily Mail runs a feature predicting, ooh, trouble.

For what it's worth, the Mail reckons the Kaiser Chiefs will do well at the ceremony - despite, erm, not being nominated in any categories at all. They are going to play live, apparently, which is enough for the paper to headline the story... can you guess?

We predict a riot as Kaisers freeze out the Arctics...

Yes! A story about the Kaiser Chiefs with "predict a riot" in the headline. (Nice albatross, Ricky - raise it yourself?)

The NME Awards have been thrown into chaos after the Kaiser Chiefs sparked a war of words with the Arctic Monkeys, telling them to shut up and write better songs or go back to stacking shelves in supermarkets.

Not entirely sure that "throws the awards into chaos" - it wouldn't even panic an easily-frightened moth, would it?

How exactly does that work, then?

This odd contradictory piece just popped up in my newsreader:

Britney Spears on suicide watch
from NME.COM - News by
Claims that Britney Spears has been put on suicide watch in the Malibu rehabilitation centre she checked herself into last week (February 23) have been denied by her manager.

We know that the NME has a "build 'em up, knock 'em down" reputation, but its rss files are now building up their own stories before knocking them down. IPC seem to be running the website from a HAL like computer. It's rumoured that this NME-HAL has bumped by the review marks for Ocean Colour Scene albums by 33% across the board in the last couple of days.

Everytime you hit refresh... has a lovely, juicy, fruity exclusive, in the form of the new Arcade Fire album, yours to listen to for the price of a creating a free user name (this, by the way, should not be the same as your secret crime-fighting identity.)

It's called Neon Bible. I would say something but apparently having an opinion about an album's title makes you satan or something.

Don't buy Deep Purple album, say Deep Purple

Deep Purple's Ian Gillan is so horrified at a record label sticking out a live recording of what he believes is one of the worst concerts of all time, he went on this morning's Today to issue a plea to fans to not part with their cash:

The singer said he and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore were barely on speaking terms at the time of the concert.

"It was one of the lowest points of my life - all of our lives, actually," said Gillan.

"In fact, it lasted five or six shows after that Birmingham show.

"Then Ritchie left the band. And we've had 13 years of stability ever since then."

So, what is the shady little label that's pulled a nasty little stunt that does no good to consumer or band?

That would be your Snoy-BMG, cornerstone of the RIAA and thus signed up behind that organisation's condemnation of how priacy and downloads don't respect the artist's rights to control their own work.

Something to listen to: Amy Millan

You'll already be familiar with Amy Millan, from Broken Social Scene and Stars. It's possible you're already familiar with her debut solo album, Honey From The Tomb. But, in a bid to encourage more people to become more familiar with her, you can download a sample track for free.
[Via Music Is My Boyfriend]

The loving plagiarist

William Barrington-Coupe, who issued other people's recordings under his wife's name, has admitted his actions. He says he wanted his wife to receive the praise ill-health had denied her:

On its Web site on Monday, Gramophone said that in his letter to BIS Records, Mr. Barrington-Coupe said he had used other pianists’ recordings to give his wife “the illusion of a great end to an unfairly (as he terms it) overlooked career.”

Mr. Barrington-Coupe is quoted as saying that after CD technology arrived in the early 1980s, his attempts to transfer her cassette recordings to CDs proved unsuccessful. He and his wife therefore decided to re-record her repertory.

“Although she kept up a rigorous practice regime, Barrington-Coupe says that Hatto was suffering more than she admitted, even to herself,” Mr. Inverne wrote. “Recording session after recording session was marred by her many grunts of pain as she played, and her husband was at a loss to know how to cover the problem passages.”

Barrington-Coupe insists his wife, Joyce Hatto, was unaware he had started to use passages of other people's work to cover her weaker parts.

He may have been misguided, but he was motivated by love. Part of me wonders if it might have been better if we'd never known:
But Mr. Barrington-Coupe, 76, apparently declined to provide more information in his conversation with [Gramophone editor James] Inverne on Monday. “I’m tired,” Mr. Inverne quoted him as saying. “I’m not very well. I’ve closed the operation down. I’ve had the stock completely destroyed, and I’m not producing more. Now I just want a little bit of peace.”

