Saturday, September 22, 2007

KT, you don't eat meat

KT Tunstall might seem to allow anyone with a quid or two to buy her music to shower over their adverts, but there are lines she draws, it turns out:

KT Tunstall stepped in to prevent one of her songs being used in a ham advert.

The 'Suddenly I See' singer decided to turn down the offer from a Norwegian company because she does not eat meat.

"I'm a vegetarian. My manager takes care of these things but he does tell me everything because he knows I'll have a good laugh with most of it."

What KT Tunstall song would possibly be appropriate to flogging pork products?

Th' Faith Healers weekend: Quickspace interview

This interview was originally done for the second issue of a fanzine I was writing about ten years ago; an issue which never saw the light of day; it took the form of a postal q&a with Quickspace; the questions were answered by Paul

Did you feel happy with your Festive Fifty appearance? Did you vote, and who for?

Yes, we were very happy and quite surprised (Nina jumped about a lot and rang her Mum). Being slack we didn't vote, but if we did:

Sean: West Palm Beach by Palace

Tom: Friend by Quickspace or Two Kinds of Love by John Spencer Blues Explosion

Nominate a Quickspace song to be used as the national anthem

Sean nominated Superplus because (and I quote) it is an anthem. He also liked the idea of 50,000 rugby fans going "La la... la la la etc" before a match.

Worst thing about music in 1997?
Paul: Kula Fucking Shaker
Tom: Divine Comedy, Baby Bird and the rest of the pseudo sophisticated bands

Has the change of name [dropping the 'Supersport'] caused confusion?

Anything big planned for 1997?
Compilation album of early singles/rare stuff - May
New album - June/July (recorded... released??)
Do the festivals and Europe (and UK) - Summer
Doing video for new single - when we record it

Is synaesthesia a blessing or a curse?
Tom: Ask a doctor

Which smell or colour would Quickspace be?
Vaguely fishy

What would you have to achieve to be satisfied?
Tom wants to be a Timelord

What point would you think 'we've sold out'?
Sold out! We hardly sell anything let alone sell out... (sorry: vague attempt at humour)

How much stuff is still available?
Friend - 7" single
Rise - 10" single + CD single
Superplus - CD single + 12"
Quickspace - album
As mentioned, most of the old stuff is going to be re-released on a compilation

Where next?
Tequilla Willies country karaoke bar
Church Street
Stoke Newington
London N16

Tom Cullinan - Guitar/Vocals
Marianana Pascale - Guitar/Vocals
Paul Shilton - Keyboards
Sean Newsham - Bass
Chin - Drums

[Part of Th'Faith Healers Weekend]

Pirate Bay counter attacks media companies

Earlier this week, MediaDefender - a company employed by entertainment industry corporations in the battle on peer-to-peer networks - had its business suddenly thrust into the open when its gmail account someone swung open. Besides not looking very good for an internet security firm to have its own affairs hacked and scattered, and the discovery that many in the entertainment industry were starting to have doubts that they were doing any good, the contents of the emails have been enough to see Pirate Bay file legal actions against companies for alleged commercial sabotage.

Still, we know how much record labels enjoy a good court case, don't we?

Darren Hayes accept police caution

There's been some sort of resolution of that odd incident where Darren Hayes was accused of racially abusing a restaurant worker; Hayes has accepted a police caution under section five of the Public Order Act, which deals with disorderly behaviour, but still denies there was anything racist about it.

Why, he says, how can I be racist, when I'm gay?

"I could never think, let alone utter a racist remark," he said.

"As a gay man, I find the notion of discriminating against a human being because of race, gender or sexuality to be abhorrent. It goes against everything I have stood for."

Apart from being absolutely absurd - being gay doesn't suddenly prove you're not racist, any more than being black stops you being homophobic - we love Hayes' suggestion that he's well-known for his crusading zeal for equality. Hayes remained in the closet until 2006, happily letting everyone else do the work for to push for gay rights during 80s, 90s and first half of this decade. Now, of course, coming out or not is a personal choice, but if you do choose to keep your head down when others are fighting on your behalf, it might harm your chances of trying to suggest that you're some sort of well-known civil rights hero later on.

The Metropolitan Police are refusing to either confirm or deny that there was a racist element to the disorderly behaviour.

Filthy lucre? Or just grubby?

Having managed to separate enough fools from their money by selling out the latest comeback in ten minutes, the Sex Pistols have added two extra dates, and doubled the price of tickets to £85.

They used to literally spit on their fans. Metaphoric spitting pays much better.

[UPDATE: Although Reuters was reporting a ticket price of £85, Ticketmaster was showing £37.50.]

Rockobit: Pepsi Tate

Pepsi Tate, bassist with Welsh hair metallers Tigertailz, died from pancreatic cancer on Tuesday. The band issued a statement:

Goodnight and God bless our dear old 'Boy'.

We are absolutely devastated to bring you the news that our beloved friend and Tigertailz Bass player Pepsi Tate lost his battle with pancreatic cancer today. Pepsi passed away peacefully at 10:30 this morning, Tuesday 18 September 2007, in Holme Towers cancer hospice in Penarth Cardiff. Pepsi's wife Shan and close family were with him.

Words cannot describe how we feel right now. We're in bits and will miss him so much.

Goodnight Boy - we'll see you again soon fella. You mean the world to us.

Born Hugh Justin Smith, Tate was one of the founder members of TigerTailz, placing an advert in a Cardiff record shop in 1983 which would bring the band together. Over the subsequent quarter century, the band would manage to clock up some sixteen different members, a UK top 40 album and a suprisingly large fan base in Japan.

Tate will be buried in a private ceremony this coming Thursday; his family have requested only those who are invited should attend.

Th' Faith Healers weekend: Live in New York

Not the greatest quality, perhaps - which is a bit of a shame, as mostly this gig is all of the band available online - Th' Faith Healers doing Curly Lips at the New York Mercury Lounge in March 1996:

[Part of Th' Faith Healers weekend]

Ramone versus Ramone

Richie Ramone - or Richard Reinhardt as he's known to the authorities - is pulling an Eminem, and testing the theory that record companies and download agencies have to get the permission of credited songwriters as well as recording owners before making downloads available. He's suing WalMart, Apple and Johnny Ramone for a slightly ridiculous sounding million bucks, claiming he never gave permission for six songs he co-wrote to be made available for download.

Of course, if these claims are successful in court, it's going to make legal downloads hideously complicated to organise, which ultimately would be brilliant news for Bittorrent advertisers.

Ros unfreezes goods

Amongst the delights Sigur Ros have in store for you between now and Christmas is a DVD collection, Heima. There's a bandwidth-sucking trailer online right now; release comes November 5th.

Hammer Time again

There's much to be enjoyed in the news of MC Hammer's comeback tour from the Daily Record, not least the botched way they've cut and pasted chunks from one of those "you're a child of the eighties" emails into the end of the article to "get you in the mood", and the strident attempt of the management of Glasgow's Classic Grand to try and talk-up the prospect of a Hammer gig as being anything other than a nostalgic attraction:

"We are thrilled to have him and have gone all out to get him. He has a hefty entourage of around 20 people and such a massive list of demands that we won't see much change out of £20,000 after all his needs have been met. But we think he will be worth it.

"The night is not targeted at mums and dads who want a bit of nostalgia and it's not just a student night either. It's on a Friday night so will have an edgier vibe for fans of people like Calvin Harris."

Hmm. A forty-five year old evangelical preacher who had his own cartoon series for kids and was mainly known for comedy trousers. Yes, that's going to be edgy.

Borrell blames bungling bosses

Why aren't Razorlight big in America?

Funnily enough, "perhaps recording a song effectively calling a country a bit rubbish and saying that, culturally, it offers nothing that means anything to you isn't the best way to build a wide audience within that country" was our first answer, too.

And, yes, "maybe they're just not good enough to compete in a nation which has its own supply of second-rate renovation yard Rolling Stones projects" was also our second answer.

Johnny Borrell, though, is blaming his record label instead:

"We pretty much had no effort whatsoever. It's been very frustrating."

