Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tony Wilson's world: Northside

We liked Northside - we saw them, on that slightly mismatched package tour they did with the Pale Saints, the night they actually signed for Factory, and they were alight. They were never going to change the world, but neither were they Flowered Up. And for that we should be offering a silent prayer.

Aretha can't stand heat; gets out of the, erm, Ampitheatre

Aretha Franklin's hometown gig in Detroit is the latest victim of global warming, as she pulls the daye on Weather Channel advice:

"Following the Weather Channel and the daily reports in the news via television and newspaper publications, I see that the temperatures in Detroit have been very similar," she said in the statement. "I am exhausted from the heat and cannot tolerate heat in these extremely high numbers and being in concert simultaneously."

Ironic footnote: The venue she was due to play is sponsored by DTE Energy, currently being accused of being a major polluter in Canada and was involved in lobbying to reduce the effectiveness of clean air legislation. Maybe if Aretha wants to have a cooler time onstage, she should choose venues which don't encourage the sort of environmental damage which is making it so damn hot.

Tony Wilson's world: The Railway Children

Their very early stuff - including Brighter - came out on Factory; before they were tempted to head off to Virgin. Virgin, it's fair to say, were never quite sure what to do with the band, hoping that their poppy sound and Gary Newby's cheekbones would be enough for them to carve out a kind of Haircut One Hundred style niche for themselves - certainly, Newby would pop up in Jackie magazine from time to time. Had they stayed on Factory, of course, the lurching crises in the label's finances might have sunk them just as surely as a marketing team which didn't understand them, but better, surely, to die on your feet as a British Go-Betweens than fade away as Modern Romance with A-Levels?

Go West

We wouldn't normally suggest buying a record whether you intend to listen to it or not, but the pledge from 50 Cent that he'll retire if Kanye West outsells his album surely makes the Kanye album a tempting purchase.

We are enjoying this strange, one-sided feud - does Halfdollar realise just how ridiculous he looks throwing down all these gauntlets which West is just ignoring?

Facebook gets its Arctic Monkeys

One of the key moments in turning MySpace (remember that?) into a brief phenomenon was the discovery that bands were using it as a kind of hothouse fan-growing environment. It made the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen what they are today. Or rather it didn't, but it made for good copy to pretend it did.

Now that Facebook is enjoying its growth spurt, it's little wonder that it, too, is now being credited for making stars out the otherwise obscure:

Facebook band to sing World Cup anthem

A band formed on the internet site Facebook have been plucked from obscurity to play England's official rugby World Cup anthem.

Blimey - so is it really true that Facebook works as such a super-networking space that it can even make you official musically anthemites?

Erm, not quite:
Blake, a four-piece of ex-choristers, got together online four months ago after discovering a shared interest in classical music.

Last month, they signed a £1 million, five-album deal with record giant Universal.

So, in effect, Facebook played little more than the role an advert in the Melody Maker would have done 20 years ago, and the rest of the heavy lifting has been done by an old-fashioned record label.

Even that much isn't entirely true:
The band had mutual friends but had never met as a group before they discovered a shared background in classical music.

Still, it's surprising to see a fusty old institution like the English rugby team going with a new band rather than just dusting off Swing Low Sweet Chariot for the umpteenth time, eh?
Their version of Swing Low will be the England rugby team's official anthem for the 2007 World Cup.


Tony Wilson's world: The Wendys

Some saw The Wendys as being the vital bridge between the Thames Valley Scene and Madchester. Others, as a band which couldn't decide quite what bandwagon they were trying to jump.

Can anyone suggest another way Blunt could remain in the background

James Blunt - he's just like you or me, says a simpering profile in The Sun:

You might think that would be tricky for a singer whose debut album sold a staggering 12million copies and turned him into a household name.

Yet James dresses down, regularly takes easyJet flights to Ibiza, gets the Tube in London and refuses to have bodyguards — and he reckons blending in lets him lead as ordinary a life as possible.

Generally, ordinary blokes don't give interviews to the papers about how ordinary they are; not-having-bodyguards-and=pointing-it-out is just another form of showing off.

After all, this is hardly a man given to blending in, is it:
He dated a supermodel, stunning Czech Petra Nemcova, and has been linked to party girls Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

He is surrounded by a gaggle of gorgeous girls wherever he goes.

James jokes: “It’s a hard life, isn’t it?

“There’s a song on the new album, One Of The Brightest Stars, which is about dealing with all that. It’s like I am an observer, I’m seeing it all and experiencing it for its good bits and all the rest. And yeah, of course, there are some benefits along the way.

“I’ve definitely met lots of people — both male and female — and yeah I’ve met more women in these last three-and-a-half years than I’ve met in my entire life.”

Blunt is attempting to palm himself off as an average Joe while getting himself palmed off by a parade of supermodels and starlets.

But if he does want to return to obscurity for real - and, oh, how sweetw ould that be - it's really in his power. James, you know what to do. Of course, it would involve less sex and money. So you won't. But let's stop pretending that flying EasyJet makes you down to earth.

Winehouse offered rehab; responds with catchphrase

Victoria Newton's notoriously unreliable Bizarre column has attempted to scoop the others with its Amy Winehouse coverage:

AMY WINEHOUSE fears she is on the verge of suicide – but still won’t go to rehab, I can exclusively reveal.

I can also disclose the disturbing development that the star had been smoking HEROIN on the night she overdosed.

Contrary to reports, Amy, who collapsed this week following a three-day drug and booze binge, is desperately ill.

It's all a bit of an embarrassing gear-crunch from Newton's now-forgotten Wino Watch, which attempted to make watching a woman drink herself to death into light entertainment.

Embed and breakfast man: Tony Wilson

It seems appropriate this weekend to spend some time looking at some of the more obscure corners of Tony Wilson's legacy.

First, here's a slice of Remote Control:

More video stuff will appear over the weekend; a small menu will, as ever, appear here
The Wendys
The Railway Children
Durutti Column

Impressobit: Tony Wilson

There will be, of course, much written about Tony Wilson elsewhere today, focusing - we guess - heavily on Factory, New Order and Joy Division, Granada Reports; perhaps In The City.

Here's some of them:
BBC News Online
Manchester Evening News
Associated Press
Click for larger imageThis Is Cheshire manages to get his name wrong. Three times. But they were working at 1.11am
The Independent

Paul Morley writes in The Guardian:

We used to make fun of Wilson and the mantle of grandeur he often assumed, but we knew that in his idiosyncratic and subversive way he was a great and important figure. Good things happened because he was around. This flamboyant, infuriating, pushy hybrid of light entertainer and anarchic Situationist was so in love with life, with music, with ideas, that he infected you with his passion.

It's not often when we're writing one of these where we have much in the way of a personal angle to add, but we did - just the once - break bread with Tony Wilson. He sat himself down at a table where a few of us were fortifying ourselves before a day talking about the digital future of music, and it was immediately apparent how he was able to carry so many people with him on the most hare-brained of schemes. He didn't just sit down, he held court, making a (seemingly) convincing case that to stay in business, record companies would need to embrace the obsessive fan - he used an example of somebody who wanted to be sure the resins used on reproduction covers were the same as the ones used on the original. And then he was off again. Working the room. Running the show.

In a way, he was the Isambard Kingdom Brunel of the music industry, in that his spectacular victories were made possible by the same sense of experimentation that created terrible failures. And like Brunel, it was those flops which meant that he never got to enjoy the fruits of his successes.

So while the American press raises its toast to "the man they based 24 Hour Party People on", let's remember some of Wilson's other work:

Factory Too: 1994's attempt to revive Factory, using money from London Records. Curiously, it was London who almost saved Factory when it had gone into receivership with debts of two and a half million. That deal had foundered at the last minute when it discovered buying the label didn't bring rights to the New Order catalogue with it - although they would have got a lovely table.

Factory Once: The third coming of Factory, in a form dedicated to releasing material from the original Factory records.

F4: Never being afraid to tread over old ground, Wilson revived Factory again in 2005 - the main fruits of this short-lived effort being a Durutti Column album and some compliment slips.

Remote Control: Channel 4's reworking of MTV's game show. It does make you wonder what Wilson could have done with a more mainstream game show - it's surely not inconceivable the man who happily voicedover The Richard Hillman Story could have found a niche as a twenty-first century Countdown helmsman.

What Now?: We're not entirely sure this was called What Now, but it probably was. Back in the 1980s, when exam results were generally a private affair and not merely an excuse for the Telegraph to print pictures of blonde teenagers jumping in the air alongside thinkpieces decrying the slump in standards, Granada would contribute a daytime phone-in to the ITV network. The idea would be young people who had suddenly discovered their lives had collapsed could call-in, Swap Shop style, and discover there was still a chance they could go to Loughborough University or get a career in the twine-manufacturing industry. We imagine that Wilson's contract with Granada and his role presenting pop programmes put him in the frame for talking to Britain's youth, rather than an executive enjoying the irony of Tony giving careers advice.

