Saturday, August 25, 2007

Foxx takes side against hounds

Jamie Foxx has chosen to squander much of the goodwill he's built up over his career to date by not only defending animal torturer Michael Vick, but also suggesting that it's a black thing:

"It's a cultural thing, I think. Most brothers didn't know that, you know. I used to see dogs fighting in the neighbourhood all the time. I didn't know that was Fed time. So, Mike probably just didn't read his handbook on what not to do as a black star.

"I know that cruelty to animals is bad, but sometimes people shoot people and kill people and don't get time.

"I think in this situation, he really didn't know the extent of it, so I always give him the benefit of the doubt."

So, we have an appeal to a benefit of doubt - which, erm, isn't there, with Vick announcing his intention to plead guilty; a bid to offer some sort of moral equivalance - hey, sometimes people don't go to prison for torturing people; and a kind of confusing suggestion that making dogs rip themselves to pieces for enjoyment and betting is part of a black culture (even if that insulting stereotype was true, it wouldn't make it right, and what would happen if a white artist played the 'the black boys in the 'hood don't know any better' card). Then it's all topped off with the suggestion that it's a problem because Vick is famous - he hadn't read the book on being "a black star": two parts insinuating that Vick is being prosecuted for being a black man who dared to get rich, rather than because he's a sick bastard who killed and tortured creatures for fun, to one part suggesting that it's celebrity and not criminality that has caused Vick his current troubles.

Darren Hayes reminds us he's gay

Presumably not because he wants us to remember that, hey, he's a member of an opressed minority himself for any reason, Darren Hayes has been talking about why, after years and years of living in the closet, he finally came out.

You know, after everyone else had done the hard work by coming out when it was difficult, and still a career-threatening move.

Hayes, apparently, was inspired to stand up and be honest about his sexual preferences by... Michael Jackson:

"I connected with that gorgeous, wounded creature that he was."

Yes. Jackson. There's someone who's always been proud to be honest and matter-of-fact about what he likes in a sexual partner.

Kelly Clarkson: In reduced circumstances

Kelly Clarkson has finally got round to reorganising those tour dates she pulled when foolishly exploring artistic freedom earlier in the year; the venues are much, much smaller.

Reading's role as Bloc's foundation

After they've done Leeds tomorrow, Bloc Party are going to head into the studio to spend the autumn making their thrid album. Today, mind, they were at Reading, which turns out to be the band's Woolton Village Fete:

"This is the third time we played Reading and we've always been successful here so it's got a special place in our hearts," he explained, adding that without the event the band may never have formed.

"I met Russell our guitar player over there and we decided to be in a band."

Understandable, of course: most of the line-ups at Reading are so poor you'd believe that forming a band with some you've just bumped into at random would have to do better.

Music without control

The lovely people at Techcrunch are exploring the current state of (American) DRM-free sales; for those of you too busy, too proud or too important to plough through the article, there's a spreadsheet with the same information.

SoundExchange offer fairly-expensive olive branches

The initial two offers from SoundExchange to try and find some middle ground in the dispute over US internet music royalties - a capped USD50,000 a year for big broadcasters, and a discounted rate for smaller webcasters - have shown that finally, the royalties body is accepting that if it doesn't bend a little, it's going to be looking at a very dead golden goose and watching a large number of webcasters heading overseas. They haven't, though, quite got the knack of "not throttling" down yet. They're going to have to move further.

Rhianna apologises for the poor weather, kind of

After some people (and by "some people" we mean people who fill in the gaps between the journalism in newspapers) blamed Rhianna for cursing the British summer - because she made a song about Umbrellas, which meteorologists have proven could affect the ocean surface temperature in the mid-Atlantic to a point that would lead to an additional two or three inches rainfall across the UK - Rhianna has said... that she feels bad. A bit:

"I feel bad about that," Rihanna told WENN. "I don't think it's my fault. I think the weather helped to keep the song there for so long. It worked for me."

Aha. So it must have been arranged by her marketing department then: "sod the novelty umbrellas, we're spending the entire advertising budget on seeding clouds..."

[Thanks to James P]

New Neubaten

Einsturzende Neubaten are abandoning traditional record labels to self-release their new album Alles Wieder Offen; it'll be offered in two versions, with extra tracks and a DVD for the supporter project - in effect, working like shareholder perks.

A new dawn for London After Midnight

We suspect the sudden reappearance of London After Midnight - nearly a decade after their last album - isn't because they've been reactivated to open for dates on the Spice Girls tour.

Violent Acts Of Beauty emerges on October 26th in a variety of formats. We're putting bets on America's A Fucking Disease being the lead-off single. Except, probably, in America.

Thurston Moore math: Neil Young is greater than Avril Lavigne

It's not really much of a revelation, but Thurston Moore thinks older rock stars beat the pants off young pop stars:

"I am playing with Yoko Ono, and she's well past 70 and she rocks. Neil Young rocks. It's certainly not John Mayer or Avril Lavigne. Those people don't rock.

"If that's the young generation in the culture, then forget it. In the underground, the old guys are cool. I like the fact that the older we get the more we can rock."

There's a pretty strong argument that would suggest that Yoko Ono and Avril Lavigne both rock about precisely the same amount that we could advance here, but we're choosing not to.

Who the hell does Jeff Dreadnaught think he is?

It's probably best to ignore bad reviews, pop people. It's equally best to ignore the good ones, but ignoring the bad ones is a good place to start.

Believe me, having a coked-up guitarist shouting in your face in a winebar doesn't tend to do anything to raise the reviewer's opinion of a band, and it never comes as surprise to a journalist when a band tells them that they disagree with his or her opinion that they're not very good. I've nver quite understood why bands think that screeching "you know nothing about music" at someone who doesn't like the work is going to achieve anything.

Having said which, Deerhunter's exchange of emails with Jeff Weiss of the LA Weekly does at least manage to be amusing and Weiss makes a fairly wise observation:

The fact is that you are probably in one of the most critically
acclaimed bands out right now. Why care so much about one
writer who doesn't care for your music? Is it really worth your time to
write sarcastic e-mails? It's not going to change my mind or hurt my
feelings. I'm sorry you have such a low self-worth and lack of
confidence in your band.

Do you really think you make some form of populist music that
EVERYONE will like. To quote Wayne's World: Led Zeppelin didn't write
songs that everyone liked. They left that to the Bee Gees. That's a
joke. You're supposed to laugh. Or do you even have a such of humor?

I really have no interest in continuing some sort of stupid
beef. I'm not the kind of person that carries grudges. I make jokes and I
write about music. That's about it. I'm sorry you don't find them funny.
Unlike you, I've gotten used to the fact that I can't be everything to
all the people all the time.

He's right about the letting it go, although, of course, he's wrong about Deerhunter.

DMX's dogs dead

Dead dogs have been discovered at DMX's home by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, who called round following a tip-off about animal cruelty. Other dogs were taken into care:

[Sheriff Joe Arpaio] Arpaio said the deputies who served a search warrant at the home Friday seized 12 pit bulls tied up on the property and took them to an old jail that has been converted into an animal shelter.

Deputies found the buried dogs when they dug up the back yard. One had apparently been burned and the cause of death on the others was unknown because the bodies were decomposing.

DMX's people are trying to distance himself from badly-treated pitbulls:
Simmons' lawyer, Murray Richman, said Simmons hasn't been in Arizona for at least two months and was "extremely disturbed" to hear the animals weren't being cared for properly.

"We had a caretaker that wasn't taking care, that's what happened," Richman said. "He loves dogs - he loves these animals. Those dogs are practically his family."

So, they're "practically family" to DMX, only he hasn't visited them for over two months and hadn't even checked how they were doing. Presumably he wouldn't treat his mother like that, would he?

Oh, hang about:
In 1999, he was arrested on charges of stabbing and shooting his mother. He was eventually cleared.

In 2002, DMX was convicted of animal cruelty over the condition of 13 pitbulls. It's not clear why he was considered a suitable person to keep animals after this.

Radio One More Time: The University Of Turmoil

We fear change

Danny Baker's arrival at Radio One should have been a triumph. And, in many ways, it was. Baker was fresh from the old Radio Five, quitting just a couple of months ahead of the network closing down to make way for Five Live - "when I suggested I might be going to Radio One, they weren't that bothered...". Although he hadn't managed to single-handedly save the station, he did at least pull it together to such a position that it was able to live out its final days in some sort of dignity. The "Morning Edition - and stick with it" baseball caps notwithstanding.

However, Baker was given a tricky beat - the old DLT slot, still warm from the departing dudgeon of the beared one, and probably the slot with the most conservative of all Radio One programmes. Gone was the snooker and the reassuring tales of life on a home counties farm with a Swedish wife, in came callers putting on rollerskates two sizes too small zooming over bubble wrap and a cast that included a Radio Five newsreader, the former editor of the NME and a man who sounded, well, working class.

The sudden shift in style was something of a leap - certainly bigger than Matthew Banister's other changes, such as the gentle fading out of Simon Bates to make room for Simon Mayo. In fact, Baker admitted to Mojo that he didn't even have a radio style as such: he just did what he thought radio was - a lot of talking with records plucked from a pile on the basis of what you want to hear next.