Perhaps it's your own fault for missing the sign saying "no shirt, no shoes, no sales" taped up above the entrance to the country, Johnny?

Th' Faith Healers weekend

Inspired by Marc Riley's airing of Quickspace's second Peel session last week, this weekend we're punctuating affairs with some live footage of the band they emerged from, Th' Faith Healers, a spot of Quickspace and a previously unpublished 1997 Quickspace interview.

But, to get things off to a bemusing start, here's Tom Cullinan of the Healers conducting a lunchtime poll of indie royalty:

a mini-menu of delights will grow here over the weekend
Curly Lips live
Get The Fuck Out Of My Face live
1997 fanzine interview with Quickspace

Th Faith Healers Peel Sessions
Th Faith Healers - Imaginary Friends
Th Faith Healers - Lido
Quickspace - The Death of Quickspace - includes the tracks they re-recorded for the Peel session 6Music rebroadcast last week

Radio One More Time: 1FM

Every week, tucked in the corner of the radio listings in Radio Times was a tantalising mystery item. We say "every week", although to be honest we only ever bought the Radio Times at Christmas, so we take it on faith that it was always there:

Radio 1/2 VHF.

This strange hybrid network appeared to consist entirely on "as Radio 1" and "as Radio 2", but every so often would actually feature entirely separate programmes, all of its own.

As I got older, the truth became clearer - Radio One and Radio Two shared a VHF network, with the signal switching between the two networks at pre-arranged points; this listing merely told fancy Dans with stereo radios which service would be broadcasting in what Bruno Brookes would always insist was "fantastic stereo" at any point in the day. Sometimes, when Radio 2 was entertaining evening sports broadcasts, the VHF channel would adopt a third persona, carrying the displaced music programming of Radio 2.

Even as I got older, though, I still couldn't quite work out why this state of affairs existed - if Radio One was the nation's favourite, why didn't it get an FM network of its own? And even if it had to share, why did the more popular network only get a couple of hours every day? At the end of the day, too. Now, I love the irony that Radio One would wait all day for the magic stereophonic transmitter, only wresting control just as John Peel's show came on at 10pm. Perfect aural reproduction, just in time for the Bogshed session.

Eventually, of course, Radio One slowly got its own network. Way too slowly, in fact, as the staggered switch-on seemed to run on for about two years - there is nothing more nonplussing than listening in a place firmly stuck on 1053/1089 as Philip Schofield excitedly turned on FM transmitter after FM transmitter.

In the end, though, the FM coverage was complete - The Stereo Sequence changing its name to the Saturday Sequence to indicate that, now, at last, even the Early Breakfast show was coming out of both speakers and stereo was no longer such a big deal. Although, having said that, every jingle was re-recorded to stress this was now Stereo Radio One. And, come to think of it, they changed the name of the network to 1FM ("formidable One FM", as John Peel would always have it) until, after a couple of years, they quietly changed it back.

But that wasn't the end of switchover madness. Oh, no: Thatcher had decided that simulcasting was a waste of the scarce national resource of radio frequencies. While local radio panicked and launched a slew of Gold Stations to make good use of their AM channels - a ruinously expensive exercise which doubled their costs without increasing audiences, leading to the mess of mergers and networking which effectively killed off the commercial radio sector - the BBC handed back their duplicate AM wavelengths. After a series of warnings, and a weaning process which saw the transmitters first closing down over night before going altogether, Radio One left its spiritual 275-285 home to make way for Talk Radio UK.

Worse, Radio One's original 247 frequency, which had been home to Radio 3 and Test Match Special, would become Virgin 1215.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

That sound is the rapid evaporation of goodwill towards the BB twins

Just because something is inevitable doesn't make it any better when it happens. So it is, with little surprise, we discover that Samanda, the Big Brother borg-goes-to-Tammy-Girl twins unit aren't very good at singing. Not that it's stopped them covering Barbie Girl.

Who's Ken, you might be wondering?

Samantha said: “We didn’t need a Ken, we just got a voiceover and left men out of it.”

Amanda added: “We could have had Brian as our Ken but how tacky would that have been?”

Yes, you wouldn't want an all-pink cover version of a novelty single by people off a reality show to get tacky, would you?

New Church

Congratulations to Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson this morning, what has just had a little girl. A baby, like.

Brit Race 2000

The eyecatching headline might oversell the story somewhat:

Spears charged with hit-and-run

She has been, but rather than the sprawled pensioner in the road, shopping bags scattered all over the place, that you might be picturing, it's more that she pranged another car and didn't stop.

Still, she doesn't appear to have been properly licenced and, under LA law, Spears could be looking at a six-month jail stretch. Which might hamper the comeback plans a bit.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ian McCulloch undersells

Ian Mac is busily writing his autobiography. Well, we say "writing"; he's signing a deal and talking it up, anyway:

"When I had all my initial interviews with publishers Faber + Faber, Transworld and Penguin, I told them this is going to be the best book ever, better than the Bible and not as high-falootin' and with less apostrophes. "(But) by the last meeting, they were still asking me what it was all about. I said I didn't know yet."

We know rock stars are somewhat prone to excess, but how far gone would you have to be to not know what the story of your life is going to be about?

Time for accountants

Now, we have as much respect for The Libertines and their great pop moments as anyone, but did their back catalogue really stretch so far as to make a compilation album either possible or necessary? Or is this merely a Christmastime cash-in, shaking down the loyal for a few more quid for the songs they'll already own?

50 Cent hasn't got the hang of retirement

He's gone and announced a slew of UK tour dates. Why, it's like all that talk about going away if he didn't outsell Kanye was a lot of hotheaded nonsense that he never meant at all.

The marvellous, mechanical mouth organ

We always thought that harmonicas were pretty much standard kit, coming in two sorts: one that came free with The Dandy or in crackers, and didn't work; the other, shop bought, which did.

Apparently, though, there's much more to it than that. Why, now you can even buy a mouth organ that has been made to the exacting standards required by Steven Tyler:

"It was a great pleasure to work with an artist of Steven Tyler's caliber on this project. His enthusiasm and creativity helped us bring this unique instrument to market," said Scott Emmerman, Hohner's Director of Marketing and Sales. "We expect strong demand for this product from serious players as well as from Steven's loyal fans."

I suppose if it can take Tyler's mouth, at least you know it's going to be resilient.

Rachel Stevens begs "save the popstar"

For some reason, Rachel Stevens is worried by the rock resurgence:

"It's changed, um, just a bit more rock 'n' roll now.

"Yeah, we need more pop acts in the mix, bring pop back.

"I feel excited about it, and I'm looking forward to getting back to doing music.

"And I will at some point, but right now I wanted to kind of do different things and challenge myself and try and then I'll be back, definitely."

Doing those contact lens ads must be taking more time than you'd expect, then.

Ever the consummate pro, Stevens even pretends that the prospect of an S Club reunion could be a positive thing, rather than a chance to hang out with Jo "it's not racist if it's a limerick" O'Meara and the others while contemplating how so much promise ended back at square one.

Jennifer Lopez: Spanish and English are different

The Daily Mail has got itself in something of a lather over Jennifer Lopez' hotel room demands, but to be honest - apart from a touching faith that American products are easy to come by in the UK (CoffeeMate Hazelnut liquid creamer? Try Marvel and a spoonful of Nutella, it's pretty much the same deal, Jennifer) it's not so very outrageous. She's hired a room to store her stage clothes, and asked for something to hang them on.

What is interesting, though, is her explanation of her Spanish language album:

"I'm really excited about it. The first single will be out this summer. And, you know, it's very different from my Spanish album.

"My Spanish album was kind of an opportunity to get away from what I do on my English albums, to kind of express a different side of myself."

So it's "very different" and, um, something. Still, at least she managed to not blurt out "it's pretty much the same stuff, but have you seen the size of the freakin' Latin market?"

