Saturday, April 14, 2007

Girls Aloud split - possibly

Tomorrow's News of the World is reporting that Girls Aloud have split up (on page 11, apparently) - the NOTW hasn't updated its website yet, and the printed editions haven't yet rumbled out to the edges of the Home Counties, so we know no more than that; we don't even know if the paper's report is suggesting an immediate end, or merely a slow winding down as they all chase semi-obscurity in the long run.

Jamie T chases his own tale

Jamie T can play the bass guitar. But he chooses not to on stage. Which is simple enough, but manages to get him caught in some sort of knots:

"I could if I practised, but I like running around and strumming. The bass is meant to stand still. Plus I don't like the idea of looking like Sting. That's uncool.

[Sting's solo material] makes me wanna be sick, but hey he's good, he's good..."

Perhaps Jamie T enjoys being sick?

J-Lo and her "rightness" wrongness

Jennifer Lopez's appearance on American Idol may have proven rumours she's signed up for Scientology, the religion-a-like scam invented for a bet.

During her interviews to push the show, she slipped the word "rightness" into the conversation:

When asked about her comments on the judges' critiques of the contestants, Lopez said that in contrast to the harsh statements of Simon Cowell, she believed that "concentrating on the rightness brings more rightness."

"Rightness" is the sort of phrase that L Ron Hubbard used to use all the time. Oddly, the Metro thinks this is a quip of some sort. Yeah, that's so amusing.

Reviews round-up: Kaiser Chiefs take New York

They didn't do too much damage getting there, anyway. They had their equipment flown in by SilverJet, who at least make an attempt to be a carbon neutral airline.

They didn't make too much of a footprint in the city, either. The New York Times review wasn't entirely buzzing:

By contrast, Kaiser Chiefs just bounced along, by turns charming, glib and dully competent. In “Everything Is Average Nowadays,” Mr. Wilson plopped down on the lip of the stage just as he sang, “Everyone is sitting on the fence.” Through small gestures like this, he hopes to lure some more Americans off it.

The NME was a little more enthusiastic:
'Ruby', 'I Predict A Riot' and 'Everyday I Love You Less And Less' garnered an ecstatic response from the audience, as did several tracks from their recently released album, sang word-for-word by the 3,000 strong crowd.

Mind you, the NME is promoting the Kaisers' US tour.
The New York Post was taken with the band's energy, but found Ricky a bit too demanding:
He shouted "We are Kaiser Chiefs!" with Achtung-baby glee and Fatherland vehemence (even though the group is a Brit band from Leeds). "You must know the words to this one by now: Sing!"

Jeez, the boss is on your tail all day, door thugs swipe your gum as if it were Bazooka bin Laden, and a vocalist in a band - whose very name evokes iron fist authority - demands you sing.

Wilson finally got choir cooperation with the sold-out house on the song "Born To Be a Dancer," when the tune flipped from words to the barked and grunted "Oi, Oi, Oi's" of the chorus.

While it wasn't really singing, it was close. Still, Wilson should know, singing along at a concert is like kissing - when you have to ask, it doesn't count.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat was part of the singing back crowd, and she suggests it does count, actually:
It's amazing that when everyone was singing and shouting, when Ricky told us to get louder, we did. Even when he asked five times. You wouldn't think we'd have any voice left or be able to get any louder, but somehow the volume kept rising. When the people in front of you are that enthusiastic, you can't help but give it that extra push. I don't think a band can give the audience as much as the Kaiser Chiefs do without getting some of that energy back, so when they tell us to shout, we do!

Pitchfork supplies some gorgeous concert photography and observese the crowd:
Indeed, according to Pitchfork photographer Kathryn Yu, that mob was comprised primarily of girls, several of whom were zealously waving the red-and-white flag of England.

Keith Allen's daughter: it's all her

Lily Allen, of course, is very keen to make it clear that her look is how she looks:

Patrick: How would you describe your personal fashion style?

Lily: MY style.

Except, it turns out, when she's appearing on network US TV:
LILY ALLEN called in an army of stylists to glam up for top American telly show Today as she continues her assault on the US.

Interesting that she finds breaking the US so boring, but is happy to mould herself for the marketing opportunities.

Touting at an end - official. It says here.

This morning's Sun has an amazing, historical declaration. Touting is over:

OUR campaign to stop ticket touts ripping off music fans has been an amazing success.

Astonishing. Has touting been outlawed? Have the touts given back their tickets?

Erm, not quite:
We offered our readers the chance to hit back at the heartless spivs by signing our petition to ban all touting.

Already 9,127 Scottish Sun readers have backed our call for a new law.

So, then, an "amazing success" is getting a few thousand people to sign an online petition. We're not quite sure what, on this calibration, actual legislation would count as - something akin to second contact. (It's also roughly 3% of the newspaper's circulation, or about 0.1% of the Online Sun's monthly audience, which makes it look a little less resounding.)

Still, that fairly small petition must be having an effect:
The demand even sparked a debate in the House of Commons, led by the Glasgow MP John Robertson.

Yes. Although, while the issue was raised in the Commons on the 27th March, Robertson had first raised it on the floor earlier in the month - before the Sun had started its petition, and in the debate, he never mentioned the newspaper at all:
It is a privilege to speak under your chairmanship for the first time, Mr. Conway. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak about ticket touting, which each and every one of us has no doubt experienced at least once in our lifetimes.

I have been approached by a variety of radio stations and TV programmes, which have asked me exactly what the Government policy on ticket touting is, because they have been unable to find out. The fact is that there is no Government policy on ticket touting; if there is, the Government have done a great job of keeping it secret—it must be one of the few things not to have leaked out of the Government lately.

What's really interesting, though, is that while Robertson spent some time talking about touts, he then singled out a different organsiation for criticism:
Probably more sinister is Ticketmaster, a primary market that has recently introduced a ticket bidding option on its site. As an example, the lowest original price on Ticketmaster for Genesis tickets was £55. Why, then, is it allowing bidding on the option part of its website to begin at £80, climbing to £440 for a front row, centre stage ticket? I have not yet received any requests for meetings with Ticketmaster, but I would be interested to know why it believes that to be a fair system of accessing concert tickets.

So, the debate in the Commons actually singled out Ticketmaster as being "more sinister" than people flogging tickets through eBay, and yet, oddly, the Sun fails to mention that.

Ticketmaster is owned by Barry Diller's USA Interactive. A bloke selling tickets out his bedroom on eBay isn't.

Madonna isn't, of course, adopting again

Even while Madonna (or rather, her spokesperson) is denying she's planning to swoop for a second malawian child, the grandmother of her first target is saying she was told that was then plan all along:

Athnette Mwale, 58, said charity workers told her and son Yohane — David’s biological father — that Madonna “would return for another child very soon”.

She said: “I have prayed to God that my boy will have a sister to play with from his own country. When the adoption people came to speak to Yohane about David they said Madonna would give him the best life in the world. And they promised that she would find him a sister, another orphan from Malawi.”

David's dad, Yohane, chipped in that he was hoping for a visit from his son:
Yohane, 31, speaking from Lipungo, a village of 30 mud huts, said: “I have never met Madonna but would love to see my son again. I hope she comes to visit.”

Which is interesting - not only because it sounds like he's not really being kept in touch with his child, but the words "I have never met Madonna."

Because Madonna told Oprah Winfrey she had met him:
Now, according to the press, David's father is saying he did not fully understand what he was doing when he agreed to let Madonna adopt his son.

"I do not believe that is true. I sat in that room, I looked into that man's eyes," Madonna says."

Perhaps Madonna wields so much influence over Malawian officials they fetched his eyes without bringing the man. Because we can't imagine how she could have looked into the eyes of a man who says he's never met her.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mark Ronson quashes "slightly interesting" rumours

Mark Ronson has flatly denied that there's anything interesting about his childhood, or indeed, about him at all:

"I've read stuff about me that makes me nauseous. I don't even like me. For one it's been said my dad was a real estate tycoon - he managed bands.

Then I've heard that I used to hang out with Paul and Linda MCCartney as a kid. That's so not true."

No, he really is ordinary.

Rush guitarist not forced

Back on New Year's Eve 2003, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and his son were involved in a "skirmish" at a Florida hotel. Since then, they've been trying to claim compo from police, claiming the taser and nose-breaking used to "subdue" them was out of proportion. US District Judge Paul A Magnuson has rejected the claims, stating the police took actions which"were objectively reasonable" and probably no more than you'd expect to be used on Boston's drummer, or Chicago's bassist, for example.

Lifeson has been given leave to appeal and drag things on even longer - something which he'd be familair with, playing for Rush.

Blunt let off driving over man's foot

James Blunt will face no further action after driving over a photographer's foot in his SUV outside a pre-Oscar party earlier this year.

Apparently, when he heard the guy wailing in pain he didn't realise what it was, as it sounded exactly like the playbacks he's used to in the studio. [This joke is a tribute to Christmas Crackers.]

She wasn't lovin' it

Macy Gray didn't want to work with Justin Timberlake, it turns out:

"Will [I Am] and I were doing my album, then he got really, really busy with the Black Eyed Peas touring," she explained. "Then he got really in demand as a producer and had a lot of opportunities he didn't want to turn down. So I was kind of forced to work with other people because he was so busy.

