Saturday, March 17, 2007

We can only hope that this will turn out to be a premium rate phoneline cock-up

Scooch? Scooch? Good lord - given a field of second raters, as a nation we ask "do you have a budget option we could see?"

When Terry Wogan tries to suggest we're languishing at the bottom of the Eurovision board because of some sort of Baltic-Nordic block voting, remember: we sent Scooch in.

Pulling back the chain

The Scotsman meets up with Jim Reid to find out the motivation for the Mary Chain reunion. Could it be money?

"Obviously, or I'd be lying to you - and I hate when other people do that. I'm not rich. I'm not lighting cigars with £50 notes. I've got a family, and it's a consideration. I'm not saying I'm doing it for the money but I'd be a fool if I said it didn't matter."

Still, it must be nice to have all that falling-out and bad blood firmly in the past. It is in the past, isn't it, Jim?
"It's never going to be perfect. Me and William will always yell at each other. We always have, we always will. I don't really know how it's gonna go, nobody does. But we have to do this to find out whether it's going to work or not. I really am nervous. We haven't played music together for about ten years, so it's going to be... interesting."

At the word "interesting", a dozen venue managers run fingers around the inside of their collars and double-check their insurance policies.

Of note to shoegazers, reformed and otherwise, is the detail that drummer for the tour will be Loz Colbert, formerly of Ride (that's Bobby Gillespie stood down, then - clearly the brothers Reid decided they wanted more than one drum being tapped throughout the show) and Phil King out of Lush will be doing the bass.

The stage's gain is all our loss

Oh, that's all we bloody need - Will Young has decided to concentrate on his music career after... well, let's just say that the acting didn't work out, shall we?

Joss Stone hit by Dallas' arsey growl

After the seven-page Joss Stone thanks comes a full-force Joss Stone attack. Dallas Austin popped up on YouTube detailing how great it is to work with her:

"It's not my problem that she was fucking Novel and then she fucking Saadiq. You go in the studio and girls like Joss are just trying to get as much attention as they can from producers. The girls in studios and producers are known to have relationships. Beau rang me every five minutes saying she was the most wonderful girl in the world, I said, 'Don't fall for that shit'."

The video seems to have vanished, apparently after Joss Stone's camp asked for it to go. They're afraid this sort of thing might make Joss look even lamer than she'd already managed to make herself seem. The Mirror have rustled up an "insider" to push the the point:
A musicbiz insider said: "This is the last thing Joss needs. There are concerns that the people she's hanging around with might be leading her astray.

"But to hear such a well-respected producer slagging her off in such a public manner will devastate her. She will be humiliated by her private life being exposed in such a tawdry way."

Dallas, you'll note, isn't thanked on the current iteration of the Joss Stone thank you page.

Mel C: It's not just me

Mel C has snorted at Simon Fuller's attempts to re-corral the Spice Girls by pretending it's just a Sporty short of a full reunion. She suggests its only Fuller who is bothered:

"There is no reunion. I'm painted as the villain who doesn't want us to reunite. But I'm not the only one," Melanie told Weekend magazine. "We have all been much criticised so why face it all again? Life has moved on for all of us and we are looking to the future."

When she says "on", of course, she's not necessarily suggesting forward in all cases.

Red Hot top band ever?

If asked to name the most popular band in Britain, you might take a while before suggesting the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But, apparently, it's them, Snow Patrol, and then the Beatles.

This is down to something called Popscores. The Sun explains:

A POP league table rating Britain’s attitude to acts is becoming an influential tool in the music biz.

The Popscores system checks the popularity and familiarity of artists with 5,500 people every month.

Top record labels, broadcasters and advertisers are now using the service — created by Entertainment Media Research — to help reach their target audiences.

Oh, good - a service which detects what's already popular and then allows the labels and music channels to ladle up more of the same. That's what we need right now.

What the Sun doesn't tell you is that Popscores is a self-selected panel; it's not clear that it bothers to weight the results to reflect the UK population or not. Net, blogs and rock & roll has looked a little more closely at the scheme:
Unlike, MyStrands or Flickr, PopScores aren't compiled by digital tracking but by the old-school method of surveying a sample of 4,500 people, aged between 13 and 59, and presumably balanced in terms of UK region, ethnicity, income and so on. There are three key measures at present:

* song recognition;
* artist's name awareness (have you heard of Gnarls Barkley? then they have name awareness for you);
* informed awareness (did you know Gnarls Barkley was a US duo, rather than a bloke from Chipping Norton or a band from the Adelaide? then we're talking informed awareness).
* And I read somewhere, but can't find it now, that a fourth measure — intent to buy — will be added shortly.

Name awareness figures for an artist are always higher than informed awareness, but it's suggested (according to Music Week) that the narrower the gap between the two, the greater the sales potential. I don't know the basis of that suggestion, but if it's true then presumably the chart above would encourage the industry to seek to improve James Morrison's 'informed awareness' rating to exploit untapped potential. (I've heard of him, and what I've heard, including Pete Paphides memorable description of him in The Times article as "Chris Martin in a James Blunt wig", suggests that getting better informed isn't going to persuade me to part with cash — but I'm not as representative as 4,500 people.)

Which says it all, really - this is just a focus group using the internet to make it seem a bit more relevant than it actually is. If the music industry really wants to know what sells, it already has a copper-bottomed research method, called the Top 40, which provides a nation-sized sample. If they want to predict what will sell, a survey which claims the Peppers, Patrol and Beatles are the three key sounds isn't going to help.

Kylie Brown? It does have a ring to it

We're sure the leaking yesterday of details of Gordon Brown's 'secret' supper with Kylie Minogue was just a strange coincidence and not, in any way, intended to try and take the shine of Tony Blair's embracing of his light entertainment destiny by appearing in a Catherine Tate sketch for Comic Relief. (Tony, we discovered, is "not bovvered", which would at least explain the pisspoor performance of his government since the last election.)

The Sun tries to imagine just what Gordon and Kylie might have had to say to each other:

KYLIE: We’ve hardly spoken all evening.

GORD: (Spinning around) I know the face. I just can’t get the name out of my head.

KYLIE: Kylie. We have lots in common.

GORD: Yes, er... the gold hot pants.

KYLIE: No, we’re both well shot of Neighbours. Anyway, I’ve paid, so must be off.

GORD: Indeed. Waiter, where’s that VAT?

We apologise for the damage reproducing that might have done to your poor, straining sides. We're still puzzling over the punchline - we're guessing that they forgot the word "receipt", implying that Gordon will be claiming VAT back on an expense he didn't occur; but maybe the joke was meant to be that he was going to wallow in a giant vat of butter. Actually, none of it makes sense. Even down to why any editor would have run this instead of, say, a larger picture of Kylie.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Who isn't wondering what the next Metallica album will sound like?

Of course you are. And here's Kirk Hammett to explain to us:

"There is a really unusual theme that's working its way into the music," he replied. "I'm not really sure how to react to it. Maybe it's someone else trying to tell us that we should react to it, but a lot of the music has an eastern harmonic flair to it, a harmonic minor flair to it, and when I say harmonic minor, that could be construed as like eastern sounding or Middle Eastern sounding or maybe Arabic? I don't know if it's just the zeitgeist, a sign of the times, or maybe because like, you know, Middle Eastern culture is so prevalent, or maybe the negative things about Middle Eastern culture. Maybe artists are conscious, just want to shine light on the positive aspects of Middle Eastern culture, i.e. the music. But there's passages that sound, that use harmonic minor and dominant, and those sounds are distinctly Arabic sounding or Middle Eastern sounding, and you hear them in all the songs.

We can imagine a Metallica album making people think of the Middle East - a long, miserable, drawn-out series of unspeakable horrors that leaves everybody praying for a little bit of peace.

Thank God (and everyone else in between)

Joss Stone's bid to turn herself into an American soul diva continues apace. Having noticed that their albums generally contain long, rambling thank you lists - always namechecking god - Joss has turned in a thanks list so long, rambling and embarrassing she couldn't fit it on the album liner and has had to post it online instead:

making this album has been a true growing experience for me in so many ways. in the last 4, almost 5 years, i had no choice but to grow maybe 20 years in that time. so it’s been hard work, tiring and emotionally....interesting. for some reason, i've always known that everything’s gonna be ok, no matter what happens i'm always gonna be...ok. that's my faith that keeps me there, so i do with all my heart and love, my whole everything, i thank god, whether it be a he or she i won't know til i get there but whatever it is, no matter what, i thank god so much for putting me through everything i have had to endure. i also thank him for giving me the common sense to listen and learn.

it’s been a pretty intensive course but i know all that is only is because it was meant. also i thank him for keeping me company and hearing me when i speak. what will be will be. many people are uncomfortable with this sentence. some don't like to think they’re not in control of their own fate. i believe in karma. everything comes back around, but it isn't up to any of us to decide when or what shall happen. that’s just fate. we can only be positive and know that there's always a smile lurking. u just have to catch it. Mostly, i thank him / her for giving us all the gift of being able to hear and see art. it's a beautiful thing. so thank u love!

Did she just call God "love"?

But she's just getting going... she then rolls onto thank everyone she's ever met. (Everyone else, as she does appear to have met God in some form as well.) On she goes:
wanna say a special thanks to everyone who helped me when my management disappeared without trace. i didn’t know what to do -- kinda made it up as i went along as u do but certain people really helped me so much. i was upset and mostly pretty scared about the whole thing. didn’t know what the hell i was doing. but hey, i figured it out with all of your help

We suspect the old management are probably hiding in the woods somewhere.