Northside: But at least he stood by them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Anthony H Wilson is dead

Tony Wilson, cantankerous anchorman, unsuccessful businessman, inspired A&R talent, tireless enthusiast, died this evening at 6.05pm. He'd been diagnosed with kidney cancer and had one kidney removed back in January.

A spokesperson for Christie Hospital, where Wilson died, said:

"Tony Wilson died peacefully at the Christie Hospital at 6.05pm this evening with his family by his bedside.

"Tony was a very great supporter of the Christie and this is extremely sad news.

"We would like to extend our sympathy to Tony's family."

Taco Bell food is safe to eat

Taco Bell's plans for expansion don't apparently, extended to repeating their ill-fated British experiment. Instead, they're throwing their advertising money behind pushing Emo bands.

Because nothing says "I hate myself and I wanna die, or at least have people think I do", like a sloppy bean burrito and a cup of Coke.

Untitled post

The Untitled Music Project aren't just touring with the Victorian English Thingy Whatname. Here's their dates:

24 August Dude vs. Dude @ Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
08 September Korova, Liverpool ( + Victorian English Gentlemens Club)
09 Dice Club @ The Horse And Groom, London
11 White Heat @ Madame Jo Jos, London (+ Future Of The Left and Victorian English Gentlemens Club)
24 Nottingham University, Nottingham
06 October Oxjam @ Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham (+ The Gravity Crisis and Swampmeat)
08 Durrr @ The End, London
18 Fabric, London
02 November Flapper & Firkin, Birmingham
01 December Legends, Staffordshire University, Stafford

Gentlemen's Quarterly

The Victorian English Gentlemen's Club have sent through some tour dates - some events, you'll note, shared with Future of The Left and Untitled Music Project (of whom, more in a moment, if you're rerading through RSS):

12 August Windmill - Brixton
6 September Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (+ Future of the Left)
8 Korova, Liverpool ( + Untitled Musical Project)
9 Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Milton Keynes
10 Cavern club, Exeter (+ Future of the Left)
11 White Heat, London (+ Future of the Left and Untitled Musical Project)
14 The Adelphi club, Hull (+ Future of the Left)
15 The Faversham, Leeds (+ Future of the Left)
20 October Meze Lounge - Newport

How close we came

Yes, yes, of course you have your Posh and Becks, but imagine if Suzi Quatro had overcome her shyness and actually snared David Essex:

"I had a real thing for him when he sang, 'Hold me close don't let me go... oh no.' That's exactly what I wanted to do. "He was just so damn cute. I never told him, even though we met many times. Now my secret is out."

Now, there you would have had a power couple worthy of the name.

Nelson pushes blow

Clearly, then, his most recent run-in with the law didn't stop him: Willie Nelson is setting out on pro-cannabis tour across the US today:

Nelson did not respond to a request to discuss the concert, but Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said the funds will be used for legalization efforts around the country. At least a dozen states allow people to use marijuana to relieve pain or treat other ailments, and Kampia said his group is helping to push ballot initiatives making medical marijuana legal in several other states.

“The goal is to end marijuana prohibition in the US” Kampia said.

We're not sure why Willie Nelson wasn't available to talk about the positive aspects of cannabis use - rumours that he was hiding under his bed muttering something about "the man" couldn't be confirmed, etc etc...

Universal tries some DRM-free sales

Jeez, guys, don't rush into things: Universal are going to launch a limited trial of DRM-free downloads:

Universal said: "The experiment will run from August to January and analyze such factors as consumer demand, price sensitivity and piracy in regards to the availability of open MP3s."

Retailers including Google, Wal-Mart, and, will participate in the DRM-free trial, Universal said.

But participants do not include Apple iTunes online music store, the third largest music retailer in the US.

Yes, yes, Universal, we get it - you're showing Apple that you don't need them. Although one might argue about the value of this "experiment" if you exclude the place where people actually buy their music from.

Damon slams Pet Shop door

Who knows the real reason why Daon Albarn has blocked the Pet Shop Boys from using their Girls And Boys on the new remix album. The Sun has a source which says it knows:

A source said: “Damon complained that they had made the song sound like their own.

“He was also annoyed when he heard NEIL TENNANT supported OASIS in their Nineties chart battle with Blur. Neil said Damon was pretentious.

“He’s just proved him right.”

I'm sure Neil Tennant would be the first to point out that, erm, there's not actually anything pretentious in refusing to allow a track to appear on a compilation album. Like The Sun, we don't really have a clue why he's said no, either, but we'd guess it's more likely to be because Albarn doesn't really like the track, has come to see it as a bit of an albatross round his neck, and would rather concentrate on animated monkey operas or whatever it is he's doing now.

Britney: "back at work a little soon", then

Perhaps less interesting than all the photos of Britney Spears topless and so on, but the real question about the video shoot which reduced Britney to tears is: why? Why were they even making that video in the first place?

A pole-dancing theme? Good lord, was this the result of a brainstorming session which was trying to get in the Guinness Book of Records for fewest microseconds consideration?

After the video shoot - obviously, it didn't get finished, as Britney dissolved into tears and everyone got embarrassed and sent home - Spears tried to cop off with one of the extras.

Because, after all, the last time she pulled a back-up dancer - Federline - that went so well.

Mike Encinias is the - let's say lucky, shall we? - lucky man this time:

Mike says he kissed Britney after her assistant told him the singer wanted to "make out" with him.

He said: "She straddled me and put her legs around me.

"When I started kissing her I did everything in my power - from my previous experience of kissing girls - not to mess it up."

Is it just us, or is there something really odd about that phrase? My power comes from previous girl-kissing experiences?

Okay, we think he probably means he was trying not to look too excited - and, indeed, to not mess up, but even so.

So, with all his experience kissing girls, what did Mike make of this latest girl-kissing?
"Britney had more drinks - she was having Jack and more Mojitos in between me feeling her up, her boobs, and kissing her on her neck.

"Her body was very nice. It was sexual and sensual kissing. It took some effort to perfect.

"She is a great kisser - I'd actually say a phenomenal kisser."

This sounds less like the words of man who kissed someone who was once one of the most desired women on the planet - more like one of those machine-assembled emails which fail to convince you they've been sent by a real person.

"I shall use my experience of kissing girls to perfect this sensual kissing."

Just when Mike was looking forward to being Mr. Spears number 3, it all went wrong:
Mike was invited back to Britney's suite once the party was over at 4am.

He was planning to spend the rest of the night in her bed - until one of his friends collapsed and nearly drowned from all the booze he had downed.

Britney's bodyguards stepped in and ordered Mike to take his mate home.

There's always one, isn't there?

Oh, and we know you'll be worried:
American Mike kept his trunks on as straggly-haired Brit - who had a 1999 hit with Crazy - groped him.

So, that's alright, then.

U2 buy Bolton

Striking out on a solo side-project, Larry Mullen (through the Galvin Investments company) is buying a block of flats in Bolton.

Oddly his co-investor in the project is Colin Farrell. Don't you just hate it when actors decide they're going to get involved with rock music? Even when it's buying houses with rock musicians.

The builder of the Anvil, Woodthorpe Homes' Alan Hegarty, is very precise about what his new investors like:

"Colin and Larry were attracted to buy in Bolton by its location close to Manchester, the motorway network, and on the edge of the stunning West Pennine Moors.

"They were also attracted by the large-scale regeneration of the town centre."

"We have been told they are football fans and will find the location handy for going to matches at Old Trafford," he said.

He added that Bolton's location and regeneration plans were attracting young, affluent professionals to the town.

Unfortunately, though, they won't be able to buy any houses to live in, as they've all been snapped up by celebrity investors for their portfolio.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

When you lose control of the press

Poor Amy Winehouse. Even Hello! can't bring itself to run the official "extreme exhaustion" line without quote marks.

Timbaland endorses Madonna product

Timbaland has looked on the work he and Justin Timberlake have done for Madonna, and pronounced it good:

"We just did Madonna's record. Me and Justin did the records for the album.

"She's great... she's got her hot album. Her album is up there with Justin's album."

Blimey, not as good as all that, eh? He surely doesn't mean Justin Timberlake's last collection, does he, the self-aggrandising bong of an empty barge desperately trying to dock in an over-flooded harbour?

Madonna, meanwhile, might be less than thrilled that Timbaland - who she took on as a hot-name producer, is now also working with Celine Dion. Which makes his current work look more like Gordon Ramsay's "helping out failing restaurants" series, and pegs Madonna as somewhere around a poorly-decorated tearoom in Ludlow which serves frozen gateaux.

Aguilera suggests music industry is sexist

Of course, the music industry is a sexist place. We're not entirely sure Christina Aguilera's attempts to change that are starting the right place, as rather than explaining how the Dirty video was anything other than sexism-in-motion, she's instead decided to whine about being called a diva:

"If a man's assertive, he's head of the ship. "If a woman shows the same aggression, she's a diva."

Which would be shameful, were it true - we've heard quite a few blokes being called on their stupid demands, from Fifty Cent to Elton John - and, equally, many of the women called divas aren't being "aggressively assertive", they're, uh, being divas. Madonna having backstage areas cleared before she'll go to the toilet, for example, or, ooh, Christina Aguilera demanding police escorts because she's too grand to wait in a traffic line. That'd be divadom whether you've got a cock or not, lady.