Let's hope nobody is as vindictive to use copyright law to make the story have an even more heartbreaking end.

Off the mic

Being asked to keep quiet for her own sake, if no-one else's: Lovefoxxx from CSS has got a bad throat, reckons the Daily Record:

An insider said: "Her doctor has told her to keep her mouth shut. It's proving difficult."

More Ditto marks

The curious career path being trod by Beth Ditto spirals round again - we're still trying to understand how you can berate Scissor Sister fans for "not listening to the Ramones" one minute, and turn up as the house band on The Friday Night Project the next. Now, she's objecting to Kate Moss being allowed in the 'sexiest female' category in the NME awards:

“I think it’s ridiculous she’s nominated for an award in the NME. It’s not the New Model Express.

“It should be about music. For Kate to be up for anything to do with music is absurd."

Not the New Model Express - I see the subtle gag there. But Kate Moss has made records - not that many, admittedly, but she's appeared on more albums than Lily Allen - and she has been at the heart of one of the biggest music stories of the last couple year. Even if the NME awards did require some sort of membership card to be stamped for entry, she'd qualify.

“I think the world needs positive influences. Role models for these kids should be people who have a strong place in the music industry as an artist not a sexy woman.

“You have to wonder how she feels about her life and size.”

Well, excluding the whole Pete Doherty thing, I'd imagine Kate loves her life. But what we don't understand is why, if Ditto believes "role models should be people who have a strong place as an artist, not as a sexy woman", she's objecting to Moss' inclusion in the sexiest female poll, and not the whole idea of a vote judging people on how sexually attractive they are in the first place. It's all a little confusing.

That's no lady, that was Paul's wife

This morning's Sun seems surprised that Heather Mills is appearing on Dancing With The Stars as, well, Heather Mills:

LADY HEATHER McCARTNEY has dropped her title as she launches a TV career in America.

Mucca, 39, signed up for Dancing With The Stars, the US version of Strictly Come Dancing — but insisted on appearing only under her former name Heather Mills.

(Yes, they're still clinging to the "Mucca" nickname. Let it go now, please.)

Maybe the paper has missed that bitter divorce battle?

They're convinced she's up to something, and have discovered a "source" to explain it all:
“Legally, Sir Paul can’t stop Heather from using his name. She is entitled to call herself Lady until the day they divorce.

“But Heather is calculating. If she used Paul’s name to earn money, he could claim that half of it was thanks to him.”

Maybe. Or, erm, maybe she's divorcing Paul and doesn't want to be appearing under his name.

After all, The Sun has long since dropped the "Lady" and "McCartney" from most reports about her:
Heather 'a liar and cheat' By GIOVANNA IOZZI -
HEATHER MILLS found fame and riches beyond belief when she became Mrs Paul McCartney.

Heather Mills: Macca beat me up By TONY BONNICI October 18, 2006 -
SIR Paul McCartney has been accused of beating up his estranged wife Heather Mills.

The astonishing claim — which Macca is expected to furiously deny in court — comes in papers lodged by Heather’s divorce lawyers.

Mucca is a bloody LIAR By RICHARD WHITE CLODAGH HARTLEY and ALEX PEAKE October 25, 2006
HEATHER Mills last night threatened to sue The Sun — as supermodel Kate Moss became the latest to expose her as a LIAR.

... and so on, and so on. But perhaps she's up to something when she makes the Sun drop her title and Paul's surname when it writes about her.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Napster: Don't call it a closedown

The first signs of the final stretch of Napster's existence appeared today, as the download store scraps its UK arm to "centralise" its European operation in Frankfurt:

The company has expanded the role of Thorsten Schliesche, the general manager of its German sales team, to include responsibility for sales and marketing across Europe.

Napster president Brad Duea says the restructure will help to manage its European market more efficiently. He adds: "At this moment in time, it makes sense for Napster to centralise the European management structure in Frankfurt."

In other words, in a bid to stem the ongoing losses, they're trying to reduce the number of holes to leak cash from.

We know that if you end your subscription, your Napster downloads disappear. If you're one of the handful of Napster subscribers, you might want to double check what will happen to your music collection if Napster disappears.