Most oddly, though, is when she turns her attention to the record label execs:
david munns, thanks for believing in me and sticking with me through all the crap. i’m sorry if i can be a pain sometimes or well, my situation can be, but u always help me figure it out. i appreciate that so much. thank u thank u thank u. you were definitely there when i needed you most. i know u are a busy busy man but for some reason u make the time for me. i don’t know why but i won’t question it. i just thank god for it. you’re wicked. i love how u have always treated me like an equal, even when i was 14. i was scared then but now realise u were just speaking to me straight and i love that in you. you are a real person. “no bullsh** allowed” should be stuck on your office door. i like that you’re honest and i can believe what you say. i like that you have my back in any situation. thank you for believing in me enough to give me the chance to make this record. u had no obligation to do so. thank u for having that trust in me.

alain levy, i just think you’re so lovely every time in see you. you are so sweet and always smiling, i get a positive energy from you. i’m so glad you like my music. to work with both you and david is an honour and actually if i go back like 5 years it’s something i’ve dreamt about and wished for. thank u for having me at your company. i will do the best i can for you. that’s a promise. i’m so glad u like the album and support it in the way u do. i love how you are passionate. alot of people look at you guys and see businessmen and that’s it. well maybe some are like that – ok, definitely some are but not you two. i can’t put my finger on it but, i know u care, more than care. as much as people think it’s all about the money i know that it isn’t just that with you. i hoping i’m right -- usually i can tell with these things. but i know everything happens for a reason. we are all in this together because that is what was meant. now let’s make the most out of what we're given and spread real music across the world. with your help, we can make real music with real musicians and real instruments popular again. no more bullshit! right. thanks for supporting me on that too. much love x

The BBC calculates that the list runs to seven pages of closely-typed text; putting it online means that at least it saves space. It could also allow you to remove awkward passages like, for example, lavishing praise for developing your career two months after he'd been sacked for helping run the company into the ground. In theory.

Babyshambles plan tour to disappoint as many people as possible at once

Pete Doherty takes another step towards being Ronan Keating of his generation, as Babyshambles announce an arena tour:

Manchester MEN Arena - November 22
Newcastle Metro Radio Arena - 23
Brighton Centre - 25
Bournemouth International Centre - 26
London Wembley Arena - 27
Birmingham NIA - 28
Nottingham Arena - 30
Glasgow SECC - December 1

He's like a street-fighting troubadour poet, you know. Even if you can't see him from the back of the room and he's got a well-stocked tshirt stand.

Universal offers asset dump to get hands on BMG publishing

Major labels might be a bit dull when it comes to their product, but they're endlessly inventive when it comes to their business dealings. In a bid to persuade the EU to let them swallow down BMG's publishing arm, Universal are offering to firesale many of their less-attractive assets. The key sandbag to be dropped is Zomba, once a powerhouse of Spice Girls, Britney and Backstreet Boys, now reduced to shuffling back-catalogue of troubled stars. It's unlikely to persuade Indie representatives IMPALA to remove their objections to the deal, mind.

Not quite the Doors use Scallions to replace Astbury

With Ian Astbury off the scene - you'll recall he's gone of to work on his own musical legacy - Riders on The Storm were desperate to get a singer to fulfil their previously-booked tributes-to-themselves Doors dates.

So desperate, in fact, they've signed Brett Scallions from Fuel.

Delp death "suicide"

Texas police have ruled the death of Brad Delp, singer with Boston, a suicide. Coroners reports put the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning.

[Full obituary]

Cooper Temple tours

Heading out for a life on the road, with all the Ginsters pasties that implies - The Cooper Temple Clause:

23th - Dublin Whelans
24th - Belfast Spring & Airbrake
25th - Glasgow QMU
26th - Aberdeen Lemon Tree
27th - Newcastle Northumbria University
29th - Manchester Academy 2
30th - Birmingham Irish Centre
31st - Leeds Metropolitan University
2nd Apr - Norwich Waterfront
3rd - Bristol Academy
4th - Portsmouth Pyramid Centre
5th - London Shepherds Bush (they haven't offered a venue - perhaps they'll be dancing in the streets or something)

Biting the hand what feeds her

Poor old Keith Allen's daughter - forced to endorse something she can't believe in at SXSW:

After playing in a show supported by NME with Razorlight, she said: "It's nice to be here. The only thing that bugs me is playing for NME. They're bastards."

If you hate them so much, why didn't you take a set at one of the many American organisations who must have been clamouring to promote you in Aus... oh.

I believe it's called a stiffener

We're so lost as to where Pete Doherty sits on the demon scale right now that we can't tell if being seen drinking wine from the bottle at 9am is an encouraging sign of his improving health and mental state, or another station of the cross on his descent into Hades. It's so confusing.

Tobago homophobo no-no

Elton John's planned headlining of a gig in the 19th century ("Tobago") has caused festering nonsense to start issuing from Philip Isaac, the Archdeacon of Trinidad and Tobago:

He said: "His visit to the island can open the country to be tempted towards pursuing his lifestyle."

What... fresh flowers every day, elaborate parties and guest appearances with Pete Doherty? Imagine if the whole of Tobago adopted that - there wouldn't be enough vases, apart from anything else. Vase shortages.

Oh... hang on, it's the gay thing, isn't it?
The Archdeacon condemned Sir Elton's marriage to David Furnish, saying it doesn't conform to "biblical teachings" because a "man should not lie with a man".

Standing up against a wall, or that position on all fours like you're doing star-jumps - that should be okay.
Organisers of the Plymouth Jazz Festival are choosing to pretend that Isaac is just a rogue churchman.

We wonder what the Anglican church makes of it all.

Justin offers to bring his sexyback

How touching: Justin Timberlake sent Britney a private message when she went into rehab. We know about this because, it turned out to not be very private after all:

Justin, 26, let her know that she has his “unconditional love and support” and even offered to visit her.

Insiders said troubled Britney, 25, was in tears as she read the singer’s note.

Mind you, since her mind is circulating around the far end of the galaxy right now, she's probably in tears watching the Price Is Right at the moment.

And the value of nothing

Simon Cowell's vision of music is going to be explored during a US TV interview this weekend - but its as self-regarding as you'd expect:

"I sell more records than Bruce Springsteen, sure."

"In the last five years I've sold over 100m records. If he got $100m, I should have got $500m."

Besides the obvious point - that Sringsteen has actually written song and made records, while Cowell has overseen the assembly of cover versions and soundalikes from bits and pieces - it confirms that Cowell's sideshow talent shows are little more than shams. And never mind your premium rate numbers - the con is that all the contestants are interchangeable. Clearly, Cowell believes that whatever is spat out of the voting process is insignificant in the process of making a record that will sell to that sector of the market. Indeed, he sees the whole process as being one, large, interchangeable blob:
The music producer is responsible for signing the winner of American Idol, which he called "the biggest artist on the planet".

And who cares what face it has, eh?

Mills: Look away now

In an interesting move, Heather Mills has announced that she isn't a publicity seeker. This was on an interview on BBC News 24, rather than one of her many spots on Larry King Live, or Dancing With The Stars, or...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Take That loses patience

It might be they believe they are the "biggest fans of Take That's music" who are ramming the songs into a musical, but it's not mutual, it appears: Take That have cooled on their original encouragement for the project - and even the people involved are a little surprised it's going ahead:

A show source said: “The announcement was as much a shock to some of the production team as it was to Take That. The band didn’t want it going ahead like this and tried to stop it.”

Show producer Tristan Baker said: “The show is going ahead. The band are currently not involved but the door is always open.”

Take That put a statement on their website saying: “The band wish their fans and the general public to know this production is absolutely and 100 per cent nothing to do with Take That.”

Apart, of course, from the royalties they'll be making. Distance if it's a failure; cash if it's a success. Bit of a win-win.


Plans to reunite Steps have been put on ice after the organiser woke up in the middle of the night and realised the horror they were about to cause.

Oh, and because Ian 'H' Watkins got a better offer. While Not Being In A Steps Reunion actually constitutes a better offer than Being In A Steps Reunion, in this case its some sort of stage play.

Mills saves the pigs

Taking a break from bringing home McCartney's bacon, Heather Mills has found time to break into a pig-factory to expose the harrowing conditions in farrowing crates.

Of course, this noble gesture causes some problems for The Sun, as it hardly fits with DemonHeather. So, instead, they give a platform to the farmer to rant instead:

But last night her stunt threatened to backfire when the farm’s owner accused them of making his pigs SICK by bringing in disease.

He also threatened to take Mills and her cohorts to court for trespass.

The paper also fails to provide any link to the video allowing readers to decide for themselves on the merits of the cases.

Gedge fills a box with Peel

Coming this Monday, to a shop near you:

The Complete Wedding Present Peel Sessions.

Six discs, just shy of one hundred tracks. (May contain traces of Ukraninan folk songs.)

The Sun indulges in some homophobia

Running the photos of Elton John in fancy dress, the Sun remembers that Elton is gay, and some gay men enjoy anal sex:

Are you a rear admiral, Elton?


Are you a homophobe, Victoria Newton?