If Danny Baker is a bit of a acquired taste, the strongest thing on the menu was The University of Turmoil. Over the course of the programme, Danny Kelly would select images from that day's newspapers, usually of alarmed or worried looking people or animals, stick them on pieces of paper with the word "Turmoil" written on them - maybe with an inappropriate headline added on for good measure. The last page would deviate from the formula with the appearance of the phrase "WE FEAR CHANGE". Towards the end of the programme, Kelly would pass over the folder and - seeing his handiwork for the first time - Baker would attempt to describe the contents to the audience, hoping to get through the feature before his head hurt too much from laughing.

You had to be there. It was inspired.

Although, admittedly, not everyone who was there agreed.

Baker became the focus for most of those upset by the new sound of the station - quickly losing the Sunday slot, and eventually losing the Saturday one as well. However, by taking most of the heat generated over the new schedules, Baker effectively bought the space for the other changes to bed down and saved Radio One in a way that Chris Moyles could only dream of.

The University Of Turmoil resurfaced - just once - a couple of months ago on Baker's BBC Radio London show, for the first time in over a decade. It still is bloody inspired.

[Celebrating 40 years of Radio One: Radio One More Time]

Peaches doesn't like the Rats

Considering she's only sort-of-famous because of her Dad's surname, it's more than a little rich for Peaches Geldof to be slagging off the Boomtown Rats:

“[Bob at Live 8 wasn't] really note perfect.

“It was like if you go to a party and your dad is dancing and singing karaoke.”

She told ITV1’s The Orange Playlist: “His band the BOOMTOWN RATS weren’t that good.”

We've yet to think of anything that Peaches has done that is half as good as Rat Trap. Hell, we can't think of anything that Peaches has ever done which is even as tenth as good as Banana Republic.

Having said that, though, if the Rats had never had hits, we wouldn't be having to listen to Peaches' words of wisdom reported as if they were noteworthy, so maybe they were worse than we thought at the time.

Winehouse adds something new to the mix

As if the drink and drugs and hairdo wasn't enough, Amy Winehouse has now added sex workers into the mix:

"Blake is the best man in the world. We would never ever harm each other.

"I was cutting myself after he found me in our room about to do drugs with a call girl and rightly said I wasn't good enough for him. I lost it and he saved my life."

How do we know this?

Because she emailed Perez Hilton to tell him.
"I'll be all right. I need to fight my man's corner though. For the last time, he did not and never has hurt me. He has such a hard time and he is so supportive.

"He deserves the truth, he is an amazing man who saved my life again and got cut badly for his troubles. All he gets is horrible stories printed about him and he just keeps quiet, but this is too much."

Yes, I think the whole world has admired Blake's quiet life of simple contemplation. According to Newton's column in The Sun, he's making another valuable attempt to save Winehouse by, erm, emotionally blackmailing her to stop getting help:
After hours of emotional talks with loved ones, Amy accepted she needs more professional help. But she said Blake has told her he’ll harm himself if she leaves him on his own.

Way to save a life, monk-like dude.


We're trying taking comment moderation off again for a trust test. It looks like the main comment spam attack has dried up....

Friday, August 24, 2007

Chiefs of relief

The Kaiser Chiefs and REM have joined with a whole heap of other bands who've donated tracks to a New Orleans Musicians Fund download album.

Hopefully, it'll help keep the New Orleans musical community afloat until Michael Jackson can get that benefit single sorted.

Rock sick list: Karl Alvarez

Some bad news: Karl Alvarez, from The Descendents and ALL, had a minor heart attack at the start of the month.

Some good news: He's going to be alright.

Some more bad news: Karl is American, and in a punk band. Which isn't the best combination when you're running up medical bills. A campaign has been launched to try and help out: there's a MySpace with all the details.

LiveNation, Ticketmaster hate each other as much as they hate you

There's nothing sadder than seeing two evil megacorporations fighting each other.

Sorry, we meant "more amusing", not "sadder". We often get those two muddled up.

TicketMaster has not-quite-announced that it's not going to work with LiveNation any more. The pair have fallen out over how the money gets divided when the US' largest ticket company flogs tickets for the US' biggest concert promoter. And who gets to use the secret super evil hideaway on Labor Day.

It's not clear how LiveNation plans to sell tickets without access to the biggest box office, not quite what Ticketmaster will sell in place of tickets to LiveNation gigs, although it's been rumoured they're considering the possibility of trying a lemonade stand.

Kelly Rowland's ghetto heaven

Kelly Rowland has recorded a song with Snoop Dogg, and, for her, that's as good as growing up in the Bronx, as the fabulously rich w:

I feel like everybody has some sort of element of ghetto in them. Think about it. Right? Wouldn't you say so? And everyone knows what the ghetto is.

Well, yes. But I also know what the North Atlantic Ridge is, Kelly, but that doesn't give me the right to go round claiming to be a blue whale.

J-Lo makes the poor folk dance

Jennifer Lopez is casting for a dancer to appear - briefly and not centrally - in her new video. Oh, and she's turned it into a talent seach. Hello! is thrilled:

In a scene reminiscent of Fame, the 38-year-old singer looked on as hopefuls strutted their stuff to the beat of songs from her albums.

Reminiscent of Fame, yes, but surely more reminiscent of, ooh, some sort of programme that might encourage young hopefuls to try out for a taste of celebrity glitz.

Who's that leaving over the hill?

According to what we've just heard, Alex Pennie is leaving The Automatic, after this weekend's Get Loaded festival appearance.

Crank yankers

Despite all the fuss about David Beckham having to play football matches - poor lamb - if the Mirror is to be believed, he and Victoria have still got energy to burn:

Exclusive: David and Posh plan American baby.

A baby conceived in the US, eh? Unlike, ooh, Brooklyn, for example?

Radio One More Time: Give Us A Break

The actual idea of snooker on the radio wasn't such a bad one. Whether Radio One should have had a programme being introduced by the Pipe Man Of The Year, that's debatable. If it really needed the 'quack-quack-oops' sound effect which signalled a wrong answer, that's debatable. If it's natural home was on a music station when a "big break" could happily eat up twenty to twenty five minutes of airtime, that's debatable. But the quiz itself? It was actually a pretty good idea.

Red balls were simple questions; then the coloured balls represented questions of increasing difficulty and rising points - as in ordinary snooker, after "potting" a red, you could choose a colour to go for; after all the reds, you then had to pot the colours in order; failure to pot was the end of your turn. Fairly straightforward, easy to follow, if you understood snooker. Indeed, nobody would have thought it such a strange concept had DLT not trumpeted as being somehow "wacky". Week after week after week. Indeed, the fact he always referred to it as "snooker on the radio" seemed designed to strengthen the idea that this was a topsy-turvey, Freaky Friday of an idea. Snooker on the radio, Dave? You're hosting a radio show, so, surely, that it's on the radio isn't that noteworthy.

Looking back, we suspect that the constant stressing of how astonishing the game was stemmed from Travis' need to showboat - the shunting from the midday show to weekend mornings clearly didn't go down well with the man. Only a few years before, he'd been the breakfast show host, and now, here he was, in the draughty village halls of the weekend shift. No wonder he tried to draw attention to himself. (His last few minutes on weekdays had been given over to a grandstanding, heartstring-twanging speech about a deceased relative - someone should have written 'doesn't go quietly' on his personnel file).

Travis also had a love of the grandiose, over-elaborate quiz. The weekend show also featured the Tranagram - where anything up to twenty singles were selected to deliver their initial letter to form a write-in jumble style anagram, complete with "cryptic" clue - it came out as The Tsaerawitch one week; there was one on the breakfast show which involved collecting cryptic clues to little bits of words to make a longer one which we never could quite follow but always seemed to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ("Cassius Clay's medicine would be 'Ali doses'...").

Then he tried to branch out from snooker on the radio by looking around the pub for more inspiration. Rather than alighting on the "BBC Radio 1 Dave Lee Travis Give Us A Break" games machines which stalked bars and student unions of the time, he chose, instead, the dartboard. Darts on the radio was, I'm afraid, a change with which I could not agree.

Newton's nose for a story

Powerful journalist Victoria Newton has got hold of Beth Ditto's Advocate interview, and has run with a chunk this morning. So, how has she approached the growing distance between Ditto's proclamations and her actions? Or is it the allegations that the NME twisted her words which Victoria focuses on?

Ever the sharp-nosed journalist, Newton cuts straight to the point:

The rotund star revealed she took inspiration for her glam look and music career from none other than... MISS PIGGY!

Beth, who is good pals with KATE MOSS, insists the muppet pig is a great female role model and helped shape her tastes as a teenager.

The Gossip singer told Advocate magazine: "Miss Piggy is extremely iconic. There's no one higher than Miss Piggy."

Perhaps its better that they sent in some help for the Winehouse story.

[UPDATE: 3AM picks up exactly the same quote - without even the grace to credit The Advocate]

The needle and the damage done

This morning's Bizarre is leading with some pretty nasty shots of Amy Winehouse, blood pouring from what the paper claims are track marks between her toes.

What's interesting about the story is, although it appears on Newton's page, the four-person byline shows only one of her team involved with the piece, and there's another telling detail:

Yesterday afternoon we showed Mitch 11 graphic photos of his daughter at his home in Greenhithe, Kent.

Mitch — who said recently that Amy and Blake had to stay together if she was going to beat drugs — was clearly upset.

He shook his head sadly as he studied them, before adding: “Thank you for showing me.”

Leaving aside the question of if "he was clearly upset" is a surprise enough to justify waving pictures of a fucked-up daughter under a father's nose to see what he does, from a Newton-watcher's point of view the use of a corporate "we showed" instead of Bizarre's me-me-me housestyle "I" is a subtle further distancing of the story from Newton's orbit.

