Saturday, June 16, 2007

Something to listen to

Over on Sigur Ros' MySpace at the moment, goodly chunks of their 2002 Hlemmur score to listen, and love, and stream.

Cappuccino Is Next: Sonic Youth deal with Starbucks

Sonic Youth have cooked up a deal with Starbucks for a special compilation, Thurston Moore tells Pitchfork:

We sort of devised this idea of a Sonic Youth record where we asked all these different people to choose their favorite song, people like artists and actors and other musicians and what have you. So all these people, from Jeff Tweedy to Beck to Marc Jacobs to Portia de Rossi to Michelle Williams [laughs], they all chose their favorite songs and wrote a little thing about it. So it's a compilation record of artists choosing songs of Sonic Youth. There's going to be one exclusive song of ours that we'll record, so that's something we have to record.

We really wish when they did this they'd make the band invent a special limited edition coffee as well. We'd like a grande Sonic Youth, we really would.

Naked Service man arrested

Services opened last night for The Faint in Omaha, climaxing with such a burst of energy that Tristan Bechet of the band threw his clothes off and ran around naked.

Unfortunately, there was an off-duty cop in the audience, who decided that penises were illegal in Nebraska, and promptly arrested Bechet. He called for back-up, which came in the shape of four on-duty cops and a blanket.

Five policemen. To arrest one nude bloke. We're not sure if that many police were needed, or that's just the average number of Omaha police who will swing by if a dispatcher puts out a message that there's a naked man needs escorting to the station.

Beceht was released on $450 bail this morning, reports Pitchfork; apparently the intention is to make him face a trial.

The number of people who were actually outraged seems to be, erm, none.

Glastonbury: funerals and allegations

The Glastonbury ticket crisis is already starting to turn the pre-festival atmosphere somewhat sour, with BBC News reporting some people attempting to sell their tickets on eBay have received threats of prosecution for fraud:

"I was told they had my details and if I didn't remove the listing immediately Glastonbury were going to prosecute me for fraud," said a 26-year-old student from Hull.

The student could no longer use his ticket because he had to attend his grandmother's funeral on the day he was locked in to traveling down to the event on a coach. Michael Eavis has come through for him, in the end:
When the BBC News website told Mr Eavis his story, he agreed to allow him access to the event at any point during the weekend as long as a death certificate was provided.

For which, two cheers - although it's having introduced the border control and photo ID, for Glastonbury to now suggest that someone has to show a copy of their recently deceased grandparent's death certificate to gain access to the event is a little bit grim. I suppose we should be grateful that they're not asking for some DNA from the corpse to prove that the death certificate was of a relative. Remind me - is this some pop music in a farm in South West England, or has Glastonbury become a communist microstate?

It wasn't just the student who claimed he was threatened:
A 50-year-old man from Cheltenham is also trying to sell his ticket after losing his job soon after making the purchase.

His new job will not agree to give him the time off.

"They said 'we demand that you withdraw the ticket from eBay otherwise we'll take legal action,'" he said.

"If they refund my money then I would take it off eBay, but they won't do that," he added.

It does seem a little rich that Glastonbury refuses to allow people to sell on their tickets if they can no longer use them, but also refuses to hand back money. It suggests that the organisers have become so obsessed with making the ticket tout-proof they've lost site of its role as an entry pass to an actual festival; it's like they're seeing the ticket as being the end in itself.

Glastonbury deny threatening legal action:
[Melvin] Benn admits they have insisted tickets be removed from the auction site, but denies threatening legal action.

"I don't believe it is a fraudulent act, but it's an act that breaks a condition of sale," he "Certainly not to my knowledge has anyone been suggesting that it's fraud," he said.

Breaking a condition of sale, that would be bad. It'd be on a par, say, with promising to not use personal data for any other purpose, and then using it to promote quite another festival, wouldn't it?

It seems odd that two separate people have contacted BBC News under the impression they'd been threatened while the festival has no knowledge of anyone making those threats. We expect its just misunderstandings.

Rod marries again

In the midst of "footballers marry en masse" (has the FA started to turn itself into some of Moonie-style mass-marriage cult?), Rod Stewart's wedding in Portofino nearly slipped by unnoticed.

Penny Lancaster is now the third Mrs. Stewart.

Portofino. I know.

Blender goes private

Dennis publishing has offloaded its US arm - which publishes Blender, alongside Stuff and Maxim - to A private equity group. Quadrangle Capital Partners II is the fund which has taken the company out of public hands.

Download Squad riposte

Grant Robertson, lead Blogger at DownloadSquad has posted a response to Paul Birch's attempts to bully New Music Traffic from linking to them.

Disconnected: Sony kills its "iTunes killer"

Sony's brave-but-doomed attempt to become a major player in the download retail market has reached its official end: Sony Connect is wrapping up, although some of its team will continue "servicing the Playstation group on the technical needs" and the eBooks wing of the project remains to offer material for the Sony Reader.

There are two sides to every story

Perez Hilton reckons Lily Allen turned up late and drunk for her most recent New York gig:

Starting things off wrong - the Smile singer took to the stage nearly two hours late.

"I didn't even wait this long for Justin Timberlake," griped one angry concertgoer.

And when she finally did get up for the horse and pony show, Lily was unprepared, unprofessional and ungrateful!

"She was so drunk that she forgot the words to several of her songs," one spywitness tells us. "She needed lyrics sheets to get her through the night."

Lily Allen, though, reckons on her blog that she wasn't:
This is all bullshit . doors opened at 6.45 on monday and I had two support acts . Anyone who thought i was going on earlier , im sorry you were missinformed . I would never turn up two hours late for a gig .......EVER . id been in my dressing room since four o'clock that afternoon anyway its not as if id leave 3000 people out there for no reason . I did apologise to everyone for forgetting my words on " not big " , and I also explained that it was a psychological thing that happens to me on stage . I guess its like premature ejaculation , the second you start thinking about it the second it all goes wrong . I actually thought it was a really good gig and really enjoyed myself . I did not get drunk but your right i did smoke a ciggarette on stage , and for that i should have apologised . After the gig i went to the "spotted pig" with my friends and various members of my family , it was really busy so a few of us left and went to the beatrice inn , this nonsense about josh hartnett is exactly that . nonsense

Apparently, Allen is going to blog less on MySpace now because it was only ever a promotional tool in the first place ("it isn't fun any more"):
The thing is , im not going to write here so often now . this used to be one of my favourite things to do . I could come on here and vent how i feel honestly and get feedback from you guys . But the tabloid fucks have ruined it . Everything i write here gets twisted and rewritten buy a bunch of lazy fucks who havent got anything better to write about . And the truth is I don't want to be in their fucking stupid magazines and daily fuck rags . Infact I hate it , i dont want to be a celebrity , I am a singer , I write songs , thats it . I don't sleep and take drugs with famous people( i have a boyfriend ive been with for nearly 3 years ) , I don't go to film premieres . I don't go shopping in the paparazzi hotspots , so please leave me alone . Write about something interesting , and that actually needs to be alked about . I don't want to live in a world where the most interesting thing is Paris Hilton and " how shes doing in jail " . Why do we care , seriously ? Guys the world is MELTING , we are KILLING innocent people , so we can steal their oil , killing them. 400000 people are dead and 2.5 million have no home in Darfur .............. but then again Lindsay did work out at the gym this afternoon and thats what really counts .

Because, of course, Allen is known for her political activism. It's curious why a woman who is happy to trade fame for large cheques from New Look, say, to promote some tshirts simultaneously maintains that she doesn't want to be in the magazines to which she grants interviews to promote said tshirts. It's one thing to avoid fame, it's quite another to play the celebrity press to sell your product and then complain about being in the press.

But maybe we're being unfair. Perhaps Now magazine keeps cutting out all the parts of the interview when Lily Allen suggests the solution for the Darfur crisis.

Queen Joss

Because they've been talking on the phone, The Daily Mirror is already starting to manufacture the Joss Stone and Prince William engagement plates to sell to David Byrne:

The pair have spoken on a number of occasions about the Wembley Stadium concert - on what would have been Di's 46th birthday - and have since struck up a close friendship.

A pal of Joss said: "She thinks he's gorgeous and is incredibly flattered."

Wills, who broke up with Kate Middleton, 24, in April and Joss are both single.

Apparently, Joss is going to cover all of Diana's favourite artists at the big concert next month:
Joss, who is No2 in the album charts, has told close pals that the show will be one of the highlights of her career.

She said: "I loved Diana and all that she stood for - it really is a pleasure to be involved and help out Will."

Interesting use of the past tense there, which implies that Joss is claiming that she "loved all Diana stood for" while the woman was still alive. Since Stone was ten when Diana failed to buckle up properly, that means Stone must have been a hell of a precocious child.

And does Stone really love all that Diana stood for? Since Stone was so upset by Beau Dozier's kiss-and-sell story on their relationship, can she really applaud the biggest kiss-and-tell of the 20th Century which was Diana's Panorama, for example?

Noel builds his myth

We don't want to accuse Noel Gallagher of lying... oh, alright, we do. Perhaps he's just trying to create a myth to challenge the old Crossroads one. But we don't believe his reasons for why he values Sgt Pepper:

“It’s a special album for me because I was born on May 29 (1967) and it came out on June 1.