This is more like it

If the cosmic reward for enduring a Boyzone reunion is the news that six by seven are reuniting, then that might even be a deal worth enduring.

The band say:

The legendary line-up of Six By Seven is back together for gigs. [They've] buried their differences and will be playing gigs again and are recording new material.

There's some news to put a spring in your step.

[Plug: Bring yourself up to speed before the new stuff hits...]

Viacom cuts means no more faces on MTV2 US

The difficult times for pop music TV on both sides of the Atlantic continue; nobody in the UK is watching MTVFlux and the channel is starting to come across like Why Don't You:

This is the show that gives you the chance to be on the telly! If you have an interesting hobby or story that you want to share with Flux viewers, this is your chance.

That's five programmes a day where you can talk about your interesting hobbies. They especially want to hear from you if you are the best at hobbies. Weak lemon drinks at the ready.

In America, the cost crunch has led MTV2 to drop presenters, voiceovers and interviews altogether. Now, the idea of a channel which is videos, videos, nothing but videos is quite appealing - but does raise the question of what, exactly, MTV brings to the party that twenty minutes on YouTube doesn't already offer?

Manics set music free

The Manic Street Preachers are gearing up for a new album release, and by way of coughing politely to help us go "oh, yes, them", they're going to give away the first single.

Nicky Wire says the freebie is quite good:

"All out punk metal - Alice Cooper - Stooges guitar outro. Could have been on Generation Terrorists. A celebration of the unique, a post 'Everything Must Go' address to the fans 10 years after the first time we did it. In a Britain dominated by generic, one diametrical multi branding, let us embrace the difference - the downtrodden - the losers and the opposition. Let us fall in love with individuality again."

Although how much individuality there is in sounding like someone else, The Stooges or not, is debatable.

You'll find the track on their website from March 19th.

Blunt's car flattens foot

Well, most people wouldn't have noticed James Blunt turning up at the Oscars, duet with Elton John or no duet with Elton John. So it probably doesn't hurt that he managed to have his car roll over someone's foot. Well, it probably hurt the foot he rolled over, but it at least gave people something to talk about.

Together at last: Microsoft and SUVs

The increasing need to remind people that the Zune is a small iPod-style music player available in shops is starting to fry Microsoft's brains. Their latest idea was to pull up outside a nightclub and pump music from a Zune out into the night.

Unfortunately, they chose a residential area, and the locals aren't thrilled. They wrote an open letter:

Dear Microsoft,

We would like to thank you for the egregious display of noise terrorism commited on Ludlow Street between Stanton and Houston during the early hours of Sunday, February 25th. At approximately 03:00 EST, a Toyota FJ Cruiser with a competition grade car stereo rolled up outside of 178 Ludlow Street. In what was seemingly a desperate bid for attention, music was blasted in a very dense residential area.

There is, however, something odd about all this.

The noise supposedly prompted the creation of a website - it was up briefly, containing the open letter. But it disappeared almost straight away.

Even more oddly, a blog and separate domain was created at roughly the same time - - which also carried the letter. Now, we can see you might scramble to create a website to carry a 'screw you, Gates" letter - but to create two seems like overkill. And also disappeared as soon as it appeared. The whois lookup suggests the domains were registered through an anonomising third party - if you're posting a letter from your own address, with that address in the letter, why would you hide your domain details?

The truly cynical might wonder if this whole thing - angry residents and all - are all part of a marketing move?

Indies show independence over EMI-Warner embrace

We've been puzzled over the last few years watching the independent sector forming more and more alliances - sure, co-ops are great, and there is power in a union and all that, but if you're all going to agree, what's the point of being independent?

Now, something has finally turned up to fracture the indie consensus: the fate of the biggest indies of them all, Warner and EMI. The international indie organisation, Impala, has decided that its somewhat in favour. But that's annoyed Ministry of Sound so much to the point that it's pulled out of AIM, the British branch of Impala.

Warners have bought Impala's support with little more than a promise - "no strings attached" says Impala; "no solid guarantee", we suspect - to back Merlin, yet another digital rights management initiative:

"IMPALA believes that Merlin will serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurialism and diversity on-line. IMPALA believes that the financial and other support being provided through the agreement with WMG provides Merlin with the resources to allow proper aggregation and exploitation of rights by independents which otherwise would take many years to develop."