"That is how I ended up going to the studio with Justin; it wasn't in the original plan but it worked out great."

So, then, Timberlake was a plan B, and Will I Am's faith in Gray was so high that as soon as someone called offering three weeks as pigman up Home Farm (or something) he was off. But it "all worked out great" - so great Gray already sounds like someone distancing themselves from the finished product.

RIAA targets students again

Seemingly unhampered by the embarrassments heaped upon its litigation campaign elsewhere, the RIAA has sent 400 letters to students (or the "soft underbelly of legal targets", as lawyers call them) at 21 universities in the US. More than in sorrow, of course, than anger (and more in the attempt to make some ready cash real easy than in sorrow):

"Without question, this new enforcement initiative has invigorated a meaningful conversation on college campuses about music theft, its consequences and the numerous ways to enjoy legal music," said Steven Marks, executive vp and general counsel for the RIAA. "The question we ask of students is this: With high-quality legal music options available for free or deeply discounted, why take the twin risks of exposing your computer to viruses or spyware by downloading from an illegal site or exposing yourself to a costly lawsuit?"

I dunno... perhaps the students have also downloaded a free virus checker and spyware cleaner as well? Or maybe avoiding official RIAA member products which have a habit of breaking computers and installing malware on machines - I mean, why take that risk?

We would love to be flies on the way for those invogourated meaningful conversations about the numerous ways to enjoy legal music taking place on campuses all across America - they sound fascinating and not, in any way, the sort of chatter that only takes place in the minds of the RIAA lawyers. ("I'll bet there's someone in Michigan right now downloading a thirty-second sample of a track which he can play three times before it ceases to play any more..."

What is puzzling, though, is that the RIAA are keen for kids to discover music options "for free" - wasn't the origin of the litigation campaign a fear that if people download music for free, they'll cease to associate music with having any sort of value in the future?

Ju pops pops' pops

Julian Lennon - the son of the more famous father - has Cash In The Atticed a slice of his rights to John's music. Primary Wave has bought the "significant" chunk of the songwriting royalties.

Primary are thrilled:

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Julian Lennon and to own a piece of music history," Primary Wave's chief executive Larry Mestel said.

Julian, on the other hand, thinks its appropriate:
Julian Lennon said: "I felt it was the appropriate time to take on a partner for both my interest in my father's legendary music and for my future music endeavours."

Aha! And here we get to the heart of the deal - Julian has bundled his less-than-glittering catalogue with his Daddy's somewhat more lucrative work. Cynics have suggested that Julian has been trading off his father's fame for years - now he's merely formalised the deal.

No 'really'? No, really?

Century Radio has just embarked on a major new advertising push, marking out its territory as the home of classic pop "you just have to sing along with."

It's a pity, erm, they didn't check the words of the songs before getting the posters printed up... nowhere in the Spice Girls' Wannabe does anyone say "I wanna... I wanna... zig-a-zig-ah". It's "I really really wanna zig-a-zig-ah."

He's not a solo artist, he's a very naughty boy

Further to Noel Gallagher telling the NME he might do a solo record at some point in the future, a hugely tetchy official Oasis website has denied the story. Or, rather, they've denied a totally different story:

Oasisinet wants to qualify a few stories running across various music and entertainment websites over the past few days that have been a little wide of the mark. Noel Gallagher is not preparing to launch into a solo career nor will he be playing at Glastonbury this June, as have been strongly suggested in some circles. He is an avid fan of the festival and will no doubt be on site checking out a few of his favourite bands again this year. Noel, along with Gem, have had a great time performing their semi acoustic shows recently and will continue to do so when it feels like a good idea, however Glastonbury is not on the agenda.

For any information with regards to future releases and performances it is best to first check at oasisinet for confirmation. As is usually the case, if its not confirmed on here then its likely the stories are simply wishful thinking or conjecture.

The summer of 2007 is set to be a relatively quiet time for Oasis with the band members writing and demoing new songs.

We're not sure what software is running the Oasis site, but we're impressed that the website itself has started issued denials of verbatim quotes given by the closest thing Oasis has to a mastermind.

The NME quote does have Noel say he is preparing for a solo record - "could work on my record... it's coming" - which means, in effect, Oasisnet has just called Noel Gallagher a liar.

Ozzy records a dry record

Ozzy Osbourne is quite proud that he's managed to record a record sober for the very first time. It's not clear if he was sober when he made those I Can't Believe It's Not Butter adverts with Jon Culshaw, but if he was, it doesn't bode well for what the album will be like.

Goodness, she must be very tired indeed

Lady Sovereign is still "exhausted" following her busy time, and has just yanked the rest of her UK UK tour:

"She is very disappointed at missing these shows but is bedridden following 18 months of intense touring and promoting, and requires time for treatment and recuperation. It is hoped that she will be able to reschedule the tour in the near future."

I'm not a doctor - as they keep reminding me down A&E when I pop in to help out - but "touring and promoting" isn't a disease as such, and even if it was, probably not one which would require bedrest and treatment. As I say, though, I'm not a doctor.

Choked by Janet Jackson

We can imagine that being throttled by a big, burly security guard is an upsetting experience, but is it really upsetting to the tune of $120 million?

That's how much Leonard Salati is looking for from Janet Jackson, claiming her security choked him when he tried to pass a note to her at a nightclub back in 2004.

The case has just been given leave to proceed by Justice Rolando Acosta, despite attempts by Camp Jackson to have the claim tossed.

Save the world by applauding Madonna

Ticket registration has opened for Live Earth, and here in the UK, it's being done through a ballot system - apparently to "minimise ticket misuse".

Oddly, though, there doesn't seem to be any limit to the number of times you can complete the registration form, which would suggest that someone who is happy to spend from now until the closing of entries on Monday at noon can substantially increase their chances of getting a ticket over somebody who enters just the once.

You also need to have a mobile phone to enter - make sure you keep your mobile fully charged during the three days when the lucky winners will be notified. Although, obviously, not with the sort of electricity that harms the planet. That would be pretty wrong.

As if a further slap in the face for the idea of trying to live within our resources, there's a couple of 'VIP' ticket packages on offer, including this one, for a smidge over £700:

* Ticket for the Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium
* Pre-show hospitality in a an exclusive dining facility at the concert venue
* Champagne reception on arrival
* Three course luncheon with wines
* Complimentary bar during the pre-show hospitality (operating for three hours)
* Complimentary soft drinks throughout the concert
* Buffet style supper running for one and a half hours during the show
* Souvenir item for each guest
* Commemorative pass and wallet for each guest
* Access to the hospitality suite throughout the show
* Event management staff and hostesses in attendance throughout

How better to send a message to the world that we need to stop eating our way through more than our fair share, and start living sustainably, by guzzling fine wines, food, toasting the stars stumbling off their private jets with plenty of champagne brought in from France, a running buffet with the attendant waste of food that means, and some pieces of plastic as souvenirs. Good work, everybody.

Klaxons blast away Lily Allen

Last night a Studio B audience in New York got a bit of surprise when, in place of a short-notice cancelling Lily Allen, they got the Klaxons instead.

Websters have confirmed this will appear in the next edition as the very definition of a narrow escape.

Marc Anthony remembers what the five knots tied in his hanky were for

Forgetful Marc Anthony has come to an expensive agreement with the IRS after not filing tax returns for five years. He's going to write a cheque for $2.5million, they're not going to pursue the matter, everyone's blaming the accountant and we can all move on.

Not "move on" in the sense of walking away from his marriage to J-Lo, of course. Her people are busy denying reports the couple have "called it quits":

"(This is) a disgusting story full of lies. We're consulting lawyers."

They've even managed to rustle up a "pal":
"They're inseparable. I don't get a whiff of trouble."

Well, if an unidentified pal hasn't picked up on anything, I think that's pretty conclusive. Sky News doesn't say so, but I think the pal is probably very sensitive to that sort of thing, and would know instantly if anything was wrong. Don't you?

Warners cans DRM experiment

Yesterday evening, we posted a story picking up on Billboard's coverage of AnywhereCD offering Warners music online, without DRM, and in high quality.

Understandably, John in the comments was confused as the Billboard story revised itself somewhat overnight from announcing Warner's participation in the scheme to... well:

WMG Issues Termination Notice To DRM-Free Service

Warner Music Group has sent a notice of termination to the recently launched DRM-free music service AnywhereCD.

The service, which was formed by Michael Robertson, founder of the original, is stocked with music from a variety of labels including ones under the Warner Music Group umbrella, as well as several indie labels like SubPop and Roadrunner Records.

"AnywhereCD is selling Warner Music Group content in a manner that flagrantly violates the terms of our agreement," says a WMG representative. "Accordingly, we have sent them a notice of termination and they are required to immediately remove all of our content from their site."

Which is something of a turnaround from Billboard's original report. Nobody seems keen to mention any specifics of what the original agreement was, or where Anywhere stepped over the line. Maybe Warners isn't quite as comfortable with DRM free as it seemed.