“So when I was being born in St Mary’s Manchester it was being played on hospital radio.”

Hospital radio. In Manchester. In 1967. Getting - and playing - a prerelease album. And it's on in the delivery room.

You might as well claim that Ringo was drumming to help Peggy keep her breathing in rhythm.

Nowadays, of course, Noel is great muckers with Paul, mind:
“I bumped into Paul that day [of the McCartney London gig earlier in the month] in Selfridges. I was in the menswear department and I heard someone say quite loud ‘watch him, shoplifter’. I looked round and it was McCartney. I hadn’t seen him for a while and we had a chat.

“I was gutted about missing the gig but when your missus is pregnant, it’s like you’re pregnant, so I didn’t go out.”

So Noel's not going... anywhere... out... but... it's like he's phoning it in or something, isn't it... phone... how would you use the phone if you only had little legs? In an emergency or something. Hmm...

Old men fighting

According to this morning's Bizarre, there was an elderly bust-up on the Isle Of Wight last weekend when Ronnie Wood took exception to being called boring by Keith Richards. Keith, claims Victoria, is getting annoyed that nobody in the band wants to go drinking with him anymore and it seems was trying to goad Wood into going down the pub with him.

But it seems all is sweetness and light now:

Last night Ronnie’s son Jamie, who also manages his dad, said: “Dad is dad and Keef’s Keef. They are always falling out with each other. They are like a pair of teenagers sometimes.

“They went for dinner the other night and everything is fine. There were no fisticuffs — Keef is just mad.”

We're sure that Jamie Wood actually said "Keef", too, and that's not his quote being embellished in any way at all.

How odd must it be for your son to be managing you, and giving statements to the press about "you know what these teenagers are like"? If Ron and Jamie have fallings-out, does Ron have to threaten "I'll have you cut yourself out of my will, young man"?

Medals for all

It's the Queen's summer birthday, and so she's ladled out a bunch of honours, including a CBE for Michael Eavis who certainly deserves it for the work he's done for Glastonbury over the years. I do give the festival quite a hard time (a hard time we feel is equally deserved), and do feel it's a shame that the festival has shifted so far from its early ideals that the question 'should the man who organises Glastonbury be accepting an award from the establishment' would probably just get me looked at in a funny way. You do wonder if the event was still giving cash to CND he'd have accepted an award from a government hell-bent on replacing Trident so soon after showering depleted uranium down on the heads of Iraqi civilians, mind.

Also getting letters from the Queen have been:

Joe Cocker, who gets an OBE and a visit to the Palace sometime this year where, after an awkward pause, he'll have to say "No, Ma'am, I was A Little Help From My Friends, not Common People";

Emma Kirkby, classical soprano, who is now a Dame;

Barrie Humphries, who has released more than one single as Dame Edna - most recently, we seem to remember, The Theme From Neighbours - becomes a CBE;

Ian Botham - now Sir Ian - was part of the bizarre BeeGees related cricketing rabbit troupe The Bunburys, whose debut record, We Are The Bunburys is still, we understand, awaiting a follow-up.

Bill Pertwee, who's got an MBE, we're sure also once made a record (not counting the releases of Round The Horne and Dad's Army) - or did we just imagine that?

Noel Gallagher might be a little upset to be overlooked, but remember - there's going to be another slew of honours in a couple of week when Blair compiles his Lavender List, so there's still a chance, Noelie.

Friday, June 15, 2007

First, they came for the music executives...

For the well-rewarded executives in the music industry, it's not enough for them to have comfortable jobs, good salaries, and the moral high ground. Oh, no, they want to be loved, too. Or at least respected.

So it is that Paul Birch, from Revolver Records contacted Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies to complain, bully and cajole him to take down material that was critical of the RIAA-IFPI-BPI strategy:

Looking at your site I do think allowing indiscriminate criticism of the RIAA is inappropriate for a Government funded institution.

Dubber's blog is nothing to do with the University for which he works, but even if it was, since universities are meant to encourage knowledge and debate, surely questioning the behaviour of organisations is a perfect use of their resources? "Indiscriminate" is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and you could counter that the lawsuits raised by the RIAA - with their targeting of the dead and preteen and non-computer owners - demonstrate a certain amount of indiscrimination on their part. Does this also mean that we are not supposed to debate if redirecting police and trading standards officers to pursue the record company anti-piracy agenda is appropriate?

Andrew Dubber's response was polite, and - besides pointing out, gently, that the blog wasn't publiclly-funded, asked Paul what upset him. Birch gave one of those replies people usually do when they don't have any facts to back up their initial thundering:
Let’s talk about it when we next meet-up, as I don’t intend to write a thesis on the subject.

However, I stand by my assertion.

If you're watching this season of Big Brother, you'll have seen Charlie doing something similar to this - when challenged on something she's been mouthing off about, she'll insist that she's not bothered enough to go on about it, but still insist on her position firmly in the right.

It's curious that Birch is happy to send an email alleging misuse of public funds by allowing indiscriminate criticism, but not to actually identify what might have underpinned that claim. Some students of English might think that makes Birch's criticism itself slightly indiscriminate. Dubber replied, pressing again for specifics, and Birch decided that he would have a crack at that thesis, after all.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now:
I am in regular contact with the RIAA and both they and the IFPI are subject to hate mail as a consequence of hubcap, our litigation against consumers for illegally downloading our copyrights.

Let's just park the delicious mention that the 'sue 'em all' strategy has a supersecretcodename, and try not to snicker that it sounds like the sort of thing the wannabe suitfillers on The Apprentice would have chosen to brand a pair of sneakers.

The poor people at the RIAA are getting nasty emails, can you imagine? Now, sending any sort of communication to a person designed to harass, threaten or simply insult them is unacceptable behaviour, but for an organisation sending out large numbers of letters, on slim (and sometimetimes non-existent) suspicion of filehsaring, demanding thousands and thousands of pounds under threat of legal action to complain that people are responding by sending angry emails is a bit rich.

But there's more:
This manifests itself into individual members of our RIAA management being singled-out for malicious statements and blogs on the internet.

No! Not being spoken about on the internet? How Mitch Bainwol's soul must be scorched by people suggesting he's not perhaps the most inspiring of people.

Every so often the RIAA like to tell us that, by taking on terrorists funding themselves through flogging dodgy CDRs of Enrique Ingelias albums, they are our first line of defence in a terrible world. Now, it turns out, every time these superheroes read a blog posting which questions the strategy of suing grandmothers and postmen for hundreds of thousands, they're so weak they die a little inside.

There are two possibilities here: Either the RIAA believe in their strategy, in which case you'd have thought they could take the critiques on their manly chins; or else they know they're in the wrong, in which case they have the option of changing their strategy and stopping the negative commentaries.

But, seriously: the RIAA said they had to act because filesharing was widepsread. So, they set out to force a large number of people to change their behaviour through the threat of punitive legal action. Why, exactly, are they surprised this isn't popular? Did it never occur to them this route could lead, at best, to grudging, unwilling compliance?

Still, at least he's getting to the point now:
As an example you probably saw the case earlier in the week of a Chinese Laundry in the United States being sued for $54M for loosing a pair of trousers, belonging to a lawyer. If you take a look at the criticism on your blog of the RIAA by one of the contributors, they are engaging in a similar malicious prosecution in the US courts but go further and make a number of assertions through your blog that gives credibility to illegal downloading.

I am not concerned that people decide to take out law-suits against our organisations; we have the resources to deal with that. What does concern me however is the repeating of malicious falsehoods that occur in a number of internet blog, and are re-reported as having validity contribute widely to the assertion that right is on the side of wrong-doing.

After a bit more probing from Andrew, the music industry man offers the link he's talking of: a posting on DownloadSquad commenting on a number of counterclaims a woman has filed in a case brought against her by Universal Music Group.

Now, it's fair comment that DownloadSquad doesn't mince its words, but surely Paul Birch isn't objecting to the very mention of the countersuing? The IFPI can't be wanting to have its cake and eat it, with their legal actions attracting the publicity and coverage they're designed to while counteractions should be hidden by some sort of D-notice?

Does Birch object to the language used by DownloadSquad? Such as this bit, perhaps?
The claims Ms. Cid is bringing against the RIAA are of Trespass, Computer Fraud and Abuse, Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices, Civil Extortion, and Civil conspiracy. Now we're talking. The RIAA has been terrorizing many people who they knew didn't have anything to do with alleged copyright violations, including dead people, young children, and the elderly. Ms Cid's counterclaim aims to prove exactly that the RIAA used questionable means to obtain what they refer to as evidence.

Robust, perhaps, but the blog is careful to acknowledge the case isn't a done deal, and - let's face it - and industry which sells heavy metal music to teenagers shouldn't go to pieces when the language gets turned up to 11, should it?

It's also interesting that Birch attempts to suggest Del Cid's attempt to defend herself against a legal action is on a par with the case of a judge suing a cleaners for $54million dollars over a lost pair of trousers. (By the way, Mr. Birch, the verdict hasn't been delivered in that case at time of writing - if you're suggesting that DownloadSquad are being malicious by implying that allegations made in open court are actually proven facts, perhaps you ought to look to your own assumptions first. Unless, of course, there's a totally different case involving trousers and Chinese laundries of which I'm unaware.)