Jagger's little pill

Up until now, the best you could say about Mick Jagger's somewhat wobbly solo work was that it at least made you grateful for something when the Rolling Stones got back together. Now, he's somehow managed to find a way of determining what was the best of that slew of ill-considered and half-hearted work, as he's sticking out a solo compilation.

How high has the bar been set for this best-of? It's got Dancing In The Streets on it, that's where the standard is.

There's the obligatory two-unreleased tracks, of course, but even Jagger hasn't been able to work up enough enthusiasm for the project to actually haul his tax-shielded arse into a recording studio, instead sticking on a couple of demos he did with Rick Rubin for understandably overlooked Wandering Spirit album. It all neatly sums up the very couldn't-be-bothered-ness of Jagger solo.

There's nothing on it even half as good as Je Suis Un Rock Star.

Head on the coffee table

Coming this autumn: Dead Children Playing, a collection of the artwork produced for Radiohead by "Stanley Donwood" and "Doctor Tchock, giving a chance for their work to breathe set free of the limitations of iPod screens and CD booklet inserts. Interesting that the arch-anti-consumerists Radiohead have come up with a way to make you rebuy the art you already have - only in a visible form this time. Neat.

A while with 'wild

Good lord - there we were, poised on the cusp of suggesting it might be a little early for a Idlewild career-spanning restrospective, but then we noticed it's called Scottish Friction: 1997-2007.

Yes, ten years.

While you're feeling old, you might want to consider the planned tour, too:

9 Liverpool Academy
10 Preston 53 Degrees
11 Leicester The Venue
13 Sheffield The Leadmill
23 Portsmouth Pyramid
24 Falmouth Princess Pavillion
25 Exeter Phoenix
27 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
28 Warwick University
29 Cambridge The Junction
30 London Koko

1 Dublin The Village
2 Belfast Mandela Hall

At least she's still a B this time

The somewhat rushed and secret wedding of Mel B and anyone at all who isn't Eddie Murphy (in this case, Stephen Belafonte) is, in no way, to be thought of as a social experiment, nor should you assume there is a 'control' couple somewhere who haven't married in haste.

Calvin Harris and the art of acceptable partying

With his big party contest having earned more press coverage than anyone probably expected, Calvin Harris has now posted a video and message milking the publicity a little more ("explaining how to party responsibly"):

“Hello there, well a lot has been made of my attempt to get into the record books with my amazing party extravaganza (that's what i'm calling it nowadays) on August 18th, including various sections of the media outing me as a 'hate figure for parents' which i was trying to keep a secret as i know i have a huge parental fanbase.

That aside, it was suggested that i provide a helpful video blog to set out some key points you should remember when planning your party.

So in order to do this, i nicked my Dad's car, and during my joyride* i took some time out to explain how to party in a responsible manner.

However, i forgot all of the main points bar one, and ended up rambling for about 4 minutes.

*its a joke (in case the Daily Telegraph are reading this)”

It's all fun and games, of course, until someone steals a flatscreen television...

Talking like a native

Victoria Beckham is getting to grips with being in a foreign land:

Victoria told us that since David joined LA Galaxy they are getting the hang of using US words. She said: "We're starting to say trunk instead of boot, trash instead of rubbish, that kind of thing."

It's true. Just the other day, David was down at the Soccerball stadium asking if anyone had seen his pair of Football Trunks.

Something off the internet

A quick glance at the lead story in today's Victoria Newton column might make it look like, rather than actually reporting, she's just running a shedload of pictures she's taken off an attachment she got sent with an email:

BLIMEY, Bruce Willis is really in touch with his feminine side.

The Die Hard tough guy is among the Hollywood hunks transformed into glam girls in a madcap viral email doing the rounds.

Computer wizards at have given a whole host of stars sex-swap makeovers – and the results are hilarious!

Ah. She has just printed a shedload of pictures from an email attachment. As her lead story.

We're looking forward to tomorrow's exclusive, about the widow of a senior Nigerian government minister who's trying to smuggle seventy-five million US dollars out the country and needs Victoria's help.

Drugs overdose proves to be exhausting

The Sun - while acknowledging the official line that Amy Winehouse is "exhausted" - splashes this morning with claims from an eyewitness to her arrival at hospital, and what went on:

Tattooed Amy, whose stick-thin frame and sallow complexion has worried friends and fans alike, was given an adrenaline shot in the early hours drama. And she had her stomach pumped.

On the other hand, the paper's other great page one obsession of the last couple of weeks, the Great White Shark story, has turned out to have been based on photos taken a bit further off the coast of Cornwall than the paper claimed - about 6,000 miles off, to be exact. So we'll approach the eyewitness with a little caution - although "being rushed to hospital with exhaustion" clearly is a cover story.

It's like one of those Frasiers where Kelsey Grammar is on leave

Max Clifford's comfy position top-slicing Kerry Katona's misery cash is now well-established, The Sun is now running pieces about Katona without needing to bother quoting her:

[Mark Croft] yesterday: “I am not a liar.

“I don’t have to prove it, I’m not doing it [the lie-detector test].”

I’m A Celeb winner Kerry’s publicist Max Clifford said: “It’s very disappointing.

“It begs the question Why?”

Actually, Clifford could just move in with Croft and leave Kerry out the loop entirely.

Oh, and Max? Perhaps Croft doesn't want to take the test because, you know, he's not interested in using his personal screw-ups to turn a few bob. Just a guess.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

At last, Doherty has an alibi for something

From the Daily Mirror:

Pete Doherty could not have been spotted in London's Crystal club on June 31. There are only 30 days in June. (Page 6, July 31).


Former McCarthy - Stereolabber Tim Gane and ex-Sunday Correspondent writer Sean O'Hagan (we're teasing, Robin, honestly) out the High Llamas have come together to record a soundtrack for the French movie La Vie d'Artiste. It's out in France at the start of September, before leaking round the world following on from that.

Winehouse "exhausted"

Amy Winehouse has pulled out of tonight's gig in Oslo, with her people announcing she's been hospitalised with that well-known ailment 'exhaustion':

"Amy Winehouse was admitted to UCLH this morning suffering from severe exhaustion.

"Amy was discharged from the hospital this afternoon and has been advised to take complete rest. Scheduled performances in Norway and Denmark this week have been cancelled."

Interestingly, the festival organisers claim they were told she wouldn't be coming at one this afternoon, which seems a little late to have been realising you're not going to be flying from London to Oslo.

Meg White is an aunt again

Congratulations to Jack White and Karen Elson, who - unless it's just a "joke" he's introduced to a press release - have just had their second kid, a boy called Henry Lee.

Kelly Osbourne discovers scruples, loses job

We don't have much time for Kelly Osbourne round these parts, but we'd like to give her a small ripple of applause for telling E! Entertainment that she wouldn't be part of a show featuring her and Kelly Stewart making fun out of people with "ordinary" (i.e. actually useful) jobs:

A source tells TMZ that after she saw the first show, Kelly decided not to sign on, as it was "demeaning to other people and juvenile."

Unlike the other reality TV series she did, which was just demeaning full stop, of course. We wonder if Sharon will be inspired by her daughter's stand to quit her TV job making fun of ordinary people. Or is The X Factor just too lucrative?

Black Lips stuff ships

Black Lips album Good Bad, Not Evil (the title, the press release informs us, is from a Shangri-Las song) is going out into the world early next month; there's to be a related tour in support, too:


Alan McGee: he really does see Oasis as his legacy

In the latest Guardian Music blog, Alan McGee sounds a deathly warning against hype. "Would you put your life in the hands of these rock and roll bands?", he asks, a not-very-subtle reminder of the band he put his pension scheme in the hands of, before kicking off a list of some of the much ballyhooed acts who flopped - Sigue Sigue Sputnik, The Roaring Boys, Orlando. That sort of thing. There's no room, oddly, for references to Baby Amphetamine, or the other bands that he pushed himself despite their lack of saleability; nor the Ozymadiantics of post-Definitely Maybe Oasis - Knebworth, surely, being a working example of what happens when you over-inflate the myth.

What really marks out the piece, though, is the opening, where McGee kicks the shit out of two of his own acts - two of the bands whose presence on the Creation roster made it impossible to dismiss the label as simply the packaging of nutritionally questionable fayre it had become by the time it ended:

Highlights of my hyping skills include talking up Kevin Shields to be a Brian Eno-like genius (when in fact you could put a monkey in the studio with Alan Moulder and make it sonically interesting), and the Boo Radleys, who were signed to demonstrate to Kevin that I could take anybody doing "his" music and make it a number one.

Although, of course, the Boo Radleys never had a number one single, and their number one album was the least Valentines-esque collection they ever turned in. Still, it's nice that McGee is keen to distance himself from the records which we used to have admit gave him a grudging claim to care about music - and it answers the question of how he could have put out Be Here Now with a straight face. It's the sound of calculators.