But it does at least explain why the company wasn't trumpeting its entry into DRM-free online sales: it doesn't appear to have known a thing about them.

Hammer of the Gods

Metal Hammer's almost-beyond-parody Hammer of the Gods awards have announced their shortlist for the year:

Best UK Band
Iron Maiden
Bullet For My Valentine
Breed 77
Bring Me The Horizon

Best Live Band

Lamb Of God
In Flames

Best International Band

Velvet Revolver
Lamb of God
Dimmu Borgir
Killswitch Engage

Best Underground Band

Job For a Cowboy
The End
Municipal Waste

Best Newcomer

Cancer Bats
He Is Legend
Abigail Williams

Best Video sponsored by MTV2

My Chemical Romance 'The Black Parade'
Avenged Sevenfold 'Seize The Day'
Slayer 'Eyes Of The Insane'
Dragonforce 'Operation Ground n Pound'
Lamb Of God 'Redneck'

Riff Lord

Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
Robert Flynn and Phil Demmel (Machine Head)
Gers/Smith/Murray (Iron Maiden)
Tony Iommi (heaven n Hell)


Willie Adler and Mark Morton (Lamb Of God)
Heafy and Beaulieu (Trivium)
Herman and Sam (Dragonforce)
Alexi Lahio (Children of Bodom)
Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds (Mastodon)

Best Metal Label

Nuclear Blast
Metal Blade
Century Media

Best Event

Give It A Name
Unholy Alliance

Best Album

Iron Maiden 'A Matter Of Life And Death'
Lamb Of God 'Sacrament'
Mastodon 'Blood Mountain'
Machine Head 'The Blackening'
My Chemical Romance 'The Black Parade'

We note, though, that the HTML on the voting form seems to be badly mangled, with three categories named "Shredder" for the input. Let's hope there's some sort of Mastere of ye olde IT who can fix that.

Shampoo you

We're going to assume that, if the people behind Girls Aloud have locked them into a £1.2million deal to promote Sunsilk, they're fairly certain that the girls will stick around long enough to see it through.

Aren't they?

Here we go again, then

We're guessing that the reported plans for Madonna to take another child from Malawi is intended as much as a screw you to the critics as anything - like a teenager turning the stereo up rather than down when Dad complains.

This time, of course, it's a girl, and the story is almost the same as with David - she saw her on the television:

“Madonna saw a film of children at a place called The Consol Home.

“She spotted a beautiful girl called Grace who lit the room with her smile, and fell head over heels for her.

“Madonna kept saying, ‘That girl has so much love in her. I want to help her achieve her potential’."

It really is creepy, isn't it? It's like she treats these films from Malawian orphanages like its QVC or something.

The source, however, acknowledges that things will be different this time:
“But adoption officials are being very strict after the uproar when Madonna adopted David. They know Grace is her first choice, but have insisted she looks at other girls first — and that the final decision is theirs.”

Yes, "you must at least pretend to go through the motions of looking at other potential children first" - that's much stricter than just asking "cash or card, madam?" but still hardly in line with the country's adoption rules.

Of course, it would be awkward for the Malawian officials to apply the law and the African Union standards this time - and not just because of that sponsorship Madonna sorted out for one of their colleagues. If the residency rules, and the clause about "only as a last resort" and all the usual procedures are followed this time, it will raise a question about why they weren't last time. On the other hand, if they don't, the criticism storm is going to be twice as harsh.

However, it might not happen: Liz Rosenberg, Madonna's spokesperson, has denied Madonna is in Malawi shopping for a child:
"Madonna is going to Africa to continue her work with the Raising Malawi organisation," the star's spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said.

"She is overseeing the building of a children's healthcare centre. She is absolutely not adopting another baby."

Of course.

On the other hand, five days before Madonna adopted the non-orphaned orphan David, Liz was insisting she was just in Malawi for some Challenge Anneka style good works:
However, Madonna’s rep Liz Rosenberg told Us Weekly that the reports are “completely inaccurate”: “I can confirm Madonna is in Malawi on a private visit.”

“She is building an orphanage and child care center and is involved in other initiatives geared toward helping children orphaned by AIDS thru the Raising Malawi organization.”

“She has not adopted a baby despite reports that she has.”

Spookily similar, isn't it?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Freddie Mercury is frozen

Faceless megaconglomerate Unilever's cheeky cheery face Ben and Jerrys have launched an ice cream flavour inspired by Queen, called Bohemian Raspberry. Like the band, it seems like a sweet treat, but quickly loses all its charm and you're left with a tub hanging around the back of the freezer forever that nobody quite has the heart to throw away, but still doesn't want to go near.

Brian May, of course, is on hand to talk about it:

"It's Queentastic! Rhapsolicious! So cool it's not funny! But only if the next one is 'We Will Chock You'!"

If the ice cream is as delicious as Brian May is hilarious, we're going to Haagen Daas.

Adams turned away from Stonehenge

Ryan Adams' planned gig at Stonehenge has been called off after English Heritage worried that it might awaken unquiet spirits in the Wiltshire countryside, and/or lead to people stopping their cars on the A33 to watch, causing accidents.

Ryan Adams? Hard as it may be to believe, but people were going nuts for the tickets:

"We are very sorry that Ryan Adams will not be able to perform at Stonehenge, but the demand for tickets was both unprecedented and unforeseen, and we have to put public safety first," explained Stonehenge director Peter Carson.

He added: "We have worked with Salisbury International Arts Festival to try and identify a suitable alternative, and have offered to make available another English Heritage site, but we appreciate that it would be hard to find an appropriate substitute for such a unique venue."

Oh, god forbid that Adams might be forced to move his gig to a venue that isn't a world heritage site. I mean, how awful would it be if he just had to play out in the Wiltshire countryside or something?

Actually, they should have shifted him a mile or so up the road to the less-impressive Woodhenge - there's plenty of parking there. Or how about Salisbury Plain firing range? We'd pay money to see that.

Warners try a spot of DRM-free sales

With something less of the enormous hoohah EMI made when it loosened some of its DRM, Warners have quietly snuck what seems like an experimental DRM-free store onto the web as part of founder Michael Robertson's new Anywhere CD service.

AnywhereCD offers higher-than-iTunes quality, but only allows purchases of whole albums as a single lump, which just seems to be designed to try and keep the album format alive in the face of consumer behaviour. Now people are getting used to not having to shell out for the filler, they're unlikely to want to return to the old ways.

In what almost sounds like a move inspired by Gmail's April Fool "email printed and delivered" service, if you pay slightly more for your download, you can have a CD delivered to your door - which gives the impression this is being thought of more as a CD sales site with some download add-ons, rather than a download site with a back-up hard copy.

Sub Pop and some other indies have also joined the service, which is American facing.

[UPDATE: After we first published this story, Billboard changed its report as Warners have pulled the plug - details here]

Can stand me now

We're not quite sure it's an event so earth-shattering it quite deserves an entire blog of its own from, but there is something of the train-back-to-Newcastle about Pete Doherty and Carl Barat playing together on stage for the first time in three years:

Chaos. Its happened! Carl is on stage its all happening!

They're playing 'What A Waster' and everyone's out of their seats and have legged it to the front...and you know what? I'm missing it cos I'm concentrating on these tony blackberry keys!

The day starts with a Carter reunion and ends with a Libs rapprochment. And they say we live in turbulent times.

Presumably the yawning, empty days left even her unable to face a third autobiography

Fresh from her success asking an important question at the Reith Lectures - we don't think it added to the debate, but the rapid rotation of John Reith's corpse was harnessed to power a city the size of Dundee for a week - Geri Halliwell has now written a children's book.

Cleverly, rather than bother making up characters, she's just stuck real people in:

Halliwell also revealed how she has based one of her characters on former bandmate Victoria Beckham, who in the book is called Princess Posh Vatoria.

She got Victoria's permission, which is probably wise as "thinly disguised" wouldn't really cover that one, would it?

Gordon Ramsay is also in the book. No, us neither.

Of course, Geri's well-known for her way with words:
"One of the greatest gifts in life is actually to love what you do. For me, writing Ugenia Lavender is one of them.

"When I write these stories about Ugenia I feel like I'm going on an adventure. I start with an idea and I never know how it's going to end up until I get there.

"I have loved reading since I was a little girl. Books by CS Lewis, Enid Blyton and Oscar Wilde have always been my great escape, without getting my fingers burnt.

"Creating Ugenia Lavender was like a rebirth. I started developing the idea two and half years ago, but it wasn't until I was pregnant that I really got down to writing seriously. Since then something has possessed me, and I can't stop. It's like Ugenia Lavender has a life of her own."

... which is quite something for a character that doesn't get much beyond one-dimension.

We love the idea that someone who would write books uses a phrase like "books... have always been my great escape, without getting my fingers burnt" - what does that even almost mean? Does Geri think that the usual way of escaping something is by putting your hands onto a lit stove? Or is she being much cleverer than you expect, and it's an allusion to the idea of a physical escape, climbing down a rope from a window of a high tower, where you might, indeed, burn your hands as you flee?