The trouser case is a prosecution that has been launched by an individual and, to most people, looks to be totally out-of-kilter to the damage done. Ms Cid, however, hasn't embarked on a prosecution out of nowhere; she's responding to Universal's intusion into her life. To suggest the two cases are in any way similar shows either a poor grasp of law, or a flagrant disregard for facts.

Birch then goes a bit ballistic:
It might not be nice to be sued by the RIAA and potentially put in a position of being made bankrupt; neither is issuing redundancy notices to hard working staff. People don’t have to download; they do however have to work. Consumers that enjoy music have a lot of options and enjoying it free on the radio is at least one of them, with last FM and You Tube there is near on demand service free at the point of use. But stealing isn’t clever, but presumably most people don’t really wish to steal, and only share because it is so easy and seems harmless/victimless. If people need to affirmatively hide their activities, then there is an understanding of wrongdoing. I feel that your blog underpins the misuse of our copyright and attacks our trade associations.

It is, of course, terrible that people are losing their jobs in the music industry, but those jobs would disappear just as surely if people are listening to Last FM or YouTube. The sad fact of the digital future is that it's going to require fewer people. Fewer drivers and warehousepeople and salespeople. Without wanting to get into an argument as to if the numbers of jobs lost would have been higher or lower if the major labels had managed the transition more smoothly, the more pressing question is how this observation bears any relevance to the post on DownloadSquad for which Dubber is being berated (for linking to, remember - not actually writing). The post is about the way the RIAA conducts its lawsuits, not about the issue of copyright theft. It's as if someone had written a post on speed cameras being a dubious thing getting ticked off for promoting hit and run driving.
There are very serious allegations made in this anti-RIAA link on your blog, and I don’t think its appropriate that you link to them.

Because, of course, accusing people of theft, of forcing the loss of livelihoods for people, of funding terrorism and laundering drug money - the sort of allegation the RIAA makes frequently - isn't serious.

Dubber offers a defence of his reasons for linking to the original piece, and offers to publicise Birch's counterargument.

Birch responds:
I think that what is more desirable is to take down links from your site that promote this hatred of the recording Industry, because the assumption is that by linking to them that you support the extreme view heralded. That might be unfair to you by the way as you may or may not hold those views. I can only seek to reason with those views but my argument about biting the hand that feeds it is I feel valid. I respect everyone’s right to dissent but I am anxious that Individual managers within our trade association have the right not to be publicly hounded.

But the DownloadSquad piece, of course, doesn't hold particularly extreme views - unless any dissent is, in the RIAA worldview, in itself so outrageous as to be xtreme. The post certainly doesn't mention any manager, either by name or through implication, and, since it clearly is suggesting the correct forum for these differences to be settled is in a California coutrtoom, is hardly calling for anyone to be hounded.

Birch's final response, though, is the most interesting:
[The DownloadSquad] expresses opinion, it’s not factual. If you persist then I shall make a formal complaint to the University.

Paul is quick to make clear that he's speaking in a personal capacity, and not as a rep of the IFPI. Which is ironic, since he's threatening to complain to Andrew's employer about something that Andrew is producing in a personal capacity.

Our understanding of what he's just said is that Duffer should take down a link to something because it's what a person thinks, and if he doesn't he will make trouble at Duffer's place of work. Now, maybe it wasn't intended to come across as quite such a bullying threat - you can't tell with email, can you? - but the very idea that nobody should link to websites where people hold opinions different to those of the RIAA is quite an eye-opener, isn't it?

All apologies

Curiously, the apology in the Sun retracting Victoria's story about Michael Jackson taking five million to go to Prince Azim's birthday party hasn't got her name anywhere near it.

Here's their apology in full:

WE are happy to make it clear that Michael Jackson was not paid £5million or any other sum for turning up at the birthday party of his friend, the Sultan of Brunei’s son, Prince Azim.

Sorry for suggesting otherwise.

Equally interesting, the £AM Girl's story about the party, that claimed Jackson fell ill at the party, also seems to have vanished.

Rufus tired of her being sexy

Rufus Wainwright has had enough of Beyonce and her music:

"I'm really sick of Beyonce. All of her songs are formulaic and produced in the basest way. There's no enlightenment. Like most mainstream pop these days, it's more of a scientific experiment than an artist experience.

"But hey, it's your life, you know,"

That's a little unfair, surely? There's a lot of mainstream pop that is a life-sapping experience to listen to: Pussycat Dolls, Fergie, Clarkson. Beyonce, surely, is a finely-coiffured head and well-buffed shoulder ahead of them, don't you think?

Dancehall: Caring or pragmatic?

Jaimie Hodgson has filed an interesting response to the pledges certain stars are making to try and clear up the image of dancehall as promoting the murder of gay men and women. He's not conviced by the claims, having spoken to some of the genre's biggest names while shooting a documentary:

Sizzla was the first deejay I interviewed during my Jamaican excursion. Without any provocation, within five minutes of the interview commencing, he attempted an explanation of his views on homosexuality as a Bobo Ashanti (orthodox) Rastafarian. He explained that his religion believes the bible orders that homosexuals should be put to death. And that by preaching violence against gays in his songs, he was in fact just celebrating God's word and upholding the values he lived by. It would be, in that case, ungodly not to condemn gays to death.

It's curious, of course, that Sizzla takes such a strong line on Leviticus being interpreted literally, and yet is able to skirt the interpretation when it comes to signing up to to a pledge to try and get a toehold back in overseas markets. Either you're mired in Biblical literalism, or you're not, and it's remarkable that suddenly Sizlla has found room to allow this to become a flexible stance.


A deft idea, getting Pete Doherty to perform Chim-Chim Cheree as part of Meltdown, Jarvis.

After all, Dick Van Dyke was unconvincing trying to pass himself as a poor cockney when he did the original.

Electrelane offer support to boys

With the taint of 'experimental' that's hanging over the current, all-instrumental Beastie Boys project, choosing to go and see them when they play the Roundhouse on September 6th might seem something of a gamble. The odds on it being a good night have shortened considerably, though, as Electralane have signed on to provide support.

When is £31.21 not £31.21

When the Prince Millennium Dome dates were announced, much was made of the pricing by promoter AEG:

All tickets are to be priced at a great value of £31.21, with booking fees capped at £3.50, plus £2.50 postage and packing per order, and will include a copy of Prince’s brand new CD, the follow up to the critically acclaimed '3121'.

Great work, Prince. Only, how, then, is Ticketmaster offering tickets for £235?

By the addition of a VIP package, which offers drinks and a "buffet" before the gigs.

£204 worth of drinks and nibbles? That better be some bloody brilliant pineapple and cheese on sticks.

David Sneddon's new world

Remember David Sneddon? We'll save you the Google-time; he was the winner of the first season of Fame Academy. Apparently, he's happy having "turned his back on fame", on the advice of Nik Kershaw, oddly enough:

"I'd been writing songs for my second album with established writers like Ricky Ross and Nik Kershaw," he said.

"But I'd already made the switch in my mind where I decided I didn't want to do it anymore. Nik had done the same thing. He's a shy man.

"When I told him I just wanted to be a writer, he told me to just do it if being a pop star wasn't making me happy.

"He told me he'd made the same decision and never regretted it."

The Daily Record treats Sneddon's new biography - that he chose to walk away from the spotlight rather than simply not having the right temperament for it in the first place - generously, although they do sneak in one piece of snark:
And so it was that David Sneddon, the boy who could have become the biggest pop success to come out of Paisley since Kelly Marie, faded into obscurity.

George Osborne every minute

Musical clashes on the floor of the Commons yesterday:

[Gordon Brown] took a swipe at George Osborne, his Tory shadow: "It is very difficult to listen to what he says on any one day, because he will usually have changed his mind by the next day, as he did on grammar schools. I understand that he has just given an interview to Glamour magazine. The interview has been issued with a free pair of flip-flops."

Labour MPs laughed immoderately at this sally, which provoked Mr Osborne to the rather feeble reply: "At least I don't appear in glossy magazines talking about what I hear on my iPod."

Not only was the comeback feeble, it wasn't true. For, in that very glossy Glamour magazine interview, Osborne, erm, talks about what he has on his iPod:
Magazine: “What’s on your iPod?”

Osborne: “I’ve got Ta-Dah by the Scissor Sisters and the Killers’ new album.”

Was Osborne deliberately misleading the House, or - like, we imagine, most of Glamour's buyers - has he simply not bothered to read his own interview?

History is in the hands of the revisions

Victoria Newton is doing well this morning - unlike a lot of journalists, she's not fallen for the 'Shar Jackson pregnant with Kevin Federline's baby' story. In a report datelined June 14th, Newton reports the denials:

KEVIN FEDERLINE'S ex SHAR JACKSON has laughed off claims that she is having his fifth child.

Reports in the States suggested that BRITNEY SPEARS’ estranged husband was having a baby with Shar, already mum to two of his kids.