And his view of the current music scene is equally odd:
Now the internet is such well-trodden territory, death by blog-hype is becoming de rigueur. Both Beirut and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had been called the indie second coming, and enforced an A&R policy of "Sign anything above an eight in Pitchfork" that caused certain bands to be picked up and dispensed with very quickly. Beirut's poor live performances were his death knell while Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's second album was (perhaps unfairly) dismissed.

Beirut, surely, is something of an acquired taste - Zach was never going to be a David Hamilton hotshot or play the lottery show, and it seems a little odd for McGee to be sniffly dismissing him after one album - not to mention that 4AD hardly oversold that one.

And who called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "the indie second coming" anyway? Not to mention that per McGee's opening gambit, I might not put my life in their hands, but I'd certainly bet on them giving me a better evening or two than anything on Poptones.

The comments box on the blog has been overflowing with responses, but the sweetest of them all is a simple link to this, on YouTube. We're not entirely certain, but we think it might proves that Creation records was founded on the income McGee generated from his time as the Hofmeister bear:

[Thanks to Oliver Keens]

Look out! Your mp3 files are being deleted

NME reports a worrying development in the world of malicious computer software, a virus that will eat your music files:

The worm - called W32. Deletemusic - goes through an infected user's hard drive deleting all the MP3s it finds.

It also looks for any MP3s on any external drives and memory cards attached to the machine.

The memory card can then spread the worm to any other computer it is put into.

Frightening stuff. After all, you haven't gone to all that trouble pinching music off the peer-to-peer networks ("ripping your CDs to your hard-drive") in order to have your efforts wiped out, have you?

Only thing is, this virus isn't really any different to the thousands of others out in the wild - so, providing your virus protection is up to date, you should be fine. Also, amongst all the panic, NME fails to mention the somewhat less-frightening aspects of the virus which the Register covered when it reported the virus over a week ago:
The worm is spreading, albeit modestly, causing a small number of infections. Anti-virus vendors such as Symantec rate it as a low to no-risk threat.

Malware capable of zapping MP3 files is rare but far from unprecedented. The Klez-F worm, for example, which was widespread in 2002, overwrote MP3 files (and other file types) on certain days of the month. The Scrambler worm was programmed to scramble MP3 files to sound like a scratched record while the Mylife-G worm overwrote MP3 files with the words "my lIfE".

Kanye rejects 50 Cent's not-thought-through idea

In a way, we loved the idea that 50 Cent believed it would be possible to decide if he or Kanye West had made the better album by having a Presidential-style televised debate between the pair of them, if only because we can't start to imagine what the questions would have been. In fact, we picture it as being less like Bush and Clinton, more like those stagy boxing match weigh-ins.

Still, figuring that it'd be impossible to get a definitive answer on a question which can only be judged from a personal, subjective level, Kanye West has turned the idea down. We note this is being described as him "backing down", giving the impression that he'd somehow been involved in the original suggestion and now he was getting cold feet, rather than just being offered a chance to partake in an absurd pantomime and not falling for it.

Tomorrow: Oasis and Blur finally settle who's best by going on Vernon Kay's Family Fortunes.

Would-be mayor left out on a limb

The attempts to do a bit of campaigning for mayorship by calling for Ice Cube to be banned from Auckland has washed back on Len Brown: concert organisers have rather publicly rebuffed him, insisting the event will continue and suggesting that Brown was trying to "censor" Cube.

Note to Mr. Brown: If you're going to try and make yourself look like a man in charge, it's best to try and make sure your stunts won't fall flat.

Stay straight, instructs strict Street

During the making of the forthcoming Babyshambles album, Stephen Street decided to have a go at getting Pete Doherty to kick the drugs:

"Pete wasn't in a very good state for the first couple of weeks of making the record for the reasons that people know about. It was a bit worrying to be honest with you.

"There were a couple of times I had to fire warning shots across his bow, say, 'Listen, you've got to sort yourself out here because if you don't I can't work with you'. I felt like I was going to let down the rest of the band if I walked away from things.

"Sometimes I had to sit down with Pete and have really good heart-to-hearts with him to get through all of that and connect with the real musician and artist that's underneath..I wanted to prove to those people that he can make a decent record."

Clearly, Doherty took what he said straight to heart, judging by how it's now almost a week and a half since he's been photographed doing drugs in a tabloid.

Street seems to have missed the point that, if Doherty was off the drugs, he'd be in a position to make a decent record like the ones he made before - because he could get back with Carl, bringing out the best in each other. If it wasn't for the drugs, Street wouldn't be involved with a Babyshambles album, because there would be no Babyshambles.

Nash, Coxon fight for the market

Kate Nash and Graham Coxon are actively campaigning to save Camden Market in the face of a totally unfathomable attempt to replace it with a shopping centre.

Okay, it's not unfathomable - we actually understand the concept of "buttock-headed, culture-destroying, profit-driven selfishness" - but what is unfathomable is that this idea can even be floated to the point where gigs are having to be organised to save the market.

Nash is playing the market on Thursday; Coxon, meanwhile, has spoken to the local paper:

"This is a pathetic attempt at modernisation, What's going to be in it? More Starbucks coffee houses and Carphone Warehouses?

"It should be full of tailors, shoemakers, cheesemakers and independent shops, but of course they are not going to do that."

Maybe not cheesemakers, Graham. It took Camden long enough to get Alex James out of its patch last time.

Girls Aloud fans left with empty pockets

The promoter of a Girls Aloud "end of tour party" has disappeared following the cancellation of the already-postponed event, leaving fans unable to find out about refunds.

The planned event at Plymouth's Newnham Park had been pulled in June, citing vague "health and safety" reasons; it was quietly cancelled altogether this week. The band's people are fuming:

The band's agents, William Morris, said they were unaware of the problem and would attempt to rectify the situation.

"We were under the impression that there would be no problems with refunds and that it would be done immediately," said a spokeswoman.

She added that attempts were being made to contact the Plymouth-based promoter to "get it sorted out straight away".

Of course, there's nothing to stop the band refunding its fans, and then going through the process of getting the cash back from the promoter. After all, it was Girls Aloud who introduced fans to Shaun Hooper and Edge Promotions, and we'd guess that GA are in a better place to bring pressure to bear - and take any knock - than many of their young fans are.

It's hardly being star-crossed, is it?

The Daily Mail expresses surprise at the relationship between Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum.

Not because it's Jamie Cullum, which was enough to make us check on Wikiepdia that there aren't two Sophie Dahls. Oh no, the Mail worries about size:

Sophie Dahl's new romance with Jamie Cullum is going from strength-to-strength - despite the 6ft model towering over the 5ft 4in British jazz musician by eight inches.


They looked like an unusual pair at first," said one onlooker at Los Angeles Airport.

"Sophie towered over Jamie, even though she was only wearing flip-flops.

"But she was smiling and seemed very relaxed as he puffed down the stairs with his little suitcase. It was all very sweet."

As 'love against the odds' goes, it's hardly the greatest stumbling block, is it? You can't really picture even Hollywood trying a movie where the pitch was "He was from a privileged background, working in a fast-moving industry... so was she... but he was a little bit shorter. Could they overcome the occasional need for him to stand to tiptoe to kiss her when they were standing up to find true romance?"

Cullum should try heels. It might stop him dancing on the piano, too.

Kerry prepares to juggle

It's so tricky being a busy working mother, trying to juggle trips to Iceland, your husband's lie-detector test to see if he cheated, renewing wedding vows with him - thank god Kerry Katona has Max Clifford to rely on.

Clifford had been keeping a fairly low profile after that whole telling the world that Kerry had never taken drugs back in December 2005. But he's back at the centre of things now:

Kerry, 26, and ex-cabbie Mark Croft, who have a daughter Heidi, have a deal with a glossy magazine to cover the ceremony. And her publicist Max Clifford tells us: "Mark is desperately trying to make things right between them."

At least until there's a deal signed for "My terrible divorce", of course.

Is there nobody immune to blandishments of the gossip columns?

She might have let us all down by agreeing to kick off the whole circus, but judging by the 3AM Girls decision not to bother with the faux-flattery, Mel C is remaining awkward as ever. Indeed, today's story suggests that Mel C is going to receive all the hatred that would usually be smeared all over the women:

It was allegedly Mel C's turn to be scary after she was told by manager Simon Fuller to take singing lessons.

All the band were reportedly ordered to have voice training before their reunion tour but Mel stormed: "I don't need lessons. I can sing, thank you very much."

Really, Mel, do you need this? It says everything about how Fuller knows the prices of tickets, but the value of nothing. Why would you tell the only one of them who can actually sing that she needs lessons? Couldn't be an attempt to try and hammer down the reluctant member, could it?

Hang about, Newton's not finished yet...

Maybe that last piece didn't tell Geri how great she was. Let's try some more:

GERI HALLIWELL proved you don’t have to spend a fortune to look glam as she went out in a pair of £8.99 gold hotpants from River Island.

Ginger Spice dazzled on a night out in the French resort of St Tropez, celebrating her 35th birthday with a gang of mates.