We're trying to imagine what a book written inspired CS Lewis, Enid Blyton and Oscar Wilde would be like. We imagine the basic prose of Blyton, the inability to create a metaphor without slapping "THIS IS A METAPHOR - LOOK, HE'S JUST LIKE JESUS IN THE BIBLE AND THIS IS A BIT LIKE THE BIBLE, DO YOU SEE?" on it from Lewis and the narcissism of Wilde.

[Thanks to Michael for the link]

SS reunited

Mick Jones (Victor Spinetti impersonator and former member of Big Audio Dynamite) is hooking up with Tony James (spending his time deciding if it's worst to 'fess up to Generation X or Sigue Sigue Sputnik) are coming together to resurrect occasional band called Carbon/Silicon.

(Which is, of course, CSi in chemical symbols, so might be trying to get a toehold in the "badly-decaying corpse found with an unusual teaspoon in its anus" television crime franchise.)

The band will appear at the Isle of Wight festival with an ep due at the end of May.

James and Jones were both members of the London SS, back in 1975 when flirting with Nazi imagery was considered to be somehow cool rather than a tiresome indication a supply of self-importance outweighing common sense. Oh, no, that's right: it stood for social security, didn't it, Mick?

That's Doctor Edge to you

To: <undisclosed recipients>

Subject: My Family Are So Proud

I am now to be referred to as Dr. The Edge haha ;) Took me a few moments to get
fully accredited, but after getting a call from The Berklee College of Music at Boston they got me setup with a honorary doctorate in no time!!!

The only living boys in New Cross

Last night's Property Ladder featured all manner of ill-advised ideas - garages too small for cars, baths with pulsing colours built into the sides, kitchens with no doors and pokey hallways instead of open rooms. None of these ill-advised ideas, though, can hold a torch to Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine reforming.

The image we're having is men in their early forties chanting "you fat bastard" over and over, all the while pulling in their own middle-aged stomachs.

Snoop has a lucky break

With the aid of a guilty plea, an apologetic grin, and a medical letter claiming he needed to have cannabis handy to help with his migraines, Snoop has avoided jail on drugs and firearm charges.

He's been given five years probation - or "until the London Olympics", if you'd rather - and 800 hours community work. Rather generously, they're going to let him do half of that at the football league for kids he runs - but since that's partly a PR & marketing initiative as much as a good deed, isn't that effectively saying "we'll count your job towards that, then"?

McCartney, Ono, EMI deal

Eighteen months of heated arguments, frustrated lawyers and furious calculations have ended as EMI and The Beatles settle their differences over claims of unpaid royalties.

Fabgearologists will note that this agreement has come shortly after long-serving Beatle business manager Neil Aspinall quit Apple Corps, which may or may not have had an influence on the settlement. Naturally, the details will remain a closely guarded secret.

The press are spinning this as being another step towards Beatles tracks turning up on legal download services, as if there were people who wanted Helter Skelter on an mp3 player who haven't already got it.

In the interests of balance...

The live hub session version of Mark Ronson's cover of Stop Me wasn't as flat as the record.

The vocals did have an element of passion to them, although (until the Supremes bit at the end) there was still no real sense of understanding what the words were about, and the backing still left it sounding like a struggle. Perhaps slightly more like a Fine Young Cannibals b-side than the tribute to Mike Flowers Pops of the CD.

Ronson also explained to Coe the procedure through which Morrissey "granted his permission": Ronson was on the phone to his manager, who in turn was on the phone to Mozzer's manager, who was IMing Morrissey while he was playing an mp3.

We wonder if this could have generated Chinese whispers along these lines:

Morrissey: It's alright, but who the hell is that singing?
Mozzer's manager: He likes it, but wants to know who it is doing the vocals
Ronson's manager: He thinks it's great - and is keen to find out who the person singing the words is
Ronson: Morrissey approves of my version, and thinks the vocals are so brilliant he wants to know who it is who did them

Mozzer fans, by the way, may be interested to know Stuart 'Radcliffe's bitch' Maconie is presenting a documentary Salford Lad over two hour-long chunks on Saturday 21st & 28th of April on Radio 2.

Ride the Hendrix dipper

Proving that there's no brand extension too tacky for some franchises, the Hard Rock cafe people are going to add to their overpriced burger bars, casinos, hotels and lucrative "selling unflattering t-shirts to timid tourists" business by opening a theme park in South Carolina.

This, apparently, is to be the largest tourist initiative ever in South Carolina - which is a little bit like "the most welcoming pub in the Gorbals" in the 1980s, to be honest.

As you can see, to celebrate the groundbreaking on the project, they built a massive sand sculpture called Mount Rockmore (but of course) - we're not quite sure, but we think the featured figures are Rufus Hound, Billie Jean King, Estelle Getty and Bill Webster.

(Actually, the press release reckons they're "Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix" - Bob Marley?)

So, what can visitors expect?

With more than five years in creation and design, the innovative Hard Rock Park will feature six unique “rock environs” celebrating rock’s culture, lifestyle, legends and irreverence. Appealing to the family audience, the destination theme park will offer a diverse blend of rides, shows and interactive elements creating a totally immersive full day experience.

The rock lifestyle and irreverence, eh? So there's going to be a drug ride (the ultimate trip), a dubious under-age sex zone, and a Swearatholon machine where you can try and outrage public decency by saying "cock" on an authentic recreation of a... oh, hang about, it's going to be some rollercoasters with paintings of Dolly Parton on the cars, isn't it?

Tim in for Baker

Curious little report on the MediaGuardian site, announcing that Martin Freeman (and Justin Spear) are going to be sitting in on Radio London while Danny Baker holidays (in Florida, we're betting):

Former The Office star Martin Freeman is to become a DJ on BBC London, guest presenting while Danny Baker is on holiday.

Freeman - who has since starred in BBC2 comedy The Robinsons and ITV1 sitcom Hardware, as well as the movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - will co-host the drivetime slot with BBC6 Music DJ Justin Spear.

The drivetime slot, eh? Might have been better if he turned up for the three til five slot, but we're sure Eddie and Kath won't mind squeezing up in their studio during drive.

Scottish dumps Virgin

SMG is reported to be looking to spin off Virgin Radio into a stand-or-fall-alone company, allowing it to concentrate on its television assets instead. And, erm, its advertising billboard company, Primesight, which it had been going to sell but has now decided it won't.

We're not even going to try and ponder what sort of business plan thinks that a radio franchise is a less-good fit for a TV operation than a bunch of men with pots of paste and ladders, especially as the lines between the media are getting blurred more and more each day. But we expect SMG have thought it all through.

Sweeter without Suga

Siobhan Donaghy has, for what we can imagine is the purposes of clarification only, has ruled out ever returning to the Sugababes:

"They are a brand now, and that's not something I could be involved in, we just couldn't be more different."

In the same spirit, could I just make it clear that there are no circumstances in which I would re-enter Mrs Van Noort's reception class.

Donaghy - rather luckily - isn't too upset by not having the same level of success as whoever are in the Sugababes at the moment:
"The things that have happened me, leaving the Sugababes and then with my last record, people might think 'God, she must be gutted'. And it's been the complete opposite.

"It's been wonderful. It's all been a positive, the people I've met and worked with. I grew up not wanting to be a singer and then when I became a singer I wasn't writing songs and suddenly I'm this songwriter.

"I seem to be this cat with nine lives. People keep letting me come back. From the dead!"

To be fair, though, if Lazarus had come back from the dead as ineffectually as your career, they'd probably have left the tale out of the gospels.

Tailgunner's drummer threatens solo album

Noel Gallagher has told the NME he's got a stack of songs that are too old for Oasis. You'd think that ditties which failed to make such a low bar that they'd bring shame on an Oasis album would be given a last cigarette and driven to a quarry. But oh, no, Noel's got plans. Solo plans:

"I've actually got a backlog of songs that are slowly building up. The thing about a solo record is the time to do one is between Oasis world tours because you'd have a good couple of years.

"But it takes me so long to write the songs that eventually I run out of time (before Oasis begins again), but I've got a backlog now of about four or five songs which are probably too far in the past as far as the band in concerned, but which could work on my record... it's coming."

Rotten old songs... still, it's recycling, isn't it? Better than landfill... but... what should we really do with unwanted Oasis tracks? Mmm... fire is our friend...

Robbie Williams is not going to slap the Arctic Monkeys

Mark Ronsons' desperate attempts to justify what he's done continue this morning, where he suggests that not only is he good chums with Robbie Williams (we think he's an old-time music hall performer of some sort) but that Robbie loves Ronson's version of Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before so much he's prepared to fight to defend its honour.

Alex from the Arctic Monkeys had expressed displeasure:

“Let me tell you what I can’t stand — that R&B cover version of Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.”

Which is actually quite mild for a song which sounds like a cover version, if you imagine the original had fallen asleep in front of the TV with a faulty gas boiler slowly pumping CO2 into the room, barely waking and stumbling outside to die, slowly decomposing, in a fertilizer heap.

But - according to Ronson, anyway - that was fighting talk to Robbie's ears:
“Robbie offered to smack them up for me, but I was like ‘I don’t need to start a northern war’. Rich, young rock stars still need something to get angry about.”