Timberlake praises Spears' enormous organ

Asked by Oprah Winfrey to comment on Britney Spears' current orbiting-Venus-life, Justin Timberlake fudged for all he was worth:

I don't know, to be honest with you. I haven't spoken to her in years. I mean, there is no ill will, I have nothing but love for her. It's funny because we dated each other at a time. . . wow, I haven't talked about this in a long time. . . we were teenagers, you know?

"What I do know is that she has a huge heart and she is a great person."

The lack of ill will and absence of anything but love for Britney being best demonstrated, of course, by Justin's Cry Me A River, publicly accusing her of being a bit of a sleeparound and generally dragging their affairs through the streets. We'd hate to see what Timberlake would do if he was pissed.

Radio One More Time: Sound City

What a surprise when, emerging from Pilgrim Street in Liverpool, my path was crossed by John Peel, his son and a couple of their friends. That, in itself, wasn't so very strange, but four paces behind them was a bunch of starstruck Scousers, trailing along in mute admiration. Peel was in town as part of Sound City, one of those events where Radio One would just pitch up and take command of a town's music scene for a week. (There was also One Live, and the shorter lived Radio Comes To Town, where the other networks would also join in.)

When Sound City was in Liverpool, everyone wanted a piece of it. The faltering annual local music festival tried to cast itself as senior partner to the Radio One festivities; a Radio One sponsored seminar about music on the radio was effectively hijacked and turned into an attack on Crash FM's betrayal of its original supporters (the BBC had the bad luck to turn up just after Bernie Connor had been dumped from Crash for caring more about music than building a radio brand) and, for a few nights, the Liverpool Lomax's two-story L2 was at the height of its powers, as audiences crashed from the downstairs stage to the larger upstairs room for a continuous live broadcast.

(Arguably, of course, the L2's bigger claim to fame would have been the time it played a key role in the poorly-conceived denouement of the Brookside Musgrave rape storyline, but by that time watching Brookside had become such a parochial affair, it's unlikely anyone noticed.)

Even for a city that swaggers like Liverpool, the appearance of one of the national networks in your midst, broadcasting pretty much all of its evening output from the place, does make you feel special. We'll bet even during One Live In Nottingham, the city felt like it was at the very heart of the world of music.

There is, simply, is no better way to watch Marine Research than over the shoulder of John Peel.

And - unlike the time Any Questions was at Riverside College - nobody cut the cables connecting the event to the transmitters.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Making enemies

Alex Zane and The Enemy have fallen out, apparently after the band took offence at his interview approach. Zane, for some reason, failed to treat them like they were the most astonishing band ever; the countered with a letter that claimed he'd slept his way to the top. (We know, the 'top' being Xfm and the declining Popworld strand in this case.) Oh, and they appear to have scattered some cheap homophobia over the top, too.

The two sides then met at the Vodafone awards:

"He came up to me saying thanks for the letter and I said that was alright mate because I genuinely do think you're a shitt presenter. I then said I'd find it humorous if, upon leaving the building, he'd get hit by a bus."

Clearly, The Enemy are as funny as they are musically talented.

Zane has had enough:
"I think if someone can be that rude, offensive and nasty, no matter how good his music is and how nice his bandmates are, I'm done with them."

Words which would send a chill through the marrow of all right-thinking people, were Zane in a position to damage their careers in some way.

Is 'not been in OK for a fortnight' contagious?

Kerry Katona has been popping in to hospital for tests following the development of a mystery illness. They're pretty certain it isn't down to not defrosting a cheap leg of lamb from Iceland before eating it. Perhaps she caught that nasty thing which brought Peter Andre out in a rash of headlines earlier this year.

Rotten to the core

I'm so bored with everything I've heard in the last two years. It's just been so repetitive, so borrowing from the past.

- Yes, that's John Lydon, bemoaning how in thrall to the past the music scene is... as he does press to promote the fourth reunion of the Pistols and the 30th anniversary re-release of God Save The Queen.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

John Lydon: can anyone else smell the corpses?

Of course, he could just be trying to be ironic, but we suspect that John Lydon really doesn't see that The Police reunion and the latest in a long line of anniversary get-togethers by the Sex Pistols are the same thing. Lydon rails against The Police:

"That's really a reformation, isn't it but, honestly, that's like soggy old dead carcasses. You know listening to Stink try to squeak through 'Roxanne' one more time, that's not fun. It's like letting air out of a balloon."

Whereas hearing a tubby estate agent trying to pogo his way through Anarchy In The UK would be... what, exactly, Lydon? At least Sting never pretended to be anything other than a dull old conformist.

Meanwhile, is embarking on a pointless bid to get God Save The Queen to number one:
The song was reportedly denied the top spot when it was originally released way back in 1977 because authorities didn't want the band's punk sentiment to jar with the Queen's Jubilee that year.

As the single is reissued on seven-inch vinyl to celebrate its 30th anniversary, we are calling on all fans to buy or download it during the week beginning October 8 and hopefully we can send it back up the charts, where it rightfully belongs.

Perhaps it rightfully belonged at number one in 1977, but in what way does it have a claim to be number one in 2007? Besides, the record missed out on the number one slot not because of some Authoritarian sleight of hand, but because a number of chart return shops refused to stock the record, costing it sales.

Indeed, had the Sex Pistols really been as outrageous and shocking as they wished to be, it's arguable being in enough shops to get to number two was the failure they should worry about, not the missing out on number one.

Biechelle to be paroled, says AP

Daniel Bichelle, manager of Great White, is being lined up for early release, reports the Associated Press. Bichelle has served less than half of his sentence for his part in the Rhode Island nightclub blaze.

[Full coverage of the legal aftermath of the fire]

Michael pulls HIV interview

We wonder what George Michael had to tell Stephen Fry about his attitude towards HIV and AIDs? We can have a hint, as the producer of Fry's programme on the subject, tells us:

"George says he does not believe in tests," said producer Ross Wilson.

"He says he finds the wait for results too harrowing and that he hasn't had a test since at least 2004 due to his fears it might be positive."

However, we can't know for sure, as he's now decided that he doesn't want the programme to be shown. Presumably he fears that taking his HIV status on - arf - Faith might make him look a little wreckless, or selfish. Or weak.

Still, there's good news from the BBC News report:
Michael is still set to appear in this year's festive edition of Catherine Tate's BBC comedy programme.

Well, that's alright, then.

Kelly Jones flung out of Live Awards

Just how dull were the Vodafone Live Music Awards? So dull, apparently, the doorstaff had to amuse themselves by throwing Kelly Jones out.

Kelly had been stopped trying to go into the women's toilets; he didn't take kindly to being asked to leave and he wound up out on the streets, with a bloody gash on his arm. He then managed to get into a scrap with a passer-by, as well.

This has prompted the following observation on the Daily Mail comment board:

Well we all know that most pop stars are just 'closet' yobs, this proves it.

We love this for just being so Daily Maily as to almost be parodic. "We all know" followed by a half-arsed non-sequiter masquerading as a fact, ending on a claim that a single instance is, by its very nature, proof of a rule.

For younger readers, by the way, Kelly Jones was in a band called The Stereophonics a few years back.

Remember to add 01 if calling from outside Rockville

Of course, it's not - as they're claiming - Dave Mustaine's mobile phone, but nevertheless, you can ring him up and leave a 'personal' message by dialing +1 619 717-2000. It's taking faux-interactivity to new, pointless heights.

Robbie Williams is not dead

As if the Vodafones and the MOBOs wasn't enough, we're now getting the first burblings about the 2008 Brit Awards. Newton is reporting that Kylie and Robbie Williams are being lined up for the festivities next year.

Now, Kylie - who, by then, will have done the rousing comeback album - makes sense. But in a celebration of this year's music, what place does Robbie Williams have?

It gets worse:

Brits bosses have also come up with a brilliant idea to bring back Robbie “from the dead” by having him rise from a coffin on stage.

Oh, yes, he's going to go along with that dig at his reduced celebrity circumstances, isn't he? Presumably during rehearsals they'd sidle up to him and say "actually, Rob, how do you feel about emerging from a toilet, instead?"