A pal of hers told me: “Geri had a fantastic birthday. She got the gold hotpants in London from River Island and was looking forward to showing off her new figure in them on holiday.”

The pants are almost as slinky as those famously worn by KYLIE MINOGUE in the Aussie pop princess’s video for Spinning Around.

This time last year, if Geri was hanging about wearing a pair of, frankly, horrible shorts from a high street bargain bucket shop, that would be a hook on which to hang a 'Geri on hard times' story rather than a very, very strained comparison with Kylie Minogue.

Even Newton realises that she's gone too far, tacking on a face-saving "well, almost..."

This morning, tell a Spice Girl how much you love them

Although, clearly, it's time to flatter up Mel B to get her sweet before the comeback tour, Victoria Newton finds space to pat Geri on the buttocks and wink, too:

MEL B doesn't look like a woman in the middle of a bitter legal battle over her young daughter.

Spats with ex-love EDDIE MURPHY appear to have done nothing to dent the Scary one's love of life as she frolicks in the pool with her new man.

Mel B was enjoying the last day of her holiday with lover STEPHEN BELAFONTE in Miami Beach, Florida

These stunning pictures follow equally jawdropping photos of GERI HALLIWELL on holiday in St Tropez in a tiny bikini.

It seems all the SPICE GIRLS are getting ready for their big tour later this year by showing off their toned bodies on summer breaks.

Just don't get too competitive, girls.

Yes, there's no need to fight each other, girls - the tabloids have love for you all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

... assuming Pete can get a visa

Further stages on Babyshamble's decline: they're due to take part in a US package tour. With Dizee Rascal.

And The View.

Publishers take on YouTube

In what appears to be a move not entirely unrelated to Eminem's publishers suing for a share of the iTunes cash, the American National Musical Publishers' Association has joined the action against YouTube - an interesting move given that many of the record labels have come to terms with Google on this one, or are working towards agreements.

MTV Video nominations, for some reason

The announcement of the nominations for this year's MTV video awards prompts not just a yawn from Time, but we're pretty sure we can hear it scratching its crotch as it scoffs at the idea of a TV station which has stopped showing videos determining the "best" videos at a ceremony which has long since forgotten it was meant to be a send-up of this sort of thing.

Amongst the nominations, then:

Best band: Fall Out Boy / Gym Class Heroes / Linkin Park / Maroon 5 / White Stripes

Best new artist: Lily Allen / Gym Class Heroes / Peter Bjorn & John / Carrie Underwood / Amy Winehouse

Female artist of the year: Beyonce / Fergie / Nelly Furtado/ Rhianna / Amy Winehouse

Male artist of the year: Akon / Robin Thicke / TI / Justin Timberlake / Kanye West

Monster single of the year: Daughtry "Home" / Fall Out Boy "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" / Avril Lavigne "Girlfriend" / Lil Mama "Lip Gloss" / Mims "This Is Why I'm Hot" / Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" / Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella" / Shop Boyz "Party Like A Rock Star" / T-Pain f/ Yung Joc "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" / Timbaland f/ Keri Hilson, D.O.E. & Sebastian "The Way I Are"

Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration: Akon f/ Eminem "Smack That" / Beyoncé f/ Shakira "Beautiful Liar" / Gwen Stefani f/ Akon "The Sweet Escape" / Justin Timberlake f/ Timbaland "SexyBack" / U2 f/ Green Day "The Saints Are Coming"

Quadruple Threat Of The Year (No, us neither): Beyonce / Bono / Gwen Stefani / Justin Timberlake / Jay-z / Kanye West

Video of the Year: Beyoncé "Irreplaceable" / Justice "D.A.N.C.E." / Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella" / Justin Timberlake "What Goes Around...Comes Around" / Kanye West "Stronger" / Amy Winehouse "Rehab"

It's perhaps, on balance, better that MTV has stopped showing videos these days.

There wasn't funds enough for me

Toni Braxton is currently getting some grief, as designer Anthony Franco claims that a cheque she passed to pay for $35,000-worth of costumes bounced like a rubber ball on Saturn.

Mind you, it's hard to see how you could get through that much money making clothes for Braxton - it's not like the cost of materials is going to come to much, is it?

It's all in the hands of the courts now.

Jackson in financial difficulties - no, the other one

One of the few people to emerge from Celebrity Big Brother with any of their dignity intact was Jermaine 'you mean I was breathing ass?' Jackson. Naturally, that couldn't last and now his ex-wife is preparing to squeeze that dignity out of him, claiming that he's a bit tight and slightly ooky:

Alejandra alleges Jermaine's claim that he's broke is a "smokescreen." In legal papers, she says sarcastically, "he (claims) he has no income and all of his expenses are paid for by his girlfriend, who coincidentally, suddenly has a Swiss bank account and a Rolls Royce in her name after having worked at Bloomingdales and Macy's."

Alejandra claims Jermaine raked in the dough from the UK version of "Big Brother," as well as from royalties, business deals and what not.

And then there's this -- "I seek full custody of our children, with reasonable visitation to Jermaine because I have concerns regarding Jermaine's sleeping accommodations for our children while they are in his care." She goes on -- "I believe it is unhealthy for our children to sleep in the same bedroom with Jermaine and his girlfriend...."

Presumably, though, having the kids bunk in with their father is more healthy than leaving them down the corridor sharing with Uncle Michael, isn't it?

Courtney Love tells Allen to stop

Kurt Cobain's widow has issued a slambook in reaction to Lily Allen's claims that a recent MySpace post from her claiming Courtney killed Kurt was the result of some rather bizarre "hacking", the perp and motivation being clouded in mystery. (We're thinking maybe it's an evil twin, or a mysterious Alan Lilly).

Courtney, we suspect, doesn't believe the hacker story any more than anyone else does:

"Thanks to Lily Allen for her lovely apologising for having had her MySpace broken into.

"I wouldn't pick on me if I was Miss Lily, as it wouldn't take TOO much to swat, but we've known each other far too long, like each other far too much and if she was gonna say something nasty she has the acerbic wit and intelligence to say something cutting, that would actually really hurt, not some cliched hoary old chestnut some obsessed blogger would say.”

She continued: "She tells me her MySpace was broken into - even if I REALLY think she did blog it mindlessly some 8am after being up far too long for a young healthy woman I don't care and I appreciate and accept her thoughtfulness for apologising for what was printed, if she is telling the truth and it really doesn't much matter - everyone slams everyone early in their careers, (Sonic Youth)'s Kim Gordon still slams me, I mean how much more boring can you get? (than Kim Gordon - slam!) Does anyone care?"

Of course, since this post is cogent and written in a language spoken by other people, it's possible that Courtney's own MySpace has been hacked, too. Perhaps there's a hacker who's alternating between the two MySpaces having a slanging match with themselves?

Venuewatch: The Spitz

The Spitz in Spittalfields is currently facing closure, as the landlords want it out. A fund has been established to try and help the venue relocate, with key event being Caroline Kehoe's Lands End top John O'Groats bike ride.

It's a good cause - let's hope she doesn't collide with the Salford Lads Club Smiths bike ride as she goes through Manchester.

Len Brown takes on Ice Cube

Len Brown has attempted to boost his chances in the soon-coming electoral battle for the mayorship of Manukau by launching an attack on plans for an Ice Cube gig in Auckland:

"Why is Ice Cube coming to the Telstra Pacific Centre on 22 August this year? We don't want him. We don't need him. He is not welcome here,” said Brown.

"Ice Cube brings a gangsta message to our community via his gangsta rap. This message promotes gangs, gang violence and drugs.”

Brown then stated: "We don't want this in our homes. We don't want it on our streets.”

Even after someone explained to Brown that Cube was actually going to be performing in a music venue, rather than the street or in his house, he wouldn't be becalmed.

Even if Ice Cube's gig is pulled, residents of Manukau will still have A Crazy Kiwi Christmas to look forward to, which features talking turkeys and dancing sheep.

Penate better Layton than never?

Jack Penate is apparently recording a version of Beats International's Dub Be Good To Me to use as a b-side. somewhat generously describe the track as a "classic British number one single" - using "classic" in its not-entirely-dictionary sense of "somewhat dated sounding", of course.

Remembering Kelly

Rock N Roll Kabarte are to hold a tribute to Girlschool guitarist Kelly Johnson, who died last month. The event will take place on August 20th at the Soho Revue Bar; more details will appear on the official MySpace tribute page.

Home To Roost: Starring Pete Doherty as Reece Dinsdale

BBC 6Music News is reporting that Pete Doherty has avoided jail for the 275th time, with the judge who was due to pass sentence on the "finding drugs in the car" charges putting sentencing on hold for a month. This is to allow her to give time to judges his "motivation" apparently.

Part of the conditions, though, include that he has to act as a butler to Jerry Seinfeld. Sorry... no, misread our note "sitcom justice" there. No, Pete has to go and live with his parents for the next month.

Yes. What a pity he was telling the Mirror last week he doesn't speak to his mother any more because of the book she published. (Presumably, only Pete is allowed to cash in on memoirs of his drug problems.)