(Apart from anything, he's not even in a naval outfit - it appears to be a Soviet army uniform, but we're sure someone can put us right on that.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It is most distressing to have the harmonica played badly at one in a public place

Marcel Berlins, musing on the Guardian's Comment Is Free site (one year old today) muses that quality should be a defence when buskers and graffiti artists are caught in public:

I want to see a scheme which - in the public interest, of course - would separate the musically and artistically gifted from the no-hopers of no ability. And any busker or graffiti artist prosecuted under whatever law would have a cast-iron defence: "Yes, I did it - but I'm really talented.

It's a lovely idea, but surely Berlins is having a little joke with us - he knows the impossibility of a legislated definition of 'talent', surely?

Bloggie Piper

It must be the very peak of an actor's career: playing a blogger. On ITV2.

This is Billie Piper's latest calling, as the network ITV started under the mistaken apprehension that its main channel is so full of new and innovative material it requires extra space picks up the blog-turned-book drama dropped by Channel 4.

Billie Piper playing a woman who hires out her favours. There isn't a spare cubicle in Outpost Gallifrey this afternoon, you know.

HMV's great new idea: Selling coffee

HMV continues to spin down the spiral, unable to even launch a three year recovery plan without issuing a headline-stealing profits warning instead.

So, what's HMV's big idea, then?

The most radical plan is for the transformation of its music retail business into an "interactive" store aimed at restoring HMV's image as a fashionable place to hang out. "Record shops used to be places that people would hang around and spend time and money. We don't give them the space to do that any more," Mr Fox said. He added that physical music sales are expected to decline to around a quarter of its sales by 2010 from 35 per cent in 2006.

HMV will install "refreshment hubs" in its music stores where customers can play computer games, log on to internet sites and make music compilations that can be burnt on to CDs while sipping coffee and juices. It will also launch its own social networking site which aims to blend the user-generated content model of YouTube and MySpace with access to copyright material that can be purchased via the site. It has already signed up Universal Music and 20th Century Fox to provide material for the site.

Is there a single five year plan document issued by any company these days that doesn't mention "MySpace/YouTube" in it? There's no indication that we see that explains why the public will flock to create their content on the HMV site rather than one of the sixty-three billion other websites relaunching themselves as Web2.0-style MySpacesque entities - and we're not sure "this is the website run by the shop where your grandad used to buy his records" is going to cut it.

So, to succeed or fail, it'll depend on the stores managing to reinvigorate the brand - and that's where the problem is. HMV stores are horrible places at the moment - cluttered, dark, noisy, clashing musics hammering over each other. And this where HMV believe people will want to sit, sipping coffee and listening to the new Dido album? Can't quite see it myself - not when every bloody store on the High Street has opened a coffee bar ("Even if you don't need to bury a loved one, why not pop into Unsworth's Funeral Director for a muffin and a cappuccino?").

You want a radical, turnaround plan, HMV? Why not turn yourself into a musical Argos - keep all the CD and DVD stock out the back, people come in and order from a catalogue. You could stock ten times the stuff you do now because you can fit more in when it's not on display, and pitch it as "Why wait for Amazon to deliver - come and get it now." Throw in a pledge along the lines of "if it's not in stock when you come, and it's on release, we'll post it to you for free." Challenge Amazon on its strength - breadth of stuff - and its weakness - the delay between order and delivery, and you might just have a compelling UPS. Sticking in a Costa Coffee and allowing people to upload mobile phone videos of themselves farting, and you might as well book a trip to the vets for dear old Nipper.

Biff, bash, bosh

Talking of lazy cut and pastes from PR material, here's the Biffy Clyro tour dates:

Sunday 20 May Portsmouth Pyramids
Monday 21 Oxford Brookes University
Tuesday 22 London Roundhouse
Wednesday 23 Wolverhampton Wolfrun Hall
Thursday 24 Cambridge Junction
Saturday 26 Leeds Metropolitan University
Sunday 27 Newcastle University
Monday 28 Manchester Academy 2
Wednesday 30 Aberdeen Music Hall
Thursday 31 Edinburgh Potterow
Friday 1 June Glasgow Barrowlands

Scissor, cut and paste, Stone

Thanks to James Page for the following email, which we run in full as we can't really improve on it:

Unsurprisingly it appeared on Digitalspy on Friday (or, as I believe it's
known in their offices, 'Sod it, we go home in half an hour, just copy and
paste a couple of press releases into the News section and we can all chuff
off'-day). And it went like this:

"T4 presenter Steve Jones sends up Joss Stone's infamous Brit Awards
appearance on Popworld tomorrow morning.

"Jones, dressed in a purple wig and floral dress, is seen mimicking the
bizarre mid-Atlantic accent that the 'Fell In Love With A Girl' singer
revealed at the awards ceremony last month.

"However, the presenter was forced to end his impersonation abruptly when
Stone herself arrived at the studio to record an interview for the show.

"According to reports from the set, Stone and her imitator missed each other
by a matter of seconds.

"Popworld airs tomorrow at 10.30am on Channel 4. "


So... Medicore TV presenter attempts slightly-stale 'skit' on ailing TV show
and, in a twist of almost Shakespeareian ingenuity, the subject of that skit
walks in just seconds later. Golly. It's as if Terry and June never left our
screens. No mention of whether the presenter's trousers then fell down just
as the vicar came round for tea, but that would round things off nicely.

I don't know what was worst about that story; The fact that it went into the
'News' section of Digitalspy, the blatant stench of lazy PR, or the
suggestion that us thickies in the general public are supposed to believe
that a programme on national TV is filmed in one little room in which guests
and presenters alike wander in and out unannounced, nobody sure which
popstar will stroll in next, with the risk of hilarious consequences hanging
in the air the whole time.

The only thing we'd take issue with is the jibe at Terry and June - sure, it was no Ever Decreasing Circles, but how many suburban set sit-coms gave the audience a chance to enjoy a spot of illicit pre-Casino-and-online-poker living room gambling by guessing what would collapse in the opening credits?

All Saints look to the future

You can't keep a good band down. You also, it seems, can't keep a bad one down, or a disappointingly reformed one. On their MySpace, All Saints insist they'll be carrying on, even until you hate The Beach as much as you hate the new stuff:

Hi everyone

First of all the four of us just want to say that we're really sorry you didn't get to know about the recent news i.e. the split from our label before anyone else. It really wasn't that clear cut for a while and we wanted to let things settle for a while and give ourselves a break. As usual the press seems hell bent on repeating their negative reporting and we just felt it was time to say something official.

As you know we are so happy with the way our single "Rock Steady" went in November. We couldn't have wished for better and it just showed that we still have our fans supporting us as well as picking up some new ones along the way.

Of course we're really disappointed that things didn't work out with our album, Studio 1 on Parlophone. We've just hit some very weird turns along the way with some of the media which is such a shame for our fans as we know you love our music. It's funny how things go with certain people's perception of things - the negativity has been astounding to us all as we've only ever been honest about ourselves and more importantly just wanted to make and perform great music.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to you all. It's great to read all the positive comments on our myspace and on the messageboards.

We're going to continue making our music and we'll keep you in the picture as things go...

It's all the media's fault, it turns out. The nasty old media, ruining things for the fans by reporting the album is poor, and that its sales are disappointing. We're trying to sift some logic out of why a group of four intelligent, media-savvy women would think that the media would bury stories that portray their comeback in a dismal light on the basis that they "just want to make and perform music."

It's like suggesting that Harold Shipman should never have been vilified in the press because he was into what he was doing. The comeback (All Saints, not Shipman's) was ill-conceived, miss-timed and half-hearted - did they really expect nobody to say so because they meant well?

[Thanks to Michael Moran for the link]

Daltrey quits one song in

Last night's Who gig at the Tampa ended somewhat sharply when Roger Daltrey walked off after just onsong. A few moments later, Pete Townshend came on with an explanation:

He told the crowd that Daltrey had bronchitis.

"I just talked to Roger and he can barely speak," Townshend said. "I tried to get him to come out here, but he's really, really sick."

The band will try again March 25th.

Musical prepares to piss over a still-growing legacy

Of course, there's every chance that the musical which melds together aspects of Take That's back catalogue won't be rubbish.

But chances are, eh?:

Producer Tristan Baker said: "We are the biggest fans of Take That's music and we are so excited about the wonderful opportunity to create a new musical based on the fantastic catalogue of their work.

"We look forward to creating a legacy with these well-loved songs in the way that shows such as Mamma Mia! have done before."

Good lord; they're not cashing in, they're creating a legacy - because, of course, Abba's impressive body of pop work and smart move to quit while still (just) at the top of their game wasn't a legacy in its own right until a bunch of stage school drop outs started to trill Dancing Queen on tour and on Broadway to a room full of coach-touring cash-payers.

How can Baker really claim to be "the biggest fan" of the That when he's wrenching the songs from their moorings and lashing them down to some melodramatic plot? If he was such a fan, how can he want to see songs that supposedly have some sort of memories attached to them suddenly locked onto a narrative of someone else's devising.

Even the dead support copyright extension

Back before Christmas, you might recall a large advert - paid for by copyright body PPL - signed by artists calling for the government to extend copyright terms.

Now, it turns out, amongst the impressive-sounding list of signatories were dead people.

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the ad was fine, on the basis that the dead people had been co-opted by their estates, but this seems a little bit sanguine about this - if someone is signing a call for copyright extension on behalf of the deceased, shouldn't there at least be some indication this is an "on behalf of" co-option of the corpse?