But why would you get angry about something so passionless?

Of course, the chances that Robbie really meant that he was prepared to get on a plane, fly to Heathrow, drive north to Sheffield, seek out Alex Turner and adminster a slap are very low - it was probably a really lame joke. But since Ronson clearly can't tell the difference between "really lame" and "worth sharing", it's not surprising he thought Williams might be serious.

Oddly, in 1990, Saddam didn't know who Cowell was, either

Some delicious footage has emerged of what is believed to be Simon Cowell's first TV appearance, on the ill-fated 1990 Sky revival of Sale of the Century. Barbara Humphreys was on the show with home, and it was she who had a tape of the programme - to be honest, she's probably the only person who ever saw the programme.

Cowell won twenty quids worth of kitchen tools - spatula! spatula! Because he wasn't very bright, it seems:

“He was very pleasant and said he was a record company director. But the main thing I remember about him is he couldn’t answer one of the questions.

“He didn’t know who Saddam Hussein was, but I suppose in 1990 a lot of people would have been the same.”

Well... if the Iran-Iraq war had passed you by, surely the invasion of Kuwait in that year - to say nothing of the frantic negotiations prior to it - might have given you a hint?

Cowell's dream prize on the show would have been a Fiat Uno. We do wonder, if he'd won that, if perhaps he might not have spent the last decade wreaking a terrible revenge on the gameshow format.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Klaxons no-glow

We were amused by a piece on Channel 4 a week or so ago on NuRave, where an intense young woman, surrounded by a crowd who looked as if they'd dressed expecting to be going on black and white telly, explained the difference between NuRave and Old Rave was that Nu Ravers care a lot more about how they look.

At least the first wave of rave had the excuse that they were off their cakes on cake and x to worry too much about what they'd started out wearing; to wear a smiley headscarf as a neckerchief and claim that you've thought out your outfit raises a cry for help to the level of an incessant, clanging bell.

Now, though, the Klaxons are confessing that NuRavers are actually following something they made up for a laugh (making NuRave the Scientology of musical genres), and asking people to stop turning up with glowsticks:

“We kept getting asked to explain it,” Jamie Reynolds explained Popworld Pulp magazine, “And it’s like, ‘Look, the whole idea of new rave was to take the piss out of the media by making them talk about something that didn’t exist, just for our own amusement.’ And they’d say, ‘I appreciate that, but can you tell me more about new rave?’”

We're clearing next Friday afternoon for the arrival of the New Wave of New Rave. Anyone want to join us?

Can you feel it?

Presumably while they mark time waiting for the 50 foot model of Michael to be built in the desert prior to their taking over all the theatres, or something, Jermaine, Tito and LaToya have possibly signed on to be the judges for the latest reworking of the OpKnocks idea. Naturally, this time, it's a search for a musical family.

Yes, it's like a cross between American Idol and Honey, We're Killing The Kids. CBS are apparently onboard partly because of the glint of the Jacksons name (although, to be honest, Tito Jackson sounds less like a member of the most-famous musical family this side of the Osmonds, more like a mid-market red wine), and partly because they think people might not notice it's yet another "you're a good singer... you're a good singer... now, ring and vote" programme ("partly due to the twist on the singing competition, Variety claims").

The happy experiences of the Jacksons as singing children - plus the prospect of Uncle Michael dropping round with the Jesus juice and magazine collection - will doubtless not dissuade every showbiz Mom from Wichita Falls to Toledo signing their kids up.

TVobit: Terry Hall

The death of Terry Hall has been announced. The ventriloquist, not the one out of The Specials.

It's hard to remember now, but puppetry used to be a staple of pop television - presumably a byproduct of an age when television companies were managed by forces who saw pop as "kid's stuff" and thought that a few raggy puppets were about the mark for presentation. So it was that Lenny The Lion was one of the first TV presenters to welcome the Beatles to his studio; such were the times that Hall and his sidekick would also replicate the Beatles' trip across the Atlantic to appear on the Ed Sullivan show.

Various internet sites - none, we note, carrying the blogger's code of sober reflection of facts - report that David Bowie was a huge fan of Lenny, so much so that his father became the secretary of the Lenny The Lion fan club; however, these are the sort of sites that also claim that Charles Manson auditioned for the Monkees, despite having been way too old and in prison at the time of the try-outs.

Hall suffered as ventriloquism started to look more old-fashioned; after ruling pop TV briefly at the BBC, he packed up his cat puppet to spend several years attempting to teach children to read on ITV (back when ITV had education programmes, and things for children). As TV Cream observes:

Lion famously couldn't pronounce his 'r's (conveniently enough for Terry), so fat lot of fucking good that was in the classroom.

Hall was 80; he had been ill for some time.


Although UK MySpace Music is still promoting them as you log-in, Ladyfuzz have split. Indeed, it sounds like they split in the autumn, but have been stuck together for contractual reasons:

After 8 months of fun and 2 years of hell, i am glad to finally be able to break the 7 month enforced silence to tell you that LADYFUZZ has split up.

for reasons too vast, complex and painful to mention.. (think fleetwood mac)

so it leaves me with:

saying thank you to our beloved fans and friends ( well hopefully they stay) and all the people who have believed in, liked and supported us as a band and individually along the way.

i hope that we did mean something to some of you!

hugs & xxs liz ex fuzz

Ronson: "it's so easy to hate; it takes guts to be gentle and kind'

Mark Ronson's pointless cover of The Smiths' Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before is still enraging both indie purists and music lovers up and down the country. Despite having taken a reading of a song that so lacks any passion or understanding of the words it makes that rave version of Smells Like Teen Spirit sound like Olivier doing the Agincourt speech, and then dumped the dull, shapeless vocal on top of a flaccid backing track which seems to have escaped from an elevator in an especially cruel bank building, Mark Ronson hasn't gone to ground, requesting a change of name and planning face-altering surgery that would not only save him from being pointed at in the street by angry children, but also spare him from having to look in the mirror and see the gormless, gawking visage which had been on the front of the head that allowed the idea of this beast to fester within its depths.

Oh no, he's defending it.

Good lord, Ronson, there came a point when even Dr Frankenstein had to admit he'd made a bit of a blunder and the world would have been better off if the discarded corpse parts had been left alone.

Ronson's defence is that Morrissey and Marr like it:

"When I recorded the original demo of 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before' ...the first thing I did was send it to Morrissey and Marr immediately," he wrote on his MySpace. "I needed to know if they would be alright with it, basically like a kid showing his parents his finger painting for their approval!"

"It took a long time to hear back from them, but when I found out that Morrissey liked it, and especially liked Daniel's (Merriweather) vocal, you can imagine how I felt when (Johnny) Marr approved it as well - but I don't know his exact thoughts. The man who co-wrote my favourite song of all time gave (his) blessing to this new interpretation."

We wonder what Marr's exact thoughts were - probably something along the lines of "Dorothy, could you have a quick look and see how much the Tears For Fears boys made from that Gary Jules cover version?"

And getting Morrissey's blessing might be nice, but having heard the mid-career solo stuff, we wouldn't have him pegged as the world's greatest critic when it comes to the stuff he wrote.

But, of course, Mika doesn't want to talk about it

What is the actual point of Mika talking? Having given a slew of interviews where he just banged on about how he wasn't going to talk about his sexuality, oh no, now he's started dredging up his lost loves. Only to, erm, not talk about them, either:

"I've only been in love once.

It was a horrid experience, my heart was broken.

I just want to forget about it."

Here's a tip, Mika - if you want to make yourself seem mysterious and aloof, you might be better off not giving interviews to every newspaper and magazine this side of the Pork Trades Journal. Because repeating "this is a subject on which I wish to make no comment" gets tiresome very quickly.

However, maybe you could give training to the British navy - "now, imagine you are captured by the Iranians... rather than saying into their cameras 'yes, we were all over your seas like an oilslick', you can just say 'We were in a boat, I don't want to say more than that.' Or, if you return to the UK and the papers offer you large sums of money to say what happened, rather than saying 'They pinched my iPod and made me pee in a bucket' you can glower and say 'I refuse to discuss what happened... it should be obvious from the way I wear this suit...'"

Drop Doherty, Moss told. Again.

Kate Moss has been told to lose the dead weight she's carrying around at the moment, as New York magazine suggests the Doherty look is, like, so last year:

The magazine raged about "her [Kate's] insistence on continuing to rub shoulders with her greasy, pasty, substance-bloated boyfriend".

Of all the crimes of Pete, we'd imagine it's the "bloated" that most unsettles the magazine.

Meanwhile - and god knows how they know - the Daily Star reckons Pete's going to have an "intimate piercing":
"Pete has booked the piercing appointment for later this week. He has been thinking about it for a while. And now is the perfect time, because Kate is away working on her fashion line, so he can surprise her with it when she returns."

We're sure it's not the first time that Pete has plunged something directly into his cock, but is he sure that "surprise" is quite what Kate will feel?

After all, Zodiac Mindwarp used to have his dick pierced, but after he tired of clanking in his underpants and removed the studs, he wound up pissing out of two holes. It sounds like a lot of extra mopping for no good reason we can think of.