Radio One More Time: Blue Jam

I can't see too well because I pawned my corneas

There was little truth in the claim that comedy was the new rock and roll - after all, it's not like comedians ever wake up, like rock stars, to discover bloated corpses floating in their swimming pools, is it? But, for a brief while, comedy did challenge pop as Radio One's stock-in-trade. Like one of Amos Brearley's short-lived obsessions, Radio One decided it was a comedy station, too.

Experience before the And it did have quite a claim to be doing it seriously, with a 9pm comedy slot which challenged Radio 4's 6.30 prominence in radio humour. And, with the likes of Radio Tip Top, also had as many duff shows as Radio 4 manages. But when it was hitting, it was a thing of beauty - The Mary Whitehouse Experience; Lee and Herrings Fist of Fun; Armando Iannucci's slightly awkward attempt to combine being a satirist with playing enough records to convince people tuning idly in that they were on the right station. This he did by means of aping the Chart Show's information boxes over the top of the songs.

Then, of course, the work of Chris Morris. The late-night (really, early morning) Blue Jam was one thing: a stumbling-out-the-club soundtrack coupled with Andrew Morton being asked to comment on spurious stories about Diana-themed video games. But better yet was the Christmas Day when - for reasons we've never quite understood - Morris ended up hosting the afternoon show.

It must, surely, have been an administrative error, mustn't it? Presumably Adrian Juste took delivery of an envelope the same day asking him to produce a late-night comedy show.

Suddenly, though, Radio One abandoned comedy altogether - presumably it was while playing the Mary Whitehouse Live At Wembley show that someone realised this was the future held: punchlines ripped from their contexts and bleated back by baying crowds; wit abandoned for slight characterisations; the frightening thought of teenage girls throwing knickers at Punt and Dennis. Something had to give.

Radio One returned to what it used to do before it employed comedians and scriptwriters, and instead got teams of researchers to stand in the studios guffawing at the daytime DJs every bon mot.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Live Music Awards also hung up on Winehouse

As if to prove that the Vodafone Live Music Awards are a buttock short of being half-arsed, not only did they throw it out on the same night as the MOBOs, but it got thrown completely into the shade by its urban rival.

The prize winners:

Best female live act: Amy Winehouse
Best male: Mika
Best production: Kylie Minogue Showgirl tour
Best live band: Arctic Monkeys
Breakthrough: Klaxons

Same winners as everyone else, then.

Amy Winehouse celebrates being urban

Amy Winehouse has won in the MOBOs, the annual awards ceremony for music, in some way, connected with being black - we think she qualified on account of having the word "Black" in her album title.

Seriously, though, one of the MOBO spokespeople was dfeending the increasingly white shortlist for the prizes by stressing that it's a way of celebrating how far black music influences all our lives. Which is true, but since even Towers of London could claim to be playing music that has a heritage that can be traced back to black ancestry, and since we thought the original aim was to act as a corrective to the usually overwhelmingly white-faced winners of the Brits, that seems a little weak. The suspicion that acts like Winehouse are thrown in to ensure that there's press coverage of an event that would otherwise be mostly overlooked isn't entirely dissolved by all the reports on the awards having 'Winehouse' in the headline this morning.

Depending on if you believe The Sun or the BBC will depend on how you think Amy was last night.

The BBC:

Winehouse, who sang Tears Dry On Their Own plus Me And Mr Jones, looked surprised when her name was announced as winner of top female artist.

Chewing gum, she said "thank you" twice before handing back the microphone and leaving the stage.

The Sun, meanwhile, suggests she was slightly less together:
AMY WINEHOUSE was back to her shambling worst last night as she won Best Female at the MOBOs.

She staggered up the stage steps looking the worse for wear as she went to collect her gong at the O2 arena.

Then she took the microphone and appeared to spit before saying a brief thank-you.

She followed that with a shoddy rendition of Tears Dry On Their Own – forgetting half the words.

During the performance Amy twitched, pulled at her black-and-white dress and gripped the mic stand as she swayed precariously.

Her version of Me And Mr Jones was slightly better – at least she remembered the words.

Those Mobo winners in full, then:

Best UK male
Dizzee Rascal

Best UK female
Amy Winehouse

Best song
Ne-Yo - Because of You

Best video
Kanye West - Stronger

Best international act

Best UK newcomer
N Dubz

Best hip-hop act
Kanye West

Best reggae act
Sean Kingston

Best R&B act

Best gospel act

Best jazz act
Soweto Kinch

Best DJ
Tim Westwood

Best African act
2face Idibia (Nigeria)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More trouble for Towers

Two of the quieter Towers of London, Dirk Tourette and Tommy Brunette, have been arrested after some sort of pointless fighting in London. They are, of course, only relatively more quiet.

Why Justin Timberlake is perpetually McDonalds

Justin Timberlake, advertiser of fast foods, seems to think all dining halls work in the same way as McDonalds. Guy Rubino of New York posh-nosh-shop Rain complains:

"Timberlake comes into Rain, doesn't even look at the menu and shouts for random food that we don't make...If he knew what he wanted, why come to an Asian restaurant in the first place?"

Nelly Furtado's no better, either:
"For parties that size, we do a prix-fixe type of menu. Nelly objected and was really rude about it. She expected individual dishes to be prepared. Her manager even came into the kitchen and had the gall to say, 'Just fucking do it!' I told her that she and her client could 'just fucking LEAVE.'"

We'd probably enjoy this example of the over-confident being told that their poop has no special scent a little more if it wasn't an equally self-important chef, but it's still nice to know there are some areas in which fame can't get you special treatment.

Kershaw producer canned

The fallout from the "abuse of trust" panic at the BBC has claimed its first scalp: Liz Kerhsaw producer Leona McCambridge has been sacked, following the revelation that many of Kershaw's competition phone-ins were pre-recorded with friends masquerading as listeners.

According to the Mail's report, Lesley Douglas, controller of Radios 2 and 6, went round to McCambridge's house to sack her with three personnel staff in tow; the Mail further speculates that Ric Blaxill could also be in trouble, after he did similar things while sitting in as producer on Russell Brand's show. (Yes, former Top of the Pops' Blaxill).

The confusing thing here is that the Kershaw breach of "trust" came to light while thye BBC was conducting an amnesty over competition fudging following the Blue Peter and Saturday Kitchen mistakes; it's an odd amnesty which ends in punishment.

Presumably Weller was comparing Winehouse to Bratz dolls

There are many things you could call Amy Winehouse - but a great role model? That stretches it a bit, surely - but not for Paul Weller:

"I've been lucky enough to work with her - she is an amazing, great talent and, despite what all the papers say, she is a great role model for people and I don't think the drugs and the drink and all that make a scrap of difference really.

“I think you should judge people on their talent and on that level she's up there, a major talent."

Well, up to a point, Paul. You should judge people's talent's on their talent and - arguably - Winehouse is pretty good, although she's never done more than hint at her potential and, judging by that Mercury Awards appearance, she's content to just coast a bit at the moment.

But simply being good at something isn't grounds enough to weighing their fitness as role models, surely? Does Weller really think that Winehouse, pissing away chances and talent that others would give their frontal lobe to have a crack at, is a good role model because she can sing a bit?

And does Weller really believe that you should judge people solely on their talents rather than their values and behaviour? Because on that basis, shouldn't Thatcher have been his hero rather than his nemesis?

Stoking! Fiery Furnaces tour

The Fiery Furnaces are just about to get into a hell of an argument with rental van people as they prepare for a UK & Ireland tour:

Tues 6th November - Nottingham, Stealth
Wed 7th - Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy
Fri 9th - Birmingham, Barfly
Sat 10th - Manchester, Night & Day
Mon 12th - Dublin Whelans
Wed 14th - Brighton, Audio

A bit of a trouncing

It's not so much that Kanye West beat 50 Cent in the album sales challenge; even after Fiddy had thrown down the gauntlet promising to retire if he didn't come out on top (of course, he won't). It's more the way Kanye West posted sales just shy of a million copies, the biggest US first week sale in a couple of years.

Clearly, having 50 Cent promise to retire if you buy a product is a powerful marketing tool - one other advertising agencies could investigate. "Hi, I'm Fifty Cent. If you go on holiday to Spain, I swear I'll never set foot in your country again..."