Kerrang: Lostprophets still "best" British band

It'll come as something of a surprise to most people, but - according to the Kerrang Awards - Lostprophets are still the best band in Britain.

Say what you like about K!, but their awards are about the only rock music prize with a profile in the UK which doesn't shuffle the same winners as everyone else. Not a sniff for Amy Winehouse.

The winners in full, then:

Kerrang! Hall Of Fame: Judas Priest
Icon: Nine Inch Nails
International band: Panic At The Disco
British band: Lostprophets
Hard rock hero: Machine Head
Spirit of independence: Enter Shikari
Classic songwriter: Deftones
Best video: Fall Out Boy - This Ain't A Scence
Best album: Machine Head - The Blackening
Best single: 30 Seconds To Mars - The Kill
Best live band: Enter Shikari
Best international newcomer: Madina Lake
Best British newcomer: Gallows

We didn't say the winners were any better than at the NME awards, just different.

Incidentally, last year's Best British Newcomer was Bring Me The Horizon. Shortly before they disappeared over it.

[2006 Kerrang awards]

Lindsay Lohan gets her day in court. And prison

Lindsay Lohan has been sent to prison for her DUI offences.

For a day.

With good behaviour, she could be out in time for Deal Or No Deal.

She's issued a statement, so if you have tears, prepare to shed them now:

"It is clear to me that my life has become completely unmanageable because I am addicted to alcohol and drugs.

"Recently I relapsed and did things for which I am ashamed. I broke the law and today I took responsibility by pleading guilty to the charges in my case."

She's also going to do some community service, and, naturally, there will be a "drug treatment programme" for Lindsay to finish. If the programme's half as good as the Herbie film, we're all in trouble.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fear for the RIAA: Antigua requests the right to ignore US copyright

There's an interesting case in front of the World Trade Organisation at the moment: Antigua has twice won rulings against the US that the US ban on American citizens gambling online is unfair restraint of trade.

America has a problem in complying with the ruling - either the nation drops the rule, or it has to axe all forms of online gaming for its citizens: fantasy baseball, lottery, the lot.

Naturally, this has thrown the political class into something of a Walt Disney style freeze. But while they've been trying to think what to do - appealing has failed twice - Antigua is getting impatient, and now a lawyer working on the smaller country's behalf has tabled a proposal:

Mr. Mendel, who is claiming $3.4 billion in damages on behalf of Antigua, has asked the trade organization to grant a rare form of compensation if the American government refuses to accept the ruling: permission for Antiguans to violate intellectual property laws by allowing them to distribute copies of American music, movie and software products, among others.

Far-fetched? Not really: Ecuador once won a similar ruling, but chose to use the bargaining power of the opt-out of IP rights to win concessions from Washington. Antigua, of course, might decide that the power to legally violate American copyrights might prove more lucrative than any deal the US would want to cut.

MIA wouldn't want to be like Lily

Lily Allen isn't a good role model for MIA, says MIA:

"I don't understand why people make me want to make music that's a join-the-dots thing by numbers. I find it really difficult when people say, 'Aw, you should have made a song like Lily Allen, that would have been so great.'

"[My stuff] is dirty, it's scummy, it's got flies on it and it's got all the ink and the dirt and the blood and the sweat."

We'd love to meet an executive who signed MIA and then suggested that she try and do some fishcake reggae-pop, although it's an all-too-believable scenario.

Seventy five million times 'No': Moz won't reunite Smiths

Whoever thought of offering Morrissey $75million for fifty Smiths dates misjudged what Morrissey would really want.

Now, if they offered to take out Johnny Rogan, they might have been in business.

We know about the offer - alleged offer - because Morrissey issued a press release:

"In an effort to stop the speculation and kill off the rumor mongers who seem to use these things to take advantage of committed fans, we can tell you that one thing the future will not bring is a Smiths' reunion tour."

The motivation might have been less to quell the rumours and more to just show off the size of the offer, we suspect.

Christmas? Christmas is cancelled this year

It's not going to make Christmas any better, and it won't do much for hard rock. If you thought Jessica Simpson's 7-11-punted winter collection from a couple of years back was enough to make the Little Baby Jesus turn atheist, wait until you hear Monster Ballads Christmas.

We're, like, so not making this up, Dude:

01. "Jingle Bells" - SKID ROW
02. "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" - WINGER
03. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" - Jani Lane of WARRANT
04. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" - TWISTED SISTER with Lita Ford
05. "White Christmas" - QUEENSRŸCHE
06. "Run Rudolph Run" - L.A. GUNS
07. "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" - FIREHOUSE
08. "Naughty Naughty Christmas" - DANGER DANGER
09. "Blue Christmas" - Tom Keifer of CINDERELLA
10. "Jingle Bell Rock" - NELSON
11. "Silent Night" - FASTER PUSSYCAT
12. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - DOKKEN
13. "Happy Holiday" - ENUFF Z'NUFF
14. "Winter Wonderland" - STRYPER
15. "Christmas Love" - BILLY IDOL

Skid Row have fun in a one horse open sleigh?

Joe Elliott feels for the young people

Joe Elliott reckons the kids get a tough break these days, what with the way the industry is:

"Contracts nowadays, record labels, what's left of 'em, are trying to actually get parts of a band's merchandise when they tour. It's like, how dare you! It's two separate things! You know, I just can't see Roger Waters willingly giving up 20 percent of his T-shirts. Luckily we aren't in that kind of bag. I just feel bad for the new bands. I mean, there's the odd artist that can sell records these days. But most people, if they don't have a second record make profit, they don't make a third record."

Yes. Of course, it doesn't help that a lot of the room for bright young things is clogged up with relics that even Car Booty would find hard to discover any value in, like, ooh, Def Leppard, say.

Attack of the Killers B

Presumably on the basis that even they couldn't do a greatest hits just yet - not with a straight face, anyway - The Killers are wheeling out a B-sides compilation. To answer some sort of demand. Although, to be honest, the idea of a collection of Killers B sides makes the one-track CD sound attractive.

Something to listen to: Popjustice integrates PSB

Over on Popjustice for a limited* period, a remix of Itegral by the Pet Shop Boys. A strange, strange remix.

(*we don't know how limited, it could be as long as there's electricity. But it'll die one day. Everyone dies.)

Mike Skinner's future in ribbons

ContactMusic launches a surprising claim about The Streets and Mike Skinner's plans:

MIKE SKINNER has vowed to write all of his future material on a rusty old typewriter he found in his dressing room at a Belgian festival.


Erm... no:
"We found a typewriter in the dressing room, so I took it and had so much fun all the way home, just typing stuff. I typed a poem entitled, Drowning Doom, which was written while we were in the Eurotunnel in the tour bus, which if you've ever sat in a vehicle in the Eurotunnel you'll understand.

"I'm going to use it to type some songs but then I'm going to return it next time we do Pukkelpop."

So, he's going to write some songs on it, and then give it back. Which is quite a distance from "vowing to write all his future material" on it. Which is just as well, otherwise his future would last only until the ribbon spool ran out.

Pete Wentz: The Ross-from-Friends of Emo

Not that he wants everyone to look at him, and how crazy he is or anything, but Pete Wentz is plotting to take a monkey to the Kerrang awards:

A report in the Daily Star claims that the bassist will bring a chimp named Kate along to the rock ceremony.

Kate will allegedly be escorted by her own security guard and was apparently in charge of the direction for the music video to the band's single 'Thnks Fr Th Mmrs'.

The Daily Star has, of course, confused the advert Thnks Fr Th Mmrs with a pop video - although so did Fall Out Boy, of course - but doesn't explain how "Kate" would get to the Kerrang Awards without having to go through six months' quarantine.

Comment moderation: A housekeeping post

There's always one who spoils it for everyone else - in the last twenty-four hours someone has spammed the comments boxes about 100 times with a slew of links to some sort of World of Warcraft thing. Reluctantly, we're going to have to pre-moderate comments - at least for the next couple of days.

Britney within the sound of Bow Bells

The credulous Daily Mail reckons that Britney Spears is about to come to live in London town:

According to a US newspaper she has set her heart on fleeing to Britain, and is even developing an English accent.

A friend said: "She thinks her only hope is to move to London for a fresh start.

"She is so scared about losing her boys that her mind is racing trying to think of how to keep them."

Yes. That'd work. It's not like Britain would send back kids from America who had been taken out the country contrary to a US court order or anything.

Perhaps Britney thinks nobody would notice her in the UK - at least until someone saw her getting out a car with no knickers on. Indeed, this "friend" seems to suggest that's the case:
"Britney thinks she can arrive in London and blend in with the locals. But she doesn't have a clue how to write a cheque."

Well, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow... she probably would blend in with past-Imperial-phase blonde Americans, to be honest.

But we do love the idea that "writing a cheque" is the skill that you need to make people think that you're British - despite many shops not even treating cheques as legal tender any more and the use of cheques being far, far more common in the US than Britain these days. Unless, of course, the friend is choosing not to reveal that part of Britney's big scheme is to pretend to be a student and will only be using the cheques to pay for the third round of the evening in a busy city-centre pub.

Radio One More Time: Skyman (not, erm, Starman)

"Set the controls for economy wash..."

A curiosity but one which, if you heard it, I guarantee you will be smiling at the memory of. Little more than a short series of half-hour programmes hosted by Mark Radcliffe talking through some sort of vocoder, pretending to be the titular Starman, observing Earth through the medium of space-themed songs.