The Experimental Pop Band - who used to be the South West Experimental Pop Band, if you remember - are about to release a fifth album (we're not sure if that's including half-albums, eps collected into a compilation, and other such difficult-to-account-for projects.) It's called Tinsel Stars, and it's available for pre-order, although Amazon seems convinced it's coming in the middle of May and the label is saying June 11th.

We're promised tropicana bongos.

At last, we have common ground with Chester Bennington

Like, ooh, most of the sentient world, Chester Bennington has admitted that he hates nu-metal. Of course, the difference is, most of the sentient world weren't in one of the great nu-metal behemoths Linkin Park:

"There's still a hip-hop element to us, and there'll always be. But we've really moved away from anything that sounds like nu-metal. I know that we kind of helped create, I guess, the sound of that genre, but I hate that genre. I'm not going to speak for everyone, but I can personally tell you that I am not a big fan of almost everybody in that category."

However, he's not, apparently, so disgusted by his involvement as to return money to people who bought into it. No, he wants us all to look to the future, and believe him when he says the new Linkin Park sound is... different, better, not nu-metallic.

We do like the way he's so coy about not naming names, and then slags off everyone en masse instead.

Kash in the attic

Have you been wondering whatever happened to former Top of the Pops host Tim Kash?

Oh go on, you could at least feign interest. Otherwise we'll just go back to Sting and the arab... aha, so you have been wondering? Good.

Apparently, he's landed a job with MTV in America. Yes, struggling MTV have decided the way ahead is to get Tim Kash onboard. It's a bit like being in a boat taking on water, and deciding you could bail out even faster if you ripped the bottom of the vessel out, isn't it?

Says she's got a thing for Sumner; we say no, no, please god no

According to her MySpace page, filtered for us by the 3AM Girls, Amy Winehouse has announced:

I would fuck Sting

No, not "over", not "about", not even "-ing be happy if I never heard another plodding faux-classical 'experiment' by".

Picture it. Actually, don't picture it. Please.
I don't know about 10 hours, though!

Sting will be quite pleased that his old tantric sex boast is not only still hanging about, but has started to be inflated - ten hours is a 25% increase on the original length. And that, he later admitted, wasn't a solid eight hour sex marathon, but included doing other stuff in the middle. Like he'd whisper "I am going to do some sex" into Trudi's ear at 10 am, and at five to six they'd get together and do it. Or something like that. We try to keep ourselves away from the actual details, otherwise you start to have thoughts that feature the words "Sting" and "arab strap" in them, and ... oh... please, no.

Keith Richards: the sad face of addiction

What Keith Richards may or may not have done with his Dad's ashes is between him, a panel of ethicists and toxicologists, and his conscience.

We're a little more disturbed by the tale in this morning's Sun, which sees Keith hurling Ronnie Wood's five year-old son's canary out the window when it woke him from some drug-induced slumber or other:

The screeching bird owned by Ronnie’s son Jamie, then five, was disturbing his headache so much he plucked it from its perch and flung it out in the garden.

The bird was found and put back before Jamie woke up. Jamie, who's now supposedly an adult, thinks it's all a massive jape:
Last night Jamie, now 32, told The Sun: “My mum told me the story the other day. She said Keef thought the canary was an alarm clock. He cracks me up, the ashes story was hilarious.”

Yeah, what a crack-up. A bloke so sadly ruined by drugs he can't tell the difference between a living creature and an inanimate object - despite having it in his hand while heading over to, and opening, a window - and tossing a kid's pet out. What a diamond geezer.

I suppose we should be grateful it was a canary and not a hamster.

Madonna sucks down more young brains

"Mmm... young brains, so soft and fleshy and yummy... munch munch munch... mmm..."

Apparently, this time round, Madonna's desperation to try and do something different-ish is going to see her try and turn in a "real hip-hop album."

So she's called in Justin Timberlake.

Which is a bit like planning to make an authentic country album and putting in a call to Rednex.

Cash and burn

Johnny Cash's old house in Hendersonville, Tennessee - where he filmed the video for Hurt - has had a touch of the Windsor Castles. Now in the ownership of Barry Gibb, the place was razed during construction work:

According to the Associated Press news agency, one firefighter was hurt tackling the blaze.

The agency said the fire spread quickly because construction workers had recently applied a flammable wood preservative to the exterior of the house during renovations.

Obviously not that bloody good at preserving wood, then.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry

The Two Moors Festival spent two years fundraising in order to gather the £45,000 it needed to buy a Bosendorfer grand piano. Having hit its target, the new instrument was sent on its way to a public performance in Exmoor. Where it fell off the lorry. They now fear they're left with a write-off.

Lily can't take it

Lily Allen is fuming that someone has dared to take the piss out of her. Yes, she's apparently just found out about LDN is a Victim. And, of course, she isn't seeing the funny side, apparently posting in a comment on the LDN site:

"So what if w'ere middle class ? Just cause your mum was too lazy to get her fat ass up off the sofa and make some cash. I shouldn't be able to make tunes yeah? ( which is more than you're doing by the way.) Kate nash is well better than you , as are all the other people you talk about.
Anyways im off to meet Jack Penate, Jamie T and the maccabees=, for cucumber and cheese sandwiches in the conservatory . Thanks for the song it really has made us see the light, now we know where we belong ."

It's wonderful that Allen is more outraged by being called middle class than being called on sloppy, half-thought music. And don't you just love that oh-so-street "yeah?", yeah?

If Lily Allen was any more street, they'd be having to paint a zebra crossing on her.

Incidently, if Lily Allen is such a cool icon, how come her official myspace is currently listing her band like this:
Band Members
New Lily Allen Talking Smileys
Get them now - for FREE! Download Smiley Central

Ever so slightly tacky, isn't it?

Michael Jackson: The 50 Cent solution?

We'll believe it if it ever happens, of course, but there are rumours flying around that Michael Jackson is about to release a comeback with the help of 50 Cent and G-Unit.

We wonder what attracted Michael to the idea of working with them?

Recent sources state that Jacko’s first comeback single will be out within weeks and will feature the aforementioned bullet-proof rapper alongside Lucy Diamonds and DJ Whoo Kid.

We can picture an enthusiastic Michael squeaking "You had me at 'Kid'".

The idea, it seems, is to try and rebuild Michael, literally, from the street up; appealing over the heads of people who remember him when he had a face, or who can't hear the words "Michael Jackson" without taking two swigs of Jesus Juice, or who followed the jury who cleared him of child abuse telling the media that they only thought that he hadn't done it that time, or who made that ridiculous video with Macauly Culkin, or... sorry, where were we? Yes, the idea: to find people who might accept the idea of Jacko being a modern musical powerhouse rather than someone who peaked in 1983. Urban kids are seen as the best bet, but really, to try and pull that sort of trick, they'd be better off trying somewhere like Albania or Burma, where the public might have missed the media coverage over the last few years.

Dustbin's Bar Mitzvah

Dustin's Bar Mitzvah have are wrapping up after drummer Toby Burrows quit. Dave Lazar says that the band couldn't continue without him, as:

"It's not like he's (like former Oasis drummers) Tony McCarroll or Alan White, Dustin's worked because it was the four of us."

That's quite touching. So, they're going to just stop, are they?

Erm, no:
"Me, Rob and Baco have got a new drummer and lots of new songs, we are looking for a keyboard player. the new band will be a continuation on from Dustin's Bar Mitzvah in a way, we are thinking of keeping the Dustin's part of the name and then adding to it, but the names not the priority at the moment. We will keep you posted on progress, hopefully will have some songs up by the end of summer."

So, it's a band, with the same people, and a name that kind of sounds the same. They might not want to carry on without Toby, but they're certainly putting on a brave face.

How have we survived...

... without an interactive Simon Cowell dress-up doll?

[Warning: contains drawing of Cowell in his underpants]

Grant our invisibility cloak immunity, begs RIAA

In the wake of the HP case last year - where the printer ink company was caught pretending to be someone else to sneak out phone records of journos and board members - California has been planning to strengthen the law on pretexting. The state thinks that if you want to know something, you should be honest about who you are and why you're doing it.

Fair enough, right?

Not quite - the record and movie industry are wailing that they need to be exempt:

But the Recording Industry Assn. of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America say they sometimes need to use subterfuge as they pursue bootleggers in flea markets and on the Internet.

In recent letters to state Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), the trade groups said the proposed legislation was written too broadly and could undermine anti-piracy efforts. They said investigators sometimes pose as someone else to obtain bootlegged CDs or movies and to break into online piracy rings.

"Basically, we want criminals to feel comfortable that who they're dealing with is probably some other criminal and let us in on what's going on," said Brad Buckles, the RIAA's executive vice president for anti-piracy. "We're not talking about trying to go in and get customer information. In no case have we ever tried to do that."

The RIAA proposed changes to the piracy bill that raised alarms among consumer advocates. The trade group asked that any owner of a copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret be able to use "pretexting or other investigative techniques to obtain personal information about a customer or employee" when seeking to enforce intellectual property rights.