Morrissey: Our man in the stands

Drowned In Sound seems outraged that Morrissey would turn up to support a team playing against David Beckham's career-wind-down project LA Galaxy:

However, the smug ex-Smiths man wasn't howling and wailing his support for Beckham's side - instead he was sat, clad in replica shirt, in the Chivas end.

The smug singer eventually ran out the vicarious victor, as LA were given a sound 3-0 beating.

Surely what's shocking here is not that Mozzer isn't getting behind Beckham; rather than he's going to football matches wearing replica shirts. He'll be guzzling the half-time Brats next.

Chameleon circuit

Over on AttentionDeficitDisorderly, a collection of sketches of David Bowie by a bunch of artists. We like Michael Kupperman's effort the best.

[Via Boing Boing]

Real Media disGraces itself

The once ubiquitous Gracenote CD look-up service is getting less ubiquitous all the time, with news that in future, Real will be using All Music Guide's rival - and cheaper - Lasso service to autopopulate the fields when you slip in a CD.

Melua a Womble no longer

In a cautious step, Katie Melua is about to abandon Mike Batt, the man who - effectively - created her:

"Me and Mike have decided this is the last album we are going to make as a creative team. It feels like the end of a chapter, our final little blast." Always careful in her choice of words, Melua insists no criticism of her mentor is intended.

"I wouldn't say I was getting restless but three was enough. I am becoming my own person and there isn't space any more for two creative people to go on an album."

Being as how Batt wrote most of the stuff that got her noticed, created a label for her, and steered her surprisingly successfully, this seems a bit of a slap in the face.

Let's hope she remembers what happened to Orinocho when he went solo.

Radio One More Time: Twenty-Five Years Of Rock

As we've seen, when Radio One's documentaries were good, they were very, very good.

When they were poor, though... well, they stank so bad you could hear your speakers hum. The bad ones were usually due to the
application of an well-meaning, but too expansive, idea, or one that the production team were too close to too notice they were producing something overlong, obsessive and trussed in an anorak.

We know, we know, the irony of writing that last sentence in the middle of a forty-part series on fragments of Radio One.

The Story of Music Radio was one of these, a lovingly-crafted hymn to the joys of Luxembourg, pirate radio and the first days of Radio One, crafted, mostly, by people who were there. What could have been a interesting hour-long romp stretched out for weeks and weeks, and it was like being played old tapes by your aunt, while your uncle explained them all to you. For weeks.

But Music Radio was whistle-stop compared to Twenty-Five Years Of Rock, a "celebration" of the first quarter century of the music of Elvis. Like a school tour of a poorly curated museum, an uninterested audience was marched past dusty artefact after dusty artefact, as a pantheon was knocked-together before your ears. Any sense of joy, excitement, of the original spontaneity which drove rock to rule the music world was carefully removed; a music which jumped your bones and stuck its hand up your skirts was made to wear its best suit and sit quietly in the parlour as its parents enthused over what a good boy it was.

I suspect there may only have been twenty-five episodes, but it seemed to run non-stop from 1977 until 1981 and - just when it was all over - it appeared in a revised format. Thirty Years Of Rock. There was much to be admired about rock's pioneers - the Richards, the Hollys, even the Presleys - but it couldn't be taught like multiplication tables or the development of steam power. They'd have been better off just playing the records.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

The Frit-ellis

Apparently, the Fratellis are afraid to leave their houses.

No, no; not because of angry crowds burning them in effigy. It's because they're so very, very popular, says Jon:

"We get recognised more in public. There's a school 50 metres down the road and I have to make sure it's not breaktime because I can't go out during that time. I have to stay in if I need eggs or bacon, or milk or juice at those times."

It's not clear if it's safe for him to head out to buy baked beans, washing up liquid or bread.

We never thought we'd be jealous of Johnny Borrell

But we are. He got to hit himself in the face with a guitar.

Taking the Mika

There's trouble brewing for Mika, as a Belgian reggae artist also called Mika has emerged, understandably miffed that her name has been pinched.

Victoria Newton, showing a surprisingly poor grip on trademark law, misses the point somewhat:

Reggae Mika has hardly set the charts alight.

She released debut single MLK in 1989 but it attracted little attention. If you want to buy it you can get it from her website for £2.

Her subsequent releases haven’t done much better.

In contrast our Mika burst on to the pop scene in January with No1 single Grace Kelly.

Just eight months later his debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, has sold more than three million copies worldwide, including more than 900,000 in the UK, making it triple platinum.

It will come as something of a surprise at the Patent Office to discover that the rights to a trademark is now dependent on the price of singles sold by the trademark owners.

Having said that - is £2 for a twenty year old single really such a duff price? After all, if you pop over to Amazon, Mika singles turn out to be available from, erm, £1.10.

Britney: Of course it's drugs this morning

We've had the sex, we've had the allegations of attempted murder: today, of course, it's drugs. Commissioner Gordon - who has taken time off running Gotham City Police to act as judge in the Spears-Federline custody battle - has ordered Britney to have random twice-weekly drug tests, claiming:

“there is a habitual, frequent, and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol”.

We're not sure twice weekly tests can be all that random, can they? Isn't that more like a perpetual testing regime?

Meanwhile, according to OK! - and we say that like that's a phrase that has any real meaning - Britney is "battling an eating disorder."

Or, rather:
A source told the magazine that Spears will do anything to lose weight, including starving herself as well as binging and purging.

The alleged pal reportedly revealed that Britney said, “I’ll starve myself because I’m fat.”

We love the way The Sun suddenly get sniffy about the idea of unnamed friends being used as sources when it's in another publication.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spector jury hung

The jury in the Phil Spector trial has told the judge they're in deadlock; however, defence requests for a mistrial verdict were rejected. Instead, three jurors were given more guidance on the difference between 'doubt' and 'reasonable doubt', with the jury being called back to court on Wednesday morning.

Sony BMG invent CD with mini-bar mark-up

Sony BMG have signed a big deal with Sheraton Hotels that will see them somehow deliver music to the hotel chain. We're not quite sure what either side think they'll get out of this - are customers really going to think "I'll go and stay at at a Sheraton because there might just be Imogen Heap preloaded onto the telly"? Are guests going to choose to watch a limited range of music videos just because they happen to be there?

Odder still is this:

The two companies will also create a compilation CD unique to every hotel that will be sold for 20 dollars. W's has already been developed and includes artists such as Goldfrapp, Nina Simone, DJ Krush and Dirty Vegas.

They're going to charge ten quid for a compilation CD advertising the place? Now, we know the crazy economics of hotel rooms makes mini Toblerones suddenly worth three quid... but this is the sort of thing they might just get away with as a freebie for every guest, rather than trying to charge way over the odds for.

Your suspicions about My Chemical Romance? They were spot-on

My Chemical Romance are going to open for Bon Jovi.

Courtney and Pete: together at last

If you're keeping a venn diagram of some sort, you're now going to have to somehow manage to make the bit where Courtney Love - Steve Coogan - Owen Wilson bit can intersect with the Pete Doherty - Amy Winehouse bit, as Love has gone visiting Pete in rehab.

Lets hope Doherty was straight when she turned up, because can you imagine going through drug withdrawal only to have Courtney Love's face appear in the middle of your room?

A visitor who saw Doherty and Love enjoying their chat with each other also said that they share a tender kiss after the visit.

“It’s too early to say if it could be romance as the smacker was of the friendly sort,” explained the onlooker.

So, doesn't that mean it's not "too early to say" but "there was nothing romantic about it"?

Bell Canada makes punk slip

It seemed so simple: Show your brand is a bit edgy by featuring a punk - yes, a punk - in your advertising.

What could possibly go wrong?

For Bell Canada, it was someone noticing the woman in their ads was wearing a Belsen Was A Gas badge.


"It was inadvertent," Bell Canada spokesman Mark Langton said on Friday, noting that the dozen ads were taken down as soon as the company realized its mistake. "Obviously, we would never depict such an offensive slogan in our advertising."