Telstar, Apollo 9, that one by Ian Brown; that sort of thing. You could choose to see it as an academic exploration of the links between rock and space exploration, and how they both had strong roots in post-war America.

Or you could just see it as thirty minutes of inspired mucking about that brought Radcliffe from Radio 5's Hit The North to the network he would eventually do a breakfast show for. For about as long as he was Starman.

"They say 'in space, no-one can hear you scream'.
Well, that's that one disproved, then..."

Starman gave way to Out On Blue Six, an hour-long chunk of esoteric choices - we're using esoteric in the sense of "for early evening Radio One" - and then on to the Graveyard Shift, ensuring at least that The Tindersticks would never go hungry again.

Radcliffe's knack for radio lies, in part, on his history as a producer - before he started presenting, he'd worked on Chris Evans' shows on Piccadilly Radio and Radio 2's The Organist Entertains. The latter, of course, was during the era when The Organist would shout about battered cod balls above the noise of the Wurlitzer.

[Or even Skyman. Bugger.]

SuperDitto: do you mean superficial?

Well done, eveybody: Victoria Newton reveals some 'gossip' this morning:

I’VE heard a bit of GOSSIP about BETH DITTO’s next move – she's heading for the CATWALK.

The heavyweight singer has been asked to model for top London designer CHRISTOPHER KANE.

Where on earth did Newton pick up a red-hot exclusive like that? No, really - where was she that she found a copy of The Guardian from June 29th where Hadley Freeman first reported this? Has Newton started scouring the newspaper collection at the British Library for her news?

This is fascinating on another level, too - now, would this Swarovski Rocks Fashion event where Ditto is going to be modelling be in any way connected with the gay-man-dominated fashion industry that Beth Ditto is so disgusted with?

And could Christopher Kane be the same Christopher Kane who designed for TopShop, the TopShop which Beth refused to work with because of the chain's lack of plus sizes?


Oh, look, Mariah Carey's clothes have fallen off

What's more interesting than the naked picture of Mariah Carey on the cover of the latest Interview (naked if you don't count airbrushing as clothes, of course) is that she seems to have done a complete about-face on the breakdown that never happened. Now, it seems, it happened - but it was a learning experience:

“I consider the breakdown a breakthrough - I needed to hit rock bottom, however it happened.

“I needed to understand the cost of pushing so hard, fighting so hard against the system.

“You just can’t beat the system when they’re against you and are that strong…. But was I out of control at that moment? Yes. I believe that it happened for a reason.”

It's too early in the morning for us to ring round a representative cross-section of community activists, but it's surprising to discover that Mariah fought the system - like a Chuck D in a push-up bra. We could have sworn she just had a falling-out with the bloke who told her to build a career on something other than jiggling her breasts and instead went out jiggle her breasts. Submitting to that seems to be less "fighting the system", more like lubing yourself to help glide the system on its way.

Almost literally.

But perhaps we're being unfair. We await discovery of Carey's part in the Faslane Peace Camp.

Amy Winehouse is "Britain's best black artist"

The increasingly detached MOBO awards have announced their nominations list, with Amy Winehouse and Dizzee Rascal leading the way - four nominations each.

It would be unfair to suggest that the shortlist has been drawn up by asking, say, Ken Bruce to name all the black artists he can think of, but, then again...

Here's the nominations in full - jump to the bottom if you don't want to scroll through:

Dizzee Rascal
Lethal Bizzle

Amy Winehouse
Beverley Knight
Corinne Bailey Rae
Joss Stone

Mutya Buena
N Dubz
Sadie Ama
Tinchy Stryder

George Kay
Ras Kwame
Ronnie Herel
Shortee Blitz
Steve Sutherland
Tim Westwood
Trevor Nelson

Collie Buddz
Sean Kingston
Stephen Marley
Tony Matterhorn

50 Cent
Dizzee Rascal
Kanye West

Amy Winehosue

Kanye West

Amerie - 'Take Control'
Amy Winehouse - 'Rehab'
Dizzee Rascal - 'Sirens'
Neyo - 'Because of You'
Robin Thicke - 'Lost Without You'

Amy Winehouse - 'Back to Black'
Dizzee Rascal - 'Sirens'
Kanye West - 'Stronger'
Pussycat Dolls - 'Wait a Minute'
Rihanna - 'Umbrella'

4 Kornerz
Priscilla Jones

Abram Wilson
Byron Wallen
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Soweto Kinch
Wynton Marsalis

Best African Act
Tu Face Idibia (Nigeria)
DBanj (Nigeria)
Nameless (Kenya)
Wambali Mkandawire (Malawi)
Bebe Cool (Uganda)
Kabelo (SA)

You know you're in trouble when the Pussycat Dolls are being considered for the best anything. This year, you can vote yourself online, if you really feel you must.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ditto attmepts to clarify which gay men she dislikes

The continuing adventures of Beth Ditto's attempts to be all things to all people, part 773. This week, she's taling to the Advocate. Naturally, Beth describes herself as a "radical queer" - despite her conservative bi-bashing of a couple of weeks ago - before immediately getting herself tied up in political knots:

There's so many candidates and it's like the worst of two evils -- not that I think they're necessarily evil, but I do think that George Bush was absolutely a fascist piece of shit. So I don't think that they're on the same par as him, but there are things I don't trust, because when money is involved, it changes everything.

George Bush, then, is one of those non-evil fascists.

The Advocate then asks her who she'll be voting for. Oddly, Ditto is unable to rule anybody in, or anybody out:
I don't know who I'm voting for yet, and people keep asking me a lot. I think that on the one hand, people are surprised that I don't say “Hillary” immediately, but I just don't think civil unions are the best, because “separate but equal” is unconstitutional! It's bullshit, and we've been through this already.

Now, it could just be that Kyle Buchanan didn't push Ditto enough to get a coherent answer out of her, or maybe this is the best he could do with the source material.
I think right now is an amazing time to be alive; to get to see the candidates and the diversity that I don't think has ever happened before in this country. I mean, it has to a degree, with people like Shirley Chisholm, but this is such a mainstream vote that has never happened in American history -- which is such a fucking joke, considering that we're supposed to be ahead of the game all the time.

Eh? We think what she means is "oh, look, there's actually a woman and a black guy in the running for President", but that's hardly "diversity" - most toothpaste commercials would reject a cast of mainly-white-older-rich-guys, even if it was a toothpaste that only wanted to sell its stuff to mainly-white-older-rich-guys.

The talk then turns to the NME cover. The Advocate is interested, in particular, in Ditto's quote that "gay men" are to blame for size zero. Ditto twists and spins like Chubby Checker on a helter-skelter:
I think what's so funny to me -- not “funny ha ha,” but “funny strange” is that comment was paraphrased to the max. I know that in America not that many people are familiar with the NME, but everyone in Britain knows that the NME is the enemy. There's a reason why it's called “the N-M-E.”

Really, Beth? The NME is "the enemy"? And how many other of your enemies do you strip off for, to provide a circulation-boosting cover?

Odd, to do a nude shoot for a magazine you dislike, especially when only this weekend we were hearing about how frightening you found posing in a biknin for Pop.

And surely the sort of circles Beth moves in - or moved in, before she started to try and position herself as a kind of Hot Topic Anne Heche - would be more than familiar with the NME, and its strengths and shortcomings?
Absolutely sensationalistic. Absolutely known for paraphrasing.

Sensationalistic? Perhaps - although "getting over-excited by Kasabian" is hardly on a par with the worst excesses of the red tops. But "absolutely known for paraphrasing"? Absolutely?
What I said – and you can still disagree – it was in a list of things that I thought could be blamed [for the size zero] before women were blamed. Like I said, I'm a radical feminist, and first and foremost, I'm a woman. That's something I'm perceived as by the whole world, and I get the options handed down to me that are handed down because I'm a woman. I didn't create those standards that I'm supposed to adhere to -- those were created for me, and it started before I was born.

We're not entirely sure what this has to do with calling gay men responsible for size zero, although it's handy to have "people see me as a woman because I'm a woman" spelled out to us.
That being said, it was a list of things, and half of the list was left out. I mean, one of the things I said which was a very specific thing was gay men in the fashion industry are responsible, not gay men as a whole. But I think it was good, at least, because it got people talking about shit. I don't blame any one thing, and I would never say “Gay men are to blame for the size zero.” That's absolute bullshit, there's lots of things to blame.

But hold on a moment: you did say gay men were to blame. Perhaps you did stipulate the ones in the fashion industry, but in all the bluster as you try to wriggle out of it, you don't deny that you actually mentioned gay men.

I'm sure the gay men in the construction industry, and in catering, personal healthcare, agricultural insurance and puppetry will be pleased to hear that you don't blame them for models skinnying themselves to illness. But we're at a loss to understand how a woman who believes herself to be a "radical queer" thinks that it's acceptable to use "gay" as a modifier to "men in the fashion industry" who she believes behave against women's interests. Does she really believe that straight men - and, indeed, all the women - in the fashion industry are blameless, and that it really is only the gay men who push models to be ever slimmer? Or was she just falling back into cosy, lazy stereotypes?

Yeah, Beth. You're a radical queer. And Jim Davidson is the head of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

She then twists some more:
The problem is that you're supposed to feel this kinship because we're all queers and we're all in this together, and then you go to this styling shoot or something and it's gay men treating women like shit. I think that's what it's about, and it was actually one tiny, minuscule part of the conversation that got printed as this huge thing like we'd been talking about it for hours.I think that when you're trying to explain radical politics to a straight white boy, of course they're going to take the heat off the straight white boy, which is what we talked about the most during the interview.

More stereotyping. Maybe the "straight white boy" chose to run that part of the interview because it exposed something interesting.

You see, Beth, that's kind of the way interviews work - you talk a lot, and then print the interesting stuff.

Beth then accuses the NME of homophobia, for printing the quote where she slagged off gay men:
Mind you, I haven't read the interview, I've only heard about it from other people, but I think it's interesting how the one thing they'll do is turn it right back on gay people.

She hasn't read the interview, and yet is happy to attack it on the grounds of being a distortion of what she said. It's especially amusing that someone who accuses the magazine of paraphrasing is basing her outrage on, erm, other people's paraphrasing of the article.

Moving on, Ditto reveals she's writing a style guide. Not a fashion guide, of course, as that's something quite different:
I think fashion is a product that can be bought and sold and is made for you, and style is something that you get up and you do it to yourself every morning. Fashion is a product, but style is a way of life. You can't buy style, it's an instinct.

Style is an instinct, but Ditto is writing a guide to style.

And then she says this:
Most activist movements have amazing fashion. The Red Army faction, the Black Panthers, all of them had an amazing style.

Yes - it's a little known fact that Susanne Albrecht was a face of L'Oreal for two summers back in the mid-1970s. Does Ditto really believe that what really caused the Black Liberation Army schism was a falling-out over whether you could mix snake belts and berets? Ditto, like many "stylists", have confused people having no option but ot wear cheap, practical clothing for people choosing to dress up in expensive copies of cheap, practical clothing.

Please, Beth: if you can't think quickly enough about what you're saying, at least think about turning down the interviews.

Brown goes down

Foxy Brown's assault with a deadly Blackberry has fast-tracked her to jail. A New York judge has ruled that "hitting your neighbour with a portable phone" constitutes a breach of the terms of Brown's probation:

"She has an air of entitlement about her," city Department of Probation lawyer Matilde Leo said at a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court. "Probation is a privilege, not a right....She has finally abused that privilege to the point of no return."

The judge agreed, and - despite the defence's pleas of "but she's three months pregnant" - sent her to jail. She'll languish in the slammer until the next hearing on September 7th.

Stick! Stick!

Because the labels want it; because the shops want it, and because, frankly, hardly anyone cares any more, the Official UK Charts has drawn up an exciting new set of rules which sees USB Memory Stick releases count towards the top 40. "For the first time ever", they say, as if the 1970s saw millions of USB memory sticks being sold and not counting towards the sales charts.

More interestingly is the creation of a pointless new format - the one-track CD:

Under the new rules, the 2-track single will also be replaced with a 1-track + single to allow labels to divide content between a physical release that includes two songs, plus additional content available as a download from a microsite; or one song with a ringtone or video, and the download track. A one-track CD single is also being introduced with a minimum price of 60p.

Is there anything more environmentally dubious than encouraging labels to produce physical CDs which contain only one track; one track with all the packaging, transporting, storage and so on. It wouldn't be so bad if it was likely to inspire people to buy more physical product - but who's going to bother stocking such a low-margin item? Who's going to bother buying it?

Fopp still missing from London?

The new, HMV-owned Fopp microchain is set to reopen at the end of the week - but, apparently, without a branch in London. The purchase of the Covent Garden store isn't running as smoothly as those of the other five stores HMV has taken control of, so London is going to have to wait.

A seventh Fopp, in Byres Road, Glasgow, has been added to the HMV portfolio; this, too, will reopen later.

Summer Sonic: Life beyond the 'No Mosh'

Phil S - who used to send us reviews from Japan a while back - has got back in touch with something from Makukari's Summer Sonic Festival. It's good to have you back, Phil

The Summer Sonic festival takes places in Makukari, Chiba prefecture, just outside Tokyo. This does not deter every performer I see from shouting "Hello Tokyo! / Tokyo you are a better audience than Osaka! / Tokyo make some noise!" It's like a band at Reading saying "Good evening London are you ready to rark?" Anyway, it is incredibly hot here, temperatures up to around 35 degrees. Good range of bands across the umpteen stages. A good day out overall - I make the commute from west Tokyo, leaving just after 8 am and getting home about 1 am. Also, a very clean festival - no litter, no smoking in arenas, no "mosh" as the signs put it, no pushing .... but loads of tasty food options, clean WCs - and generally as well organised as most Japanese events are. A chance to catch up with some old stagers (feeling my age a bit) and some newer faces on the scene, man, as well as some stuff which had slipped under my radar. Here's how it unfolded for me:


First up, the Twang in the stadium in the noonday furnace. We sneak a crafty can of lager in and watch as they swagger about up there. First time for me to hear and see Twang, and not that impressed really; for me it's Oasis meets Simple Minds with a hint of U2 and Streets flavouring. There's a Bez type character rabble-rousing and cheerleading, throwing hooligan shapes and contributing the odd background vocal. I think they need to add another flavour or too - it's too predictable despite some funky tempo changes mid-song. My pal likes it though and he's a hard-rock fan.


Then, swaying a little in the heat, we head out, walking along the dual carriageway to the Messe (conference centre) where most of the indoor stages are, and we catch the Polyphonic Cacophony, as I have renamed them. 22 of them on stage, so it's not dull to look at, but my god have they turned it up to 11. So loud! The singer has one of those whiny Flaming Rev Grandaddy voices and is frankly irritating, running around the stage, punching the air with both hands together. It is a terrible racket really - they are going for something symphonic and inspirational, but it all gets lost in the mix. Less is more as my pal says. The "Lithium" cover is a novelty but overall the Spree was a punishing 40 minutes.


A quick break for a bowl of Okinawa pork on rice, and then back to see Brett Anderson rock the Sonic Stage. Seeing him prowl to the chilly prowl of set-opener "To The Winter" was a revelation. What a confident performer he is - you wouldn't know his solo album had failed to break the top 10. I'm a long-time fan, and like this show a lot - about half and half solo tracks from the album and half non-Bernard Butler Suede tuneage, which the crowd love. "Can't Get Enough" is a furious romp, "Everything Will Flow" is a romp, and then a triple "Coming Up" hat-trick of beautiful trash on a Saturday night round things off. "I'd like to play longer, but can't because of curfews and that shit", says Brett. Rock and roll!


Next we make the hike back to the baseball stadium and sit under the sun to watch the earnest, impassioned Bloc Party, who I don't really get. I'm not familiar with their stuff, and although there are a couple of points where it all makes sense, overall it's fiddly, not very tuneful and I don't think Kele can really sing very well.


The sounds of Prince's new record fill the air as the Manic Street Preachers prepare for action. Kicking off with "You Love Us", they turn in a professional performance of straightahead rock music! J D Bradfield is still a powerful vocalist and coruscating guitar player, and N Jones is wearing a skirt and striding exaggeratedly around the stage. "Ocean Spray" is dedicated to Mitsuhiro Ikeda, photographer, and has a cool sax solo. The new stuff sounds good: "Autumnsong" has a Guns N Roses vibe, and it's a shame Nina Persson hasn't made the trip to help out on "Your Love Alone is not Enough". Of all the bands I see on Sunday the Manics are the one whose CD I fish out in the next few days. This has me rediscovering them - a top melodic rock band with cutting edge.


Still, we don't stay for all their set as my pal wants to head back indoors to catch Motorhead, poor feller. I leave him to Lemmy and the boys and catch the last couple of tunes from Cyndi Lauper. From the back of the hall I can't make out much but she seems to be having a ball up there. "Time after Time" is acoustic and lovely, but let down when she calls Conor Oberst on stage (he'd played the Sonic Stage just before Cyndi) to add some horrible harmonies to the chorus. He later goes down with a fever and pulls out of the V Festival. She finishes with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (that guitar intro is iconic - the Strokes came on stage to it at Zepp Tokyo about five years ago and it sounded amazing) where lots of females young and old dance around the stage with Cyndi. Can't help but smile. As I leave the hall I overhear a Japanese young man marvel at these veteran 80s pop acts...

Motorhead are still doing their stuff on the Mountain Stage, so I wander into the Dance Stage hall where Vitalic is on stage, a bald fellow pumping out some thumping minimal (?) techno in front of a screen. Two songs is all I can take, but the crowd are well into it.

After Motorhead finish I catch up with my pal - he liked it a lot. Lots of short songs, fun banter from Lemmy, and the "Ace of Spades" too. Quieter than the Polychaotic Spree too, apparently.


An hour to kill before Tennant and Lowe headline the Sonic Stage, so en route to the food stalls for a steak sarnie and beer, we hop into the Dance Stage to see UNKLE. I liked their track with Ian Brown, "Be There", but didn't know much else. We watch about three tracks - they are now a full band, dressed in black, with two guys (one of whom might be J Lavelle?) on computer and "decks" maybe. For some reason I think Death in Vegas when I first see them. A diffident bloke sings live on one track, then on another Ian Astbury appears on the screen to sing "Burn my Shadow" which is pretty cool and propulsive. The live drums work well. Quite dark and intense all around, and not as popular with the dance crowd as Vitalic. Time for a beer, we think.