We'd love to think that the indies are really thinking "what's the point about fighting over a pair of companies on the downward spiral?", but they're probably not.

AIM's Alison Wenham gritted her teeth to say how great it is that MOS have quit:
"As is entirely to be expected in a democratic organisation, not everyone will always agree with positions which are taken on the issues affecting the market, and all companies are entirely at liberty to exercise their own views in whichever way they choose. Nothing has ever prevented others from taking their own position in respect of Warner EMI, or any other music industry merger in front of the Commission over the past seven years."

Warners have made further vague pledges about perhaps divesting some parts, and being generally good; Impala haven't even shared these with their members yet.

Bobby Brown arrested again

Bobby Brown has been arrested - yes, again - for failing to provide child support. Ironically, the arrest came while he was offering support for his child during a cheerleader contest in Canton, Massachusetts.

(How does one show support during a cheerleader contest? Do you have to form a football team to stand at the side to offer encouragement? Or do cheerleaders have other cheerleaders to lead the cheers for them?)

Back for good. Still.

Take That. They're not going to go away, you know. At least not until they've gotten people into such a frenzy that when they split it's all counselling and helplines again.

Today, they've announced their first UK tour in almost a year:

Friday 16th, Saturday 17th, Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th November- Birmingham NEC
Thursday 22nd, Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th - Glasgow SECC
Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th - Newcastle Arena
Thursday 29th and Friday 30th November, Saturday 1st, Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th December - Millennium Dome, Greenwich
Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th, Thursday 13th, Friday 14th, Saturday 15th, Monday 17th, Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th - Manchester MEN Arena

That's a lot of nights in Greenwich. Let's hope they're ready for them.

Coral drifts back

The other day, watching someone talking about The Zutons on the television, we found ourselves thinking "whatever happened to The Coral" before our attention wandered elsewhere - we think we might have come to chasing a milkfloat down the street or something.

Well, you'll never guess what we've heard this morning: first, United Dairies is taking out some sort of restraining order; and second, The Coral are about to get out their shabby bear suits all over again:

We're just ending the album process with a few of us off to New York next week for 'mastering' then if all goes to plan then the latest long player from The Coral should be in your grubby little hands very soon.

In all we spent about two months in Noel Gallagher's Wheeler End studio with Craig Silvey of Dr Barnabus at the helm. I'm not really too interested in giving much away about how we have (once again) revolutionised music but I'm sure you can picture it; If you can't then think Zappa sharing a jazz omelette with Gnarls Barkley. We're all excited to get out there and gigging again, getting a little sweaty and moistening some of you lucky lovelies at your local discos.

Gallagher's studio? Let's hope the landlord didn't keep try to intervene, like a musical Harry Cross...

We are family again

Doubtless this is a project for after the Katrina benefit single, but people with acres of print to fill ("people in the know") are persisting with the rumour that the Jackson Family are going to reunite as a music-making unit:

According to celebrity columnist Roger Friedman, they decided to make it a family tour because Jacko has been unable to land a deal as a solo artist.

It is also a boost for the rest of the family with Janet Jackson's recent records flopping and the others never finding the same success they had with the Jackson 5.

Righto, because that makes sense - nobody wants to touch Michael Jackson with a double-length extending Swiffer, so by parcelling in Tito and Randy and whoever else is really going to sweeten the deal, isn't it?

"I wasn't going to go and see the man who did Billie Jean and Thriller, but if Tito is going to be onstage, too... well, that makes all the difference..."

Blunt is on with John - possibly right this minute

Yes, it's been Oscars night - they're like the European Office Products Awards of the American film-making industry. And nothing says "insular industry awards ceremony" like Elton John's post-Oscars party.

This year, people attending will discover James Blunt has an invite, and worse - he's going to be playing:

"It's amazing that I'm going to duet with Elton John - how cool is that? Things don't come much better, do they?"

Well... Elton John playing solo is much better than that, for a start.

Anything's got to be better than sitting with Bono

There's actually something quite sweet about Larry Mullen's offer to sit in for the injured Jonny Quinn when Snow Patrol played the Brits.

We wonder why Snow Patrol turned him down? We like a nice supergroup. Okay, this wouldn't have actually been "super", but you know what we mean.

KT Tunstall is annoyed with Gore

KT Tunstall is trying to gatecrash the Live Earth gig, waving her longlife lightbulbs and recycled notepaper in Al Gore's face:

"I'm trying to find out why I'm not on the list.

"It's not as if I'd be busy off-roading in my Range Rover."

Perhaps Al Gore just hasn't heard of you?

This morning's Britney round-up

You'll have been fretting all night, we know.

The Sun claims that - afeared of meeting other people - Brit has allegedly taken over an entire wing at the Promises clinic (yeah, a large building empty except for "nursing" staff - that'll help with cocaine psychosis.) The Sun is reporting Britney's status as "troubled star."

The Wichita Eagle sensitively treats her problems as a sign "she's gone mad", giving her status as "she dropped her basket."

Yeah, there's not much about her this morning, but then she was competing with some sort of film awards.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kaisers: We're targets because we're huge

The Kaiser Chiefs reckon they know why so many of their contemporaries so enjoy having a pop at them: they think it's tall poppy syndrome, Nick Baines tells Gigwise:

"We are an easy target because nobody ever slags off a small band because you’re not going to get noticed by the press are you? Of course, you slag off someone who’s doing well because obviously you’re being a lot more outrageous in your comments aren’t you?”

“You realise that it’s all one big game but unfortunately the bands that choose to slag us off are taking it far too seriously. It’d be better if they were writing better songs than us, but they’re not so they can shut up.”

Well, you have a point, Nick. On the other hand, if you've only got one song and have been hawking that round for two years, that may also make you a target. And issuing a challange which boils down to "if you've written a song better than 'Ruby' then feel free to have a pop" - notwithstanding that it's number one right now - that basically means anyone from Wendy James upwards is now free to tweak your noses.

That's why Mumm-Ra's gone to Brighton, Portsmouth, Norwich...

Building an audience - it's not all about sticking videos onto YouTube and letting anyone hit you up for an add on MySpace. Oh, no: there's still gigging to do, unless, say, you're the daughter of a comedy performer or happen to have a giant PR company working for you.

So it is that Mumm-Ra are about to do a massive tour:
Sat 14 April Brighton Concorde 2
Mon 16 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Tue 17 Norwich Arts Centre
Wed 18 Exeter Cavern
Fri 20 Stoke Sugarmill
Sat 21 Newcastle Academy 2
Sun 22 Liverpool Academy 2
Mon 23 Cambridge Soul Tree
Tue 24 Colchester Arts Centre
Thur 26 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Fri 27 Oxford Zodiac
Sat 28 Luton Live Room
Mon 30 Manchester Academy 3
Tue 1 May Sheffield Leadmill
Wed 2 Glasgow King Tut's
Thur 3 Aberdeen Tunnels
Fri 4 Leeds Cockpit
Sun 6 Preston 53 Degrees
Mon 7 Birmingham Academy 2
Tue 8 Bristol Thelka
Wed 9 Reading Fez
Thur 10 London ULU

You, You Tube and the music: The Mekons

This week, we pluck some Mekon-related stuff from the giant, leering video-sharing service:

Snub TV's Ghosts of American Astronauts clip
Sally Timms, Jon Langford and John Rauhouse cover the Handsome Family's Drunk By Noon in San Francisco, sometime in 2000
The Mekons doing Work All Week for Top of the Pops (not, we imagine, the main TOTP) in 2004

That's except for viewers in Wales, who have their own problems. Sorry, programmes.

In a bid to excite people to the possibilities and value of learning Welsh, Cerys Matthews is going to be helping out teaching newcomers the language on television.

Of course, turn up at the wrong time and you might wind up getting your lessons from Glyn off Big Brother instead. Which might put people off more than encourage them in.

Still, it would be a hoot to be able to understand what they say about you when you walk into a pub and order Campari and Orange in English, don't you think?