That's going to make for a few frosty mornings at breakfast, isn't it?

Oh, no Big Bruvver...

Thus far, attempts by Big Brother's performing bears to spin a musical career out of their time in the house: Craig from series one released an album before he found a new career wearing dungarees on higher-numbered satellite channels; the rumoured reverse-engineering of an actual pop star out of fake pop star Chantelle never took.

Now, though, Kate Lawler is trying her luck with a single. Although, strictly speaking, she's remixing rather than actually making her own record - It's Love (Trippin'), to be precise.

Good luck competing with The Twins' cover of We Are The Cheeky Girls, Kate.

Do 3AM read their own column?

Today, the 3AM Girls are all a-twitter that Gary Barlow has been positive about his meeting last week with Robbie Williams:

Gary Barlow has described his recent meeting with Robbie Williams as "the best we've had since 1996."

The edge of which is only slightyl blunted by their column yesterday which pointed out that this was only the second meeting since 1996. So, erm, "better than the other one", then.

Mind you, 3AM seem to think that having Williams crowbarred back in to Take That is a good thing anyway.

America tells Allen: 'No way in'

The ongoing problems some British acts are having getting into the US has claimed a fairly big name: Lily Allen has been turned back from US immigration.

Suggestions that she'd ticked the box on the Visa form about having been associated with the Nazi war crimes proved to be wrong; instead, it was the pending prosecution for kicking a photographer which led to the revoking of her visa, reports the Mirror:

Lily, who had flown in from Australia for the MTV video music awards launch in Las Vegas, was hauled into an interrogation room. After negotiations with her lawyers Lily, the daughter of film and TV star Keith Allen, was released five hours later.

Although she got off lightly compared with, say, Guardian journalist Elena Lappin, it's still a worry for team Lily - she's due to play another US tour next month; the worry is that that will now be scuppered.

That's why Mum has gone to Spylands

In order to ensure that after she's sold the "My betrayal - by the man I love" to this week's magazines, Kerry Katona is now offering to take her alleged philandering husband back, providing he takes a lie detector test. In order to have either a "The lies that made my life collapse" or a "Mark's never cheated - and I've got quasi-scientific 'proof' of some sort" to flog next week.

Doubtless, if she was given two weeks to live, she'd be depressed that she was going to miss the monthlies' deadlines.

Newton helps out Spears

We do wonder if anyone who got that email from Rebekah Wade complaining about the Sun missing out on the Doherty story was tempted to hit reply to point out the irony in being bollocked for not getting a "brilliant story" by a woman who has been filling the front page of the paper with endless guff about sharks (Exclusive: Shark spotted in the sea; Exclusive: Another shark spotted in the sea; 4AM Special Edition... oh, hold on, that's just a dolphin).

Still, has the tart warning from on high persuaded the Bizarre team to raise their game?

Erm... not really. Today, Victoria and her gang return to the Britney blanks Posh story, which was a slight throwaway thing yesterday. Today, they approach the subject with the satire filer enabled:

I’ve come up with a guide highlighting Posh’s key points, which may just help Britney asking: “Oops, Who Is It Again?”

Yes, the satire filter's in, it's just back to front:
CHANEL SUNGLASSES: They hide all manner of sins, says Mrs Beckham (try them!).

Do you get it? There's more - much more - of this stuff.

Can you run a toilet photo and still fawn?

Oh, the problems of high office. Everyone's trying to be very nice about the Spice Girls, but then the Bizarre column takes delivery of a shot of Mel B coming out of a portaloo pulling a face.

Obviously, you can't suggest that she made a big stink, in case she makes a big stink, so what do you do?

The Spice Girl looked disgusted when forced to use the makeshift lav at Miami’s posh Nikki Beach Club, where she is holidaying with film producer boyfriend STEPHEN BELAFONTE.

It’s certainly not the natural home for her designer swimsuit, pink champagne and heels.

It's tricky to try and fawn over someone while talking about their toilet habits. And here, here it's not been managed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

SoundExchange caught lobbying

SoundExchange, the group charged with collecting online radio royalty payments in the US, is a non-profit organisation and, under US law, is prevented from funding political activities.

Unfortunately, it turns out that it's been helping underwrite the costs of the MusicFirst coalition.

Wired asked them how they could be doing this, what with the bar on them getting involved in lobbying. The answer was... well, not an answer at all:

SoundExchange Executive Director John Simson dodged the question. "Clearly the Broadcasters (CQ) will do or say anything so as not to pay artists for their work," he wrote in an e-mail. "We welcome a full and open debate before Congress on ending the unfair free ride given over-the-air radio and the granting to artists the long overdue right to be paid for their recordings when they are played."

Wired tried again, this time talking to Michael Huppe, General Counsel for SoundExchange. He suggested that it was all fine:
Funding provided by SoundExchange to musicFIRST is authorized by copyright owners and performers who have chosen to become members of SoundExchange. These contributions come only from our members and not from non-member royalties, and were unanimously approved by the SoundExchange board," Huppe replied when asked about its support of musicFIRST.

If we've got this right, he means that the money they use is somehow theoretically drawn from royalties going to members of the organisation, and not the funds which are held by SoundExchange on non-members' behalf, but it's the board rather than the members who have approved this use of the money.

It's still far from clear if this is even legal, but as Wired points out, even if there is crawl room in the establishing statutes, it's hardly ethical for an entity set up to be a neutral administrative body to be paying for political lobbying.

Marking Elliott Smith's birthday

To mark what would have been Elliott Smith's 38th birthday, Kill Rock Stars are currently offering a free download of his Angel In The Snow.

Strange bedfellows

In a cross between Have I Got News For You and something dark and forbidding, the Strange Attractor have launched a 7" featuring a pair of guest vocalists: on one side of The Unperceived Image, you get David J of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets, and TuxedoMoon's Winston Tong on the other. Boris Johnson is lined up for the album.

Cyclists ride for Mozzer's roof

A bunch of Smiths fans have come together to do a sponsored bike ride to help replace the lead stolen from Salford Lad's Club. The one on the inner sleeve of The Queen Is Dead:

Author Phil Gatenby, whose book Panic on the Streets details Smiths landmarks around Manchester, said the theft was bitterly poignant because it had connections with some Smiths' lyrics.

He said: "In the song Vicar in a Tutu there is a line which says: 'I was minding my business lifting some lead off the roof of the Holy Name Church', so it was important that we included this building on the ride."

Presumably the cyclists will also be breaking into the Palace to play piano to the Queen.

The thieves also took the guttering off the listed building, although there isn't actually a Morrissey song about pinching guttering - although, really, it feels as if there should have been.

Wogan's paranoid fantasy "just a fantasy"

Tired of the endless whining about block-voting, the organisers of Eurovision called in PriceWaterhouse Coopers to audit this year's voting.

They found no evidence of orchestrated irregularities:

[Svante] Stockselius said that the robustness of the tele-voting system meant block voting could not occur.

"We have looked into it and we have had auditors look at it, but it is not possible to manipulate the voting," he added.

"I wouldn't say 100% because that would be impossible but there is no way you can manipulate the tele-voting.

"People say this in their disappointment when they try to find explanations."

This misses the point slightly - not even Wogan at his most drunk suggests that the Greek government is pulling strings to ensure their 12 points go to Cyprus; the point is that - for the purely innocent reason that countries which share borders are more likely to share common tastes - the current voting system is liable to favour small nations which tend to give leg-ups to each other's neighbours than, ooh, haughty off-shore island nations which enter camp airline-themed bands, for example.

Still, you have to admire everyone involved for burning through cash on a consultant's report which doesn't even understand the question it should be asking. This is like watching Man United beat Stockport five-nil, and when people suggest it wasn't a fair contest, arranging drug testing for the United team to disprove those claims.

Legendobit: Lee Hazlewood

We'd hoped that it was just a Whigfield when we saw some postings online last night, but sadly, no: Lee Hazlewood has died.

Born in Oklahoma in 1929, Hazlewood had a fairly nomadic childhood, moving from town to town, state to state, eventually settling in Dallas to attend college: the Southern Methodist University, where he studied medicine (and, if legend is to believe, also flirted with dentistry).

He married his High School girlfriend, Naomi Shackleford, after returning from a spell of military service (as a drummer). Recalled to help the Korean War effort, Hazlewood found himself broadcasting on military radio. Having discovered a knack for the job, on discharge, he completed a brief period of training at a broadcasting college before landing his first commercial dj job, in a small town in Arizona.

His on-air style was a kind of one-man zoo-format, playing a range of characters (he'd pre-record parts on tape) and he quickly became the toast of KCKY.

The shift from playing records to making them was, oddly, down to the Safeway supermarket chain. A new manager was drafted in from New York to manage the Coolidge branch, bringing his family with him. His son would hang around at KCKY, playing guitar and chatting to the presenters - history remains vague on whether Lee Hazlewood discovered the young Duane Eddy this way, or if Duane discovered Lee.