But today she joked: "I didn't know I was pregnant until this morning when I watched it on the news.

"I want to thank the news for telling me what's going on in my uterus.

"It's not true unfortunately."

This might come as a surprise to, erm, Victoria Newton's readers, who the day before had been told that Jackson was pregnant with Federline's baby. How can Newton explain this positively quantum pregnancy?

She doesn't need to - the paper has simply replaced the original 'she's pregnant' story with the current 'she's not pregnant' one
All that remains of the original story is a Google News search result, pointing now to a story which says the opposite of what it said twenty-foru hours before.

There's an interesting BBC Editor's Blog entry on the problems of this sort of tidying up of history, by the way.

Still, this isn't the worst thing in the The Sun this morning. Instead, that honour goes to one of the papers' unfunny Photoshop mock-ups. By way of illustration of a story that the Doctor Who finale will be shown at Gay Pride, they run a 'gay Dalek' picture.
We say 'gay dalek', what we meant was some lazy homophobia.

Just for the benefit of any Sun illustrators who might be around, and who seem to get their impression of gay men from 1970s sitcoms:

Being gay doesn't mean you like pink
Being gay doesn't mean you're going to dress like a leatherman
Being gay doesn't mean you have a limp wrist
Being gay doesn't mean you're effeminate
Being gay isn't a punchline in itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blimey, that was quick

Richie Sambora has wound up his thirty day rehab after a week. Apparently he's incredibly fast-healing, like Locke on the island.

Clarkson cancels due to lack of interest

It seems like Kelly Clarkson might have acted a little too soon sacking her management - she needs every fan she can get. Her US tour has just been canned as nobody really wanted to go. There's a statement:

"I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to getting out there to perform for y'all... It really is disappointing for me to have to tell you that I won't be coming out to tour this summer.

The fact is that touring is just too much too soon. But I promise you that we're going to get back out there as soon as is humanly possible to give you a show that will be even better."

LiveNation, the promoters, have been a little bit more honest:
"Ticket sales have not been what we anticipated and we came to the realisation that we had bit off more than we could chew.

"In the end, we are in the Kelly Clarkson business and for that reason we believe that this decision will only benefit her and her fans in the long run."

Yes. Nobody wants to be stood in a nearly-empty room watching the death throes of a career, do they?

Noel wants to grab the Man City

One of the few pieces of respect we still have for Noel Gallagher is that he has, at least, always remained dedicated to his team. Although his plans to band together with Mike Pickering and try and buy Man City pushes him from ordinary fan into the realm of an Elton John, or, dare one say it, Jim Davidson:

"I'm thinking of mounting a hostile takeover - me and Mike Pickering.

"I reckon we could scrape together about £400,000 in cash and I reckon we would get it for that."

Well, yes, the money should be easy... to, erm, buy into... club... a classy club. Club class. Do you get less legroom if you only have little legs? I wonder... hmm....

Glastonbury eBay block bid flops

The much-touted tout-proof ticket is now being touted, as Glastonbury tickets are arriving with purchasrs, and then onto eBay. It turns out the photo quality is so poor, many tickets will get anyone in, providing they have a head.

Michael Eavis is trying to put a brave face on things:

"This is the first year of the technology and so it's a trial run for this year. In the long term the photography will improve," he said.

"I must say I'm slightly disappointed with the quality of the tickets myself."

But he added: "I've only seen 15 out of 140,000 so far that I'm unhappy with which is not bad."

It's not clear, though, how many of the 140,000 tickets he's actually seen.

There are plans for a second line of defence:
"I'm moving heaven and earth to stop it happening. I have people watching eBay so we will have their information," he said.

Enquiry cabins will be placed at each of the seven gates to the festival site at Pilton, Somerset. If there is any doubt over over a ticket-holder's identity, the person will be taken to a cabin for further investigation.

"When they come to the gate we can check the names of the people who have been advertising them so we know who they actually belong to," he said.

Hang about... they're going to be marching people to holding cells in order to force them to prove their identity? Is this a music festival or a dry run for John Reid's wet dreams?

Ha-hard hitting

If it hadn't have been for the early chuckling away at the thought of a wife beating up her husband in Victoria Newton's column, the decision for her to splash on Posh Spice's claims that she gets what she wants with "a good old saucepan" round the head might have been unremarkable - but as James P says:

Apparently it's Domestic Violence For Laughs Week in the Sun.

In the same article, Beckham suggests that, really, she'd like to be just like the common folk:
"Sometimes I see a couple who have just finished work, sitting in their car and she has got her Barclays bank badge on and he has got his Dixons badge on and they are going home for dinner.

"Sometimes that looks so nice to me, but we all want something we don't have."

Yes, we imagine that as you fly home on your automatic goose-powered spaceship and feast on poorfolk's brains and custard, you really, really wish you could have worked eight hours hauling fridges round in a sweltering Dixons storeroom, don't you?

The funny thing is, while the couple with their name badges you're so busy patronising would probably, yes, quite like your life, they don't have much chance of getting it. But you could quite easily go and work for Dixons any time you choose. So... why don't you? If the thought of struggling and scrabbling and stress and insecurity looks so "nice" to you, why don't you go and get a proper job?

Stewart's son denies hurling bricks

Rod Stewart's son is currently being sued by a couple who claim that he attacked them with a brick. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his lawyer reckons they're suing because they believe Stewart Jr to be rich and famous:

"We have conducted an extensive investigation since these allegations were first raised. We have interviewed numerous witnesses who were at the party on the night of the incident. Our investigation has revealed that what occurred on the night of the incident is much different than what the complaining witness has alleged.

We will share our investigation with the prosecution at the appropriate time. Our investigation has shown that the alleged victim only named Sean Stewart as a suspect after hearing that Mr. Stewart was at the party that night and that the alleged victim had a financial motive to make these allegations against Mr. Stewart.

Our investigation has also revealed that any crimes which may have been committed that night, were in fact committed by the person who claims to be the victim."

You do wonder why, if they have this watertight evidence that Sean Stewart is being framed they're waiting before sharing it with the prosecution; it seems a little strange to allow your client to be subjected to litigation and investigation when you're sitting on proof of his innocence.

We're also far from convinced that Sean Stewart is famous, or anyone would assume he was rich. After all, if he's so stellar, how come TMZ continually refer to him as "Rod Stewart's son" rather than by his own name? Gee, whatever other shortcomings Miss Hilton has, at least when she's in legal bother people know who it is she's famous through relationship to without the need to have it constantly spelled out.

David Byrne enjoys a good plating

There was an episode of Starsky and Hutch which featured someone who collected deocrative plates, prompting Hutch (or maybe Starsky) to ask, genuinely bemused, "how do you eat off them if they're stuck to the wall?"

David Byrne knows the answer to this. Apparently he collects plates as a hobby:

“At breakfast my mother was eating off one of my commemorative plates — and she apologised quietly to the Queen Mum for putting bread on her face.”

She's lucky she's not British, David - that'd be treason, that would, as surely as setting fire to a naval dockyard.

Crystal tips

Wristbands, eh? Nasty things, seldom matching your festival outfit and often making the most glam of us look a little like we're common. I say 'us', although actually I'm not glam and used to quite enjoy the old rubber-stamp-on-the-hand technology.

Anyway, VIPs at the Wireless festival are in for an expensive, if totally wasteful, treat this weekend, as they'll be given a Swarovski covered wristband to allow them to gain access to the free beer and roast swan backstage. The wristbands have an RFID chip in, too, so if someone turns up with just any crystal-studded wristband, it can be swiped on a machine to check if they're genuinely worthy of lift of the purple rope.

The Times Mousetrap blog reports that "only 50" of these encrusted bands have been made, which means that, clearly, Wireless isn't expecting that many famous people to turn up. Fifty VIPs? That's smaller than Snoop Dogg's reserve entourage.

Boy George clears the decks

Boy George has pulled his entire October tour with a statement:

"It is with regret that Boy George's October live dates will be cancelled until further notice. This is due to various other "last minute" commitments which unfortunately now clash with the UK dates.

"George would like to personally apologise to his fans and hopes to see you again very soon. Thank you for you continued support."

The use of quotation marks around last minute are George's own, perhaps acknowledging that if the gigs weren't due to take place for four months, it's a little early for pulling them at the last minute.

Yes, Gary, please take your time

Some good news from Snow Patrol this morning. Gary Lightbody says they're not going to rush to get the next album out:

"I don't think there's any point of doing it this early. By the end of the summer people will have had enough.

"We've been at it for four years non-stop. We need a break and maybe everyone else needs a break too. So we're gonna take a good bit of time off and make the album at our own pace."

Let's hope 'a good bit of time' is sort-of like forever and a day.

This one goes out to Fingers McGee

Apparently, a radio station in Naples has been being used by the Mafia to broadcast messages to hitmen through fake requests; the requests were actually coded messages ordering the Family around. It strikes us this would at least offer some purpose to Xfm's otherwise moribund daytime services.

Hilton still getting special treatment

According to this morning's Mirror, while most visitors have to queue for up to two hours to see their relatives in the LA Twin Towers clink, Ma and Pa Hilton just turn up and go in.