He said Bell officials approved the ads after examining sample images that were smaller than the final billboards. The button inscription could only be read when the ads were blown up to their full size, he said.

"In the proofing and approval materials, it was impossible to see the button, so our folks missed it."

Still, they wanted edgy. They got edgy. Who knew clapped-out punk rock still had the power to agitate?

Jennifer Grow-pez

Interesting: Is the Jennifer Lopez who's pregnant and going to give birth early in 2008 the same Jennifer Lopez supposedly supporting the Spice Girls late in 2007?

Rage, but slowly, against the machine

Zack De La Rocha, out of Rage Against The Machine, has finally finished the solo album he started back in 2000. It would have been finished sooner, but he wasted lots of time railing ceaselessly at the recording equipment.

Thom Yorke makes back catalogue free...ish

Radiohead have come to the digital download world, offering up DRM free stuff through 7digital. The only catch? You have to buy an album at a time, as Thom and the boys don't want you picking and choosing.

Apparently, if you don't play the tracks sequentially, Jonny Greenwood appears outside your house and starts shouting at you.

Gorgeous Burgess

The Charlatans have announced a mini-UK tour for the start of November:

Glasgow ABC - November 3
Manchester Ritz 4
London Shepherds Bush Empire 5

Norman Cook's skate friends make a movie

The skaters who use the Hove Lagoon park which giving, and then withdrawing, money to and from got Norman Cook all flustered back at the start of summer have decided to reach out to the local community.

By, erm, making a film about themselves and putting it on the internet.

That'll work. If there are elderly people alarmed by the noise and - quite unintentionally unsettling - presence of young people on their doorstep, we're sure they'll Google 'hove lagoon skaters AND video' to reassure themselves, rather than just pulling the sofa in front of the door.

The skaters might find that helping with shopping and gardening might be a bit more effective than vanity videos.

The View's views means no view of Manilow for viewers

Barry Manilow has pulled out of a planned appearance on The View (American television's version of what Loose Women would be like if all the hosts owned their own island) because he didn't want to be interviewed by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Manilow isn't worried about her credentials as an interviewer - because, of course, softball player turned gameshow-contestant turned presenter is exactly the career path Tom Brokaw took, but more her surprising views.

Hasselbeck believes in the literal, Creationist truth of the Bible, and that God created every single living thing, except for abortionists and liberals. They, apparently escaped from a New York Times editorial. She's one of those conservatives who don't like to admit they're conservative, claiming instead to be "independent" - independently campaigning for George Bush's return to the White House by appearing at the 2004 Republican National Convention. That sort of independence.

Of course, it's a bit wet of Manilow to back out of the interview simply because he doesn't agree with the political views of the interviewer - especially since he's plugging a collection of 70s covers, not campaigning for governor. It's unlikely she's going to say "you say you're going to build a bridge over troubled water, but isn't it your fault that the waters are clogged with the bodies of aborted foetuses?"

Still, Barry insists there's good news:

"It's really too bad, because I've always been a big supporter of the show, but I cannot compromise my beliefs.

"The good news is I will be on a whole slew of other shows promoting the new album, so I hope you can catch me on those."

That is good news. I was afraid this political spat would mean absolutely no chance to see Barry giving us insight into why he feels Close To You is just such a great, great song.

Kershaw: I've lost everything

Andy Kershaw has pleaded guilty to breaching a restraining order and drink-driving; the court has adjourned sentencing until October 19th for reports.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Kershaw said: "I've lost my kids, I've lost the woman I love, I've lost everything. I just want peace and quiet."

Still, it's fair to say that his recent spell in custody has changed Andy - last January, he was calling for You and Yours to be axed, now, though, Gillian Reynolds reports:
Andy Kershaw even telephoned last week to say that listening to You and Yours while recently detained at Her Majesty's pleasure had been a revelation.

Pennie drops

We told you last month, but now it's official: Alex Pennie has quit The Automatic.

The statement says he's off after:

"...left due to finding the last year increasingly unenjoyable and growing apart from the rest of the band."

We all find The Automatic increasingly unenjoyable, Alex, but we don't all give up, do we?

Britney round-up

Britney Spears wanted Kevin Federline dead. Possibly. TMZ is hedging its bets, saying simultaneously that Kevin Federline had no reason to fear for his life, but also that LAPD had investigated "a threat to his life" but closed the case for, oh, lack of evidence, or not really being that bothered, or something along those lines.

Meanwhile, Britney Spears has lost her management company, who decided to not go with a "not touching her with a six foot barge pole" statement and instead made it sound like they were reluctantly walking away:

"It saddens us to confirm media reports that we have terminated our professional relationship with Britney Spears.

"We believe Britney is enormously talented, and has made a terrific record. But current circumstances have prevented us from properly doing our job. We wish Britney the best."

'Current circumstances' meaning 'she's a little bit of a handful', of course.

[Thanks for the Mob-tip to Michael Moran]

Radio One More Time: Simultaneous Broadcasts

Now, with NICAM digital stereo and all that, stereo music coming out the TV is as normal as small worm-like larvae coming out of Scottish taps. But it's not always been like that. In the 1980s, stereo was for radios, and TVs were restricted to a single speaker, usually lop-sided on one edge.

So, what to do when transmitting a musical event? There was always the option of pumping the sound through the one wheezy
speaker, but the BBC came up with a more elegant solution: the simultaneous broadcast. As the name implies, the pictures would be on one of the TV networks, the radio carrying the stereo sound, all indicated by a giant "SB" in a circle in Radio Times listings, with instructions that, for best effect, you should position your hi-fi speakers either side of the television.

Normally, the SB blob would pop up in the BBC2 and Radio 3 listings - proms, opera, that sort of thing. But sometimes, Radio One would get to join in. Whistle Test and Radio One In Concert would come together for Sight And Sound In Concert specials, and we suspect it was this experience which led to the same combination being called up for what, surely, is the high-water mark for the SB: Live Aid. So simultaneous was the experience, so cross-media was the event fertilized, that the news summary during the afternoon was done by Newsbeat's Frank Partridge rather than someone from the television news squad. It also explains why there was the slightly clunky "Live Aid... From London... around the world" jingle, which was way too wordy for television, but attempted to deliver the same message to radio listeners as TV's glitzy silver world map.

Radio One also hosted the audio leg of the longest-running SB, when Top of the Pops turned up on the radio at the same time as on the television. It's likely the association would have been longer still, but it couldn't happen until Radio One had a proper FM network, and only lasted until BBC One was broadcasting nationwide in stereo. We're still not sure agreeing to take the audio feed was the best idea that Radio One ever had, but we'll charitably assume they thought all their natural constituency would have been watching the Pops anyway, so saw this as a graceful concession.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Kasisers try to shore up Idaho

The somewhat reckless dismissal of America as "no big deal" by Ricky Wilson when the Kaiser Chiefs pulled their US tour has led to some worries backstage. Now, though, a "spokesperson" has "clarified" what Wilson meant:

"What he meant was that we care about all our fans in every part of the world the same.

"We go to the US for the fans - not the money or because we love long-haul. But sometimes you have to let people down."

Ah, yes - "no big deal" in the "we care about you" sense of the phrase. Thanks for clearing that one up.

Even the subs don't read Bizarre

Poor Victoria Newton - she had a big lovely scoop, revealing yet another "one-off" Sex Pistols reunion comeback at the Brixton Academy.


Dave Grohl loses some perspective

The attack on Courtney Love is understandable, but Dave Grohl's atack on Paris Hilton is something else. Now, we think Hilton is an over-funded waste of space as much as anyone, but:

“Paris is fucking lame.”

“She’s more offensive to me than anything.

“She’s a total, raging, disgusting, rich, lazy party slut. I pray that my daughter will not turn out like her.”

More offensive than anything? Than poverty, or inequality, or racism? And "slut"? A little overstated, surely, Mr Grohl?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Who said there'd be no celebrity Big Brother this year?