Even beyond the general principle, since extending copyright for a longer period is going to have a direct impact on those who benefit from musician's estates, there's a strong argument that while the widows or children might be signing their loved one's name under the impression it's what he would have wanted, there's surely room for the possibility they're signing with their own interests paramount. Nothing wrong with feathering your own nest, but shouldn't an honest advert admit that potential motivation?

Chris Martin: Where's the respect?

Poor old Chris Martin is afraid that nobody sees his job as a craft any more:

The YELLOW singer has criticised the trend for mobile phone ringtones of chart tunes, insisting it is killing the current music scene. He says, "All that matters in music today is that your song becomes a ringtone."

Too true. The push for ringtones distorts the true value of music - which, in Coldplay's case, seems to be for being used as soundtracks for second-rate US medical soaps and team details on Match of the Day.


Amongst the ways Eva is influencing policy today is by pointing out that promo versions of Brian Harvey's eurovision entry have got his name spelled incorrectly. Brain Harvey.

It might be the nickname he's known by. Or a sly, sidewards glance at the Arctic Monkeys. Or, just possibly, the whole thing is such a horrible idea it's been left in the hands of an uninterested work experience student.

Is Britain so short of powerful black female icons?

If I was a Black British woman this morning I think I'd be a little annoyed to discover that the New Nation's chart of the ten most powerful in Britain runs out of ideas at number eight - when it nominates Eva Simpson from the 3AM Girls. Really, New Nation? You can only think of seven people more powerful than a second-rate gossip columnist?

Doreen Lawrence and Justice Linda Dobbs, apparently, wield less influence. What criteria were used for coming up with this chart?

A New Nation spokesman said: "Each woman has the power to influence changes of opinion or policy."

A 3AM Girl? Changing policy? She can't even push Jamelia's sales into the top five, never mind set about influencing opinion on anything important. Once we tried to change the world; now we're just hoping we can get Kerry Katona dropped from the guestlist at London nightclubs. (Valerie Amos, for the record, came out on top.)

Fergie "too drunk" to get off with Virgin

It's just like a celebrity version of Airline - indeed, if she's smart, Fergie should try and spin her awkward moment in LAX as 'Comic Relief Does Airport' rather than drunk woman makes a tit of herself.

Supposed to be flying to London, Fergie turned up too tight:

"She was falling all over the place and had to be supported. She was in no state to fly.

"But when she was prevented from boarding she couldn't believe it.

"She was drunkenly ranting at staff but could barely string a sentence together. It was very embarrassing."

Her clothes were removed from the hold - which can't have taken long - and the rest of the band crossed the Atlantic without her. Which, to be honest, they're probably going to have to get used to doing when she quits the Black Eyed Peas anyway.

Monkeys PIN hopes on beating the touts

We're always interested to hear bands' plans to beat touts, and are especially interested in the Arctic Monkeys new scheme for their UK dates.

You register in advance - by 7pm tonight via mailing list. You then have to respond to an email, detailing which venue and night you'd like to go to - no following the band round the country allowed. Then, using a "completely random" computer (we know, technically, there's no such thing as a completely random computer, but near enough, eh?) lucky people will be chosen. They'll be sent a unique PIN code which will then, when plugged into a PC, allow them to complete the purchase of a ticket.

Lots of hoops, admittedly, but we're not entirely sure we can see the tout-beating part of it: indeed, by pumping up the ticket frenzy and complicating the process, we'd imagine the returns from beating this system will be much larger than if they just put the tickets online and sold them in the ordinary way. Certainly, if we made a living reselling tickets, we'd be spending most of today opening Yahoomail and Gmail accounts to sign up multiple times for chances to enter the lottery. (Actually, if we genuinely wanted to see the band, we'd be doing that, too, to increase our chances.)

The trouble with this lottery idea is that - without any link between purchaser and person using the ticket, and the opportunity to enter an unlimited number of times - it's really no more toutproof than the equally random process of switching on a webserver and flogging the tickets to the first people able to get on.

Roll up and try your luck anyway:
onday 9th April Guildhall, Southampton
Tuesday 10th University Great Hall, Exeter
Thursday 12th Astoria, London
Friday 13th Astoria, London
Saturday 14th Academy, Liverpool
Monday 16th Academy, Newcastle
Tuesday 17th Caird Hall, Dundee
Wednesday 18th Barrowlands, Glasgow
Friday 20th Academy, Birmingham
Saturday 21st The Leadmill, Sheffield
Sunday 22nd The Leadmill, Sheffield

Robbie Williams is not forgotten

Here's quite an exclusive from Victoria Newton:

ROBBIE WILLIAMS is back in TAKE THAT — it must be true because TONY BLAIR told me.

Kidding! She's kidding!
OK, maybe not. But Robbie has been named in the band on the Government’s official website.

Actually - under a long-standing deal - Williams is still officially one of the co-owners of the trademark and so still appears in the new particulars. It doesn't mean that he's "in" the That anymore than owning shares in Spurs would mean you were playing for them next Saturday. Not that it's going to stop Newton seeing this as significant:
But let’s hope it leaves the door open for Robbie to come Back For Good.

Well, even if there was some reason that not being a registered owner of a trademark was going to cause problems with any reunion - "put the guitar down, you've not got a tiny R in a circle tattooed on your buttocks" - let's hope it doesn't, as the readdition of Williams to the band would inevitably make them unwatchable.

Stone out of love with you

Things aren't looking that rosy for Joss Stone right now, with the Sun taking a lowly midweek album ranking of 12 and extrapolating from that the very end of her career:

Her Brits appearance made her a national laughing stock and now it looks like her meteoric fall from grace will be complete this weekend when she fails to make the Top Ten of the album charts.

Most embarrassing for Joss is that another annoying curly redhead looks set for the Top Ten.

That’s right, SIMPLY RED’s new album Stay is stuffing Joss’s effort too.

When you lose to MICK HUCKNALL in a popularity contest you know it’s time to pack your bags.

Is 12 really that bad, though? Stone has been selling this record as a repositioning (although it's arguably more of a shuffling a bit to one side) which means, presumably, expectations of having to drop and grow a new audience; it's Mothering Sunday this weekend which means the album chart is distorted by the stronger sales of uninspired gifting choices like Ray Quinn and Ben Mills; and Mick Hucknall is a knob, but he's a knob with quite a successful track record of selling large quantities of uninspired records so being bested by him isn't like being outsold by The Krankies or something.

Much as we'd love to believe that Stone is heading back to summer jobs in the Ambrosia creamery, The Sun's piece looks more like wishful thinking to us.

But then, The Sun seems to no longer have half a clue about popular culture at all: Today, it's asking readers about Tracy Barlow's murder case:
CORRIE’S Tracy Barlow is to stand trial for her lover’s murder — and we’re inviting YOU to decide if she is guilty.

Erm... twelve million people watched her character spend weeks creating a false impression of her relationship, saw her tell Charlie that she was going to kill, watched her plot and manoeuvre him into place before thumping him in a most premeditated way with a horrible ornament, before putting a knife in his hand and then spending two months grooming a teenage boy to lie for her in court. The whole bloody point is that she is guilty and the viewers know she's guilty. Really, if the Sun can't understand a simple soap opera storyline, they probably shouldn't be covering entertainment stories at all. Or the news.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Radio shuffling

Phil Jupitus is leaving the 6Music breakfast show, having helmed the opening programme each day since the channel was born five years ago. He's going to be replaced by Sean Keaveny, which wouldn't have been our first choice.

In even odder 6Music news, the Queens of Noize late-night Saturday show is being given an afternoon slot - presumably so that a larger audience can enjoy ignoring it. And Elbow's Guy Garvey is going to present a programme on Sunday evenings. It's not known what the world has done to piss the controller Lesley Douglas off quite so much.

Meanwhile, Richard Bacon is leaving Xfm again, this time to have a crack at doing more speech for Radio 5 Live.

CSI-tina Aguilera

In much the same way that the airtime demands of The Bill means anyone with an equity card has to pitch up as a wrong 'un or a mark in Sun Hill, in the States, the ever-expanding CSI franchise continutes to pull in anyone with a pulse to guest.

Christina Aguilera now takes buggins' turn:

Pop superstar CHRISTINA AGUILERA is to appear in hit US TV show CSI: NEW YORK, and plans have already been made for a darker theme for the episode.

A darker theme? For CSI? Because it's usually a chuckle-along-a-garrotting delight, isn't it?

Hope, and the absence of hope

Alone in a universe of people, Brian Harvey still holds out hope for another East 17 reunion:

"I hoped we could put all the old stuff behind us. Me, Terry and John are fine, but I just don't think Tony likes me! I honestly don't know what I've done, whether I've stolen the limelight or something. I'd still be up for doing the reunion, though."

Brian, chickadee, there's precious little limelight to be stolen from East 17 these days - you'd be hard put to read a large print novel in the glow of fame left for you lot.

Meanwhile, Westlife have firmly ruled out any chance of Brian McFadden returning, tail between legs or no:
NICKY BYRNE, 28, adds, "Let's put the record straight - there's no room for Brian in Westlife now. I haven't had this conversation with Brian, but there's no reason for him to want to be in Westlife now anyway."

Good lord, Nicky. There's no reason for anyone to want to be in Westlife - unless, perhaps, they've got explosives strapped under their jackets.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the web

The San Francisco Chronicle attempts a Q&A with Kele Okereke. "Attempts" being the keyword here:

Q: In just two years you went from being a university student to this indie-rock icon. Did writing these songs help you process all that?