We take our Heinekens close to the front for the Pet Shop Boys. I've followed their career since 1985 and this is the first time I've seen them live. It's a good show - two young energetic male dancers work through inventive routines, Sylvia Mason-James and two male backing singers fill out the stage with some never overdone screen visuals behind. The PSB do a greatest hits set with not many post-1992 tunes - sadly none of their slower killers like "Being Boring" or even "London", which would have replaced the slightly dull "Minimal" / "Shopping" part of the set. The hall is rammed, Neil Tennant's vocals are spot on, and Chris does a wicked "Paninaro". Apparently the last date of their "Fundamental" world tour, this would seem a good send-off. The final "Go West" is immense and a massive crowd favourite. Beaming faces, hands in the air everywhere I look. And Sylvia Mason-James has an incredible voice. In a fairer world she would have a glittering solo career.

We wander back to the main baseball stadium where Arctic Monkeys have headlined above Kasabian, who seem to play Summer Sonic every year. We hear the Offspring mugging their way through "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" from the Mountain Stage as we amble onwards. One last beer at the outdoor bar with my pal, my pal's lady and her pals (who loved the Monkeys and Kasabian) .... and then I make the 90 minute trip home. A suitably super Summer Sonic Sunday!

Mel B gets what she wishes for

In her heartfelt plea for us to not see her wife-beating husband as a bad man, Mel suggests we return to the source material:

If you read those police reports, they never say he physically beat up a woman

We can now do just that, as TMZ have got hold of that document, which does list "violence against spouse" on the rap sheet. Perhaps he used the power of thought, then?

Darren Hayes' racist problems

Metropolitan Police, called to Busaba Eathai restuarant, arrested someone who sounds a lot like Darren Hayes:

"We can confirm that a 35-year-old man was arrested by Westminster police on suspicion of racially abusing a member of staff.

"He was arrested after voluntarily attending a Central London police station by appointment. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries, until the 21st of September."

Today, though, Darren Hayes' lawyers have issued a statement which says he's innocent:
“Darren is unable to comment to any extent as the incident is presently under investigation by the police, with whom he has cooperated fully.”

“However he is deeply upset at the allegation which he strenuously denies and anyone who knows Darren will recognise that the particular nature of the allegation is totally abhorrent to him and contrary to everything for which he has stood.”

As Drowned In Sound point out, that's quite verbose for someone who is "unable to comment". And since when did being accused of something mean you couldn't say "I'm innocent" - especially when you haven't been charged with anything.

There's also something slightly ominous in the use of past tense there - "contrary to everything for which he has stood". A slight air of "if those downtrodden people think I'm sticking up for them again after this..." which we're sure the spokesperson didn't intend.

Rollins prepares to pulse neck muscles once more

Henry Rollins is currently deciding "hmm... shall I mention about my friend being shot again?" as he prepares one of his not-exactly-Jello-Biafran spoken word tours of the UK and Ireland:

26 January London Hammersmith Apollo
27 Bristol Colston Hall
28 Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
29 Dublin Vicar Street
30 Manchester Academy
31 Newcastle Academy
2 February Aberdeen Music Hall
3 Glasgow Theatre Royal

Politician admits to using drugs: lots and lots and lots of them

Dave Rowntree - who, apparently, is training to become a barrister, has contributed a think-piece to The Guardian on how we get people off drugs:

So what I'm hoping for in 2008 is a strategy based on research, education and harm reduction. Some evidence suggests that the proportion of people who may be at serious risk of becoming dependant could be as high as one in six. If so, taking drugs is really like playing Russian roulette. Most people will get away with it, but for some it will mean their death. And just like Russian roulette, you won't know which group you're in until it's too late.

However, there's a sneaking suspicion that the real point of the article is this piece:
The problem of dependent users seems equally baffling. Why do they continue using after losing their home, family, job, and even their limbs? Happily I can tell you, because I've been there. Many addicts think mood-altering chemicals affect them in a different way to normal people. Certainly when I first discovered alcohol, and later cocaine, the effect was almost religious in its intensity, and all my problems seemed to melt away. I didn't start using regularly until the 90s, but as my tolerance increased, I used more.


I managed to get help before they destroyed my life, and these days I'm active in the recovery community. The key point is that all the way along, I thought my behaviour was normal and it was the rest of the world that had gone mad. I had no idea my experience was different to anyone else's because I had nothing to measure it against.

Rowntree - apparently it's David these days, by the way - has been reported to be considering seeking adoption as a Labour candidate for the next election. Could this article be less about floating the idea (that, erm, drugs are bad, mkay) and more about being able to create a clear and honest way to say "Of course Mr. Rowntree has had drug issues in the past, but he has spoken about these and they were a matter of public record before he sought the nomination..."

[Thanks to James McCabe for the link]

Radio One More Time: The Record Race

Listen... and win!

One of the all-time great radio competitions, originally heard on Peter Powell's nightly teatime programme before being spun out to support an entire hour or so on Friday nights, filling the gap in the schedule left by the axing of Roundtable. It was a really, really simple premise: a caller would be on the phone, and a record would start playing, accompanied by a slow countdown of "ten... nine... eight...". After enough of the introduction had been got through for the caller to identify the track, they'd call out the name excitedly, and the countdown would stop. The caller would then be rewarded for their ability to recognise a song played seven or eight times a day on Radio One by being given as much of the top ten as the countdown had left to run.

Younger readers will just have to be assured that, back then, getting even three or four seven inch singles was a prize akin, in modern terms, to an X Box and half-a-dozen pair of training shoes. It just was. You had to go into town and fork over lots of money for them songs, whereas nowadays, of course, you could probably download the entire Top 75 in less time than it would take Peter Powell to count backwards from ten.

The only flaw in basing an entire programme on this, of course, was that after the caller had got the song right, the usual social niceties of "a few hellos" and "anyone else who knows me" had be done over the top of the record. During Janice Long's helming of the Friday night programme, Janice's chatty style, coupled with the larger number of contestants and consequent increased number of people getting to 'one' before identifying Like A Virgin by Madonna meant that while a lot of record were played, hardly any music was actually heard.

Janice Long and Peter Powell, besides having shared the Record Race format, did spend a very brief time as the Sonny and Cher of Radio One - a pairing that, in today's terms, would have been on a par with Edith Bowman actually dating Colin Murray.

The best Radio One competitions were the ones which were built on some sort of knowledge of current chart music - supposedly the network's raison d'etre in its first two or three decades. The weekly 'predict the top three' write-in was always fun: actually challenging, impossible to cheat on, simple to understand the rules and requiring actual skill and judgement. Except when Bryan Adams was at number one, of course.

[Radio One More Time: Radio 1 at 40]

Mel B: You don't know him like I know, he's lovely with me

Mel B has launched a stout defence of her convicted wife-beater husband, saying that he's not violent or anything:

She says: "Everything I stand for is about being a strong, independent woman, so for him to be seen as a wife beater is devastating for me because he's not - he never has been."

Mel, who married Belafonte, 32, in June after a whirlwind romance, claims she knew of his past and says he is a changed man.

So, he's "never been a wife beater" - despite, you know, that conviction for domestic violence - and yet, despite never having been a violent partner, he's changed.
[T]he 32-year-old, mum to Phoenix Chi, eight, and Angel, four months, defended his reputation and told how he has had group therapy and counselling.

Therapy, of course, to cure the violent man that he never was.

Of course, the most famous therapy Belafonte has had was court-mandated. After he was convicted of domestic violence. (According to the Mirror, of course, he got thrown out of the course twice before he completed it.)

It might be that Belafonte is a changed man from the one who killed a duck, whose first wife apparently sought an annulment. Let's hope so.

But you see Mel B desperately trying to argue that the past never happened:
"They're trying to make him out to be this aggressive, violent, woman batterer and he's not. If you read those police reports, they never say he physically beat up a woman."

... and the signs don't look good.

Victoria goes to see the Stones

Besides giggling about Keef and Ronnie smoking onstage - in defiance of the smoking b... sorry, it's so boring I can't be arsed to finished the words - Victoria Newton's 'review' of The Stones at the Millennium Dome reads more like someone who, at best, filed before she set off:

The band arrived at the riverside venue in true James Bond style — on a speedboat. They went on to deliver a medley of hits, and inevitably Keef got to sing a couple (time to go to the bar).

Ah, yes. "A medley of hits". That's, um, quite a setlist.
But once again they proved they’re still a class act and worth the extortionate ticket prices.

Sorry... how can anything be "worth" an "extortionate" price? Victoria, you've just said 'they proved the unfair price was fair'. But perhaps we should let it go as, clearly, you must have been writing this piece so close to midnight, musn't you?

There's gold in that there misery

A happy ending to the recent troubles of Kerry Katona - all those cheques from the magazines has helped her buy a new car:

KERRY KATONA is forking out £115,000 on a 200mph Italian supercar — in the hope it will change her bad luck.

She is buying the black Lamborghini Gallardo to get over drug and stress worries, a £100,000 burglary at her home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and a custody battle over her two children with WESTLIFE ex BRIAN McFADDEN.

She told pals: “It’s an incredible machine.”

Come on, Victoria, she didn't tell pals that, did she? If that was a genuine Kerry Katona quote, it would have looked like this:

Max Clifford tells me 'Kerry thinks it's an incredible machine'

Now magazine is already preparing a "Kerry - Death crash: Amazing rescue pictures inside" special issue, ready to roll when the inevitable happens.

Jamelia: strong woman, strong hair

Brave, brave Jamelia has opened her heart to Victoria Newton about how she's not letting the split with Darren Byfield. She only split last week from the - shall we call him footballer, although he's a footballer in the way members of One True Voice are pop stars?