According to "friends" filtered through "tabloid reports" and then inspected by the NME, there are plans for Pete Doherty and Shane McGowan to, erm, become flatmates running a North London pub together.

We say "plans", although we suspect this might simply be an idea floated for a new sitcom on ITV.

[Thanks to James McCabe for the tip]

Westlife seek a little Xtra help

James P alerts us to the surprising news of Westlife's new album, and the way they seem desperate to build their release schedule around the X Factor:

Westlife want to showcase their new album on a TV programme scheduled just before X Factor to help boost record sales.

The 'Flying Without Wings' boyband reportedly believe that by previewing new tracks around the popular ITV reality show they will be helped in achieving a hit with new single 'Home'.

A source told The Sun: "It will be a Saturday night type of show so it’d be great to run it before the semi-final or final of X Factor as the ratings have been so good."

Isn't it a bit rich for a supposedly successful band to be seeking a leg-up from the unknowns? Surely the last thing Cowell wants is for his shaky new act to be sharing the limelight with Walsh's creaky old barbershop outfit? Or was pushing Westlife part of the deal cut when Walsh agreed to take the faux-fall?

Brown calls for Asbos on Bono and Bob

It's nice in these disconnected times to hear young people taking an interest in politics, so we note with some joy Ian Brown's thoughts on international development:

"I get angry about how African kids have to live. I thought the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005 was a real missed opportunity,”

“I applaud how Brown and Blair tried to put it at the top of the agenda. I didn't like the way Bono and Geldof hijacked the G8 Summit demo with their pop concert. The only result was Pink Floyd sold a few more million albums.”

“People have to realise you don't help African children singing along to 60-year-old men playing their tunes from 40 years ago. It was like 1750 all over again: we are the great white do-gooders.

“If there is another G8 meeting then there should be a court order banning Pink Floyd or Geldof or Bono from leaving their houses until it's over."

It's only take a year and a half for him to work up the response, but better late than never, eh?

Flogging sales off a dead woman

We're sure that The Climb really did write a song about Lana Clarkson with the best of intentions, and not to try and get a bit of cheap publicity. We do wonder, though, if ContactMusic thought through the likely implications of publishing Climb singer Andrea Barber's long mediation on the guilt or otherwise of Phil Spector at a time when the case is still being considered by a jury.

Alex James: The Boris Johnson of bass

While Dave Rowntree is off trying to interest Labour constituency parties in giving him a go on their hustings, Alex James has just signed a deal to become an associate editor at The Spectator.

Yes, The Spectator.

The Spectator's editor, Matthew d'Ancona, hired James in part because of his autobiography, which he said was "outstandingly good".

"What is really exciting about him is that he's someone who in his life has covered the waterfront - the metropolitan and rural life. There's something hugely appealing for the magazine in someone who was a denizen of Soho who is now having cups of tea in the country," Mr d'Ancona said.

We love the idea that, as far as The Spectator is concerned living in a nice house in London and living in a nice house in the country is "covering the waterfront". Oh, the sides of life he's seen.

Grohl makes enigmatic Courtney-centred remarks

Oh, good lord, Dave Grohl, if you want to have a public go at Courtney, have a go at her, don't be wrapping it up in coy subjunctive hints and winks:

"I've seen people lose it all to drugs and heartbreak and death. It's happened more than once in my life, but the one that's most noted is Kurt."

"There are a lot of people that I've been angry with in my life, but the one that's most noted is Courtney. So it's pretty obvious to me that those correlations are gonna pop up every now and again."

Do you think Courtney would mimsy around like that? No, she'd come right out with it and start to rip you to shreds, albeit poorly typed and on MySpace, but she'd do it directly nevertheless.

The Middle East can now sleep safely

We wonder, what on earth would Madonna and Guy Ritchie have to say to Shimon Peres about peace in the Middle East? And, as the three of them stand together, Guy's shaky hand clasped on Peres' shoulder, whose endorsement will prove to be the most damaging to whom?

Madonna is currently in Israel attempting to give some credibility to the her cult, which attempts to combine Jewish mysticism with overpriced water and the collection of direct debits.

Virgin for sale?

Following on from the collapse of MVC, MusicZone, Fopp and Tower and the struggling of HMV as it tries to adjust to being a juice bar rather than a record shop, the Telegraph is reporting Richard Branson is thinking of offloading the UK Virgin Megastore chain.

Apparently, the chain's management are hoping to organise a buyout of the "roughly breaking even" chain. Presumably you can enjoy the downward spiral more if you've paid for your ticket.

Radio One More Time: Christmas Lunch at Grey Gables

Every year, the nation's families gather and try to pretend they like each other for long enough to enjoy a Christmas Lunch together. So, too, did the Radio One djs, forced to get together to pre-record a show full of bonhomie and good humour to be played out on the big day. We're not entirely sure this idea had ever been fully thought through - no Dad was ever going to let his kids have the bloody tranny on during Christmas dinner, so the only people who would ever listen to the show would have been the ones who had elected to avoid turkey, rows and the Queen, or else who had no-one with whom to celebrate. It's unlikely either would have actively requested the chance to hear Mike Read and Steve Wright going through a grim parody of the self-same event they were excluded from.

And, for all the professionally-faked enthusiasm as Annie Nightingale unwrapped a "gift" from Ready, the truth about this event - that it wasn't a jolly get-together for friends, but a works Christmas do on a three-line whip - always came through. So it's little surprise that one year, in a fit of crossover madness, Radio One bosses decided to hold the let's-pretend party in a fictional locale.

Grey Gables. Yes, that Grey Gables. The one in Ambridge. The plot of the Archers buckled in order to explain why the entire on-air staff of Radio One was driving two hundred miles on Christmas Day - hinging, apparently, on the hitherto unmentioned fact that Robert Snell had been at school with John Peel. This seemed slightly unlikely - a social climber like Linda would surely have been keen to drop that gem into conversation at any opportunity - but did earn Peel an appearance or two in Archers scenes. Trouble was, he turned out to be rubbish at doing his own voice, and sounded more like they'd got someone from WeekEnding to do his bits.

Regardless, it was to Grey Gables that the DJs went, with the usual Christmas festivities being punctuated by cameos from Archers characters. We've no idea what the crossover audience between daytime Radio One and Radio Four would have been at this point, but the crashing of an event at the hotel by Eddie Grundy would surely only make sense if you knew who Eddie was, and, for most of the listeners, we're assuming that they wouldn't have. They might as well have decided to hold the party in historical Nazareth, and peppered the show with cameos from Biblical patriarchs for all the sense it made.

And Gary Davies never even tried it on with Susan Tucker.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Kanye: C-Vit worried by undue prominence

We're increasingly fond of Estelle, who has tricked Kanye West into promoting a child's drink on his new album:

"He asked me what drink in the UK is hot, and I said Ribena, so he's put it down in his rhyme!

"I'm gonna send him a bottle when the album gets released."

To be fair, hot Ribena used to be the treat we'd have on winter mornings when we were very, very small. We were decades ahead of the loop, we were.

Isn't Lily Allen so down to earth?

She's just an ordinary girl, just like you and me. Why, we've all had our credit cards rejected, haven't we?

Maybe not in Chanel, mind:

“It should have been a classy moment, me walking into Chanel — but in typical Lily Allen style, I managed to make a pig’s ear out of it.

“My credit card was rejected, and then when I tried to call the bank the battery on my phone ran out.

“I was so mortified that I left the shop and returned the next day with a cheque.”

And, let's face it, we've all had designers refuse to loan us expensive clothes for television appearances:
“I’ve been banned from some fashion places because I’m so crap with things.

“CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN won’t lend me clothes because my dog chewed the shoes he lent me.

“And I got mud on a JULIEN MACDONALD dress so he wasn’t very happy with me either!”

Yes, she's just an everyday girl, with her twenty thousand pound clothes she hasn't even paid for.

Actually, maybe that's why she had problems with her card in Chanel - perhaps she didn't realise you were meant to pay for things.

Apparently, they scare easily in LA

The Hotel Chateau Marmont, currently modishly popular amongst those who don't have proper jobs, has banned Britney Spears after she "scared" other guests.