Venuewatch: Hippodrome to host gigs again

Although the building was originally an ice rink for the first five years, the Hippodrome on Brighton's Middle Street only really came to life as a variety theatre. Opening in 1902, the venue was the site of performances from everyone from Max Miller, Sandra Bernhardt, through Laurel and Hardy, to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones before it closed in 1965. Like many buildings of its size and type, it would then spend time as a bingo hall - indeed, it was eyes down at the Hippodrome until last year.

Now, though, the company which runs the soon-to-merge LiveNation and Academy groups are to renovate and restore the grade II listed building and once again use it for gigs.

We're far from fans of the LiveNation group, but it's nice to see that the new company seems intent on keeping up the Academy's tradition of restoring faded buildings and making them part of the community again.

Cambodian shooting

It's not just US rappers and people who annoy Babyshambles who are liable to end up on the wrong end of a gun. This is Pov Panhapich, the third female celebrity to be shot and critically wounded recently in Cambodia. It's believed the motivation for these attacks are linked to the somewhat dubious relationships between members of the Cambodian elite and rising young stars.

Panhapich, who was shot in the stomach and throat, has been taken to Vietnam for treatment.

Timberklake denies signing on for signing session

Here's a small curiosity from Chicago: Joe Piagentini, who runs a bar in the suburbs, Sharky's Billiards, believed he'd signed a deal to bring Justin Timberlake to do an autograph session to his place.

Piagentini reckons he handed a promoter $25,000 for the deal; Timberlake's lawyers say they know nothing of it.

Of course, it's possible they're both telling the truth. It's believed that Piagentini will sort this one out once he's found out why the bridge he bought from a guy on the Embankment in London last year hasn't shipped.

Forget rehab: Maybe Brit and Robbie need ET?

With so many stars, former stars and social irritants checking into the white uniforms and regulated regimes of rehab these days, and then crashing out a few days later, it's becoming clear that simply "going to rehab" isn't even part of a solution. So, what to do when your addiction becomes too big to handle (and by "handle", of course, we mean "keep out the tabloids.")

Shaun Ryder could provide a way forward: he's quit methadone. And, you'd have to say, something which could separate Ryder from his methadone must be quite a good cure. So, how did you do it, Shaun? Miranda Sawyer suggests it was a slightly unorthodox approach:

He tells me, with glee, about the event that caused him to quit methadone. Shaun was, he announces, 'kidnapped by aliens'. He isn't joking. Shaun saw a UFO when he was 15 ('And once they see you, they do keep a check on you'), and it was after a Happy Mondays gig in Denmark last year that he and two other band members, Kav and Johnny, had out-of-body experiences.

I spend quite some time insisting to Shaun that he, Kav and Johnny must have been out of it, that someone must have spiked their drink, until Shaun just shouts: 'Or we was visited by aliens! I've had all sorts, I've had stuff from the Amazonian rain forest, but that doesn't explain the telepathy!' So I stop. Anyway, they asked the aliens some questions - 'they was a bit shady about [his kid] Jael' - and the whole experience got him off methadone, so well done to the ETs.

So, Shaun Ryder is, finally, apparently, straight, and setting to sorting his life out - and there's a lot of sorting to be done. Sawyer explains the way he's got stuck into having to send every penny he earns to his former manager to pay off a legally unenforceable contract - the courts said that even though it was unenforceable, he had to honour it because he'd previously managed to allow to be enforced; he's trying to do right by his kids, but he's got a lot of bad to undo there.

If Ryder can be sorted out, then there's hope for us all. It might just be a slower process than some newspaper reports of celebrity cures likes to suggest.

[Thanks to Jim McCabe for the link]

Chris Martin: I didn't know how greedy I am

It's not, of course, the first time Chris Martin has been caught living a life that doesn't match up to the pretty slogans he writes on his hands - let's not forget he drives an SUV, but even so, it's a special kind of surprise to discover the Make Poverty History man charging up to USD160 for a gig in Chile.

His excuse, frankly, is as weak as his music:

“We just found out how expensive they are and would like to say we are sorry. We didn't know beforehand.
"The price is a little embarrassing. When you are a famous band, a lot of things happen that you don't know about."

Actually, Chris, it's not "a little embarrassing" - it's shameful. And to try and bluster that you "didn't know about it" - what, you don't sign contracts for this sort of thing? Nobody looks over the financial plans before you sign on the dotted line? - is both unbelievable and unacceptable.