Which, of course, has nothing at all to do with Grandpa Hilton's dropping off of cash to help the Sheriff's campaign.

Moss arranges for Ross

We suspect there might be a degree - at least a degree - of speculation in Victoria Newton's report of the list of topics Pete Doherty's not allowed to mention when he goes on Jonathan Ross this week - after all, "don't make a holy show of me" is probably uttered every time he pulls on his Hofmeister Bear hat and heads for the door. But Newton is able to include a detail which shows the quality of her information:

My source added: “Jonathan was a huge LIBERTINES fan and helped break them on his Radio 2 Saturday show.

“He played their records when they were relatively unknown. Pete’s going to play an acoustic song off the new album as well.”

Now, that's the sort of thing that only an insider, or perhaps someone who listens to Jonathan Ross on the radio and is able to extrapolate from 'Doherty appearing without the rest of Babyshambles' that he must be doing an acoustic number. An insider indeed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not that it's become a commercialised mess or anything

This year at Glastonbury, there's going to be an attempt to break the world record for most people kissing at the same time.

Is this inspired by Glasto's hippy heritage? Free love for all?

Perhaps. Or perhaps it's an advertising stunt for an online dating agency?

What do you think?

Linkin Park has clunking locks

After the Sony rootkit fiasco, you'd have thought that the major labels would have decided to drop the idea of clunking copy protection on its CDs.

That was, until Warners released the new Linkin Park album with some sort of locks on it that stopped people from transferring music they'd paid for to their libraries and onto portable devices.

Perhaps it's not copy protection; maybe it's just trying to save Linkin Park fans from themselves. Either way, it's not really on, is it?

Game won't play the game

The Game has refused a plea deal over charges that he pretended to be a policeman last year. If he'd copped to the bargain, the time he'd served waiting for the case to come up would have meant he could go free. But his attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said no deal:

"Why should he plead guilty to bogus charges for a non-jail sentence if he's innocent," Lichtman said outside court. "And he is innocent. It's rare that I have a 100 percent innocent defendant, but this is one."

We're hoping that Lichtman's public statement that normally his clients are at least a little guilty doesn't affect the rest of the cases he has to deal with.

Fratellis retain some dignity

Well done, The Fratellis, for having the balls to say no to the offer to record the official song for David Beckham's first US soccer match:

"We were like, 'No fucking way'. It would have got us noticed, of course, but we'd have lost our self-respect.

"We've turned down a huge list of ridiculous things like that. We're not a bunch of travelling salesmen. If we don't get successful on our own terms then we won't do it at all."

Of course, the real question is why does David Beckham's LA Galaxy debut need an official song? It's not really a momentous event, is it? They could just use The Pretenders' How Much Did You Get For Your Soul if they really need a tune.

Victoria doesn't care

Victoria Beckham makes it clear - she doesn't care what people think of her:

"If I was really bothered about what people think, I would have slit my wrists a few years ago."

Impressive. It's really important to be sure of yourself and not bothered about the opinions of others. Although, if Beckham really doesn't care what people think about her, why does she turn up to pick up prizes like the Glamour Woman of the Year award? Isn't that equally a sign of what some people think of her?

Wiv a ladder and some glasses, you could see to 'Ackney Marshes, if it wasn't for the hipsters on the scene

Yes, yes, Jack, we get it: you're so into London it's not true. With the cockneys and their sparrows, the barrow boys, the red-top buses and the large piles of discarded free newspapers and all.

In his latest bid to cement his cockernee credentials, or possibly to just get a walk on in EastEnders, the White Stripes played a gig for Chelsea Pensioners last night. The pensioners were as polite as only those who have had a lifetime of service can be:

One Chelsea pensioner said: "I thought it was excellent. It's not my scene really because it's a different type of music altogether but I thought they were very very good."

Another admitted: "It was nice but I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to them."

The band later played a gig to raise funds for the Royal Chelsea Hospital revamp, which had a younger, more famous audience.

The lawnmowers strike back

Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce have helped pull together what's being described as "the first ever Smiths documentary on DVD", as if the means of delivery is more important than the content.

This isn't, the press release informs us, a chance for the men described by Mozzer as "lawnmowers" to enjoy a dish of revenge:

“It isn't about attacking Johnny or Morrissey,” says Rourke. “Despite
the fact that the band ended in a messy way we shared a lot of things and we adopted an almost gang-like mentality. We still have many loyalities to each other as a result of that.”

It's a pity; we'd have liked a "yeah... well, you're like a bloody rotavator, you are" or two.

The DVD, Inside The Smiths, is available for preorder; it comes out 16th July with two launch events:
-MANCHESTER July 15th @ 8pm - TV21, Thomas Street
-LONDON July 18th @ 6pm - FOPP, Tottenham Court Road

Be warned, though, there is some I Love 1983 style padding:
Ricky Wilson and Nick Hodgson of The Kaiser
Chiefs and Ordinary Boys singer Preston offer their own unique insight
into what made The Smiths so special.

Wilson we can just about see... but Preston?

Bono and Hugo helping kiddies

We might have given the impression that we believe Bono only sniffs around the edges of the currently powerful, but that simply isn't true at all. He also likes to massage those who may find themselves in a position of power sometime in the future, although we're sure it's purely altruism that has persuaded him to donate a guitar to Hugo Swire's charity auction. The auction goes to the aid of a children's hospice:

The auction will be part of a barn dance in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and Bono’s used axe is expected to fetch about £100,000.

It really is inexplicable to us that we live in a country where people have a hundred grand to buy a second-hand guitar, and yet children's hospices have to rely on charity auctions to function.

Perhaps if a few less people took U2's party line that everybody should be "tax-efficient", then hospices could be properly funded.

Ash clarify; Not splitting, just abandoning physical form

Tim Wheeler has explained his 'last track from our last album' remark at the Isle of Wight. While there are to be no more Ash records, there will be more Ash tunes:

"The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks. It hasn't helped that most people have forgotten how to make a decent album. I'm constantly disappointed with records I buy.

"I believe our new album is the pinnacle of everything we've done thus far, and I'm proud that this will be remembered as our last album. The future lies elsewhere and we can have a lot of fun by changing things up. It's like the Wild West at the moment and a time to take chances and try out new ideas."

"When you're tied to the album format, you find yourself waiting six months between finishing a record and releasing it.

“By leaving this behind we can enter a new phase of spontaneity and creativity. We have our own studio in New York, we can record a track and release it the next day if we feel like it, give it to people while it's fresh. We're the first band to do this, but I very much doubt we'll be the last."

The first band to release all their stuff digitally apart, of course, from the thousands of unsigned bands who have no choice but to work that way.

We're not entirely sure that the music industry - even the music industry online - is like the "wild west", although clearly the RIAA sees it as some Dodge City free-for-all in need of a sheriff. We'd have thought a better metaphor would be post-Communist Russia, where there are some rules, it's just that not everyone cares about them and we're still some way from knowing how they'll be effectively policed once the grab for assets is over. But who can blame Tim Wheeler if he would rather be compared to John Wayne than Vlad Putin.

Joss Stone ponders swapping teams

Joss Stone is going through a bit of a drought at the moment, and so is thinking about plan B:

"I think I'll have to turn lesbian. Every girl my age wants to be in a relationship. I haven't had one in two years and look how that ended."

Of course, it was just a passing remark, but it's not entirely helpful to pretend that lesbianism is a thing you choose to match your mood, which is similar to the line taken by those charlatans who claim they can "fix" gay people.

And even if you could "become" lesbian, Joss, why do you think that would make a difference? Could it be that your failed relationships are because of the way you approach them, rather than the gender of your crush?

Madonna: Could it be curtains?

Today, the Mirror runs a piece detailing Madonna's grey skin and fraility that Popbitch itself might have baulked at. The thesis is that, the more desperately Madonna tries to cling to youth, the faster it recedes, and that sleeping in a special suit might do more harm than good.

Can this bit really be true?

Friends claim Madonna's antiageing regime also includes wearing drapes to stop the sun giving her wrinkles.

Madonna goes around dressed in curtains? It's a lovely image, but... surely not.

Anyway, why does Madonna need all this exercise? Can't she merely stay young forever by drinking delicious eight-dollars-a-pop Kabbalah water?

Michael Jackson tops some sort of chart

The bemusing Popscores system has discovered that 82% of Michael Jackson fans claim they'd buy everything he releases. This isn't really news, though, is it? Clearly, anyone who's stuck with the man through not just the child abuse cases, lying about benefit records twice, the "live performances" that insult rather than merely disappoint, to say nothing of the limping stuff he's done over the last twenty years, is so blinkered by fandom that, yes, of course they'd buy any old toss he knocks off. What Popscores tells us is that he's very popular with people with whom he's popular - that isn't quite the same thing as telling us that he's still popular.

Amy beerhouse

The not-entirely-thrilling story that Amy Winehouse popped behind the bar at her local to serve some drinks the other night needs something to lift it. What can Victoria Newton do?

My computer wizards show how the Camden Caner might look as Babs’ EastEnders character, veteran pint-puller Peggy Mitchell.

And I reckon the leopard-print is bang on for wild thing Amy.

In other words, someone has half-arsedly lassoed Amy's face and stuck it on another photo. Although beehive and leopard print behind a bar - that'd be Bet Lynch, surely?

There was a more interesting detail in the story, though:
Meanwhile, Amy’s new hubby BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL was spotted entering a toilet cubicle at the pub with his crackhead idol PETE DOHERTY.

Now, if you're going to mock-up a photo, isn't that the one you should be firing up the Photoshop for?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Badly Falling Out Boy

Pete Wentz, spokesperson for deodorant companies and occasional band member, got involved in some sort of scuffle with a heckler at a party following Fall Out Boy's gig in Chicago. Early reports suggested that Wentz attacked the bloke for making fun of his hooded top; Wentz, of course, says that that simply isn't true:

"The story on the Internet is absolutely false," he wrote in an e-mail. "Yes, we were playing an acoustic afterparty for Spin. It was a good time for the most part. Yes, the guy was heckling me and the band, so were other people, most in good fun. But we get heckled onstage all the time, and while I'm a jerk, I'm not the kind of person who would ever lash out at someone simply over this. I mean I'm not as big as Akon and haven't written as many good songs.

"The truth is on the way out the door I had to pass directly next to the guy and I knew it, so I kept my head down and walked out. As I did, the guy reached out and grabbed me and said something I couldn't really hear — it was a glorious use of the English language, though. As he grabbed me, I punched him. Yell all you want at me, say whatever, but in a situation like that I will defend myself. After that, of course, it got chaotic, [but] we have several independent witnesses that gave statements saying he grabbed me first ... I am not worried over the outcome, as I was clearly in the right. Anything anyone else is saying or writing is simply not true."

Is our memory playing tricks, or is this pretty much the same line John Prescott took when he beat up a member of the electorate during the election before last?

There are leaks, and there is The Leak

Last week, a DJ came across a copy of the new White Stripes album, and was rewarded with a screeching phone call from Jack White accusing her of being what's wrong with modern music. Playing the album on the radio in full offered people the chance to record the whole thing and meant they wouldn't want to buy the CD when it's in the shops.

This week, MTV's website is streaming the whole album on The Leak page. Playing the album on the net in full offers people the chance to fall in love with the whole thing and means they'll rush to buy the CD when it's in the shops.

Observe the blood of the Zune tattoo

The Zune might be less loved than some other music players, but it's not totally the John Selwyn Gummer of mp3 players. Someone loves his Zune so much, he got the Zune logo tattooed on his arm. The good people at Microsoft were so surprised ("delighted") they sent him five free songs and some stickers.

No, really. That's what they sent him.

Of course, the real difficult bit wasn't the couple of hours having the Zune logo tattooed on his arm, it was the thirteen hours of laser treatment having the Plays For Sure trademark taken off his butt.

Clarkson's album woes continue

Kelly Clarkson's difficult bringing to market of her next album hits another bump, as Clarkson fires her manager, Jeff Kwatinetz. US Magazine has buttonholed an insider:

"It happened last night. They disagreed over the songs and the direction. Everyone is surprised," says the source, who adds that Clarkson has not yet decided on a new manager. Another source adds, "Kelly had enough."

The problem seems to stem from Clarkson's belief that the album she's recorded, is great, and everyone else's belief that it's not up to standard. Clarkson fumes:
“I’ve sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say. Because I’m 25 and a woman.”

Which is fair point, although the people who aren't listening to her have been the ones who've shaped her career from a win on a TV game show to selling fifteen million records worldwide, so it's possible that it's less her 25 year oldishness and womanlynisms that make them think they know better than her, and more that they've shaped her to fit a market and don't expect the cookiedough to suddenly start suggesting the shape the cutter should be.

Now we are 7Digital

The latest in a long line of attempts to unseat iTunes, meet the relaunched 7 Digital, which is hoping to beat Apple by offering DRM-free MP3s.

They're still charging 79p a download:

"MP3 is really what the consumer wants," said Ben Drury, managing director of 7digital.

"We want our songs to be playable on as many devices as possible".

Not really, Ben. What people want is a fairly priced, decent quality file that they can do what they choose with, which isn't quite the same thing.

At the moment, 7D is offering some indie stuff and EMI's catalogue, which also reminds us that what the consumer also wants is a store that can offer stuff rather than having to go to umpteen different stores. It would be nice for there to be a credible alternative to iTunes; this, sadly, isn't it.

Courtney hires some help

Cast your eyes over the details of Courtney Love's new band:

"I really hired [one member] 'cos he looks so much like Kurt. It's weird, and he can play really well. He didn't kill me but he swore if I gave him a week he'd learn everything. He's blonde and soooooooo beautiful and his guitar playing is great."

"The other is a guy from band called Larrakin Love [sic] [Micko, to be precise]. His guitar playing blew me away because it's just so fucking MODERN. Its' Jonny Greenwood and Jack White and now and he's not stuck in any nineties rut."

There's something slightly disturbing about hiring a bloke who isn't very good but does have an uncanny resemblance to your husband when he still had a face; and, equally, someone thinking that Radiohead and the White Stripes represent some sort of bleedingly perpetual now sound. We'd suggest she gets out a little more, but - having seen where that can get us - maybe best not to, eh?

Muse unimpressed by George Michael

Not that they're annoyed at George Michael having nipped in ahead of them to claim the first gig at the New Wembley title, or anything. Oh, no, that would be petty:

Drummer Dom Howard said, "George Michael doing Wembley is a joke. Who cares? Our show is going to be massive, it's the pinnacle."

However, he did add that he was more than a little nervous about playing the show. "I've been very cocky about it behind closed doors," he said. "but I've been shitting myself about it as well."

At least you've got a job where you can keep sitting down and always face the audience, Dom.

Live Earth in South Africa: A long way from Devon

As if to help stress the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, the Live Earth line-up for the South African leg of the global jaunt includes, erm, Joss Stone and UB40. Flying in from Devon and Birmingham, of course.

That'll help.

There was a rather good piece in The Times yesterday about the enormous credibility problem Live Earth is building for itself:

Live Earth is also having to field jibes about the embarrassing collusion of at least two of the performers at the New York event in the television advertising of gas-guzzling SUVs. John Legend is featured in a new Lexus commercial, while Sheryl Crow’s hit Everyday Is a Winding Road is helping to sell Sub-aru 4WDs. Such is the level of disquiet felt about Al Gore’s debut as a promoter of music shows that a pressure group in New Zealand, the Climaction coalition, is urging people to protest about it on July 7. In the past, the coalition has accused Gore himself of “greenwashing”.

And they're still planning on doing a gig in Antarctica for no reason other than the stunt value.

Dublin says no to Bono

Bono and The Edge's plans to expand the Clarence hotel, the place they own on the Liffey, have had a bit of a knock back after people who actually live in Dublin have objected:

in a letter to Dublin city council, published in the magazine Building Design, Michael Smith, the former chairman of the heritage group An Taisce, accused Bono and his co-owners of having a “fetish for glamour”. “The days of grateful fawnings over international – or in this case intergalactic – architecture on Dublin’s landmark sites should be over,” he wrote.

Bono's plans were to slap a glass roof in the shape of a Viking Long Boat on the top of the building, to, erm, emphasise the Viking heritage of the city or something. Or maybe he's just bought a company that makes glass viking long boats.

Funnily enough, we stayed in the Clarence a few years back - the glamour of the venue included the need for the fire brigade to come out when people tried to use the lift, and having to put the duvet over the radiator as - since it wouldn't turn off - it was the only way to stop heat pumping into the room. Still, the restaurant was certainly priced for glamour.

Gallows hung out to dry

Could Gallows be for the chop? Last night on stage in Sheffield, Frank Carter warned that he couldn't do this much longer:

"I'm going to level with you guys, I was out there crying before because I don't know if I can do this any more," Carter declared from the stage. "I don't know if I can play for you cunts any more."

But he cheered up later, after calling his Mum:
"I was on the phone to my mum and I said, 'I've had enough of this shit'. My mum said to me, 'You're just like me, you care too much'," explained Carter, adding that Gallows would continue. "It's too important for us to quit."

It's thought his Mum was keen for him to continue on the UK tour because she's let his room out while he's away.

Good enough? Dodgy reunite

We're not sure there's any real public demand, but Dodgy are coming back together, with the original line-up, for a quick hoof-round of some smaller venues. It's six years since they split, apparently, and nine since the original line-up last played together. It just seems like they never went away because of the number of times Staying Out For The Summer has been licensed to advertise any old thing:

5 November - Glasgow ABC1
6 - Sheffield Leadmill
8 - Birmingham Academy 2
9 - Manchester Academy 2
10 - Liverpool Academy
12 - Northampton Roadmender
13 - Bristol Academy
15 - Shepherd's Bush Empire (15)

Paris Hilton: The Jonathan Aitken of, erm, whatever it is she does

Yes, in a bid to try and gain early release, ("to show she's changed"), Paris Hilton has found God:

Speaking from inside prison, she said she is reading the Bible in her cell and is seeing a spiritual adviser.

Paris, 26, added: "I used to act dumb. That act is no longer cute. Now I would like to make a difference. God has given me this chance. God has released me."

Presumably, she hasn't yet got to the bit in the Bible about camels, eyes of needles, and so on.

George Michael wants to get head

Who, you wonder, would be likely to pay fifty million pounds for Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull, which looks like the sort of thing Elizabeth Duke would flog if they could find enough cubit zirconia?

Step forward, George Michael, who has apparently had a private viewing of the artwork (actually, they're all private viewings, aren't they?).

It might seem odd for George to be considering burning through piles of cash for an exquisitely turned-out empty head with a rictus grin and nothing whatsoever to say for itself, but he did used to split the Wham money with Andrew, so it's not unprecedented.

Kepp your hands off B-day

It turns out that winning a competition to meet Beyonce means precisely that. People who won the prize to meet her in Dublin had a great time:

Fans who had won a brief “meet and greet” in a local radio competition were warned twice that there were to be no bags, kissing, questions or touching.

Organisers of the sold-out gig also charged fans for a photograph with the star.

Because, of course, you'd want to have a permanent memorial of the time you were briefly quite near someone famous.

Oh, and "no bags" - at first, you might think that means you're not getting a small bag of memorabilia - no, it means you couldn't take your own bag with you. Presumably in case it contained a reporter from Watchdog keen to ask Beyonce about the rip-off prices she charges for photographs.

Has Victoria Newton ever been to a festival?

This morning, she suggests:

ONLY PETE DOHERTY and KATE MOSS could go to a festival and miss most of the acts.

With the food, and fairgrounds, and sponsor's displays and all the other distractions - to say nothing of, for the likes of Pete and Kate, the attractions of the backstage tents - surely nobody sees "most" of the acts any more?

Kerry Katona story leaks

You have to feel for Kerry Katona and her husband thingybloke Mark Croft. They've been hounded out of Warrington by chequebook journalism:

"We moved away from Warrington to get away from all the people selling stories on Kerry.”

Mark's desire to take his family away from people giving embarrassing interviews in return for cash might be thwarted though, with, erm, him telling Now magazine all about his wife's bladder control problems:
After Kerry’s waters had broken I made sure Kerry got a towel before getting in my car as she was all wet.

“It was pouring out . It was mad! “She was using nappy things throughout her pregnancy – Kerry was peeing if she so much as sneezed – so I made her put one on before she got in the car.

“They’re like incontinence pads.”

Presumably the idea in moving from Warrington, then, was to ensure that if anyone was going to get cash from the papers for stories about them, everything will be flowing towards the family. Well, nearly everything.

There's nothing quite as funny as domestic violence

Would Victoria Newton have been quite so chippy about a man getting pissed and beating up his wife as she is about Amy Winehouse's admission that she beats up Blake Fielder-Civil when she's been on the booze?

“I’m either a really good drunk or I’m an out-and-out shit, horrible, violent, abusive, emotional drunk.

“I’ll beat up Blake when I’m drunk. I don’t think I’ve ever bruised him, but I do have my way. If he says one thing I don’t like then I’ll chin him.

“I’m not a fighter, but if I am backed up against the wall I’ll kick the shit out of anyone.

“I don’t think your ability to fight has anything to do with how big you are. It’s to do with how much anger is in you.”

Hmmm. If you have that much anger in you, Amy, you might want to think twice about the amount of alcohol you're topping it up with.

Newton, however, approaches the subject as a bit of a giggle:
The Back To Black singer admitted she has a violent streak that comes out when she drinks — and she often uses new hubby Blake Fielder-Civil as a punch bag.

So I guess it wasn’t only her liver that suffered after she asked for 24 bottles of Moet champagne as part of her festival demands.

I don’t envy Blake his role as the new brunt of her booze binges.

Still, it might explain the Ray-Ban sunglasses which are almost permanently attached to his head.

Has he been using them as the usual boxers’ prop?

I think it’s about time Amy started bee-hiving herself.

Of course, with her editor having spent some time in the cells after "a silly row which got out of hand" with Ross Kemp, perhaps Victoria is wise being careful how she talks about women who attack their partners.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cub reports

The nice thing about the I Was A Cub Scout's website is that they also show the age limits on each of their shows. Which means you can see if you need to fake ID to get in:

* Jun 19 2007 Academy 2, Liverpool (14+)
* Jun 20 2007 Academy 2, Newcastle (14+)
* Jun 21 2007 Plug, Sheffield (14+)
* Jun 22 2007 Fibbers, York (15+)
* Jun 23 2007 Nastyfest, The Faversham, Leeds (18+)
* Jun 24 2007 Little Civic, Wolverhampton (14+)
* Jun 26 2007 Charlotte, Leicester (14+)
* Jun 27 2007 Arts Centre, Norwich (14+)

NB: Don't fake your ID. That would be wrong. Try loose women and cheap whisky - that'll age you more quickly.

Mondays shut out of the City

Last time they went to play the States, the Happy Mondays had to leave Bez behind. Now, they've had even more serious visa problems, and have been forced to pull their In The City of New York date entirely.

The official statement draws attention to the growing problems of getting British bands into America to play:

It seems that post-9/11 visa application restrictions for a band with the Happy Mondays history- know as much for their legendary lifestyle as their unique collision of rave beats, indie rock and street poetry has proven difficult this time. Essentially the US Embassy in the UK has halted the process of Bez’s visa application until the outcome of pending court proceedings. Unfortunately Bez was unable to come and shake his maracas at the bands first US performance in more than a decade at Coachella this spring. These proceedings should have concluded weeks ago but due to rescheduling, it made it impossible for a US visa to be issued in time for this weeks planned appearance.

Although the rest of the band were able to enter the country and perform at Coachella, it transpired that other band members - including Shaun Ryder - had been issued with single entry only visas, due to their prosecution histories. Although the duration of the term of their visas would have allowed another visit to the US, the single entry status meant that the whole visa application process had to be restarted upon their return from LA, placing their plans to appear in NYC in jeopardy.

The Happy Mondays are absolutely “gutted” at not being able to support Tony Wilson this week. However, they are sorting their visas issues once and for all—so the whole band— can return to the states sometime soon.

Oddly, the BPI seem to be very quiet on this one - isn't this the sort of thing they should be making a fuss about?

Wrong side of the Tracks

We've just had an email from James Waterson, recording the loss of another indie music store:

"Just popped over to Track Records, a fairly large independent store that's provided the backbone of York's music scene for the past 30 years. It's the sort of place that gets in every seven inch released by any tiny label in the country, where they have great stocks of obscure 80s indie and 60s r'n'b - in short, just what every music fan needs. A local group could press up a few hundred records and sell the whole lot to likeminded souls, anyone could write a fanzine, leave on the counter and guarentee that it would be read and appreciated. What's more, the staff encourage such actions for the greater good of the scene.

But it doesn't count for anything when the sales decline combines with rising rents. Moved from its high street location to a position on the edge of the city centre Track has finally run out of cash and as of this week launched a fire sale with a view to shutting down its once successful mail order business and shop with the month. The staff are distraught - when one pondered "what am I going to do?" he clarified it by meaning "about getting music, never mind my job". They are genuine fans of music, always recommending releases and assisting start up record labels such as myself. Within a month they will cease to exist and head the way of Spillers et al as our indie stores are subsumed.

Afterwards I wandered down to Virgin/HMV on our highstreet, the only remaining music shops in York. Only the latter made an attempt to stock singles, proffering a half shelf's worth of battered White Stripes seven inches and top 10 CDs. Local bands don't get a look in while trendy adverts try to convince me to buy Credit Cards and 'Entertainment packages' for my HDTV. The album selection is wide, but you're unlikely to find The Fall's entire back catalogue nestling between Felt reissues and current underground indie pop, let alone with staff who will provide honest appraisals. I've often scoffed at those who bemoan the 'death of the music industry' and the end of alternative culture. Yet today York's slowly-reviving-post-Shed-Seven music scene has been irrevocably damaged. Almost all of my current music taste was informed by rarities grabbed from the shop during my teenage years and yet, were in the same postion now, it's a good half hour on the train to the nearest non-highest music shop. Quite frankly, I simply wouldn't bother."

James tells us that the shop has been replaced with a sandwich shop. They'd better be bloody brilliant sandwiches.

REG loves Madge

Fancy that, eh? Richard E Grant - who stars in Madonna's movie Filth and Wisdom - reckons that Madonna is a great director:

"She is somebody who is so determined to stretch in every direction and I really admire that.

"Believe me, the number of directors that I have worked with who don't have half her ability makes me believe she has a real talent."

Richard's ability to separate wheat and chaff is demonstrated by just how many of those Argos adverts he made. Because if he could cheerfully turn up and do those, we're not sure his sense of judgement is calibrated on any scale known to us.

Ash to Ashes?

The end of Ash's Isle of Wight festival date has sent those of us who still care into full-on Ash-split mode. Introducing a song, Tim Wheeler told the crowd:

"This is our last song off our final album."

If they're having a fire sale, we're thinking of putting in a bid for Tim.

Dohety pursued by demons

Pete Doherty might want to calm down a bit, as apparently he's jumped into a press photographer's car claiming he was being chased by demons. Possibly the sort of demons which expect payment in return for merchandise rather than, say, an empath demon.