Britney stunn[ed] fellow diners in the posh hotel restaurant by smearing a plate of top-notch food over her FACE.

Interesting, perhaps. Irritating, maybe. But scary?
A source said: “The diners were disgusted. You wouldn’t expect that from a teenager in a fast-food joint.

“Royalty have dined in this restaurant. Her behaviour was totally unacceptable.

How dare you besmirch a restaurant where non-specific royalty have once eaten, young lady?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gallows and a cracked head

Ow, ow, ow: Gallows' gig in Stoke last night ended in blood, mother, blood when Frank Carter cracked his head open. He'd been mucking about with a fan who'd run on stage when the sort of dire warning your Mum used to shout came true. The band limped on while Carter went to hospital, but eventually the gig was abandoned.

Carter - after a spot of vinegar and brown paper - is expected to recover for the rest of the tour.

Britney Spears: Rallying time

Britney Spears, you might have spotted, is in a bit of trouble. Lucvkily, people are rallying round. Joey Fantone, for one:

He says, "It looked like she was really lost. A lot of people really want her to seek help. There's something not right there, something needs to obviously be done before anything tragic happens.

"She's a great girl. I've known her for many years."

Er... thanks for your insight, Joey.

50 Cent has also weighed in - presumably hoping he'll distract attention from his hostage-to-fortune promise to retire. Noticing that his nemesis Kanye West said that MTV shouldn't have pushed Brit into opening the show, Cent, naturally just adopts the opposite stance:
Kanye expressed that he felt that Britney shouldn't be actually opening the show - almost like he forgot that Britney Spears sold 50 million records. She did.

"He is not thinking about her full body of work. She deserved to headline the show better than anybody else that was on it - even in the state that she is in."

Because, of course, selling fifty million records means going on national TV with serious mental health problems can't possibly hurt you.

Cox makes another baby

Another spell of maternity leave is on the cards for Sara Cox, who is telling anybody and everybody that she's "incredibly blessed" to be pregnant again.

We're sure there's no noise in the background of a jostling for position for the weekend lunchtime show. None at all.

Jamelia's troubles

Why is Jamelia sharing with the Sunday People the news that she might be getting back together with that fading football bloke? It couldn't be a bid to try and boost interest in next week's 'best-of' album, could it?

Radio One More Time: The pseudonyms

If, as we saw yesterday, Radio One's listings played host to a surprising number of unexpected names, the airwaves also played host to a depressing number of fake and adopted personas. It seems that nobody can work on a radio programme without being given a matey name.

Comedy Dave on Chris Moyles' show is but the latest in a very, very long line of producers, researchers and sidekicks who've travelled under false documents - either to disguise their real names, or to create a hilarious comedy character. The Steve Wright show buckled under the weight of them: Sid The Manager; Jervaise the hairdresser (complete with 'hilarious' homophobic overtones); Mr. Angry From Purley. Even Marc Riley spent his entire time at the station under the "Boy Lard" banner - although, oddly, Mark Radcliffe dropped the "Scrawn" nickname when the pair moved over from Radio 5. Gary Davies found space every day for Willie On The Plonker - two knob gags for the price of one - and Kevin Greening's travel was handled by Major Holdups. Jimmy Savile's Record Club owed the debt of organisation to Dignified Don, while Tony Blackburn's Junior Choice carried a credit for Uncle Ted.

And, one Christmas, Mike Smith got through the thankless task of presenting breakfast with the assistance of a Christmas Fairy. The fairy bore a surprising vocal resemblance to Sarah Greene.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Amy: Not so great when you're straight

Amy Winehouse hasn't, apparently, got the idea of rehab, telling Zoe Griffin:

"I didn't enjoy rehab. I don't want to go back."

We'd have thought that the idea of rehab was that it wasn't, you know, as enjoyable as filling your face with drugcakes and out-of-control juice. If it was, you might not have sung a song about not wanting to go to rehab, Amy.

Winehouse maintains that she doesn't need rehab, anyway:
I missed my friends and my mum and dad. They are the ones that are there for me. I have been doing better now and that's because of my friends."

So, asks Zoe, are you on the wagon now?
When I asked her about drugs, she said shyly: "I'm drinking tonight, I'm enjoying myself. It is my birthday. But drugs is private. Let's just say, I feel better than I felt ever before."

Zoe also pointed out that Amy appeared to have some sort of problem:
I saw her going back and forth to the toilet a lot.

And spotted some enabling activity:
Amy only wanted to be with Blake, who made sure she always had a glass in her hand.

So, does Ms Griffin build to a conclusion on this?

Not quite:
She added: "Blake is the best husband in the world. He organised this party. It's the best present in the world." Personally, I prefer diamonds.

Leaving aside the "and who cares what you prefer" question, scoring an invite to the Winehouse party and ending on a lame note like that suggests something of a lack of nerve.

Miss Miffed's Madonna musings

We're not sure if the News of the World's Miss Miffed column is really an attempt to out-parody Private Eye's Glenda Slagg, but judging by the Madonna entry it could well be:

Bruise that girl...

SO Madonna’s had a face lift? Fair play to her I say.

She’s nearly fifty-years-old and manages to bend her body into shapes few 18-year-olds could manage.

She’s super fit, super healthy and if she needs a little boost to retain her superstar looks, in areas that yoga can’t help, then why the hell not?

Let me know what you reckon...

I reckon you're typing with your eyes closed and are just throwing out half-arsed posts in a desperate attempt to get some, any, reaction. And Miss Miffed? How long did you take coming up with that "online persona?"

Katona discovers misery is taxable

We know that Kerry Katona has, thus far, managed to take the lemons life throws at her and sell "My lemon hell" stories to OK, but we're not sure there's such a market for "My Unpaid Tax Torment".

The News of the World reckons that Kerry owes three quarters of a million in unpaid taxes. Rav Singh and Lewis Panther are in control of the story:

The fallen former Atomic Kitten has been ordered by the Inland Revenue to pay at least £200,000 immediately or face BANKRUPTCY proceedings in court, the News of the World can reveal.

God, things must be really bad for Kerry if she's facing demands for cash from a defunct government department. Still, the Inland Revenue only disappeared two and a half years ago, you can't expect them to be bang up to date, can you?

This week just gone

Seven days on No Rock and Roll Fun

The ten most-read stories:

1. Jury must watch R Kelly sex video
2. Beth Ditto's NME tit show
3. Web users flock in the hope of seeing Lily Allen's breasts
4. Britney Spears MTV Video Music Awards disaster
5. Is KT Tunstall fond of ladies?
6. Meg White's anxiety forces White Stripes tour cancellation
7. Sting visits brothel, perhaps
8. Britney Spears fans blame venue for bad show
9. US gets "indie top 20" style album
10. Kate Moss Kills boyfriend

Also this week:
Beth Ditto had more to say; Fred Durst plea-bargained to stay out of prison on a hit and run charge; HMV revealed its new look and Liverpool looked to Phil Redmond to salvage the Capital of Culture year.

You can read the week on one page or
skim the previous week in a single post.

These were for sale:

It's only five CDs, so while broad, the Fall Box Set is concise rather than comprehensive

Go Teams' Proof of Youth includes Sonic Youth-aping "vaguely farcical" appearance of Chuck D

Natalie 'I regret the Loaded photoshoot' Imbruglia collects all fourteen - 14! - singles into one album

After thirty years, Siouxsie finally goes solo

"Twee as fuck" Bearsuit's Oh:IO

Getting enthusiastic support from Oxford Road, Manchester: King Creosote

Hot Hot Heat, still releasing albums in their years of managed decline

After the Daily Star released best of, Echo & The Bunnymen move on to having a live album on LiveNation's label

The Daily Mail will be disappointed there's no extra soundtrack on the Life On Mars boxset with the extra racism put back in

"My name is Marsh... spelled B-A-S-T-A-R-D" - there aren't many genuine classic ITV comedies, but Get Some In might just be one worth owning on box set

Go on, you know you want to at least peek... Amazon take orders for the iPod Touch