Of course, the way to dig yourself out of this hole is quite simple: do a couple of free gigs at the same time, distributing tickets amongst the locals. It might wipe out your profits, but - hey - you're not a profit-motivated kind of guy, are you?

Then we'll have a chat about the carbon impact of playing a gig in Chile, shall we?

Hank in the clear

It's been a week of tidying up for Hank Williams Jr - he's sorted out his divorce, and now the assault charge which had been hanging over him has gone away, with charges relating to an alleged choking of a cocktail waitress being dropped:

[District attorney] Gibbons would not say whether [alleged victim Holly] Hornbeak wanted to drop the case or if the parties reached a financial settlement. A private attorney hired by her parents demanded $250,000 from Williams two days after the alleged assault, but Hornbeak denied that the case was driven by money.

... although it never hurts, does it?

The Spice Girls are bad, scolds Lily

Presumably as she's now slagged off all going concern popstars, Lily Allen has had to turn her ire on the generation-before-last:

“We are bombarded with fashion mags and gossip mags with rich pop stars and Victoria Beckhams with their new handbags and kids think that's the sort of life they should have.

“But because these things are so unattainable, kids often give up before they've even started."

Yes... the best way to fight that sort of thing would be by, erm, launching a premium fashion range of your own, Lily, wouldn't it?

Spears on Sunday: Tabloid round-up

Having been fairly humiliated by Britney during their ill-advised marriage, we wonder why Kevin Federline is offering to stand by her?

Look, we can hear you shouting "right of attorney", and that's just unfair, alright?

The reconciliation might be a bit shaky, though, as the News of the World reckons Brit might have put Kev on some sort of superpowered shitlist, along with other unhappy behaviour:

# THREATENED to commit suicide by gulping down TWO family-size bottles of painkillers.
# WAS STRIPPED and searched after medics feared she'd smuggled a stash of cocaine into the rehab clinic.
# CONCEALED a "Death List" of people she wishes would die— including her husband.
# OFFERED Kevin £100,000 to drop a custody hearing over their two sons.
# BELIEVES she is being bugged as she sleeps and checks every morning for listening devices.

It's good to see the doctor-patient confidentiality clause is as strong in rehab clinics as it is in proper hospitals - although, frankly, it sounds like Britney probably needs something more than a showbiz detox unit right now.

Curiously, the Sunday Mirror suggests in its interview with Jason Alexander that he is "her first husband", although - since the marriage was annulled - he isn't. But then the Smirror has never let a few facts frustrate a good story.

Jason has "broken his silence" out of concern. Not for cash, it's worry:
BRITNEY Spears' first husband has broken his silence about her long-term use of cocaine, ecstasy and "downer" drugs - because he fears she could end up dead like tragic model Anna Nicole Smith.

Surely, Jason, if you've been that worried, it might have been more use to mention this before she shaved her head off and succumbed to cocaine psychosis - otherwise, your intervention looks even less "I told you so" than "yeah, I could have told you that would happen."
Recalling the wildest few days of his own life with the troubled star, Jason says she stayed up for three days and three nights, high on Class-A drugs

He confessed: "We used ecstasy at night to party and cocaine during the day to stay awake. Then we would take downers like Valium or Vicodin to come down and rest. Britney stayed up three days straight over New Year. I couldn't keep up.

"She definitely had a problem with drugs when we were together - and that was three years ago.

"She has got herself in a cycle which is hard to break."

You think, Jason, she still might have the problem?

It's only out of concern that Jason tells the story of the time she necked too much E and needed rapid treatment. And, of course, you can't appeal for your first love to sort herself out without selling some mildly salacious low-level bisexual flirting tale to the papers, can you?
The next day was New Year's Day 2004 and after they went shopping at a mall, Jason saw Britney's wilder sexual side - when she started getting frisky with some of her backing dancers - both male and female.

He continued: "We wore out everybody with us and they went back to the hotel. Soon it was just me, Britney and some of her back-up dancers who were with her.

"Eventually we ended up back in the room where the party continued. Britney stripped down and was dancing naked on the table with a bunch of her dancers.