Hmm... the music industry has never attempted to pretend to be someone else in order to winkle out customer information, eh? Isn't that exactly what they were doing when they were breaching the terms of service on file sharing network a few years back? And if it's not about investigating customers, then why does their requested version of the law expressly give them the right to, erm, investigate customers?

The other important thing, of course, is that the RIAA is not dealing with "criminals" at all - it's dealing with suspects. And if it really does believe crimes are being committed - even the ridiculous non-crimes its managed to get onto US statute books - shouldn't it be a law enforcement agency who investigates them? Does the State of California really want to give trade associations the legal right to play at being Secret Squirrel?

[Thanks to our tipster for the tip.]

Can an iPod stop a bullet from an AK-47?

You'd think "probably not", but last week saw a hugely dugg story - complete with photo - which suggested that an iPod had, indeed, saved the life of a US soldier in Iraq. As with most stories with the word "Iraq" in them, the truth was slightly different, as HavanaLion has discovered:

The armor stopped the bullet.

The iPod was how Kevin Garrad found out he was shot. This is the real story.
Kevin said he got into the fight with the insurgent and afterwards he did not know he was even shot. He said he returned to his bunk after the patrol, put on his earbuds and began to clean his weapon.

He said: “you get into a ritual out there.”

No music came on. He dug around in the pockets where he kept the iPod and pulled out the twisted hunk of metal that is in the pictures. He said that was how he found out that he had been shot during the fight. He was happy that his armor worked.

He said the upgraded armor he was wearing could stop the AK-47 round.

This will be good news for the Pentagon - imagine if they'd had to kit out their entire surged-up troops with full body iPods for protection.

[iPod image from TikiGod on Flikr]

In other Middle East conflict iPod news, Arthur Bachelor, one of the British sailors captured by Iranian forces in disputed waters, has been complaining that the goody bag he was given on release was no replacement for the iPod the Iranians apparently nicked off him:
THE gifts the Iranians gave the crew were a load of junk - and nothing in comparison to what they stole, including Arthur Batchelor's iPod, he said yesterday.

They [...] got a "granny bag" full of tat including toffees with a label saying "containing pistachio", a CD and DVD that don't work and 11 books.

These were in English and mostly aimed at trying to convert the reader to Islam with titles like Youth and Morals by Sayid Lari.

Arthur said: "The iPod was really special to me as it was a gift. It had our song on, Hold Me Tonight by Angel One, which was one of the tunes playing when we first met.

"It was in a pocket in my overalls. The guards took everything off us - including cigarettes and watches.

We're still puzzled why the Mirror seemed so outraged that the toffees had pistachio in them - do they suspect some sort of attempt to try and trigger nut allergies?

Still, at least Arthur will be able to buy a new iPod when he cashes the big cheque from Trinty Mirror, so it's not all bad. (He could also try flogging the goody bag on eBay - we bet it'd get a fortune.)

Vote Dave

Dave Rowntree is taking first steps towards becoming Prime Minister, throwing his aeroplane goggles into the council elections this May. Rowntree will be standing in the May 5th elections, running as a Labour candidate:

"I've been a long-standing member of the Labour party and active in local politics for a while.

"I'm a Westminster resident and in my experience of living here, it all looks lovely - there are hanging baskets everywhere - but you only need to scratch beneath the surface and see that there's a lot of deprivation and a lot of inequality around. I think someone needs to do something about it."

Rowntree will be standing in Marylebone High Street ward [pdf] (the councillor for BBC London 94.9, of course); the official document of nomination lists his full name (David Alexander De Horne Rowntree), which might swing some of the Tory votes his way.

There's no borough-wide elections in Westminster this May, this is a by-election to fill a vacant seat, but at the 2006 election the ward returned three tories with around 1,200 votes each; the Lib Dem and Labour candidates scored in the higher 200s. So, probably unlikely Dave will be delivering a victory speech.

The other candidates for the Marylebone High Street ward are Stuart Bonar (Liberal Democrats), Colin Merton (UKIP), and Ian Rowley (Conservative)

BPI upbeat as albums fall

Normally, any hint of album sales falling will bring forth a BPI spokesperson wailing about how it's cockle-picker murdering criminals downloading pirated music into children's ears, so it's refreshing to see a measured response to a ten per cent dip in sales in the first three months of 2007:

Much of the slump was down to "particularly poor" sales in the last two weeks of March, according to UK music industry body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

"Though trading conditions are tough, the UK market has not experienced the declines seen globally," a spokesman said.

"Remember that last year the overall albums market was still up almost 45% by volume on 1997. We shouldn't place too much emphasis on two weeks of disappointing CD album sales."

Blimey... that's... that's honest and reasonable.

Of course, the 62% rise in digital single sales also has had an effect - more and more people are finding the joy of just buying the tracks they want and leaving the filler material sat on the shelves.

Comparisons are with the same period in 2006

Virgin pours out of Wii

In its admittedly impressive attempt to be largely ignored across an expanding range of platforms, Virgin is going to start streaming its radio channels over Wii and Playstation consoles:

The broadcaster said it was a way to appeal to younger audiences.

"People are treating the consoles as part of their home entertainment media centre, and now Virgin Radio will be part of that experience," said James Cridland, the company's director of digital media.

As if hiring Suggs off the Norwich Union adverts to lead a programme wasn't enough of a temptation to the 15-24 year age group already, eh?

It's not proper, dancing around with no shirt on at your time of life

Some wonderful - and extraordinary - shots of Iggy Pop and the Stooges live in New York over on Brooklyn Vegan's site. It does seem the only concession Pop has made to being an older man is to keep the old man tucked away.

A Million Miles: Weddoes tour George Best again

It's twenty years since George Best was first released - obviously not the footballer, who was constantly being released (Ford open prison, onto the transfer market, out of hospital with somebody else's kidney), but the Wedding Present album. To celebrate, they're recreating the original 1987 promo tour, as closely as they can:

23 October - Stirling FUBAR
24 Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
25 Glasgow Queen Margaret Union
26 Manchester University
27 Liverpool Academy
28 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
29 Birmingham Academy
30 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
31 London Koko

As part of the evening, the band are going to play the album in full (the Reception version, we guess, rather than the Cooking Vinyl expanded later one.)

Live Earth line ups unfurled

The line-ups for Live Earth have been squeezed out into the public domain - these are the US artists inked in for the New York gig:


Presumably the idea is that by piling up so many artists in the middle of the road, people will have to leave their cars at home as they won't be able to get through.

Meanwhile, over here in the UK, Madonna, the Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters will be headlining (nothing like flying a load of US artists in to play Wembley to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint, eh?)

Genesis are also going to be there, not quite filling the Pink Floyd at Live8 slot, along with Duran Duran, Keane, Snow Patrol, the Black Eyed Peas, Razorlight, Corinne Bailey Rae, Bloc Party, David Gray, Paolo Nutini, and Damien Rice.

Remind me: is the idea to try and save the world, or make us feel like it's not really a bad thing if we do drive ourselves into extinction?

Lily wants boy-on-boy action

Keith Allen's daughter has gone off on one again, wailing that people always try to play women off against each other:

"Why do people always try and play women off against each other?

"Yes Amy and I are both English and yes, we're both in our early 20s. But why don't they try and create a feud between me and James Morrison or Amy and Paulo Nutini?

"Or why not create a rivalry between the boys?

"There is something seriously wrong with this part of our culture."

Yes, Lily, why do people always try to make it look like you're picking fights with other female pop stars? Could it be, do you think, because you're constantly giving the press quotes putting other female pop stars down? Or is that a coincidence?

And why oh why does nobody ever create a rivalry between the boys - imagine a story about, say, Liam calling Bloc Party "music for University Challenge" or something. It just wouldn't ever happen, would it?

And Paolo Nutini would last about three seconds if he was put into a cage with Amy Winehouse.

The Beatles and The Stones

The family of Heather Mills' pre-Macca husband continue to grind their axes in public, did they mention she tried to interest Mick Jagger?:

Denys - brother to Heather's ex-husband Alfie - told Closer magazine, out today: "The other girls in Bananas club just thought he was old and wrinkly, but Heather had her eyes peeled for a rich, influential man even then.

"But he wasn't remotely interested. She was only about 16."

Yes, the thought of one of the Rolling Stones dating a teenage girl - it's just unthinkable, isn't it?

Like Costanza, he does take a sandwich and the sports network

P Diddy reckons he's a marathon man in between the sheets:

"I'm strong. I'm fit. My record is 30 hours... I enjoy it. I love making love to my woman."

Thirty hours. Poor woman - we couldn't stand be share a railway carriage with someone as dull and self-obsessed as Diddy; never mind being trapped with him in a bedroom for more than a day.

Of course, it's only thirty hours if you start the clock running as he removes his Elizabeth Duke jewellery and obsessively hangs up his pretty suits. And then tries to wake up his partner. The actual sex is a lot less drawn out, we guess.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow? Wait... oh, why?

We know it might be a lot of good work for charity, but never mind Challenge Anneka - if she's getting Myleene Klass amd Duncan James to cover Somewhere Over The Rainbow as part of an album also featuring Curtis Stigers, Richard Fleeshman (that musical career was worth quitting Corrie for, then) and other such top flight talent, could we persuade someone to launch a programme Stop Anneka. Perhaps "By Any Means Necessary".