But after seven days, she's ready to share her pain with Newton. Where does she find the strength to carry on?

And with a greatest hits album on the way and a new range of haircare products to promote, Jamelia doesn’t have much time for wallowing in self-pity.

She said: “I’m getting on with work as I’ve got two really big projects to focus on — my new haircare range, Model.Me, and, of course, my greatest hits album, which are both out next month.”

How fortunate that the headline-hugging split from Barry Diefield should chime so perfectly with the promotional work for hair gunk and what is - effectively - Superstar's re-release. Why, you couldn't have timed that better if you planned it or something.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

RIAA lawsuits face a major challenge

The RIAA lawsuits against filesharers are facing a strong legal challenge, as attorneys in Warner V Cassin are set to argue that the "evidence" presented by the label - screenshots identifying songs in a shared folder on a peer to peer network - doesn't satisfy the demands of US copyright law that actual infringement must be proved; the RIAA is unable to demonstrate that anybody downloaded copies of the shared files.

Although this isn't a unique defence, the judges in cases up until now have chosen to not rule on this point of law. This time, though, the courts are being asked to give a ruling on whether making available is the same, in law, as copying material. If it goes against the RIAA, they're going to find a lot of their "evidence" is suddenly evidence no longer.

Kanye feels so real

Kanye West loves his work, you know. And do you know why? Because he's real, dammit. And he's not just real, he's further along the scale of real than anyone:

"I feel like my lyrics are, if not THE, then equal to, the realest lyrics out," he says. "I connected with so many people without talkin' about guns and drugs. ... It's harder to go to work 365 days than shoot a person in one day."

Presumably he means "harder" in the "not wearing a shirt in cold weather" sense rather than difficult, as it's hardly news that shooting a bloke (which, as Phil Oakey pointed out, takes seconds) isn't quite as involved as an EU-regulation defying 365 day shift.

A glimpse into the Private Equity future for EMI

As it prepares to disappear into the clutches of Terra Firma, EMI has outlined what the future holds. They're going to take the music that means something to people, and whore it out until it's an empty husk:

"Our back catalog is so prestigious and so rich in heritage in its impact on pop culture that half our effort is reminding people and recreating awareness of the music's availability, " said Ronn Werre, president of EMI Music Marketing.

Over the next year, Saatchi & Saatchi will help EMI seek new ways for fans to reconnect to music they might hear on a commercial or TV show and ultimately translate that into a transaction, Werre said in an interview.

In other words, you can expect to hear a lot of songs you loved being flung onto car adverts. Oh.

Urge to merge

It seems like just minutes since we were detailing the last iPod/iTunes killer service, and yet here we are with another one. Or, rather, three failed services hoping to pool their - uh - expertise to beat the heck out of iTunes and iPod. Unless it's already been defeated by GBox, in which case, they'll take on that and Zune.

The three partners are MTV and Real, who are merging MTV's unloved Urge and Real's solid-but-sidelined Rhapsody in a deal Verizon Wireless. VW is co-owned by Vodaphone, whose expensive Vodaphone Live content delivery flopped like a sky-diving whale back before we even knew there was an iPod to kill.

The hope is that heavy promotion by MTV will drive take-up, but why MTV's muscle should be able to drive sales to this new venture when it couldn't persuade people to feel the Urge isn't clear. Although since MTV doesn't actually carry much music, it's probably not the best platform to try and connect with music lovers on. If they were selling drawings of dwarves setting fire to themselves, they'd be counting the bucks.

Meanwhile, UK mobile phone companies will be casting a nervous eye at the FT's reports of a deal to bring the iPhone to Europe. In the UK, it's definitely going to be on the O2 network.

Jesus returns - to the studio is reporting that Jim and William Reid have headed on back into the studio, to record some new material.

It offers this clip, off of Letterman, of what the 21st Century Mary Chain sound like:

iTunes killer or MyCokeMusic2.0?

If we had a pound for ever iTunes/iPod killer that's launched, we'd have almost as much money as has been wasted trying to launch iTunes/iPod killers. Of all the contenders so far, GBox might stand the greatest chance so far. But it still feels a bit too scrappy to really take on Apple in a like-for-like battle: not least because it's only offering a slice of the catalogue from two majors, and because - for some reason - it's not available for Macs or Linux. Apart from this bit:

For those on another operating system or using a browser not listed above, you can still use gBox to do the following:

* View your friends' wishlists, gifts given, and gifts received wherever they have posted their widget
* Stand out by gifting others the stuff they want from their wishlist widgets

Oh, thank you. I can buy stuff for people who use other browsers. Truly, I am blessed.

In addition, wrapping the whole buying and selling in this strange "gifting social networking widget" set up is hardly a simple way of buying and selling. I don't imagine Steve Jobs is going to be that bothered by the competition.

Doherty walks - again

This time, the apparent breach of his bail terms that resulted in his arrest have't been enough to send Doherty to jail because he wasn't brought before the court within 24 hours.

Charges of breaching bail terms were dropped, and Doherty was free to leave court. If you were him, you'd probably be thinking of having a go at a murder or something, wouldn't you? Just to see how far your powers can stretch.

Lily attempts to appease America

Lily Allen seems to have suddenly remembered what happened to the Dixie Chicks when they slagged off the Commander-In-Chief. And they didn't have to worry about getting visas, neither.

So, she's, uh attempted to clarify her position on that MySpace page she said she wasn't going to be updating as often because the fun had gone out of it:

hello all

v festival was great, thanks to everybody who came ,

i just want all my fans to know this ,
I have called george bush a c**t at pretty much every show i have played over the past year , that is because I think he is one and i stand by that . You can make up your own mind as to whether you agree with me or not , thats just how i feel . Just because i hate george bush doesnt mean I hate america , quite the opposite , I think the US is a great place and I am really sad that I cant be there for my commitments scheduled for the near future . what i said about George Bush this weekend bears no relation to what happened a couple of weeks ago with my visa , that is an issue with the US immigration service . I just wanted to let you all know that my " foul mouthed tirade " so widely reported over the past couple of days is actually pretty rehearsed and ive beeen saying it long before all this visa issue .

Erm... Lily, you realise the "Us immigration service" problems you had were pretty much down to the line they've been taking fed directly from the White House? And it's a little bit simplistic to say "I am only hating Bush, not America" without suggesting where you see the line between the head of the State and the nation. Yes, it's possible to hold those two positions simultaneously, but without being given any explanation as to what you actually believe in the space between the two extremes, a casual observer might wonder if you merely trumpeted that you hated Bush because it sounded like a cool, anarchic thing to say, rather than because you have any real understanding of American politics.

She then tries to explain why she raised a glass to, erm, an alcoholic:
also me raising a drink to Amy , was just that , showing my support for her . I've been around enough substance abuse and alcoholism to know that it's a serious matter , and not to be taken lightly .

So, thoughtless rather than aggressive, then.
im sorry, i wanted to write this because i felt like if i didn't say anything you all might believe the rubbish your being fed .

But the "rubbish" is, erm, that you called Bush a cunt and raised a drink to a woman suffering from alcoholism. We're slightly tired of the way the semi-famous try to pretend that their bad behaviour has somehow been "misrepresented" or "made-up", relying on the distrust of tabloid standards to bury their own stupidity.


One of the most upstanding, outstanding music blogs of the bunch, Largehearted Boy, is hosting a pre-Hampden Festival MP3 fest of bands due to appear at the Baltimore festival this September. Included are the god-teasing Baby Aspirin, Baltimore roll-punks Secret Crush Society and Water School covering Liz Phair's Fuck And Run. Good work at all angles.

Libertines singer "will go to prison"

Not Doherty, of course - indeed, the Daily Mirror is running a poll today to see if any of its readers believe Pete will ever again see the inside the inside of the cell; the consensus is 'no' - but Carl Barat is heading inside with Dirty Pretty Things to do a gig in Pentonville. It's an attempt to raise awareness of the large numbers of inmates who kill themselves while in the prison system.

Bacardi's successful sponsorship

Good work for the people at Bacardi: their sponsored tent at the V festival played host to two young women (Kate Moss and Sarah Harding) having a screechy bitch fight, which ended with Harding sobbing in the toilets as people tried to coax her out. Exactly the sort of results you usually see when people have been enjoying Bacardi's fine products, then.

Radio One More Time: Playground

Back in the pre-digital past, when there were few radio networks, Radio One felt it had a duty to be, if not all things to all people, at least to be serving more than just the teenager-with-a-tranny that was seen as its core, solidly dumbed-down audience. Playground was part of this remit, launching in the mid-70s on Sundays to cater to younger listeners. It was presumably intended to be a public garden in which young minds could be tended, and, like many gardens, it was shoved in an otherwise unattractive part of ground.

So early Sunday mornings, it was, where David Rider was given the chance to present a kind of aural Blue Peter, mixing the odd record with improving features, none of which at all we can remember. In fact, because it was on first thing on Sunday mornings, the only time we ever remember hearing it was when we were on holiday and a combination of excitement and unnatural beds, coupled with a grim determination to make the best of the day, meant we were up and about early enough. What we do remember, though, is the 'Have You Been Paying Attention' competition at the end, which - although holding out the promise of a small prize - clearly functioned as a stern 'listen to this, there will be questions later'. Nowadays, of course, the kids would just whip through the programme on listen again to claim the prize, but it wouldn't matter as the competition would still be won by one of Liz Kershaw's friends pretending to be eight years old.