Eddy formed a band, The Pinal County Twisters, which Hazlewood gave airtime to and started to function as a de facto manager for. The contacts he was making were as useful for him as for Eddy, as Hazlewood had been developing some songs of his own - his first published work being 1953's Four Bell Love Alarm. When Duane Eddy Twisters went into the studio for the first time, Hazlwood was there - not just as songwriter, but now as producer as well.

It wasn't just producing and writing, though: Hazlewood also ran his own label (Viv) and publishers; eventually, something had to give, and he quit his DJ work in 1956. The following year, he signed a non-exclusive contract to produce for Dot Records, but found it a frustrating time:

"Dot never put out anything I wanted to for a year. When I played Duane for Randy Wood he said it sounded like someone trying to string wire across the Grand Canyon"

Oh, and there was singing as well - Hazlewood recorded some tracks during the 1950s, but his first album, Trouble Is A Lonesome Town, didn't arrive until 1963, on Mercury. A number of albums for different labels followed in fairly quick succession, including 98% American Mom & Apple Pie 1929 Crash Band, a confection that - while not especially left-field was deemed odd enough for Lee to have to arrange a release on his own label, and Cowboy In Sweden, an album which - as the name implies - he recorded in Sweden as part of a TV special.

Probably his best known work, of course, is the stuff he did with Nancy Sinatra in the 1960s and 70s, including These Boots Are Made For Walking; but Hazlewood was in the studio right through the decade. There was long gap, though, between a smattering of singles for MCA (including Dolly Parton's Guitar) and 1993's appearance on Gypsies and Indians, an album of duets with Anna Hanski.

As a comeback, it was an odd choice, but led to a lucrative tour the following year which reunited him with Nancy Sinatra. A smattering of new material followed - including the final solo album, Cake or Death, and a third Lee & Nancy album. The latter has so far only seen an Australian release, although we expect there will be a few record company meetings taking place in the next few weeks.

Lee Hazlewood died on Saturday after a two-year battle with renal cancer.

Robbie Williams is not so keen on being out alone any more

Nasty rumblings from the 3AM Girls this morning, who are reporting that Robbie is sniffing round Take That. Strangely, it seems that now he's discovering life away from being flavour of the month is a little tough, the Take That reunion he mocked onstage during his gigs last year isn't looking quite so funny to him.

3AM are tentatively guessing he'll be on the autumn tour; surely, though, eleven years of bad blood aren't going to be washed away with one lunch?

Keping up with the Jonses

Not, of course, that Vinnie Jones is bitter about the way his expected Hollywood career has been downgraded to appearing in ads for the RAC because he was cheaper than an actual celebrity. He won't be going for tea with the Beckhams:

"I don't know them and I don't really want to. I'm not into all that red-carpet stuff they love."

... he said, before getting back to trying to make the car shine the way Mrs. Beckham likes.

Geri: still on the beach

After the Sunday papers had a go at trying to pretend those years of treating Geri halliwell like a washed-up self-promoting basket case never happened, today the 3AM Girls roll up to coo over her holiday snaps:

Geri Halliwell looks in great shape as she jabbers on her mobile in St Tropez.

Geza, 34, is on holiday with daughter Bluebell. And while fellow Spice Mel B has been eating a lot of face (see right), it looks like Ginger has been a lot eating salad. Her bright bikini shows the results of vigorous workouts with a personal trainer. It's clearly working wonders.

Hang about a minute, though, as the Daily Mail wants a go, too:
Geri Halliwell showed of her stunning figure as she took to the water in the South of France.

The 34-year-old was having the time of her life as she whizzed about on a jet ski while enjoying a sun-soaked break in St Tropez

Halliwell has been pulling out all of the stops to get back into shape for the Spice Girls comeback tour which was announced earlier this year.

If this level of treating a rather silly woman prancing in a swimsuit with such seriousness continues, by Christmas we're going to be hearing of Halliwell's face appearing in the middle of an aubergine.

Unacceptable in the suburbs

Calvin Harris is about to cause upset in suburbia, as he uses MySpace to encourage The Kids to throw the most amazing party they can:

The event is the brainchild of the Scottish pop star Calvin Harris and underwritten by his record company, Columbia, a subsidiary of SonyBMG. An enticing web page reads: “All you have to do is hold your own Calvin Harris party and tell us about it! Anything goes – big or small – from a neon nu-rave extravaganza to a boozy barbecue to a girls’ night in.”

The Times reports worries that Harris fans might ignore the "or small" bit and instead throw something out of control - the MySpace parties which you read about in the papers; a future where people piss in the beds of Middle England forever:
The parties are part of the marketing strategy for Harris’s new single, Merrymaking At My Place. The most ambitious party-thrower will receive a prize £1,500 and Harris himself will grace their living room, or what is left of it, with a live performance. The small print for the competition excludes SonyBMG from all liability for any “tangible property damage, losses or injuries” resulting from the parties.

Hmm. On the other hand, isn't that a fairly standard legal get-out that tends to appear in the small print for virtually any pastime?

So, should Britain be bracing itself for a night of party themed destruction on August 18th?

Maybe not, the paper concludes with a slight air of disappointment:
The competition is open to those 16 and above and a caveat on the entry form reads: “We strongly recommend that you do not invite strangers or advertise the party as open to all – or else you will be responsible for the consequences.”

The teenagers who posted responses to Harris’s invitation appear to have less destructive designs [than the MySpace disaster parties]. He has been promised tea and pancakes by hopeful entrants.

Be on your guard, parents - and count your teabags.

Those of you of a sensitive disposition might want to skip this one

In today's Times, Kate Spicer complains that no woman would want to buy pants based on the models used in Calvin Klein underwear ads. For men. (That does slightly miss the point, what with the Djimon Hounsou and Travis Fimmel ads being aimed at men in a you-too-could-have-a-body-like-this way, but let it go.)

Spicer instead has drawn up a little list of people she'd like to see blown up to the size of a billboard in skimpy white knickers. Bill Clinton. Calum Best. And, oh my poor eyes, Johnny Borrell:

Move over, Kirsten. We want to swoon in this bad-boy rocker’s mosh pit, and snuggle up in his sweaty T-shirt. The sneer, the lithe body, the tight white jeans that let us peek at his pocket rocket, those endearingly English teeth – it all makes Borrell a modern-day Mick.

I'm sorry you had to see portions of that - especially the "pocket rocket" bit. Besides, doesn't Borrell avoid undergarments to avoid visible panty line?

Private Eye's I-Sky column will be gurgling with delight

For some reason, it's only The Sun which sees anything newsworthy in the suggestion that Jordan uses her Sky+ remote as a tool-measuring tool:

“I'm proud of it! [Peter Andre's penis] It's the size of the Sky remote control - I've measured it."

But Jordan went one further adding: “'It is the size of the Sky+ remote, the one with the grey bits on, that's bigger than a normal remote.”

What a pity she didn't go on to mention the surprises you get when you press the red button; they could have used her in the adverts.

Still, we sympathise: if Peter Andre came at us with his knob out, we'd be reaching for the TV remote control, too.

Britney shrugs at Posh

It could have been one of the great meetings of our time; a "Doctor Livingstone, I presume" for the 21st Century.

Instead, Britney meeting the Beckhams was even better than that: Britney didn't have a clue she was supposed to know who they were:

A source said: “They bumped into each other in the Chateau Marmont and Victoria said, ‘Hi Britney. I’m Victoria from the Spice Girls’.

“But Britney had no idea who she was. She just looked at her with a vacant and bemused expression and turned and walked away.”

Victoria Newton simply cannot believe that Britney would have no idea who Victoria thingy is:
I realise Britney’s not likely to be a soccer fan, and she’s probably been too busy running around LA behaving strangely to have caught up with the latest on the Beckhams in the news.

But the Spice Girls were huge in the States and you’d have thought that, as a fellow pop star, Britney might have caught a glimpse of the girl band at some stage.

In fact, Newton wonders if not recognising the great Victoria Beckham - famous for, erm, you know, stuff - might not be it's a sign of a need for rehab:
I wonder if the Spice Girls really went over Britney’s head or if she is just too out of it to remember?

In contrast to Britney’s fall from grace, Posh has made a real splash in the States, enjoying the company of a host of top stars.

(Well done for remembering the Spice reunion fawning, Victoria - every little helps.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

More adoption murk: Was Madonna paying 'independent' assesor's expenses?

CNN, Reuters and the Malawi News are carrying reports that Malwian Minister of Women and Child Development Kate Kainja has barred Penstone Kilembe from flying to London to assess Madonna and Guy Ritchie's suitability to adopt David Banda. The Malawian paper suggests that Kilembe had accepted an airline ticket from Madonna:

"We have already contacted Madonna that someone else and not Kilembe will come to assess her, because we feel Mr Kilembe personalized the whole issue when other people can go," the Minister told the newspaper.

Kilembe dismissed suggestions that he personally asked Madonna for an air ticket.

The ministerial intervention - which seemed designed to try to avoid claims that the adoption process was being floated by Madonna's cash - could have knock-on effects:
Justin Dzonzi, a human rights lawyer who led a 65-member rights group challenge to Madonna's adoption, also said the minister's decision could halt the adoption process.