A: Um, um, no, not really. Quantify just what you said there. Give me an example. I don't understand what you're asking.

Q: Did writing these songs ...

A: Yeah, don't repeat what you just said.

Q: I can hear you trying to work a lot of things out.

A: I don't know what you're getting at, but I think it's time for the next question.

Q: Why are you such a hard interview?

A: No, I'm not. You clearly haven't really listened to the music because you're not asking anything about the record. I don't mind. I don't know. Perhaps we should call it a night (Okereke's publicist jumps in: "Yeah, if you don't have any questions about the record, perhaps we should revisit this at another time?"). Perhaps not.

The Wall Street Journal goes behind the scenes at the iTunes music store, and discovers its like High Fidelity multiplied by math club divided by 9 to 5:

Apple's muscle-flexing has begun to rub some artists and music companies the wrong way. During a recent radio interview, outspoken British pop singer Lily Allen accused iTunes of "bullying" artists into supplying exclusive content. There's a further worry among music executives that the few spots available to promote artists on iTunes are dwindling as Apple remakes the store into a broader entertainment destination for TV shows, movies and games.

Bagel Radio reports on the RIAA money-grab from a webcaster's perspective [thanks to Jon]:

The industry argument is that copyright holders should make more money from their songs being played on internet radio. Why not terrestrial radio as well? Oh, right, because terrestrial radio, with it's two decade-long slow fade into oblivion, provides promotional benefit to copyright holders, whereas internet radio does not.

The Onion's AV Club considers covers that improve on the original. They're not always right:

A beautiful song with slowly descending chords that match the theme of being brought down by constant reminders of an ex-lover, "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" has long been a standout in the songwriting catalog of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The original 1964 recording by American soul singer Lou Johnson was actually pretty good, but its mediocre placement was all but obscured by Sandie Shaw's UK number-one version a few months later. Remember it? Of course not. It's awful—going all epileptic-showgirl at just the moment the lyric calls for introspection.


Indie-punksters Color Revolt have had a bit of a setback: a rather big one, in fact. Their van and all their gear was pinched in Dallas - they're enlisting the world's eyes to try and get it back:

A little over an hour ago, we just had our entire van, trailer and gear stolen after a show here in Dallas. The van had MISSISSIPPI plate L890WB. It is a white 1994 Chevrolet G20 VAN.

Literally we had just packed up after our show, went back into the venue, 15 minutes later, the van and everything in it had disappeared. We lost not only our van and trailer. But all of our gear and merch, and most of our personal belongings, like laptops, clothes, papers for school. Our van was insured, but most of the rest of the things are not.

Please pass this on to anyone that you know of who lives in the Dallas Fort Worth area!!!

You can call us if you live in the area, it'd be great if you could help us go to pawn shops, etc. and look for this gear. Our cell phones are about all we have left.

The cell contacts are on their MySpace site - they're also accepting more direct support.

Britney in the backroom: "Scandalous" video in play

As if the footage of her having a public breakdown and shaving all her hair off wasn't going to give the family court enough to ponder, rumours are now flying that Britney Spears' wild period is going to come back to haunt her in the form of a video shot at New York's One club:

The footage was reportedly shot during a party at New York club One in early February, when Spears took off her clothes in a back room of the club and tried on the clothes of the dancers who worked there.

The newspaper reports that there are also photos of the pop stars' derriere and that bidding for those has peaked at $150,000.

The club's dancers have told friends that they were fired after the video was discovered in which they reportedly do some "serious partying" with Spears. At this point, it's not clear what "serious partying" could mean.

... which leaves everyone free to make up their own jokes, of course.

McGee no longer believes in record stores

It's about twenty years since Are You Scared To Get Happy took Alan McGee to task for the poor value of the music-to-run-out-groove proportions of Creation 12" singles. His embrace of the possibilities for higher margins on CDs, equally, went down badly with the indie purists - there would have been a march and burning effigies and placards, were these not indie kids.

Now, he's calling for record shops to go the way of, erm, Creation Records. Why is the writing on the wall for these places?

Because he doesn't go into them any more:

When was the last time you went into a record shop? It was about a month ago in Tokyo for me. It was a boutique type of establishment, a bit like Rough Trade - it had vinyl and all the hip releases. Yet it still felt like a museum. All the music I want I can get off Amazon or go on MySpace to hear. There's no real need for record shops any more.

An entire retail sector doomed because McGee get his stuff off the internet. Let's hope he never discovers Orcado, or that'll be all the out-of-town supermarkets being shuttered overnight.

Never mind that, for some people, the quick-fix attraction of Amazon needs to be balanced by a gentle browsing experience; that travelling to a record store and spending time flicking through product is a different and vital experience - the connections you make from a pile of real CDs are completely different from browsing online. It's why every time I find myself in Denver, I wind up having to find space for a couple of hundred bucks' worth of records I've picked up on a trip into Twist and Shout, for example. Sure, I could have found the Wolfgang Press' Funky Little Demons on Amazon - but without being in the store, idling through the racks, I wouldn't have remembered I wanted it and wouldn't have gone looking.
It's the same with music magazines. I find out my music news from and only buy the printed magazine if there's something I have to see for work. Since my blog on the subject, everyone talks to me about Q magazine and admit it's the kind of toilet paper they daredn't be seen in public with.

Alan may or may not realise that the printed NME and's content actually differs, and we're a little puzzled as to how he can know if there's something in the paper that he "needs for work" if he doesn't read it in the first place - perhaps he flicks through it in the newsagent to save himself a couple of quid. (Good news for WH Smiths, then, if McGee is still using them, at least.)
As for MTV, YouTube has destroyed it. I can't even remember when I last watched it. Why would you, given that everything appears on YouTube within a day of it being broadcast?

Actually, MTV has pretty much destroyed itself by mission-drifting into obsolesence, but McGee seems confused about the different ways people consume Music TV and YouTube. MTV and The Box and the others have always been background experiences, floating on the screen in the corner of living rooms and pubs while life carries on more interestingly in the centre; YouTube has merely given the obsessive and dedicated and mainliners a place to go.

Alan, you're getting on for fifty; could that be the real reason why MTV and NME don't hold as much attraction for you?
I feel more love for my iPod than the CDs I buy. Unless I want to DJ, or it's an all time favourite, I pack my CDs off to my house in Wales. My son and daughter will no doubt come to love some of them when they go through them in years to come. My son, who's 18, is obsessed by vinyl and took about 150 7" singles away from Wales. He'd been buying them in Bill's in Portobello Road at 30 quid a shot, so now he loves the Scars and the Bodines.

But how did you fill your iPod, Alan? We bet you didn't buy a load of downloads until the 40 gig was full. And isn't your own argument starting to fall apart here? You don't send your CDs off to live with your aunt in the country in a draughty house - what, even the ones you've just been buying of Amazon in the first paragraph? And there's no point in having record shops like the one your son is spending thirty quid a pop in?
Nothing will ever beat vinyl for me, but digital technology has changed our world, and for the better, though it would be great in the future if some genius could copy the Japanese and get the artists paid. In Japan it's all about the telephone and getting it downloaded to that. I'm a 46-year-old Luddite, but even I've been dragged into the digital world. It's easier and more fun than the way we've been getting served for the last 20 years. No wonder record shops feel ancient.

McGee... you flogged 12" singles and CDs in a market which saw 7" vinyl as being slightly over-comodified ("if it really can't be a flexi"); you have never been a Luddite. There's also been a lingering suspicion over your entire career that you've always elevated the cash transaction above the passion in rock music; now, it looks a little like you're more interested in convenience than experience.

New legal representation request

Up until now, the Gym Class Heroes rise to the creamy top of music in 2007 has had little more than an endorsement from Colin Murray to hold them down. Now, though, they've entered career stage two, where all their misdemeanours become public property.

So it is that we all know Matt McGinley has been arrested in Mexico. Nobody seems to know why, but he has got a local lawyer going in to bat for him, which we suppose it something.

Lennons together

What could be worse than one of John Lennon's kids touring Europe? How about the pair of them touring together? Apparently, Julian Lennon has joined Sean on his bus:

Sean says, "How sweet is that? I am totally thrilled and deeply touched by this. "It's really fun having him on the bus. It's nice to have some quality time with him. None of my friends are willing to rough it on the tour bus, so I am very impressed."

We notice that slightly barbed "none of my friends will get on the bus...", but we're surprised that this sort of thing is encouraged. The British Royal Family wouldn't let two male heirs travel together in case something terrible happened and they were both wiped out at the same time. Surely not a risk anyone would want to take with these two...

Robbie Williams is not afraid to use his fist to express his love

Robbie Williams is on his way back, says Hello magazine. How do they know?

First, they've got a photo of him with the word "Love" badly ballpointed onto his knuckles - what is it with people leaving rehab suddenly writing on their hands? There was Britney with her PUSH (or Pray Until Something Happens, apparently) and now there's Williams having a go with a Bic. Mind you, don't most of the guys on B-wing have LOVE eteched on their fist anyway? The left one, anyway?

But Hello! has more than a hand which may either be sign of placid acceptance of his life, or membership of Big Bertie's Heist Squad to go on. His father Pete has spoken to Robbie, and his auguries are good:

"I always know how Robbie is by his humour, and it's back," a delighted Pete said. "He was making jokes down the phone to me yesterday, they are not quotable, very private and a bit rude. So I would say he is on the mend."

If Robbie not being funny is a sign he's in trouble, the poor bastard must have been in turmoil for at least as long as he's been in the public eye.

We do love that his Dad is going "he told a joke about shagging a nun - how could he possibly still be sucking down xanax cocktails and sobbing himself to sleep every three hours?"

Heather Mills: About that coat

Vigorous anti-fur campaigner Heather Mills has had some explaining to do following the publication of old photos of her wearing a mink coat - although it must be a nice change for her to have clothed pictures of her being young and indiscreet for a change.

It was in the past, she explains:

"The coat belonged to my mother, who had sadly died just a few days earlier and I wore it because it made me feel close to her," she said.

Now, that makes a certain amount of sense, and it would be a hard-faced, hard-hearted, hard-liner who might object to a bereaved person wearing a dead parent's coat, fur or not. But then, of course, Heather just goes too far:
"I am not ashamed I wore it… I was extremely young and was not aware of the issues surrounding the fur trade."

Heather's mother died in 1989. Heather was born in 1968.

A twenty-one year-old "too young" to be aware of the "issues surrounding the fur trade"? What - did you live for the first twenty years of your life in a distant part of France without phoneline or access to newspapers? How could you miss "issues surrounding the fur trade" growing up in the 1980s?

Meanwhile, Heather has been popping up on US Television to deny that the tabloid coverage is getting her down:
Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America show today about the media interest in her, she said that she does not believe "the public in general, whatever country it is, are that stupid to believe all the incontinent rubbish that comes out of tabloids' mouths".

"It's just so ridiculous that you've just got to laugh at it," she added.

So ridiculous, all you can do is laugh. Or, erm, instruct lawyers and threaten legal action.

It will be interesting to see Mills attempting to prove the News of the World and Sun coverage of her life reduces her standing in the eyes of the average person while, simultaneously telling US TV that the average person doesn't believe a word of it.


R Kelly is a man who has some trouble with numbers - mostly trying to juggle the different States' ages of consents. Nevertheless, he's using a number to promote his new single (it sounds, unfortunately, exactly as you'd imagine) by taking a phoneline - 312-278-3965 - for people to contact him in some way. "Call R Kelly at the Chocolate Factory and leave him a message", you're encouraged by his PR team.

Nobody - and I must stress this - is encouraging you to ring that number and ask him how that filming of the sex with the underage girl case is going. And it would be really, really terrible to ring the number and say "Hello? R. Kelly? I just wanted to register my support for your right to send your child to a private school despite having been education secretary." Treat his number with respect, please.

Still, handy to have that number to use when filling out online registration forms, isn't it?

Franz get back to work

Older readers might recall Franz Ferdinand, from before the the Arctic Monkeys. They're getting back to work:

"Nick and I are writing some more tunes. We’ve got a wee place in Glasgow where we’re doing some new songs.

“It’s a wee bit different from last stuff but still very danceable, that’s the main thing. It’s always pop. Franz Ferdinand has always been pop."

That's that Alex Kapranos, that is. The band are going to be locked in the studio for the summer, so won't be doing anything live during the summer.

Pete Doherty immortalised by needles

No, not that sort of needles - it's cross-stitch we're talking about her. Tracey Moberly has completed a cross stitch project turning every text message she ever got into a sampler. Amongst them is a text from Doherty encouraging her to try some jellied eels:

"He [Doherty] was trying to teach me how to eat them, and to me it tasted like cold, wet, dead dog and I couldn't even hold them in my mouth."

The text itself?
Eels slip down a treat

[Thanks to Mike Griffiths for the link]

Ray offers Cowell a mini

Apparently not realising that the X-Factor works by making Simon Cowell rich at the expense of the trilling-units that appear on it, Butlins-bound Ray Quinn is offering to "thank" Simon for the record deal by buying him a car.

He's thinking of a Mini, and although the Daily Record is tittering at the supposed slight, Quinn seems to be quite genuine:

"If I make a bit of money I'd buy him a Mini. I think a small car would be better for him than any of the big ones, so he can get around town quickly."

Yes, it'll be handy for Cowell when he pops down the Tesco Metro, won't it?

It's all rather sweet, not least Quinn's shiny-eyed belief that he's going to make so much cash he'll be able to afford to buy cars as gifts.

Those out with Stone cast as the first sins

Joss Stone is being advised to drop some of her entourage, apparently. The suggestion that she gets rid of the hangers-on who bleed her dry and tell her what to do comes from "aides" (or, in other words, hangers-on who bleed her dry and tell her what to do.)

If Joss were to drop everyone on her payroll who doesn't really contribute anything worthwhile, wouldn't she have to just wind herself up and hand in her doorkeys as she left?

Billie couldn't marry if she wanted to, if she wanted to

The tabloids attempts to bounce Billie Piper and Laurence Fox into marriage has run into a bit of a problem: Piper is still legally married to Chris Evans.

And, no, chances of Piper adopting 19th Century style Mormonism are low.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Colorado now officially high

For years, there's been a push in Colorado to have John Denver's hymn to his adopted home, Rocky Mountain High, recognised as an official State song. Equally, there's been counter-campaigns designed to thwart the idea, because "high" means "out of his head on drugs." At long last, though, the legislature has finally granted it equal billing alongside Where The Columbines Grow (no, we've never heard of that, either).

He's seen it raining fire in the sky, you know.

I'm From Fairly Serious Monthly: MTV rushes Rolling Stone series off-air

Who, we wondered idly, in the MTV America audience would find a reality series about starry-eyed youngsters trying to get jobs with Rolling Stone compelling? In 2006? Even although RS is currently running some of the best writing it's done in years, the magazine demographic hardly chimes with the sort of people who want Pimp My Ride, The Real World, Look! I Have Hookers In My Bedroom and the other enterfactumentainmentism on the network.

Now we know: nobody. The remaining segments are being squished into a single hour, which is going to be thrown out after dark next weekend.

No word yet on if MTV UK is really piloting a show featuring teenagers competing to get an internship on the FT's Lex column.

Freshgroundcore: Starbucks launch label

While nobody would begrudge SubPop launching a boutique label, there's not going to be universal delight at the reports that Starbucks is taking the next step: from flogging CDs to manufacturing them.

Starbucks has actually had a music division since acquiring Hear Music in 1999; before Starbucks invested, Hear was trying to push the idea of customers burning bespoke CDs in small booths in its stores. Since then, the brand has been used on a Starbucks-underwritten radio channel on XM. And so, inevitably, it becomes a pressing concern. Equally inevitably, the big labels are scoffing:

[E]xecutives at record companies were doubtful that Starbucks would do any better at breaking new artists than a traditional label.

"They got the retail and marketing distribution to leverage," said one executive who asked not to be named. "But are they going to sell a million records? No, but they probably don't need to."

Geological experts tell us that the resultant "well, duh" generated by this off-the-record quote could be felt as far away as Antarctica - Starbucks approach to music is the same as its approach to the bags of coffee beans it sells in its stores. They're not trying to compete with Makers Mark; its all about selling high-margin, quality stuff and making extra revenue from people calling in to buy a frothy coffee.

There are claims in the New York Times today that they're trying to line up Macca. Again, more derision from a confused, anonymous exec:
"It'll be interesting when they realize it ain't easy putting out records," said another senior record company executive, who asked not to be named. "Are they really taking a chance? On who? Paul McCartney?"

Of course Starbucks are no more likely to put out an edgy queerpunk album by an unknown band from Tuscon than they are to replace their coffees with kumqat root juice. But lets face it, senior record executive, there aren't many RIAA companies who are releasing expectation-confounding confections, are there? And if your banker artists like the McCartneys decide to go and do their work for the Barrista boys in future, what does that do for your financial model? Starbucks' initiative is probably a far more serious threat to the big labels' bottom line than peer to peer networking. Of course, they don't see that.

Pop into Art

SubPop have launched a spin-off label - a subsidiary-pop, if we might - called Hardly Art. Its first release - under the slogan "quality records for quality people since very recently" - is Arthur & Yu's debut album, In Camera. ("... and if you'd been there with your camera, you'd know what it means, too...")

Cingular drop ball while raising bar

Levon Helm, drummer with The Band, has legalised his hump with New York ad agency BBDO after they slapped The Weight onto a cingular ad:

"It was just a complete, damn sellout of The Band — its reputation, its music; just as much disrespect as you could pour on Richard and Rick's tombstones," said Helm, 66, a longtime Woodstock resident.

Oddly, though, in the same Associated Press report:
Helm's attorney, Michael Pinsky, said state law prohibits the use of a celebrity's voice or likeness for profit without his prior written permission.

Pinsky said Helm received a royalty payment from the use of "The Weight" in the commercial, but doesn't feel he has been adequately compensated.

It's not clear, exactly, how adequately Helm would have had to have been compensated before he could live with the pouring of as much disrespect as possible on Manuel and Danko's tombs.

God Bless! A new Bodines single

Well, new in a manner of speaking - the tracks were recorded back in 1988 and it's unclear if they were ever meant to see the inside of anyone's ears, but a German label has stuck 'em out anyway. Shrinkwrapped is available from firestation records for seven Euro, or equivalent in your own nation's more insular currency.

If only we could return the compliment so keenly

How nice about British music fans the Kings of Leon are being:

"Playing live is great, it's what we love to do and it's what we're best at. To be able to do it over here, this is the place where we like to do it the most because you guys actually get it. Everyone else is starting to get it, but you guys have always gotten it."

Actually, Caleb, we don't, but we're too polite to disappoint you. As soon as you and your equipment is passed through security at Heathrow, the nation turns to one another and says "what the hell was that all about, then?"

Hit St Pes (5,6,8,8)*

Coca-Cola's very own White Stripes are going to make just one jaunt to Europe this year, and that will be to headline the roaming Wireless festival. This year's event is a confusing four-day affair in London, and three in Leeds - the difference being a day featuring Faithless, Just Jack and Badly Drawn Boy at Hyde Park not being replicated in Harewood House. All shall have the Kaiser Chiefs, CSS, Editors and The Cribs, along with Jack and Meg.

* - White Stripes Headline Wireless

Deer nearly does for Drifters

In an unlikely sounding incident in the small hours of this morning, a deer nearly killed The Drifters. The stag had wandered onto the M1 near Rotherham, causing a car to swerve into the path of another. The vehicle it collided with was ferrying the band to London after a gig in Newcastle.

Patrick Lamarr was hospitalised with a head injury; he's expected to be fine to play the band's next date on Thursday.

Keith's daughter blanked by MTV

To a certain extent, when Lily Allen moans about Smile not being aired on MTV when kids might be watching (as if any kids watch MTV these days), she has a point:

"They said, `We don't want kids to grow up too quickly.' "But then you have PARIS HILTON and the PUSSYCAT DOLLS taking their clothes off and gyrating up against womanising, asshole men, and that's acceptable. "You're thinking your kids are gonna grow up quicker because they heard the word fuck than from thinking they should be shoving their tits in people's faces."

On the other hand, we're a little surprised that some channels were showing Smile pre-watershed anyway, as the depiction of poisoning a person by lacing their food with laxatives was a little dodgy for children's viewing.

Razorlight: Trouble in America

Razorlight are starting to think there's some sort of curse on them, designed to prevent them ever taking the stage in LA - although what sort of malignant ne'er do well would only curse them to cover one city is far from clear.

They tried to play LA once: Johnny Borrell ran away.
They tried to play LA twice: Keane - who they were supporting - pulled the tour.

With a third gig lined up, what could possibly go wrong? Carl Dalemo having a car crash, apparently, although that wasn't enough to stop the gig. Must try harder, California.

Robbie Williams is not gazing down from a mighty peak

We really hope the planning department at EMI (two blokes with a diary and a slide-rule) chose the release date for Rudebox's one everything-and-kitchen-sink single She's Madonna expecting a headline-pleasing unseating of Take That at the top of the charts. Shine remains untroubled at number one; Robbie... number 16.

"It's not me" says sex tape woman

The woman who appears in a sex tape currently circulating on the internet[NSFW] has laughed off claims that she appears in a series of television commercials for Iceland:

"You know, I can see that the girl in them does look a little bit like me, but I can assure you I'd never do anything as cheap and tacky as them. Good god, are they even legal? Actually... is that Kerry Katona? Surely not..."

Madonna recalibrates her cameos

Okay, we could see the reasoning behind Madonna guesting in Will And Grace - the sort of series that she could easily confuse with inventive, but... Nip/Tuck?

The Sun's Pete Samson, though, says it's going to happen:

MADONNA is set to strip NAKED in raunchy TV series Nip/Tuck — for a romp with a hunky doc.

The Queen of Pop will prove she still has it at 48 by showing all in the US show about sex-mad plastic surgeons.

Then, The Sun's Pete Samson admits that, actually, the naked scene might not happen. And it's not even clear she'll "romp" or even kiss a hunky doctor - or even one of the Palitoy-moulded blank-stare faces who feature in the show's cast. And that she might not even accepted a guest role yet:
A show source said: “Everybody ends up taking their clothes off and usually having sex with JULIAN McMAHON’s character Dr Christian Troy.

“Madonna has the body of a woman half her age and is bound to be in a nude scene.

“She knew that when she agreed to do the show in the first place.”

Nip/Tuck creator RYAN MURPHY is writing a part for the singer and wants her to appear with ROSIE O’DONNELL, her co-star in 1992 baseball movie A League Of Their Own.

So, Pete, your opening sentence, honestly, should have read:
MADONNA is in talks about appearing in a part which hasn't yet been finalised for a television show in which some characters remove some of their clothes sometimes.

Added to which, this is American network television, which - even before Janet Jackson at the Superbowl - is a bit nervous about people "showing it all" - nudity on Nip/Tuck tends to be of the shot from behind, shoulders upwards sort.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Beckhams life imitates Sleeping Beauty, a little

You'll recall in Sleeping Beauty the failure to invite the bad fairy to a slap-up party ended up with misery being rained down upon everyone - although we've never quite seen why it took 100 years before someone came to have a look at what happened, to be honest. A century and nobody thought "whatever happened to that castle, then?" and not so much as a property developer trying to sort out ownership so they could turn it into homes in multiple occupation. Anyway, something similar - without the evil, and fairies, and sleeping, has happened to Victoria and David.

David West contributed to one of their charity events - a handsome hundred grand, in fact - to get himself an invite to last year's NSPCC party. Trouble was, he claims that the organisers were a bit sniffy about someone like him rubbing shoulders with the fabulous people, and so offered him some sort of second-class invite. He said no; now he's suing the Beckhams for a million quid for, uh, some reason we're having trouble following. Wounded feelings?

Don't worry, though: we're sure, even if they lose, the Beckhams won't take the money back from the orphans and abused kiddies.

Pete's chopper delight

You remember Pete Doherty, who has pledged his support for petrol bombers and fighting in the streets?

He spent his 28th birthday going for a picnic. By helicopter.

The Daily Mail spotted something of interesting in the long-lens shots it bought of him and Kate:

The loved up couple were both wearing rings on their wedding fingers, which is sure to fuel speculation about the status of their relationship.

... said the Mail, fuelling speculation about the status of their relationship in a surprisingly self-fulfilled prophecy.

Lights, cameras, no star, action

Busta Rhymes' move into acting from musician has hit a bit of a problem: New York police have refused to let him appear in a film being shot in the city, despite his starring role in the movie.

The cops officially say it's because they can't supply the cops it would take to protect him from fans, but it looks more like an act of spite after Rhymes refused to cooperate following the murder of Israel Ramirez a year ago.

[D]irector Jeff Celentano said: "This is tremendously unfair to Busta, who has been nothing but professional during this project. This is a bigger loss for the city of New York."

He hasn't refused to co-operate with a single murder enquiry during the whole time he's been making this film; give him a break, eh? We especially love the suggestion that New York will somehow be diminished by the failure to allow one rubbish rapper take a role in some b-movie on a stick. Can you hear Jersey City laughing at you yet, Manhattan?

Bloomberg looks closer at Bono

Bono's finances - and in particular the gap between "what I say" and "what I do" - come in for some close inspection by Bloomberg. They dig into the tax regime employed by the U2 empire:

Bono's own dealings haven't always followed the altruistic ideals he espouses, says Richard Murphy, a Downham Market, U.K.- based adviser to the Tax Justice Network, an international lobbying group.

Murphy points to the band's decision to move its music publishing company to the Netherlands from Ireland in June 2006 in order to minimize taxes. The move came six months before Ireland ended an exemption on musicians' royalty income, which is generally untaxed in the Netherlands.

"This is somebody who's exceptionally rich taking the opportunity to shift his tax burden to somebody else, but then asking governments around the world to spend that tax take in the way that he would like,'' Murphy says.

U2's move to the Netherlands is wrong, says Dick Molenaar, senior partner at All Arts Tax Advisers, a Rotterdam-based tax consulting firm for artists and musicians. "Everybody needs to pay his fair share of taxation to the government, and therefore we have roads and education and everything," he says.

During the 1990s, U2 used nonexecutive directors who were resident in an offshore tax haven to limit the amount paid by the four band members -- in addition to Bono, they're lead guitarist The Edge, 45, whose real name is David Evans, bass guitarist Adam Clayton, 46, and drummer Larry Mullen, 45.

Bono has three homes - none of which are entirely pokey - and owns great chunks of 15 companies, real estate, and so on. Would it really leave him in danger of starvation if he didn't bend himself into shapes to minimise the tax he pays? Would it really reduce him to wearing generic sunglasses if U2 paid tax in the nation which educated them, nurtured them and, had they fallen onto hard times, helped them out with social security?

Bloomberg also reveals that amount of his own money that Bono has put into the massively loss-making Project Red: Nothing, of course.

There's a hint that some of the other people who work hard on Red might be tiring of their efforts being eclipsed by Bono's showboating:
Bono's involvement in RED is intermittent, says RED CEO Bobby Shriver, who's a nephew of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

"I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I was responsible really for the creation of it as a business, to get it to go and make all these things actually happen in the real world," says Shriver, 52, who's based in Santa Monica, California.

The idealist's investment in video games also runs against his public personna - Elevation, his venture capitlaism group, is currently pushing a game Mercenaries 2, which depicts paid-for fighters involved in gun battles in Venezuela:
"We don't think this fits with Bono's image, and we're trying to get him to recognize this fact," says Chuck Kaufman, a Washington-based spokesman for the international Venezuela Solidarity Network, which supports the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Elevation's official response is a textbook example of the moral vacuum you find in modern business:
"It's hard to understand why anybody was upset about this game, because keep in mind the Venezuelans in this game are actually the good guys,'' says Roger McNamee, a managing director and co-founder at Elevation.

Why would anyone be upset at a game which encourages you to kill their fellow nationals, and which plays conveniently to the US right's depiction of Chavez's Venezula as some kind of non-State where anything goes, eh? Can't begin to imagine, Roger.

There's also a surprising little nugget of detail about the U2 Tower, currently rising against the Dublin skyline and many Dubliner's wishes:
In 2002, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority forced U2 to sell the building, located near a concrete factory, for an undisclosed price as part of a city program to bring businesses and new housing into the area, which had declined economically since World War II.

In return to U2 for moving out, the authority promised the band it would provide space for a new recording studio on the top two floors of a 32-story tower it plans to build on the adjacent Britain Quay.

The authority also gave U2 bass guitarist Clayton a seat on the jury that would decide the winner of an international design competition to build the tower.

In 2003, the jury chose joint winners: Dublin-based architectural firms Burdon Dunne and Craig Henry. Felim Dunne, [U2 manager Paul] McGuinness's brother-in-law, is a senior partner at Burdon Dunne.

There's no suggestion that anything untoward happened - Burdon Dunne submitted their design according to the rules, which meant that their application had to be annonymous, so it's impossible that Clayton could have known which was theirs, much less have given it any unfair support. Still, nice that it ended up being kept in the family anyway, isn't it?

[Thanks to Michael Moran for the link]

Music you can click

The always excellent Sweeping The Nation has spawned a bloglet, Corporate Anthems, providing musical stuff in mp3 formats. It's kicking off with Devo and a taste of the Scottish writers/musicians collaborative architecture-dance Ballads Of The Book. Worth a gentle pat-down.

Iggy, of course, has displayed his veg in the past

Thanks to Joe, who has passed on to us a press release from The Children's Society which is promoting their, uh, unexpected Chelsea Flower Show exhibit:

Punk legend Iggy Pop is gatecrashing the traditional gardening world by inspiring The Children's Society's debut garden, 'Lust for Life', at the RHS Chelsea Flower show on 22 May.

Iggy said: "Lust for Life is full of optimism as young people should be...but too many aren't. I'm honoured that The Children's Society's garden is inspired by my music and wholeheartedly support the work that they do - they rock!"

Yes, yes, Mr. Pop, you might be worth a million in prizes - but will you deserve a RHS Gold Medal?

Your Dad thinks your need a break, Amy

We're not entirely sure which approach to parenting suggests that the best way to help a child in distress is to talk to a newspaper gossip column, but since it "worked" for Robbie's Mum, Mitch Winehouse:

Mitch added that Amy, 23, was burnt-out and her voice "close to collapse" as she jetted off to New York in her bid to break the American market.

Worried Mitch, who is flying to the Big Apple to join Amy for crisis talks, said: "I'm not ruling out rehab. Amy needs a break. They don't send you to rehab just because you've broken up with someone. There are other things. Amy needs a rest. Her workload is absolutely manic.

"She's an emotional girl. Her schedule has caused problems with Alex. He wants to see her. I don't know if that's the reason for the break-up - but wouldn't you want to see your boyfriend now and again?

"Bosses are aware of the problem. Amy was upset she couldn't do it but you can't ring 2,000 people and say don't come."

We're sure there's nothing like seeing her Dad detailing her Network Rail of a life in the public prints to help her pick up her spirits. Or at least a large glass of red.

£1million? Jason says "That'll do"

We wondered what was making Jason Donovan's leg jitter like a caffeine addict locked in Starbucks during last night's National Lottery - now we know: he's signed a (supposed) million quid deal for his autobiography.

We suspect the payment will break down a little like this:

- My time in Neighbours: £2000
- That singing career: £200
- The true story of making a seemingly endless parade of films about Australian soldiers: £0.75
- Touring in the Rocky Horror Show: Done for free
- Suing The Face for calling me a liar: £9.25
- Accidently releasing my mobile number to the Australian public: £400
- I kissed that Kylie Minogue a few times: £997,390

Darius Perkins' autobiography is still up for grabs.

Mills considers bills

According to The News of the World and its sources - and remember, they don't eavesdrop on private phone conversations anymore, they claim - Heather Mills is going to "drop her outrageous demands" and take a £29million payout from Paul McCartney. The paper has calculated it works out at just under seven hundred quid an hour for the time they've been married - the sort of rate that even someone as rich as Adnan Khasshogi would have trouble rising to.

Merz revisited

Back in 1999, at the time of the original release of Merz's debut album, we interviewed Conrad in two bits for a local website and a local listings magazine. Both Liverpool Hoopla and Ink have fallen off the internet for a bit, so, since it's timely here's the interview - both halves reunited for the very first time:

How far have your travels influenced your music?

Pretty much, actually, the main reason I travelled was music, essentially. A lot of the travel was music related, a music adventure.

What was the most inspirational place?

I kept going back to Africa over five years, I went to 18 countries. I think it ssuch an inspirational place because the origins of rock and roll is in the African blues. Its the birthplace of rock and roll.

How do you describe yourself in your passport?

I didn't know I did. Is that true? It must say musician. It must. There was a time when I was signing on i always put Managing Director - I was on the Enterprise Allowance scheme. It helped you get cheaper insurance. Insurance companies think musicians are going to get wrecked and write off their hire cars; putting 'managing director' got you cheaper insurance.

What other acts do you rate?

I rate Mouse on Mars, a duo from Dusseldorf, also Pollym Harvey and Beth Orton, Ian Brown, Asian Dub Foundation...

Do you see yourself fitting in with the whole Brits/Radio One/Music Industry scene?

Not the way it is at the moment, not for sure. I was pleased Beth Orton and Beck won, they're both really good artists - very true artists. If I can be succesful like that, I'd be chuffed.

You played Liverpool with Suede - how did that go?

I didn't, actually - I had to go to a family wedding, so this will be my first Liverpool gig. I'm looking forward to it - my co-producer comes from Liverpool, and he's always been trying to get me to play there. So hopefully he'll bring his posse down.

What was your first record?

A Scottish Bagpipe Band record

There's a lot of bagpipe things in your biography - didn't you have some sort of instrument that was all pipe and no bag? What sort of noise does that make?

Yeah, that was my first instrument - it sort of squeaks. The bags make a whine, but this just squeaks.

Most embarrassing record in your collection?

Stackridge. Do you know them? No, you're too cool. Put 'Stackridge' - if they know them, they'll know how uncool that is.

Worst hairstyle?

I've had many. A mullet. I was thinking of Bono. There was a brief period when the mullet was cool - Bono, Jim Kerr...

Most embarrassing moment?

I'd have to think... I don't think I can answer that. Maybe thats the answer - if something really embarrassing had happened to me, I'd remember it, wouldn't I?

If you had a gun, who should be worried?

Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher. [This was at a time when Robbie had challenged Liam to a public scrap]

Liam's turned down the fight. He says its undignified and not rock and roll.

Good on him.

Whats your favourite fantasy?

Liam Gallagher beating the shit out of Robbie Williams

What cartoon character do you most identify with?

Cartoon character? Thats not something I've ever identified with... Who was that little cartoon character that advertised seven-up? Fido Dido. People say I look like him because my eyes are close together. And I've got spikey hair like him.

This week just gone

Seven days of doing stuff on No Rock and Roll Fun.

The ten most-peered at individual pages:

1. Heather Mills - who actually wants to see her with no clothes on, anyway?
2. Or R Kelly on video having sex with an underage girl?
3. Or Lily Allen slipping out of her underwear?
4. Or McFly with their dicks out?
5. Is KT Tunstall gay? Or is she just dressed that way?
6. RIP: Brad Delp from Boston
7. Mark E Smith at 50: The Fall on YouTube
8. Jo O'Meara: Pity me
9. Mariah Carey's Playboy cover
10. Damon Albarn says his band, The Good The Bad and The Queen, doesn't have a name

Also this week: Beth Ditto explained how radical Britney Spears is for having a mental breakdown; the first night of the Arcade Fire UK tour ended in a health and safety nightmare; Ricky Wilson had an unquiet night; the current Pope condemned the last Pope for hanging out with Dylan and Louise Whatusedtobeineternal went on a crash diet to discover that not eating is bad for you.

Five years ago this week: Akash claimed to be the most erotic band in the world; they dribbled to an end a few months later; the government took two pages in NME to ask "what do you know about cocaine?" - presumably Pete Doherty will have his answer ready in a couple of weeks; Nerve magazine worried that Britney Spears market-driven virginity would cause problems; Courtney Love got an email from Christina Aguilera and wasn't impressed and 6Music came on air with Ash.

We pointed out these things, in the shops:

That's BBC1's trailers sorted for soundtracks for the next 12 months, then - Arcade Fire's Neon Bible

Hello, Bird of Music. Bonjour, Au Revior Simone

The criminally under-rated Idlewild try their luck again with Make Another World

Grinderman. Or Nick Cave does Tin Machine

It's always amused us that Asian Dub Foundation could find a home at EMI. They reach best of time.

Poor Tracey Thorn/ Ben Watt's all gone/throwing But The Girl in to doubt/she don't care /about the band/'cause she's got a solo one out

Ry Cooder attempts to conflate the US' white-collar backbone with a grumpy cat

Could there be any bigger risk to a legacy than an all-new Stooges album?

...oh, yes: Fox-hunting Bryan Ferry does Bob Dylan

Two year's worth of Electric Prunes from their Reprise years

We still miss Kill Laura, you know. Jane Weaver's latest solo