"They were squeezing her tits and ass. I was sitting off to the side, buzzed and watching it all go down.

"But later on I saw Britney walk back to one of the bedrooms with one of the female dancers.

"When she didn't come out in about five minutes, I got up to investigate. The door was unlocked so, of course, I had to open it.

"Every guy I know would love to see some buck-naked bitches going at it and that is exactly what was behind door number one.

"It was like winning the sex lotto. Britney and this girl were having some lesbian fun, so I did what every other straight guy would do - I dropped my pants and hopped right into the middle of it and enjoyed every second. It was definitely a New Year's Day to remember."

Of course, without Jason sharing that story with the press, there's every chance Britney could end up like Anna Nicole Smith.

Amusingly, it's the Smirror's sister paper, The People which puts Jason's concern into a bit more context. It seems, luckily, he's had a book just about to roll, and knowing about that hasn't exactly had the positive effect he'd been promising:
A source close to the singer said: "Jason had mentioned his plan to write a book on his time with Britney before.

"But she didn't believe he would actually go through with it. Now she knows what's in the book she is devastated.

"She never thought he'd discuss the sex they had together and her problem with drugs."

Jason, 25, admitted: "There are things that will upset her, things she will be mad at. The book focuses on stuff no one knows - our sex life, everything. There's no holding back."

Jason is so clear in the Mirror that he's afraid of Britney ending up "like Anna Nicole-Smith", but presumably only because of the guilt, then.

This week just gone

Another seven days on No Rock And Roll Fun

For a change, here's the ten most read articles not featuring stories about nudity:

1. KT Tunstall is a lesbian. No she isn't
2. Jo O'Meara's unhappy time house-sharing
3. Jo O'Meara makes it worse once she's out
4. Britney Spears downward week starts with shaving
5. Lady Sovereign calls Corinne Bailey Rae 'boring'
6. Pete Doherty takes drugs; backpacker takes photos
7. Will Young sort-of blamed for ruining Kenwood Park concerts
8. Damon Albarn claims Good, Bad and Queen hasn't got a name
9. Our Brits live coverage
10. The Jam get back together. Except, oh, Paul.

Also this week: Plans for EMI to drop DRM fell apart - EMI wanted the download stores to pay upfront; T in the Park sold out in forty minutes while Glastonbury registration numbers were put at a surprisingly low 175,000; Morrissey decided to not throw his hat into the Eurovision ring after all and Gareth Gates has returned shorn of stammer and, sadly, point.

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And five years ago this week... U2 did well at the Grammys - Walk On was the record of the year, and seriously we couldn't tell you how it went if it would stop you trying to get our PIN out of us; Leah Bett's parents - never shy of a publicity bandwagon - attacked Travis for saying they'd experimented with nearly every type of drug (thereby proving that drugs don't aid the creative process once and for all); websites hosting the (alleged) video of R Kelly having sex with a 14 year-old girl came up with novel answers to the question 'when is child porn not child porn' and the BBC were preparing to launch It's Hot, a Heat-for-teens. And Fred Durst, for some reason, said he'd only testify at the inquest of the fan crushed to death during a Limp Bizkit gig if he didn't have to set foot in Australia. Too busy, apparently.

These things we spread on a blanket and cried "who'll give us a fiver?" for this week:

Black Box Recorder, Client, and now solo: Sarah Nixey's Sing Memory

There's always been an I and Irie element to our music: Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood picks his reggae favourites

Sweeping The Nation alerted us to the re-release of McCarthy's fabulous I Am A Wallet - previously changing hands for a somewhat capitalist £40

The first studio album in four years from the marvellous Lucinda Williams

Apparently Yoko Ono is claiming that she's in WITCH, although she wasn't in season one

Romeo, Julia a Tma: Love, secrets and isolation in occupied Prague

Of course, Explosions In The Sky's All of A Sudden... leaked online before Christmas, so - if the record industry is right - nobody will buy this now

The Ataris try wearing shorts that fit in order to crossover from the skatepunk to the FM market

One disc mainly of Ramblin Syd Rumpo, one disc mainly of Beyond Our Ken stuff - precisely the legacy Kenneth Williams was afraid of. Oh, what's the bloody point?