Towards the end of the run - "to prop up an ill-considered idea" would be the uncharitable view - Maggie Philbin and Keith Chegwin from Swap Shop were parachuted in to "help out"; as a ratings-boosting idea this would have worked better if Maggie and Keith had mentioned their jobs on radio more often on Swap Shop. Instead, their appearance felt less like the glamour of television rubbing off on the programme, more like they were doing it under some sort of Community Service Order about which they were hoping news would not leak. It's similar, in fact, to the way that on Smile, Barney Harwood's sole mention of his involvement in Radio 4's Go For It has been a single, near-subliminal in-joke. Somewhere in Broadcasting House, there will be an executive wondering why the hiring of TV stars doesn't deliver audiences to radio, you know.

The sense of a kids programme caught in adult radio wasn't quite as marked as when Johnny 'hookers, drugs and motorbikes' Walker used to pause for five minutes during Radio 5's AM Alternative to play five minutes of Wiggly Park - at least Playground formed a distinct 'family' programme block, being followed by Junior Choice. Indeed, it was eventually subsumed by Junior Choice when, in 1986, Keith and Maggie jumped ship to stand alongside Tony Blackburn. Although there were promises made that Blackburn would continue with the more educational aspects of Playground's remit, they lasted about as long as "incorporating Melody Maker" did on the NME masthead.

[Radio One More Time: 40 posts about 40 years]

To be fair, it's not what she's known for

The 3AM Girls have clearly fallen out of love with Peaches Geldof, enjoying her fall from grace:

The "DJ" demanded to be moved from the opening slot on Saturday and then played one of the worst sets ever. "She managed to clear the dance floor before throwing a strop and leaving in a sulk," says our mole.

Blimey - being such a bad DJ you clear the dancefloor isn't unheard of, but the dancefloor clearing the DJ booth is a special kind of not that good.

Levine: Something of a charmer

Adam Levine - what a guy: he reckons he dumped Maria Sharapova because of her behaviour during sex:

She wouldn’t make any noise during sex.

"I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I really thought, like a lot of guys, that she'd be the loud screaming type.

"But instead, she just lay there like a dead frog."

Adam, sweetheart, as most IT support desks could tell you: if you're not getting the results you expect, it's usually down to operator error. Something wrong with the input.
"She even got angry if I started to moan, said it 'ruined her concentration."

She was probably afraid you were about to burst into song.
"It was so disillusioning that I went on Paxil for a month afterwards.

"Really, it was much more of a shock than when I found out there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny."

Really? Or was it more like the time you realised you couldn't fly, Adam?

Still, it's not like he's going to need to worry in the future - who's going to have sex with a man who - if it doesn't live up to his Porkys fantasises - goes to the press to whine like a fifteen year-old about it?

Winehouse: Out of rehab. Possibly.

We understand that The Causeway, the "rehab" holiday centre where Amy and Blake had gone to, come out of, picked up a guitar, went back to and has left again is considering getting one of those signs that Lucy had above her stall in Peanuts: "The pop star is " and an "in" and "out" card.

A "source close to the couple" reckons The Causeway is delighted they've gone, reports The Sun:

“It is supposed to be a peaceful backdrop to help people deal with their problems. But Amy and Blake kept rowing and spoiling the ambience.

“While Amy would be welcomed back with open arms, I’m not sure they’d say the same for Blake."

When they say "source close to the couple", don't you get the funny feeling it might be a source closer to one side of than the other?

We're a little bemused as to what sort of place that seriously weans people off heroin and crack would be unable to cope with a little bit of shouting. Maybe it was really Blake's hat that they had a problem with.
“Everyone is really worried that if they are let loose in London again they’ll just go straight back to their old druggy habits.”

Because, of course, half a day in a "rehab" centre would have been enough to break those "old druggy habits".

Is this the end for The Cheky Girls?

Obviously it's not the end for them as a creative force - that dwindled before Touch My Bum even made it into the shops. But as a company, The Cheeky Girls might be facing wipe-out, as Revenue and Customs seek unpaid VAT receipts. The problem, of course, is that their label, Telstar, went bust and - unless there's a large pile of cash sitting around unexpectedly, it looks like Cheeky Girls - the business will go the same way.

Monday, August 20, 2007

IRMA create copyright cellmate

IRMA - the RIAA in Ireland - are whooping with delight at the sentencing of Martin McDonagh to six months in prison. McDonagh was caught trying to flog knock-off CDs in pubs and markets, and IRMA's DG Dick Doyle is thrilled:

This sends out a strong warning sign to anyone involved in illegal counterfeiting and CD selling. It is stealing from people who make a livelihood from music. We will do everything in our power to seek out and prosecute anyone involved in any form of unlawful music practice. This is the first prison sentence that has been imposed and we intend that it will not be the last'.

We're not sure that it's actually up to Doyle to instruct courts what sentence to pronounce, and it seems a little harsh to throw McDonagh in jail despite his guilty plea - it's certainly not going to lead to anyone caught in the future offering to co-operate in the hope of a lighter sentence.

Last FM get into video

Last FM is aware that being the market leader in "what I'm listening to now" isn't enough to keep it warm in the years to come, and is looking to pick up some new tricks: It's improved its streaming video offering. Wired reckons the quality of their service can be better than that of YouTube, and the ability to lob into blogs is now part of the deal.

Other music blogs are available

I don't think we've ever linked through to a Tumblr blog before, so it's a double delight to point at 120 Minutes, a simple blog which collects videos of the sort MTV's 120 Minutes used to play. The US version, we guess, rather than the UK version, which always suffered from having its finely-chosen musical content introduced by Paul "I'm talkin about the woah-oh-oh-oh" King. Until he left and was replaced by Miles "by this time rhyming slang" Hunt.

And so he goes

Tony Wilson has been buried in a private ceremony in Manchester this afternoon. Amongst the floral tributes was a £400 wreath, paid for by seemingly everybody on the Liverpool music scene clubbing together.

Although today's event was family and close friends, plans are being made for a more public celebration of Wilson's life and achievements; councillors in Manchester are discussing plans for a permanent memorial.

Amazon, Yahoo set to flog MP3s

Inspired by Universal's attempts to break Apple's online music dominance, Amazon and Yahoo are readying their online music stores. Music Week is reporting Amazon will be flogging MP3s from September; Yahoo from January 2008. Although not actually DRM-free (the tracks will be traceable), the new stores are hoping that the more open format will allow them to chip away at iTunes' market share.

Explosions rearranged

Last May, Explosions In The Sky had to pull their UK tour. They're now returning in January to fulfil the dates. And a couple of new ones:

Wednesday 23 January – BRIGHTON – Concorde
Thursday 24 – BRISTOL – Anson Rooms
Saturday 26 – DUBLIN – The Village
Sunday 27 – GLASGOW – Barrowlands
Tuesday 29 – MANCHESTER – Academy
Wednesday 30 – LONDON – Astoria

Madonna screws the majors?

A fascinating snippet of gossip in today's Times suggests Madonna could be about to leave Warners, her label since back when she was good, to sign a deal with LiveNation.

Yes, as in the former promotional wing of Clear Channel.

The idea would be to wrap up her live music with recording rights; it's probably going to give the majors more to worry about than McCartney tying up with Starbucks because, while McCartney is mainly a back-catalogue type of guy, new Madonna records still sell really well.

The few major label managers who have a plan for their industry in the future beyond smashing all computers and trying to make Apple give them a dollar for every iPod sold have grasped that they need to reinvent what they do as more of an artist management business - it was that which inspired Universal to shell out the best part of fifty million quid buying Sanctuary.

Trouble for the labels is, with everyone agreeing that for top-drawer artists, the live part is now a more significant earner than their recorded work, the smart move seems to be to tie yourself to a copmpany whose expertise is in live promotion and can sub-contract the CD and digital releases, rather than tying yourself to a company which is struggling with digital releases and CD sales and doesn't have any in-house capacity to do the live promo work.

Dre stares Death Row in the face

A long-bubbling bout of disagreement between Dr Dre and Death Row Records is heading for the courts: Dre claims the now-bankrupt label is touting rights for The Chronic to raise funds; he wants rights to the record back claiming that his deal allowing the label to keep exploiting the title had been broken when Death Row failed to pay him royalties.

The courts are having to decide if a dead man locked in Eminem's basement can, legally, sue a defunct record label.

Is KT Tunstall a vampire?

Never mind about her sexuality - could KT Tunstall be one of the undead, who would feast on our brains (hang on, that's zombies, isn't it?)

The 'music' she has released is enough to suggest that she feels the torture of innocent souls is a bit of a buzz. (And, incidentally, William Grundy, why do you think your girlfriend suddenly turned cold on the idea of going on holiday with you? It had nothing to do with her wanting to pay her way; she clearly was horrified that you chose to play her KT Tunstall during your date last night. Watch out, or Ed will have her away, too.)

Now, there's more evidence. Fangs, to be exact:

"I had my teeth filed down because I grew fangs. I was only five and it was quite unpleasant.

"But I was fairly vicious if I got into fights back then. I didn't bite anyone directly, but I did some nipping when I was just mucking around with my brother."

Now, on to our next subject: Sandi Thom - werewolf or not?

Son, I'm... uh, thirty... I think...

And this, then, would be your brain on drucks: Shaun Ryder has been forced to rely on an autocue to prompt him when onstage:

"Yeah, I forget the words. I need a bit of help. Is it any surprise after all the shit I've done?"