Yes, Challenge Anneka. ITV is bringing it back. When Michael Grade pledged an end to ITV cloning other channels' programmes, who knew his plan B would be disinterring them instead?

Monday, April 09, 2007

MySpace - not a sales place

Does a huge number of MySpace friends guarantee a massive payday if you start selling songs through the embedded music store?

No, reports Digital Music News:

In a discussion with Digital Music News on Friday, Chantelle [Paige] manager Gabi Kochlani of GK Entertainment noted that sales were "very low" on Snocap, despite a front door feature on MySpace.

Instead, the traffic shifted towards the iTunes Store, a more well-worn avenue for downloading music. "iTunes is part of pop culture these days," Kochlani said. "People already have their credit card on iTunes, it's just a matter of convenience," said Kochlani, who also pointed to a consumer "comfort zone" on iTunes.

In other words, what Rupert Murdoch appears to own is a site which is going to work very nicely creating a buzz... and then directing customers off to Apple. Looks like he's going to have to rely on those irritating buzzing adverts for a while longer to turn a profit from the site.

Who are you trying to kid, Anthony?

Bayside's Anthony Raneri has posted what ammounts to a curious self-justification on his blog, covering that most important of punk topics, selling out:

I never thought that I would get to the point that I'm at. I always wanted to, but never actually thought I would get out of Queens or even out of the basement. As we got closer and closer to the point that we're at I saw what could actually become of this band, I knew then that one day I was going to have to address this. Selling Out. It's been on the tip of every one's tongue for ages.

Selling out, of course, is really buying in - that tipping point where you stop doing what you do for the love of it, or the belief in what you're doing, and start doing it because you can flog space in your video to Nokia to promote a mobile phone or something. It's actually quite a simple concept; most of the confusion over what it actually means is kicked up by bands who have long since flogged their souls, and mortgaged their intellectual children, but want to still be thought of as pretty straight guys.

Which would seem to be the point Raneri has reached:
Are Green Day or Fall Out Boy sellouts? I have always thought of a sellout as someone who is going against their beliefs or ideals to make money. But even then, who the fuck cares?

Well, arguably, the people who invest their love and devotion to the band, who believe and value in what they do, who provide the basis of the fan base which then gets flogged to Nokia or Tahoe or Lynx might care a little. Imagine if you fell in love, and then - just as you settle down on the wedding night - discovered your beloved had taken a small kickback to install a webcam in the honeymoon suite. You might care.
t is natural for people to claim ownership of a band during their humble beginnings. After all, that's what has drawn so many people to our scene and helped it explode over the last few years. Kids are growing up finding out about music from MTV and radio stations and by the time they find out, these people are huge stars and you have to camp outside their hotel for days to maybe shake their hands. They stumble across this new thing where the bands are just as good, if not better, and they can go to the shows and probably meet the band 9 out of 10 times and even have a drink with them. That sounds like a great thing to me. So it makes sense that when Fall Out Boy are playing at the Enormo-Dome and you can't get close to them anymore, you're pissed off.

Well, yes, you would be pissed off, but it's more about you not being able to close to them, it's that the band are no longer close to you, either. Part of this is down to indie and punk kids being very poor at sharing, of course. But it's not just about bands like Babyshambles suddenly booking themselves into Arenas and getting distant - it's that shift from musicians being musicians into businessmen selling brands.
In the unfortunate shambles that our scene is in these days, the term "sell out" is pretty much being used as an abbreviation for "band that got really big" which just isn't true. Being there for the paycheck, changing who you are for the money, that's what a sell out is.

And when you take a large cheque from Tag deodorants in return for putting a long shot of their product in your video - isn't that what it is?

But, no - it's not Fall Out Boy who sold it. It's you, Joe Punchtheclock:
Working at Wal-Mart or Blockbuster or Starbucks or Target is being a lot more of a sell out then being in Fall Out Boy is. Not because those are big corporations or anything, because I shop all all those places almost daily. Because you are showing up, putting a fake smile on your face, wearing what you're told to wear and doing what you're told to do so that you can get your paycheck at the end of the week. Funny thing is that it's the kids that are working at these places that go home and post on message boards about how Fall Out Boy or AFI or, gasp, BAYSIDE sold out.

There is a simple difference, and one that is so obvious it's insulting that Raneri could even attempt to make the connection. If you're making minimum wage stacking shelves at an Asda, you don't really have much choice about swallowing the colleague mantras of Wal-Mart. If you don't, you don't eat. You're not sold out, because you've got nothing to sell. However, if Pete Wentz doesn't cut a deal with a phone company to include some shots of people enjoying their product, he doesn't not eat. He'll still be able to make rent at the end of the month. He can still afford to have his hair dyed by a lady in a lovely salon. You can only sell out if you have something to sell. And if you're going to accuse a bloke working as a barrista in Starbucks of selling out, instead of simply surviving, you better have a bloody good argument as a wrap-up.
It seems as if bands are expected to just start saying no at a certain point. Do you want to be on the cover of our magazine? Do you want to be on tv? Do you want to do what you love and make some money doing it? What would all the scene watch dogs and sell out police do if they were faced with these questions? I don't want to say no. I'm right where I want to be. I had my picture taken for the cover of Alternative Press this morning and I had a whole box of free clothes waiting for me when I got home. On Monday morning I'll be filming a commercial for MTV, on Monday night I'll be hosting a show on FUSE and then on Wednesday I'll be flying to Europe for a tour and I do it all because I'm living my dream and I'm lucky enough to have these opportunities. Anyone who has seen us play, even up until yesterday knows that I'm still hanging out on the floor or at the merch table with everyone else meeting and talking to anyone who wants to talk to me.

So it's these free clothes and jobs with video networks which are the good meal enjoyed, prickling Raneri's conscience like a visitation from Marley's ghost. Anthony: if you're happy that you'd be doing the same thing with or without some bonus trousers, it's fine. Really. You're no sell. But why is it that those buckshee t-shirts are causing you to churn out a self-justifying thesis, do you think?

As Michelle Shocked once wrote: He says 'the times, they are a-chaning, and you've gotta change with the times...'

New friend request

You'll be familiar by now with Gym Class Heroes, of course. Less familiar, though, may be sometime keyboardist Tyler Pursel's side project, Ladybirds. They describe themselves as like the Postal Service on diet pills, but really it's more like the Postal Service on happy pills. Surprisingly jaunty.

Kissobit: Mark St John

Guitar teacher turned Kiss guitarist Mark St John has died, apparently from a brain hemorrhage.

St John was an affectation - he was actually born Mark Norton. He stepped up to the Kiss guitar role after Gene Simmons had canned Vinnie Vincent, but would only spend eight months in the role before arthritis forced him out again. During that time, he worked in the studio on Animalize, the peak of the brief period when Kiss tried to be something other than face-painted panto rock. St John played just three gigs with the band before Bruce Kulick moved in to replace him.

As with so many other musicians born in the 50s, it was the Beatles who lured St John to a life of rock:

I remember watching television and seeing the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on The Ed Sullivan Show," St. John once told KISS Force in an interview. "They didn't have tubas, they had guitars and everyone was going crazy and that put a spark in my mind. The guitar is rock 'n' roll. That's what it's all about...the guitar is what's happening."

Before Kiss, St John's main income came from giving music lessons, but it was his work with the band Front Page which had brought him to Kiss' attention. Although a covers outfit, St John's talent built Front Page a following beyond the usual local crowd they could have expected. After Kiss, it didn't take long for St John to get back into performing, but on a lower level: the odd benefit here, the odd radio station jam there. These sessions, and some time in the studio, led to the foundation of White Tiger with David Donato. A debut album sold well enough to lead to plans for a second, but not so well as to see those plans carried through. White Tiger split in 1988.

St John filled in with session work - even turning up on some of David Hasselhoff's music (popular, as we all know, in Germany) - before forming The Keep. Again working with Donato, and Peter Criss (another Kiss evacuee), The Keep managed a single gig before falling apart. Actually, playing at a drum clinic barely even counts as a single gig, does it?

In 1999, the Mark St. John Project issued one EP before again sinking without trace; there would be one last record, an instrumental affair, before Mark left the studio and returned to teaching others to play.

He leaves a brother and a sister. Mark St John was 51.

Wham! wrapped, and will never be unwrapped

Despite the ever-present buzz suggesting that some sort of George Michael- Andrew Ridgeley reapperance on stage is inevtiable, George Michael is ruling it out:

"It would "be almost as bad as THE SEX PISTOLS when they reformed"

I've never been tempted because Wham! was of its time. When the group started, Andrew and I were both kids.

We were at an age where how you were developing as a person was just as important as the songs you were writing.

It all made sense then but at this point, a Wham! reunion doesn't make any sense."

Of course, if he was working double shifts at the Red Lobster and deliberately dropping spoons in the hope of doubling tips*, Michael might think differently.

(*Or whatever it actually is that Ridgers is doing right now to make a living.)