[Sam] Kelly says, "His eyes were rolling in his head and it looked like he was dribbling. He asked me for a lift and kept saying, 'I'm late' although he never said what for. I could see the sweat pouring off him and he just started mumbling to himself.

He was talking about how he doesn't like people wearing Kate's clothes and how he and Kate want to have kids together.

And he said he is going to be a bigger music legend than Sir Paul MCCartney.

He asked to use my mobile to make a couple of calls. He was talking away on the phone, but I couldn't tell if there was anyone on the other end. When I checked the phone later the number he had dialled wasn't recognised. Pete carried on mumbling until I slowed for a corner, then he just jumped out and ran off. He was in a real state."

That's definitely Sam Kelly the photographer and, sadly, not Denis Waterman's co-star from On The Up, I'm afraid.

Gossip item

The Gossip are playing a small-ish tour of the UK this September, which we're assuming has been arranged while the iron's hot:

7 September - Birmingham Academy
8 - Bristol Academy
9 - Bestival
11 - Cambridge Corn Exchange
12 - Preston 53 Degrees
13, 14 - London Forum
15 - Brighton Dome

The trials of those who would be famous

Stupid comedy hats off to the Guardian's Organ Grinder blog for describing latest Big Brother inmate Seany as [looking like] Goldie Lookin' Chain employed Mick Hucknall.

Meanwhile, Sky News is suggesting that Seany's support for Michael Jackson during his child abuse trial was a "skeleton in his closet", although seeing as he was talking about it - with a sense of pride - in his pre-entry video, it's not exactly much of a skeleton, nor, indeed, deeply inside a closet.

Still, they have managed to track down an interview with the man after the doves of innocence were released:

"I am so relieved because Michael Jackson was persecuted for crimes he didn't commit.

"He has touched everyone through his entertainment and has given every person a happy memory. He's a martyr - but the thing to remember is he's still alive."

Where did Sky get the quote from? Erm... a BBC interview. So, that's coverage of a Channel 4 programme relying on reportage from the BBC. Rupert must be delighted at his investments working so well for him.

That should cheer Lily Allen up a little

It seems that although Lily Allen is really only desperate to get back to the studio and make some more albums, she managed to smile through her tears when Kanye West invited her to a birthday party in New York.

We say he invited her; it was his party but we doubt if he wrote all the invites out himself.

Prince fills in the dates

Prince has announced the rest of his London dates and, despite the suggestion that he was going to play a series of unusual locations, he's just topped up the number of dates at the Millennium Dome to twenty-one. Tickets on sale Friday at 9; on eBay from about 9.15.

Commercial radio asks listeners what they think

Because they're always grumpy about their regulator - even a regulator which, really, is about as in control as the titular babysitter in Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, the commercial radio sector in the UK is trying to fight against Ofcom's latest set of proposals by holding a big debate, called The Big Listen.

The survey is being promoted on commercial radio - which means it won't really be very good at finding out what people who don't already listen commercial radio want to hear on the radio - and appears to only be online, at a stroke disenfranchising the 16 million Britons who have never been online.

Those who do make it on might feel the questions are somewhat skewed. Take, for example, this proposition with which you are asked to agree or disagree:

I like to hear well-known personalities and celebrities on my local radio station

Is it just us being suspicious, or does that seem a little bit like they're expecting everyone to say "yes", thinking the question means "do you enjoy it when David Essex is interviewed on Radio Little Rissington", only for the statistics to be used to justify simulcasting one programme across many networks - "statistics show that listeners love being able to hear the big names on their stations..."

The agenda is slightly less hidden on this question:
As long as my local station gives the information I need, I don’t mind where it’s broadcast from

but still, it's not as honest as phrasing the question "It makes no difference to me if my local station is actually broadcasting from outside the area", is it? And the sort of people who get annoyed that their 'local' voice is actually coming from a tower block in central London have abandoned the stations where the survey is being promoted anyway.

Then there's this question:
In the future radio should be available on as many devices as possible

Since it's technically possible to broadcast radio through a toaster, does strongly agreeing with this mean you're signing up for a receiver to really be built into anything possible?

Brothers against Punks... sort of

Dance music suddenly looked like it was going to get a bit more interesting, with the Daily Record suggesting a spat between The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk:

DANCE duo The Chemical Brothers launched an attack on their fellow headliners at Rockness by claiming Daft Punk are spoiled divas.

Blimey. Really?

Erm... no, not really:
Tom said: "I hear Daft Punk got a helicopter. Last night we went for a curry in Inverness.

"We were walking down the banks of Loch Ness with the sun shining. It's beautiful."

... which doesn't quite stack up the idea they were calling DP divas so much as suggesting they might have been missing out on something.

The sixty-second interview

What's really disappointing about Amy Winehouse's swiftly aborted interview during Channel 4's Isle of Wight Festival coverage is, surely, if she's so drunk she's only going to give one-syllable answers, it should just be No! Noooo! Nooooo!

Dave Cameron loses his golden boy

As if things weren't bad enough for David Cameron, when his butler has ironed this morning's Daily Mirror for him he's going to find out that Adam Rickitt, the most glittering of the celebrity a-list supposed to spark interest in the Tories, isn't going to be standing for them in the next election.

Given the choice between pounding the streets on the hustings before four years in opposition, or hanging about in Shortland Street, Rickitt chose New Zealand:

"Though I will always love England, I am now smitted with NZ and the people and want to work here, live here and raise a future family here."

Adam, who has bought a house and applied for residency, added: "I'm sure I'll still do jobs in the UK but I am so happy now.

"Everybody here has time for each other."

It's amazing what a society is like if it never endured Thatcher, isn't it?

We're not sure what "smitted" means - perhaps he meant that God made good on his threat to smite him. We're also not sure what a "future family" is, but we're going to assume that he intends to try and unseat George in Jane Jetson's affections.

Still, there's some good news for Dave: David Van Day is still available.

Moss side

It's probably unwise to condemn someone on the basis of a quote in Victoria Newton's Bizarre column, especially when it's been filtered through from the Isle of Wight festival. So let's hope that Kate Moss didn't really respond to Blake Fielder-Civil's goading about Pete Doherty by calling him "a fucking queer":

An onlooker said: “Kate went mental. Blake asked where her boyfriend was and she sneered ‘Gone for a p*ss, you fucking queer’.

“Kate shouted to her security guard, ‘Get him out the way’, and he was thrown out.”

Surely someone who works in the fashion industry wouldn't be tossing "queer" about as an insult, would she?

Challenge Anneka: Where's the money going?

Most charity records are a bit shady - even if the artists give their time for free, other expenses can eat away at the donation. It's usually a better idea to buy a record you like, and give a donation equal to the price of the charity record straight to the good cause.

Even so, it's something of a surprise to discover that if you shell out £14 for the showtunes album put together by Anneka Rice on ITV the other week, just £2 goes to the Association of Children's Hospices.

[A] spokeswoman last night insisted no one except the charity is profiting from the album.

She said the £13.95 retail price was necessary to cover costs like manufacturing, distribution and retailing, and said the £2 per copy was a higher donation than normal for a charity CD.

The spokeswoman added: “Reaction to the programme has been incredible. This will help tremendously in raising awareness of the charity and a substantial donation.”

But is that even true? In all the pre-publicity for the programme we saw, the name of the charity wasn't mentioned - if the idea was to "raise awareness", would it not have made sense to at least mention the Association in the trailers, rather than having a brief shot of a telegenic tot and a vague statement that "Anneka's doing it for the kids"?

Still, the charity will at least get a boost when ITV sends a cheque for the advertising slots it sold around the programme.

It is giving the money it made, isn't it?

Meanwhile, you could give direct to the Association.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why David Furnish is wise to not talk much

David Furnish has attacked Michael Moore's film, Sicko, which - we suspect - he hasn't actually seen. The movie is based on the US healthcare system, focusing on the seventeen million people without health insurance.

Furnish, bless him, missed the point somewhat:

"I completely disagree with Michael Moore.

"With my own father, when he was ill, the only option was to hire a jet and fly him to America. It was the only place to get good treatment."

No, David, you've agreed with Michael Moore; the American healthcare service is brilliant, if you can pay for it. You seem to have confused his film with one about rubbish doctors.

Chemical spits in Manson's eyes

The dignified response to Marilyn Manson's tired taunts at My Chemical Romance's expense would have been silence. The honest response, a shrug and an admission that it's a bit like Wal Mart and Safeway arguing over who's the chainiest store.

Instead, Gerard Way has attempted to rise in a battle of blunted wits:

“If Elvis Costello said we sucked we would think about it a bit but usually it is comments from someone with a new record to promote so the remarks ring hollow.

"We still haven't found someone that has knocked us down that we need to take seriously."

Well, no, because anyone who attacks MCR is like a drunk fighting a scarecrow - however seriously the assault might be intended, it's not only pointless but by treating the scarecrow as a valid rival will leave the drunk diminished when he sobers up. It's interesting that Gerard most fears a tongue lashing from Elvis Costello, though. Since he hasn't made a decent album since Gerard was in diapers, it's curious as to where his name came from as a gold standard. We wonder if Gerard plucked it out the good clean air.