"The Minister cannot change what the court set by having another person to do the assessment, the court will not listen to anyone else apart from the one it appointed," he said.

Considering Madonna insisted there were no Malwian laws covering adoption, she seems to be falling foul of rather a lot of them all of a sudden.


It's been Lollapalooza Weekend, and some of the footage is starting to turn up on YouTube:

Satellite Party doing Been Caught Stealing
Muse doing Hysteria
Daft Punk doing Technologic
Regina Spektor doing Fidelity
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists doing Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?
Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing Date With The Night

Of course, some of this has the quality of the roughest field recordings, but worth seeing nevertheless.

Usher finally does it

Perhaps there is hope for Jason and Sarah Louise: A week after Usher ran away and hid instead of getting married, he's finally said "I do."

They say that if you marry in haste, you'll repent at leisure; now, as Tameka Foster gets used to being Mrs. Usher, we'll discover if the reverse is true. Or if, as we suspect, take over a week to get to the front of the church, repent at haste.


The summer that festivals died continues to take its toll: Lodestar in Cambridge has been pulled. Organisers are blaming poor ticket sales on "poor weather perception" - suggesting it's been brought down by the country being flooded, rather than the market.

Ryan Adams to become a Junkie

We're not sure that the addition of Ryan Adams to the personnel of the Cowboy Junkies for the 20th anniversary live re-working of their Trinity Sessions album actually makes it more or less of a special occasion - slightly less so, we think - but the event at the Albert Hall on October 10th should still be the highlight of this year's Don't Look Back.

Kaisers leak own Electric Prom booking

In the course of getting an Australian crowd to record a TV advert, the Kiaser Chiefs have officially outed themselves as being on the Electric Proms bill this year.

Even although they never knew Sir Henry Wood, like.

Why Atom bombed

An alert reaches us from the Offspring:

Message from Dexter

Dear Offspring Fans - Atom and I wanted to drop you guys a little note, since we know people have been talking about why Atom has left the drummer seat for The Offspring.

We're fairly certain that nobody we've come across has been talking about it, but do go on:
The simple truth is that Atom had been working on a few of his own projects during our down time, including Angels & Airwaves but other things too. We think that‘s great. Unfortunately, in order for him to see those things through he isn‘t left with enough time to devote to future Offspring stuff. It was a tough choice, but we understand.

By the way, we've also had this from the captain of the Lusitania:
Dear shipping fans, I just thought I should drop you guys a note about why the rats have left the ship. The truth is that the rats have been working on side projects, and yelled something about not being able tyo hang around to see what's going down here any more. Good luck, rats. Now... does anyone know where the buckets are?

Dillinger Escaped

Brian Benoit, who has been sitting out the Dillinger Escape Plan since rupturing a disc on-stage in Memphis in April 2005, has decided to step down. The road back to health has been quite a wild one, and the slow-heal of his disc brought about knock-on nerve problems which leaves him still unable to play guitar:

My time in Dillinger began in the fall of 1998, and ended abruptly in May of 2005. I was the blonde whirlwind, the stage slasher, but most of all a guitar player who was fortunate enough to play with four truly phenomenal musicians, and who is honored to be (once) one-fifth of the Dillinger Escape Plan. I've been a part of both Chapter's 1 and 2 (Dimitri and Greg), but unfortunately Chapter 3 will consist of different pages...pages which now won't include me. That is probably the hardest thing I've ever written. In the past 9 years, the Dillinger Escape Plan has been my life, my every waking moment, and even now with what is keeping me from it, I can't seem to move on thinking I'm no longer a central part of it...this absolutely kills me everyday. This band has made me who I am, and that might seem like a steaming hot corn dog smothered in mustard, but with what we've all gone through to get this far (good and bad), the experiences teach you a lot about yourself and what you can endure and overcome as an individual as well as within a band of brothers. It's been the most fun a person could ever dream of in a lifetime, and also the largest sacrifice in the same breath, but i would do it all over again if the circumstances permitted.

We don't even like DEP, but even we're saddened by that.

Realily TV

In order to show us "the real Lily", Lily Allen is planning to shoot a behind-the-scenes programme during her next tour. Not, of course, that she'd do anything as shabby as a reality TV show:

"I don't like reality TV but I'd love to do a docu-drama. I'm having a blast right now."

Aha. A docudrama, where bits of reality are recreated and pre-scripted, unlike reality TV, where the same thing happens but with Jordan or Jodie Marsh in the programme. It's a crucial distinction.

Kate dumped Pete before he dies - People

There's a bemusing entry in the Sunday People's VIP column which, at the end of a week when the tabloids have been fighting it out over the causes of the Kate/Pete split, reckons it wasn't about jealousy at all:

The supermodel was shocked to find the Babyshambles star's will in a box.

Kate, 33, believes Pete, 28, wants a place in rock and roll history alongside ELVIS, JIM MORRISON, KURT COBAIN and JIMI HENDRIX, who all died young.

She has told pals she doesn't want to watch Pete die. One said: "Finding the will, which contains weird poems and requests, hit her like a thunderbolt."

It does sound like the over-inflated sense of self that Doherty has that he'd be thinking of himself in that sort of company, and it fits with what's looking more and more like a man who isn't quite as smart as we'd hoped he might have been to be in thrall to such a cliched and pompous rock myth. Perhaps, rather than fear of watching him die, Kate dumped him because she didn't want to watch him disappear into self-parody (any further)?

Stereolab weekend: Les Ypers Sound

Live on Later with Jools

Stereolab weekend

It's only Geri Halliwell

The desperate jostling for position by the tabloids, as they try to cosy up to 19 Entertainment prior to the Spice tour continues this morning, with the unedifying sight of the Showbiz with Zoe and Rav in the News of the World trying to out-fawn each other over some pictures of Geri Halliwell clomping about on a beach.

Rav takes his best shot:


FANS will be glad to see GINGER is tone-perfect for the SPICE GIRLS comeback torso.

Glowing GERI HALLIWELL looked very well as she showed off her terrific figure while soaking up the sun in St Tropez this week.

The yummy mummy also lapped up the male attention as she hopped on a jet-ski. An onlooker told me: "Geri looked stunning. And she knew it."

Comeback torso? We can't tell if that's an attempt at a pun or merely a Freudian slip.

Zoe, meanwhile tries this:
Check out the abs on Geri Halliwell. The Spice Girl looked tinier than ever as she flaunted her fab figure on the beach - and on a jet-ski - in St Tropez yesterday.

But I hope the 36-year-old mum of one doesn't take the weight loss too far. There's a fine line between skinny and skeletal.

Rav probably won that one - surely Mr. Fuller won't be pleased with the echo of the more normal "Geri Halliwell's weight is out of control" coverage she gets when there isn't a multi-million pound tour in the offing.

Rav reads the runes: Lohan is goin'

If Rav Singh is to be believed, Lindsay Lohan is about to be dropped both by film company and record label. Although it's debatable how much credibility you want to give a man who types this with a straight face:

Tinseltown sources tell me entertainment chiefs have held a string of meetings to discuss Lindsay's future.

Tinseltown? Has anyone called Hollywood "Tinseltown" since about the mid 1970s?

Jennifer Ellison: My shit life

We can see why Jennifer Ellison would be happy to flog the "I was an abused fiancee" story to the News of the World - having seen how Kerry Katona has managed to spin so much gold from a crap life, who wouldn't attempt to make a little cash while humiliating the thuggish bloke who last week got caught with Shalimar Wimble by telling the world he's a violent bastard?

What we can't see is why the News of the World would run this as their front-page splash.. Sure, it's a bit of a thin summer - which is why The Sun is reduced to running day after day of "exclusives" about sharks, an obsession which suggests that Rebekah Wade has gone on holiday and left an autistic nine year-old in charge of the paper - but even the NOTW can't quite recall why Jennifer Ellison is famous:

During all her secret turmoil with Richardson, brave Jennifer's career continued to soar. She won Celebrity's Hell's Kitchen, toured to rave reviews in the musical Chicago and had TV roles in ITV's legal drama The Brief and the BBC sitcom Hotel Babylon.

In other words: after she left a now-defunct soap-opera, she's had a couple of bit parts in TV shows and tramped round the country in a musical. In fact, she's mostly been famous for telling unconvincing stories about how she's been injured.

The saddest aspect of the story, though, is that if it hadn't been for the intervention of Shalamar Womble, she'd probably still be covering up for Richardson now.

James Brown came already - damn

A bust time in America's DNA testing labs, with the dozen-or-so people who've claimed to be James Brown's children having their double-helixes inspected for strains of funk. "At least two" new kids have been confirmed:

A former adviser for the Sex Machine singer, Buddy Dallas, said he could not confirm exact figures as further test results were forthcoming.

So, even with scientific testing methods, people still aren't sure how many James Brown Juniors there are right now - eight seems to be the favoured count, including the acknowledged ones.

Stereolab weekend: Cybele's Reverie

A 1997 live performance:

Stereolab weekend menu

UPDATE: Same performance, different source: