Saturday, November 22, 2008

Now, That's What I Call 1983: Let the past be, Michael Grade

Isn't a lavish celebration of the anniversary of a compilation album pushing the idea of 'a very special birthday' a little far, even for ITV? Regardless, they spun the 'useless female presenter' wheel, selected Denise Van Outen, and threw a show to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Now That's What I Call Music compilation. On television.

To be fair to ITV, they did at least invite back original artists to do their songs - normally, they'd have got Jamie Cullum and the Sugababes to have a crack at Hey You The Rocksteady Crew. But the format was still a bit of a puzzle - you might have thought that the obvious thing would have been to have 25 songs from across the years, but instead they stuck with 1983. Then, though, they selected 'the best songs from the year' rather than songs which appeared on Now 1 - which, given that there was just the one Now in 1983, released for the Christmas market, you might have thought would have represented the same thing.

True, there was a little crossover, but what are we supposed to make of the songs that were apparently good enough for ITV but not for Now? Particularly Nick Heyward, who turned up last night to do Whistle Down The Wind. Or "Nick Heyward (unless Boy George gets back to us)", as he will now be known. Whistle Down The Wind is a cracking song - and Heyward's performance was a delight - but it's hardly a song that screams 1983, is it? It would be a long production meeting at Crimewatch before they selected that song to soundtrack a particularly brutal crime from 25 years ago in order to jog people's memories.

Heyward also exhibited one of the problems of bringing back old men to sing pop hits - the high bits now lay far beyond them, in the blue-remembered hills of the teenage falsetto. It was a problem Tony Hadley had, too - it's surprising how much the line "listening to Marvin all night long" loses its impact when delivered gruffly. It's clear Hadley doesn't listen to Marvin all night long any more; I'd wager the only time he's awake past A Book At Bedtime is if his bladder calls for attention following one reckless Horlicks too many.

Hadley was there representing the entire Spandau Ballet clan - "named after a prison and a dance" guffawed Denise, "no, not Strangeways Hokey Cokey...". Actually, it might have been Wormword Scrubs Can Can - my ears welded over as soon as my brain detected the possibility someone had scripted a gag for her. Ali Campbell was also there taking a solo role for his entire band who hates him now; when Red Red Wine faded out earlier than he was expected he pressed on looking confused and a little afraid. Understandably, given what happened when his old backing group suddenly stopped supporting him altogether.

Hadley and Campbell were both shoved together at the end, as if to make it easy for the producers to edit down a version which featured just the original bands doing their songs. Perhaps the biggest coup in this respect was the reunited KajaGooGoo doing Too Shy. It was fitting for KajaGooGoo to be there, as not only was Too Shy on Now 1, but they also featured as the post-split KajaGooGoo and with one of Limahl's solo effort, so where better than a celebration of Now for the band to show they're back together, old differences settled?

Well, perhaps they're settled: Limahl seemed a little too determined to stamp his personality over the song by buggering about with it, as if he'd somehow got into his contract that he can do whatever the fuck he wants and nobody can stop him this time. Consequently, the performance was rubbish:

Paul Young's reading of his song, however, was flawless and spookily identical to the record. You might suspect that he was miming to the original track, but given how red in the face he went when insisting that he wasn't saying that he didn't love us, either he's spent the last couple of decades on a diet of goose fat and chocolate and now even opening and closing his mouth is enough to put a strain on his heart, or he was actually singing.

Nik Kershaw looked like a man who really shouldn't have let those snoods go to charity - frighteningly, for a man who I used to really want to see cross-dress (it would have gone lovely with his eyes), he's now turned into the spit of Gary Glitter.

The most obvious missing element from the celebration was the no-show of Howard Jones' former interpretative chum Jed. New Song without someone miming out literal chains for the bit about throwing off your mental chains? It's just not right, is it?

Apparently, Jed would have liked to have come on the show, but sadly the invisible cage he is being held in proved too difficult for him to get out of in time to attend.

You know what made the evening, though? The audience, glumly clapping through songs that they once took painkillers and cider to chase from their heads. It's almost as if the last thing anyone wants right now is to be reminded how grindingly miserable a time of rising unemployment and economic malaise actually is.

Idlewild want your support

Shrewdly, Idlewild are inviting fans to buy the summer 2009 album now, by offering a bunch of extras for paying upfront:

By pre-ordering now for £15 (+ £1.50 standard postage costs) you will receive:

* A limited edition CD album (with free download version) in exclusive packaging and including at least one bonus track not available on the general release. This will be shipped to you within weeks of completion, hopefully April (although we cannot guarantee it), way before any general release.
* Your name will appear in a booklet with the album and on a roll-call on the website.
* You will be given access to download 15 free tracks of your choosing from live recordings at the King Tuts "album by album" shows in December '08.
* You will also have access to a members only section of the website with album progress updates, exclusive photo and video content from the recording and pre production process, diaries/blogs by individual band members, and lots more good stuff....

It's a pity they haven't introduced tiers of subscription - you know, for two hundred quid you get a song named after you; for a thousand you can have Roddy Woomble in your kitchen for a fortnight; ten grand and you get to sing on it.

As more and more bands encourage fans to pony up in advance, it does raise the delicious prospect that we might see albums charting soon before they've even been recorded.

Gordon in the morning: Old men fighting

Gordon Smart is studiously attempting to give relevancy to Oasis, by helping orchestrate a feud between Noel Gallagher and Mick Hucknall. No, really.

Yesterday, Gordon flagged up this from Hucknall:

When asked why he thought Noel was pushed off stage by a crazed fan in Canada in September, Mick spat: “Was that for making the North sound stupid?

“I love that HARRY ENFIELD sketch when KATHY BURKE comes back from a weekend in Manchester walking with a Liam gait and goes, ‘Fuckin’ sound. Bangin’. They’ve made a cliché out of presenting Northerners, especially Mancunians, like that.”

Today, Gordon has got Noel to reply in an open letter:
You still going? Wow.

The last time I heard of you, Fanta-pants, you were getting slung out of Knebworth for being shit and fat.

What you have to say about Manchester and its righteous natives is irrelevant as you are from Warrington

If Knebworth throw you out for being fat and shit, how come Robbie played there for more nights than you managed, Noel?

Given that Noel lives in London, you might wonder if his opinion on Mancunians is that relevant; especially since he seems incapable of telling the difference between Warrington (to the West, in Cheshire) and Denton, where Hucknall actually comes from (in the East, firmly in Greater Manchester). Even if Mick was a Warringtonian, it wouldn't matter anyway, given that his main gripe was that Oasis had made everyone from the North a laughing stock.

And Noel's letter actually seems to offer support for Mick's view that Oasis are little more than honking idiots.

None of this, though, really matters compared with the fawning of Gordon as he introduces Noel's words:

Gallagher's note impressed, Mick

BIZ Lord Noel sends Mick Hucknall an open letter in reply to his Madchester outburst
So today, in a spirit of fairness, allow me to present axe-Lord NOEL’s thoughts on Mick’s theory in an open letter to him.

But surely, Gordon, if you love Noel so much, a true servant would have quietly lost the letter rather than let his master make such a bally fool of himself?

Killers in the stream

This would kind-of assume that anyone is interested in a new Killers album in the first place - and launching at this gifting time of year pegs them as the sort of band who your gran assumes you'd like - but you can hear Day & Age now.

It's happening over at MySpace this weekend - or, as the PR puff would have it:

MySpace Music, the world's premier online music portal

You can stream over at myspace/killers or give it an hour and pick it up off the torrents.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Order re-order

There were quite a few complaints about the grotty sound quality of the latest batch of New Order reissues came out in the UK last month. This week, the records were released in the US to pretty much the same sort of complaints, and all of a sudden they've decided to withdraw the products:

"Warner Bros UK, Rhino and New Order regret that the initial pressings of the collector editions of Movement, Power, Corruption & Lies, Low Life, Brotherhood and Technique contain some minor audio problems on the bonus discs," yesterday's statement announced. "We are now in the process of correcting the problems, but it should be noted that due to the age and condition of some of the original source tapes, the sound quality may vary."

It's not surprising that faced with the prospect of the sort of class action lawsuits in which the Americans excel, the label swallowed hard and pulled the collection - especially since even Peter Hook had said the sound quality was dodgy. What is puzzling, though, is given the UK complaints, why the decision to release the stuff in the US was taken in the first place.

Apple bites at credits

The latest update to iTunes - which seems to be mainly designed to spend about three bloody hours sending Genius playlist data to Apple and still doesn't let you delete tracks from the 'recently added' list where they're easier to find - comes with something of a flaw: some users are finding that their outstanding iTunes credits are unusable after updates. It looks like it might be temporary, but it's not very impressive.

Confessions to a beat

Rapper Rico Todriquez Wright is settling into prison right now for shooting Chad Blue. Wright didn't exactly help himself evade justice when he recorded a song about shooting Chad Blue, including the line:

"Chad Blue knows how I shoot"

Eric Clapton is now worried about police reopening thirty year-old investigations into the murders of serving police officers.

James P - to whom, thanks for the story - adds this:
The surviving members of Thin Lizzy are currently preparing an urgent statement reiterating that 'Whiskey in the Jar' was a cover of a folk song. (Although that won't stop the Daily Mail checking to see if a Thin Lizzy Peel Sessions CD is available, then phoning Captain Farrell's descendents to see if they're outraged that the BBC is profitting from their bereavement...)

Wright is now going to serve twenty years, each day cursing that he hadn't been able to think of another rhyme for "ladies know I'm hot in my suit".

Kat house to be taken away

I'm not sure that Courtney Love's MySpace blog constitutes a reliable news source, but for what it's worth, she's reporting that Kat Bjelland's home is about to be repossessed, leaving her homeless. Courtney is suggesting that Ladyfest run some sort of benefit for Bjelland, which is almost as good an idea as Courtney helping out herself.

Fish* comes to aid of Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon - the poor sod who's currently looking at being heavily-handed over to the US so that he might have his life ruined as a riposte to getting inside the American military computer system - is having a benefit gig thrown for him in a bid to try and stop his extradition.

There are lots of names being thrown around - Madonna, George Michael, Kaiser Chiefs - and it would be to their credit if some got involved. First to sign up, though, is the somewhat more lowly but no less admirable Marillion:

Mark Kelly, keyboardist for Marillion, told Broadway: "I've been following Gary's story for a while. I took an interest in it because I'm a bit of a computer geek myself.

"Being a keyboard player, it goes with the territory.

"I thought he seemed quite harmless. He was only looking for UFOs.

His story struck a chord with me. When I heard he was being extradited, it seemed so unjust. He shouldn't be made an example of just because of American incompetence."

The event organiser, Ross Hemsworth, is hoping for Live Aid style event in Wembley or at the Millennium Dome, which seems no less likely than the US government's claims that McKinnon did three quarter of a million dollars' worth of damage to their computers.

UPDATE: *Not Fish, it turns out. Apparently his reunion in 2007 was only a one-off and he is once again not a member of the band.

Unexpected comebacks: EPMD

Barack Obama's transitional team are currently shaping proposals to encourage bands to split up in the next two years, as experts predict that the current rate of band reformations might mean every band which ever existed is reactivated by 2012.

Tipper Gore, Obama's nominated Head of Department Of Keeping The Labels Happy, explains that the announced comeback of EPMD is a "clear indication that the current reserves of untapped old bands are running dry; if we want American music to still drive on spurious reunitings into the future, we are going to have to ensure that there are enough fallen apart bands for future generations to briefly get excited about seeing reappear in the listings pages."

Environmentalists have expressed disappointment at the plans: "It's sad to see Obama, who came to power pledging change and that other thing - joy? love, was it? - already backsliding. The government should not be encouraging the tapping of dirty resources like EPMD reunions, and instead be investing in totally new bands."

The astonishing power of No Rock And Roll Fun

I like to think that the decision to bring back Paul Coia and give him the drivetime slot on Smooth Radio can be directly and unquestionably down to his appearance in the Pebble Mill weekend last Sunday. It's not like it could be a coincidence, is it?

Fratellis: Misery on tap

A headline in with which it is hard to take issue:

Fratellis to release 'depressing' Christmas single

The only quibble, of course, is that it is slightly tautological - "Fratellis to release" and "depressing" being synonyms.

Left wanting: Future Of The Left cancel plans

In order to better concentrate on the putting together of an album:

"We have been unable to write the second record and we are increasingly aware of the need to do so. We want to get it out before summer so we can spend next year playing it to people.

"It is against everything the band stands for to pull shows, or anything that we have already committed to doing, and we apologise to everyone who had bought a ticket or was going to come along.

"We will be back as soon as we can next year and we promise to make it worth the wait."

They seem to be canceling because of writer's block, then. It's not just UK fans who will be disappointed; they're also pulling dates in Australia and China as well. China. It's not so long ago that western bands playing in China was such an event you'd no more cancel the dates as you would miss your own wedding.

RCA and Velvet Revolver split up

Normally, when a big-name brand leaves a major label, it's the label who comes off worse, but with Velvet Revolver quitting RCA, you suspect that RCA might be breathing a small puff of relief.

Slash insists that it's all friendly, like:

Slash told his official fan site that "while it is true that VR is no longer with RCA, the truth is not as negative as the rumor. The band owed RCA money for a third album which at this time they are unable to produce (no singer). The band and RCA parted amicably. When they are recording the new album, it most likely will be for a new label."

Yes, this is one of those splits where the label holds open the door and offers to phone for a taxi.

Someone at Bauer finally notices Kerrang problem

The decision to use Kerrang as a radio station brand for music that overlapped but went further with the sort of music the magazine writes about was always a curious one, and finally someone seems to have spotted it. MediaGuardian are reporting the Bauer are thinking of changing the name to stop, frankly, putting people off:

Travis Baxter, the managing director of Bauer's Big City network of stations, said the Kerrang! Birmingham station had a committed audience but he was looking at ways of expanding its appeal. A change of name is one of the options being considered, he added.

"People think it is heavy metal. There are risks and opportunities with the name but we don't want to throw away what we have got," Baxter said.

A name unattractive to a general audience linked to a magazine that isn't doing as well as it was. Yes, you wouldn't want to throw that away, would you?

Kiss upset about not being put in some sort of museum

Kiss want to know where the respect for them is. Respect? Love, perhaps. They feel unloved by their exclusion from the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Yes, like it matters:

"There are disco bands, rap bands, Yiddish folk song bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not Kiss," the band's outspoken frontman said during a speech at the Billboard Touring Conference on Thursday. "I believe we have more gold records in America than any other group, but it's OK."

Perhaps the Hall Of Fame team don't realise that - alongside the bobble-head dolls, action figures, Kiss-branded lighters and Kiss footballs, the make-up bags and army buckles - there's actually a band using the same logo and trademarks.

Not that Simmons is bitter about it, or anything:
"A lot of those guys on the board [of the museum] can go and get my sandwich when I want, and I mean that in the nicest way," he said.

It would have to be a Kiss-branded sandwich, of course.

Still, Simmons might be able to draw comfort from knowing that while Leonard Cohen might be getting a small section in a corner of the Cleveland museum, nobody has yet bothered to make a Leonard Cohen Mr Potato Head.

Gordon in the morning: Splitting

Regular readers of Gordon's column will have been investing in pith helmets and fall-out shelters, as the Bizarre team have been predicting acrimony in the air as Madonna and that Guy bloke divorce.

They know it's going to be nasty.

Just 11 days ago, Richard White was worried:

MADONNA shows the strain of her divorce — looking gaunt and tired and collapsing into a coughing fit.
“You would never know [Guy] was going through what seems to be a very bitter divorce.

On October 28th, Alex West warned that innocent bystanders were being dragged in:
MADONNA and GUY RITCHIE are demanding their staff snitch on each other as part of their bitter divorce battle.

Emily Smith predicted on October 23rd that the pair were going to dredge up rumours of affairs to add to the pain:
Both Guy and Madonna strongly deny having had affairs as they head into an increasingly bitter divorce.

A source close to Guy said: “He dismisses any rumours of an affair with anybody out of hand.”

Madonna and Guy’s spokesmen refused to comment on further reports that the pair shared furious rows.

On October 29th, Virginia Wheeler took space amongst Gordon's column to warn readers it was bad, and getting worst:
The divorce battle has become increasingly bitter since The Sun revealed the split two weeks ago.

The pop queen’s pals have nicknamed him “Material Guy” — claiming he wants a huge slice of her fortune.

Oh yes: if there's one thing Bizarre readers know, it's that this divorce is going to be bitter. Cities, it's quite possible, will be destroyed.

So they might be a little surprised this morning to open their papers to a piece by Gordon and Virginia which reveals that, erm, that the divorce is going to quick and painless. Gordon is delighted:
But one thing they will both be grateful for is the quickie divorce.

They have avoided a bitter Mills-McCartney battle.

That is a blessing for the kids who must have suffered the most in the circus of this separation.

It's hard to see how the Bizarre column could have been labouring under the impression for the last month that things were bitter, and increasingly bitter at that. Where on earth did so many of the team get the idea that the divorce was going to be a messy battle, do you think?

Perhaps it was October 16th's "insider's view" from, erm, Gordon Smart:
a game of emotional chess is beginning to unravel — and there are worrying signs this one is shaping up to get dirty.

Both sides have good intentions at this stage for the divorce to pass through smoothly — mainly for the sake of their children.

But today’s revelations in another big Sun exclusive prove the battle lines are being drawn.

The last thing they need is for this situation to degenerate into an undignified mud-slinging scrap like the divorce between Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.

And if Guy and Madonna were child-free there’s no question this one would be nasty.

So, having set up the expectation that "battle lines" were being drawn, Gordon is now delighted that there's no battle. Because of the kiddies, naturally. No word yet on why his insider's view seems to have been so out of touch with reality, nor how he's been running reports for five weeks that have been calling the divorce incorrectly. Perhaps he's saving that for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

High re-entry: TOTP bounces back

Presumably in order to head off being told to do so by a double-headed BBC Trust and Daily Mail beast, what remains of BBC management has reversed its earlier decision to not do a Christmas Top Of The Pops this year.

Indeed, they're even going to do one on New Year's Eve, too:

BBC One controller Jay Hunt said: "With shows on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, Top of the Pops has never been bigger.

"The shows will form the centrepiece of a massive musical offering during the festive season that we hope viewers are really going to enjoy."

It's bigger than ever, although not if you include in your defintion of "ever" when it was on regularly each week in prime time and had a Christmas special.

There's supposedly been some sort of public outcry demanding the return of TOTP, although it's hard to imagine any sort of public outcry which would be satisfied by an announcement including the phrase:
"will be presented by Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates"

It's not often you find yourself thinking "surely this is a job for Moyles, Whiley and Bowman", is it?

Aint no Purple in the rainbow flag... oh... yes, there is

Prince is worried that America is going to hell in something of a handbasket, and blames politicians and - oh, yes - gay marriage:

"It's all about religion," he said.

"You've got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to [the Bible]. But there's the problem of interpretation, and you've got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn't. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you've got blue, you've got the Democrats, and they're, like, 'You can do whatever you want.' Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right."

Republicans wanting to live according to The Bible? I suppose John McCain's daughter can do the bit about her father's many mansions if nothing else.

But is Prince really attacking gay marriage - or "marriage" as grown-up people call it - as "not right"? Prince? Little 'sticking women to the ceiling, umpteen positions in a one night stand' Prince? He's finally found a place he's going to draw the line, has he?

Predictably, his people are already trying to change the vision that he's a spite-filled homophobic hypocrite:
The Perez Hilton blog has weighed in with an anonymous source "close to the rocker", alleging that the singer was "grossly misquoted and misinterpreted".

"What His Purpleness actually did was gesture to the Bible and said he follows what it teaches, referring mainly to the parts about loving everyone and refraining from judgment," Perez Hilton reported. "'We're very angry he was misquoted,' says our Prince insider."

Beware people who claim that a person was misquoted who, erm, won't allow themselves to be quoted on that. It's also worth mentioning that this interview was with the New Yorker who are standing by their story.

It's also a little odd to understand how this is either a misquote or a misinterpretation - "they're, like, 'You can do whatever you want.' Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right" does seem pretty conclusively to be saying that the allowing of gays to marry is wrong - and if he didn't mean to be condemning gay marriage, why mention it at all?

In addition, in the same interview, Prince talks about being a proselytizing Jehovah's Witness - which would suggest he buys the Church's view of homosexuality which they claim is based on Bible teaching:
Today, many people—even some clergymen—soft-pedal the issue of homosexuality. Yet, the Bible leaves no room for confusion. It tells us that Jehovah God made man and woman and that he purposed for sexual desires to be fulfilled only between husband and wife. (Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:24) It comes as no surprise, then, that the Bible condemns homosexual acts.—Romans 1:26, 27.

Of course, many would say that the Bible is out-of-date. For example, 14-year-old Megan asserts, “Some of the things stated in the Bible have no place in today’s world.” But why are some so quick to make that claim? Often, it is because the Bible’s view conflicts with their own. They reject God’s Word because it teaches something different from what they want to believe. That view is biased, though, and the Bible encourages us to rise above such closed-minded thinking!

Since the unnamed Prince-mate who talked to Perez Hilton didn't try and suggest that when Prince was talking about being a Jehovah's Witness he actually meant he was registered as a state notary and somehow it's got lost in translation, it's difficult to see how Prince could simultaneously believe that gay marriage is right and homosexuality is wrong.

It's pathetic to see off-the-record briefings trying to 'correct' what seem to be Prince's actual views. If he's so upset with the New Yorker, could he not go on the record and explain what he actually believes? Or, at the very least, tell his management team not to go round trying to make him seem pro-gay marriage

[Thanks to Jack B for the tip]

Rod Lucas: I'm not a Nazi

Rod Lucas - the occasional TalkSport presenter whose name turned up on the BNP membership list has issued an explanation: he was being investigative and journalistic:

Rod says "I mentioned during my broadcasts at the time, my intentions of joining and charted the progress on air and dually signed to the BNP 2004/2005 for 1 year only. I used my real name and profession as a radio journalist/production. It was no secret to my listeners.

In making investigative programming sometimes programme makers have to probe a little deeper in order to get some real facts about operations. Via the membership newsletter I was given access to membership meetings and their private on-line forum - not for public consumption. A lot of what I saw and read was no worse than opinions expressed on freely available public forums. We wanted to make a fair and balanced programme on the inside & organisation of the BNP.

For the record I'm also a member of other political parties and pressure groups right across the spectrum in my capacity as a radio news & current affairs presenter/producer.

Well, joining everything is one way to ensure you're balanced, I guess.

Zune: your subscription is also a purchase

The price cut might have looked kind of desperate, but the attempt to raise interest in the Zune subscription by allowing some songs to be kept 'forever' is a much more interesting move by Microsoft.

I'm not entirely convinced, though, that the idea will work. Buying songs to keep forever is simple to explain. Renting songs you can listen to while you keep your subscription current is a clear proposition. Renting all the songs to listen to while you keep your subscription current, except for ten each month which you can keep even after your subscription lapses might be innovative, but it isn't easy to understand and will probably do as much harm as good - it stresses "most of your music will vanish if you stop paying" as much as "a handful of songs are yours forever".

Then there's the vexed question of how you actually keep the songs forever - ten a month from your bucket of songs introduces an admin task every four weeks. The Terms and Conditions explains:

You will also receive song credits for up to ten (10) downloads of audio sound recordings from Zune Marketplace during each month of your Zune Pass subscription, at no additional cost to you. Content purchased with these song credits may be used under the terms listed above in Section 14.1 and will not expire when your subscription ends. These song credits are non-transferable. Any unredeemed song credits will expire at the end of each monthly period and will not rollover to subsequent monthly periods.

It's not entirely clear from that if you have to buy with special magic credits at the outset, or if you can apply the credit to a tune you have already downloaded under your usual subscription, or if you have to go to the store and re-download the track all over again, this time with the golden pass.

PaidContent's Staci Kramer - who is a happy Zune user - wasn't any clearer:
Signing into Zune just now required accepting a new terms of service in an unnecessarily complicated multi-screen process. So far, I can't tell how I would know this option is supposed to be available—and I can't figure out how to make it work. For instance, when I add a song to the cart, then look at the cart, it's empty. Another variation brings up an error message. I'll try again in the morning.

A difficult sell with a complicated process attached? It's the great smell of Microsoft. Still, at least they're trying to fix the fundamental flaw of subscription services - why pay for something you can never own?

Gordon in the morning: Talking about Paris Hilton like she's real

Hold the front page - or, rather, replace the blocky top bit at the top of Bizarre with a single story: Gordon Smart has a world exclusive:

PARIS HILTON has dumped her rocker lover BENJI MADDEN after nine months, I can exclusively reveal.

Paris Hilton was going out with someone from a Blink 182 tribute band? Really? And now she isn't? Blimey.

You could understand Gordon poking this onto the page to pad it out, but treating it as such a major story makes it look like he's given up caring about Sun readers and is now merely running a column to try and catch Perez Hilton's eye.

Still, at least Gordon can take comfort in knowing that today, he doesn't have the worst celebrity-related featured: he's been out rubbished by Bella Battle on the Sun Woman pages:
Hair-larious new looks for Wino

When I tell you the rotten headline pun is the best thing about the feature, you'll know what we're dealing with here: a padding piece comprised of photos of Amy Winehouse with other people's hair poorly photoshopped onto her head. Perhaps the best-worst is the Jennifer Lopez one (because doesn't Lopez have a trademark hairstyle?) where they've not even bothered to try and take out Winehouse's real hair (or real fake hair) from the photo.

Back over at Bizarre, Gordon runs a McFly piece which smells a bit like a made-up story:
POP pups McFLY have been forced to cut a scene from their festive TV ad amid fears it would spark copycat behaviour from fans.

Pop pups? They're in their 20s, Gordon, it's not like they're S Club 8.

Gordon goes on to reveal that "advertising standards" have forced the cut:
No, they are worried crazed fans might start trying to give each other human heads for Christmas.

The offending promo featured people exchanging presents, only for one to open a box and find bassist DOUGIE POYNTER’s head in it.

Gordon slams - yes, slams - this as "ludicrous" and you'd have to agree with him. It's ludicrous expecting us to believe that a mysterious "ad chief" has somehow banned a lame joke from an advertisement and that this is anything other than a PR exercise trying to get us interested in McFly latest whatever it is they're trying to flog. It might be a record, or perhaps they've had their faces put on Pop Tarts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zune: Deep pockets drive deep discounts

With still no sign of a Zune launch being rolled out in the wider world, Microsoft has announced price cuts across the range of players for the US. The guys in legal did stop them from rebranding the Zune as ValueIpod, though.

Levellers online

In not very long at all, The Levellers will be webcasting their Amsterdam Paradiso gig live. Like more or less now.

The free and the Trail Of Dead

More free music from RCRDLBL: Trail Of Dead's Bells of Creations, yours for the download.

John McCain feels used by Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne's complaints against John McCain using his music during the McCain-Whatwashernamegain campaign have finally drawn a formal legal response from John McCain.

McCain claims that Browne was only making a fuss to draw attention to his new album, and then suggests that he can do whatever he wants with whoever's music he chooses as he was running for President. Who knew after all these years of Republicans happy to extend copyright in any way, shape or direction we'd finally find some sort of fair use that a GOP guy would fight for?

Still, if McCain was smart, he'd have actually countersued Browne on other grounds - after all, stealing his music didn't exactly help the McCain campaign, did it? Perhaps it was the association with Fisty Browne that dragged them down... Browne owes McCain one presidency, right?

A topsy-turby time at TalkSport

Yesterday, TalkSport fired John Gaunt because he called a man a Nazi.

Today, TalkSport have announced they will no longer give slots to Rod Lucas because he turned out to be a member of the BNP.

That's your fine old British broadcasting balance at work, then.

Having had 24 hours of the BNP insisting there was no reason for anyone not to be a member of the party, and stressing that while you might not agree with its views, it was a legitimate political force, they're now taking to making vaguely threatening statements:

BNP spokesman Simon Darby said: 'It is looking increasingly likely that this is the work of Labour Party supporters. If they have not protected their IP (internet service provider address) properly, there will be an electronic trail leading back to the culprit.'

He added: 'If we find out who published this list, it will turn out to be one of the most foolish things they have done in their life. I wouldn't want to have done that - I wouldn't be sleeping very well tonight.'

Not entirely sure how Labour Party supporters are supposed to have got their hands on a list which was meant to have been closely guarded at BNP HQ.

The Mail suggests that Rod Lucas "used to work for Radio 1" - almost as if the Mail is happy to find a link to the BBC amongst the leaked membership list - but it turns out he made a few jingles and did production work. On Rod's official website he credits himself with having "pioneered zoo radio" - "along with Steve Wright", he graciously adds, although neglecting to mention the American djs who were doing it years before.

Al Doyle is happy to make this clear

Hot Chip's Al Doyle seems to have started his own corrections and clarifications column:

"A news article has appeared, quoting me as saying that LCD Soundsystem is over, or that they have split up.

"I would like to clarify that LCD have not disbanded, nor could the entity be disbanded in the sense that it has always had a revolving cast of players – it would be like saying that The Fall had disbanded, or Prince has split up.

"LCD Soundsystem is James Murphy, and he's allowed to take time off, do other things, and come back, or not come back. And he doesn't have to tell you or anyone else about it.

"I didn't know if anything was going on with LCD next year, which is the truth, and that's all I should have said, but I gabbled on a bit because that's the way I am...

"Anyway, I should probably stop doing interviews after this, which is already my second chance. But the main point to take away is that more LCD music is in the pipeline, which is surely good news for everybody."

Also, Doyle is very, very sorry about what he said about Murphy's mother and only meant he could do that sideways with that thing in a metaphorical way and with the way the credit crunch is going, you know, he really could do with the extra work, Mr. Murphy...

The price of suffering

Bob Geldof found some time in his busy schedule to fly to Asutralia and deliver a speech about world poverty at the eighth annual Diversity@Work business awards at Crown Palladium in Melbourne.

It's unquestionably inspiring to raise the issue of those who have so little, and only slightly undermined by reports in the Herald Sun that Geldof took an AUS$100,000 fee.

It's possible, of course, that Geldof took the money and passed it on those in poverty without making a song and dance about it. What's curious, though, is that Tim Costello of World Vision, who shared the platform, says that he didn't get a fee. All rather odd.

Poor Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson does seem to be unlucky with his health, doesn't he? Every time he's due in court he seems to develop some sort of ailment, like a wheezy boy with a note from matron.

The High Court might force him to turn up to talk about the five or six million he supposedly owes Sheikh Abdulla Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa regardless.

Perhaps it's just the Jacko is allergic to courtrooms? Although, much as a peanut allergy sufferer would avoid going to Jimmy Carter's farm, you'd think a man with such an allergy would do more to try and keep out the way of the courts under such circumstances.

Gordon in the morning: Lewis was robbed

Gordon has a tale to bring a tear to the eye: Sony have screwed up the release of Leona Lewis' cover of Snow Patrol, robbing her:

LEONA LEWIS has been robbed of a No1 single by a blunder which has left the singer’s team and fans furious.

The superstar was due to release her version of Run for download this week after she performed it on her return to The X Factor on Saturday.

But due to a bungle at Sony, the song has not been available online and this week’s planned internet release has been shelved.

It's worth bearing this in mind the next time some moist-eyed RIAA type tells you about how all they care about is their artists. Gordon points out this isn't the first time they've messed her about:
When she went up against BEYONCE KNOWLES, BRITNEY SPEARS and CHRISTINA AGUILERA in a Diva Day chart battle, with all four releasing singles on November 3, the download of her track Forgive Me was released a day after her rivals’ songs.

This left her playing catch-up and Forgive Me eventually only managed No5.

Whereas, of course, those extra day's sales would have helped her... well, make it to number four. But it's the principle.

Meanwhile, Pete Doherty has sponsored a football team's kit. Hey - Pete Doherty: he does drugs, doesn't he? Surely there must be something amusing to say about that. Actually, there probably isn't:
Pete has a striker
PETE DOHERTY plans to “score” every week — as a striker for a pub footie team.
Shooting up (front) ... Pete Doherty
A close pal said: “Pete is a very good footballer who scores again and again.”

I believe the phrase is "you've done that one - ed"

The big question, of course, is has Gordon seen sense and quietly dropped the Timmy Mallet business?

I’ve turned Inspector Clouseau in my search for the famous prop from his 1980s cult TV show Wacaday.

Turning Clouseau? Are you sure that's quite the image you were going for, Gordon?
Clouseau is a bumbling and incompetent police inspector with the French Sûreté, whose investigations are most notably marked with chaos and destruction that he himself largely causes. Immensely clumsy, his various attempts at solving the case frequently lead to misfortune for himself and others; in the 1976 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again, he cannot even interview witnesses to a crime without falling down stairs, getting his hand caught in first a medieval knight's glove and then a vase, knocking a witness senseless, destroying a priceless piano or accidentally shooting another officer in the backside. Clouseau is also not particularly intelligent, and will frequently follow a completely idiotic theory of the crime which often accidentally allows him to solve the case. His sheer incompetence, clumsiness and stupidity combined with the fact that he is sometimes right is enough to eventually transform his direct superior, Chief Inspector Dreyfus, into a homicidal psychopath – to such a degree that Dreyfus even went so far as to construct a doomsday device and threaten to destroy the world in a desperate attempt to kill Clouseau.

Actually, reading the wikipedia entry for Clouseau, I'd have to congratulate you on the similarity.

Staff announcement: Raging against the machine required aisle 6

I've always cherished the memory of seeing a Rage Against The Machine fan helping his Mum do the weekly shop in Asda, wearing his "I won't do what you tell me" tshirt while his mam sent him up and down collecting Dairylea Dunkers and Bisto granules.

So it's with some delight to discover that Asda and Rage Against The Machine have come together again, as a member of the electronics department in the Fulwood store decided to stick on Killing In The Name during shopping hours.

Customers were not amused at hearing "fuck" quite so often as they shopped.

Which, of course, would be quite enough of a story for most people - Asda looked awkward and said 'sorry', plans to get Peaches to perform in the coffee shop hastily dropped. Everyone happy?

Well, not really. This is a storm in a teacup, and so it needs some stirring. I mean, won't someone think of the children?

a song peppered with foul language was blasted out yards from a children's aisle.

Just yards from the bit of the store where the crayons are sold? Will the f-bomb now be ingrained in those crayons, perhaps leaking out every time a curly-haired nipper draws a picture of Jesus?

That's good, but what sort of fuss is it if there isn't a completely spurious parallel drawn by a councilor desperate to get their name in the local paper? Could the Lancashire Evening Post find one of those for us?
Preston City councillor Jennifer Greenhalgh, for Garrison ward, said: "I am absolutely appalled. They have got to take responsibility, and that is not being responsible in any shape or form."

Coun Greenhalgh said the supermarket's gaffe is comparable to the recent scandal involving Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, who broadcast a lewd answerphone message on BBC Radio 2.

She said: "It is insupportable and, like the BBC, somebody has to be held to account. Children now are open to all sorts, but to get it from Asda is ridiculous.

Yes, it's exactly the same as Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, as someone who wasn't there is calling for heads to roll on the basis of a sense of wounding they can't quite justify. Children shouldn't have to have all sorts thrust at them in an Asda. Except in the sweets aisles, of course.

But look: the outrage is starting to wane - can't we add some confused self-appointed guardian of the nation's morals to try and keep this going?
John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, said: "Asda should issue a policy statement to say this kind of music should not be played. I have never heard of this before."

Yes, come on Asda: do as the bloke from Mary Whitehouse's old gang says - remove that policy which encourages staff to play songs featuring profanities. He has never heard of "this" (what? the song? people choosing their own music at work with unfortunate results? supermarkets? the 21st century?) before.

Naturally, Lancashire Evening Post readers - god-fearing clean-living types to a man - probably won't have heard of the Raging Machine band. Can you bring your readers up to speed?
In September, Rage Against The Machine, sparked protests after they were not allowed to perform at a political rally in Minnesota.

The left-wing rockers had planned to play at a convention called the Ripple Effect all-dayer, which was held to coincide with the Republican Party Convention. When prevented from playing the band marched through the streets with a megaphone, as fans chanted their songs.

Very, very possibly, those people chanted the song with the rude word in. Sadly, the Associated Press coverage of these incidents don't record how close the chanting crowds came to the children's aisle - nor, indeed, if they might have been secretly funded by Wal-Mart.

I'm not sure the Lancashire Evening Post believes that Zac and his mates will react to being thrown off the shuffle on the electronics store CD player by marching on Fulwood, yelling rudeness through a megaphone like some sort of fuming Ty Pennington, but they do seem to imply that might be a risk here.

Luckily, though, the paper indulges in a spot of investigative journalism: has Asda learned its lesson, or have they added Touch Me I'm Sick to the playlist?
When the Evening Post visited the supermarket, Asda FM – which broadcasts to all its UK stores – played a variety of family-friendly songs on the PA, including Love Me Do by The Beatles and We've Got Tonight by Bob Seger.

Isn't that Seger song about having a one night stand? Would MediaWatch approve of children having their ears stuffed with a song like that? I can't believe that at the crucial moment, the Post suddenly goes soft on premarital sex.

[Thanks to Simon T for the story]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wright on price, right on your desktop

Graham Wright - you may know him in his other guise as Tokyo Police Club's pianist - has released a new album, The Lakes Of Alberta. It's free in 128mbps version; a better quality version can be yours for a few dollars.

Get ready for Fosca

But Is It Art is currently seeking early adopters for the new Fosca 7", The Man I'm Not Today/My Diogenes Heart. It's coming out on the 5th December; should you book your copy now, you'll get two badges. Two.

Fosca are touring Europe in December:

5th December - Astra-Stube - Hamburg (with Friday Bridge)
6th December - Café Royal - Berlin (with Friday Bridge)
13th December - Feeling Gloomy, Bar Academy - London

Some of Europe.

Sissy Spacek - taking motherhood a step too far

Let us hope, sincerely, that Sissy Spacek simply doesn't understand what a groupie does when she enthuses over her daughter Schuyler Fisk, and her career:

"She's fabulous. She's going to have an album out in February. I'm kind of a groupie. I just go around from show to show."

There is a thin line between motherly support and an EastEnders plotline; let's hope this is a misunderstanding.

Hope I retire before I get C-old-play

Oh, if only Chris Martin's musings on retirement formed some sort of legally binding contract:

"I'm 31 now and I don't think that bands should keep going past 33.
"I don't believe in time off. We've still got most of our hair, we can still fit into our musical trousers and we've got to make the most of that."

Given that Martin's dirges sound like they've been written for men of 50 by older, wiser heads, it's not immediately clear why he'd feel the need to disband as soon as he hit Jesus' age, but let's not discourage him.

Nor is it entirely clear what, if Martin doesn't believe in "time off", explains the paucity of achievement of the band - four albums in twelve years hardly speaks of too tight an embrace of the Protestant Work Ethic, does it?

Still, could someone put something in their diaries for 2010 to remind Martin of his pledge to give up? Thanks.

Common still shooting for the Zune

Yahoo tech news gets cautiously excited about Common's tie-up with Zune, although not too excited:

A video for the title track on hip-hop veteran Common's forthcoming album, "Universal Mind Control," begins with a digital music player pulsing to the beat. The viewer is pulled through the screen into the gadget's guts, where the cool, collected rapper lets loose an easy stream of lyrics.

It takes hitting rewind a few times to notice that the music player isn't one of Apple's slim new iPods. It's a Zune, and it's made by Microsoft Corp.

Perhaps Microsoft will feel flattered that you have to look closely to realise it's not an iPod, but a Zune. On the other hand, they could feel a bit deflated that unless you watch carefully and repeatedly, the average viewer is going to assume they're seeing the guts of an iPod.

At the other end of the telescope, there's a broader question of just how Common - a man paid by Microsoft to endorse their product - magically came up with a video which showcases, however ineffectually, a Microsoft product. Perhaps - let's be generous - Common decided on a video featuring a Fantastic Voyage into an MP3 player, and the Zune just happened to fit the vision.

On the other hand, did Microsoft ask him to make a video featuring a Zune somehow in return for their marketing cash. Which, of course, is not illegal but feels a whole less moral. If Common is selling his 'cool' and, by implication, his audience, then at the very least the deal should be made explicit.

In other words: Is Yahoo writing this puff piece because Common thinks the Zune is so cool, he built a video around it? Or is Yahoo writing the puff because Microsoft thinks Common is cool they gave him money?

Scent firm thinks Prince stinks

Heading to court: Prince, dragged by the firm which gave him a stupid sum of money to make products 'inspired' by his records. Why would you want a cologne inspired by Prince's songs? Isn't it going to smell of discarded panties, sweat and stains?

Anyway, the company is humped that Prince didn't turn up at any events to help promote the scents and, with a new one set to launch next year, is trying to remind him of his responsibilities. Although it's possible he did show up to promote the bottled whiffs, but nobody saw him behind the perfume counters.

Christmas is a time for the children

Hard To Find A Friend is offering a Christmas album that has, certainly, more to recommend it than Sheryl Crowe's Hallmark-store-only affair. Peace On Earth Volume II is a downloadable, delight-stuffed collection of festive tunes including Bodies Of Water having a crack at O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and American Analog Set's Winter Birds. It's in aid of The Children Of Uganda project. Go on, get in the Christmas mood already.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Copyright reform

Bunsnip offers a clear-headed transcript of Pamela Samuelson on Copyright Reform at the Berkeley Free Copyright Conference:

If you look at the Constitution and you look at the statements by the courts on what copyright is supposed to be about, you sort of say, “What happened?” Because Congress does seem to have abdicated its responsibility to pay attention to how the copyright law affects the public interest. And it’s done that over a period of years largely because the copyright industry people will come and say, “Oh this is so complicated, and you guys don’t have any expertise on this, so let us write the rules, and then once we get it straight amongst ourselves, we’ll bring it back to you and you can pass it, and everything will be fine.” And again, maybe that was not such a good thing ever, but it certainly isn’t such a good thing when now it’s our lives and the things that we do on a day-to-day basis that are being affected, and the doors are really shut to our kind of input into this process.

[via Boing Boing]

Gordon in the morning: Nixon gets a grip on power

Someone called Tim Nixon has seized control of Bizarre today, filling the featured slot with news that Jordan has bought a necklace with a giant P on it. Confusing 'a national daily newspaper' with Jordan's personal newsletter, Nixon runs something that sounds like it had been dictated by the Price PR team:

The sight of the couple arm-in-arm in a cab following their TV stint on This Morning earlier in the day will only help their bid to end the speculation.

When his wife’s looking this hot, who can blame Peter for holding on tight?

Still, it's not like Gordon has anything better - he's reduced to a stream of weak puns based on crappy pappy snaps.

A picture of Russell Brand and a woman with frizzy hair?
Model is Brand's new curlfriend

A long-lens shot of a child dressed as a superhero sidekick being carried by his former Spice Girl mother?
Victoria goes Robin with Cruz

- although, to be fair, that's Tim Nixon again. Nixon, we can only assume, has never met a child, as he doesn't seem to understand that kids like to wear their dress-up clothes:
DESPITE all their money, one must assume the BECKHAM kids have only a limited stock of normal clothes.

Mum VICTORIA’s penchant for dressing her boys up as wacky characters continues – this time heading out with CRUZ in the guise of Batman’s sidekick Robin.

Isn't letting her kid muck about pretending to be a cartoon character refreshingly normal rather than somehow odd? And in what way does the "goes Robin" pun make any sense?

With Nixon so busy, though, Gordon must be up to something important? Perhaps he wrote the Timmy Mallet piece. Mallet is given a chunk of space to appeal for the return of his large rubber hammer:
THE Jules Rimet Trophy, an Oscar, a Brit Award and Mallett’s Mallet – four cash-can’t-buy items I dreamed of owning as a nipper.

Yes, that's Gordon, isn't it?
So when Eighties telly hero TIMMY MALLETT asked for help recovering his iconic foam hammer, I was delighted to assist.

Given that Tim Nixon is filling up the rest of your space with donkey-shoot puns and news about what plastic necklace Jordan is wearing, you might think Gordon would have been better off spending his time focusing on someone whose moment hadn't passed during the Thatcher government, but still: Mallet is clearly missing his big foam tool. When did it go missing, Timmy? Last week? Last month?
The original was nicked from the Wacaday show host at one of his spin-off Wacagigs.

He was on stage entertaining smashed students at Evolution club in Leeds in September 2002 when the mallet was snatched by a nostalgia-crazed thief who fled into the night.

2002? So he's managed to get through six years without it?

Mallet is appealing for the return of the thing now because - inevitably - it's turned up in Facebook. Or, rather, there's a photo of it with some people on Facebook.

I don't mean to be cynical but this sounds a little more like a promotional stunt to me. There isn't even any indication that the picture of the hammer is a recent one - it looks like it's a scanned-in version of one of those pictures that had a date and time burned in to the actual picture, which would suggest it comes from the 1990s rather than the 2000s. Still, Gordon appeals to those few readers who have fought their way through his column to this point for help. And the equivalent of the Crimestoppers reward?
If you can help, the man himself has agreed to come and shake hands in a Wacaday handover at Bizarre HQ.

A trip to Wapping and a meeting with a man you can hire to play your local pub? It's compelling. Perhaps the appeal should have simply been to civic duty.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Slash better for equality than Elton John

With Elton John happy to support the LDS line, thank the lord for Slash. And Perla. Who've teamed up to fight Proposition 8:

The comments have, as you'd imagine, attracted a bunch of bigots, some patient posts explaining the rather obvious difference between paedophilia and gay marriage, and, right in the middle of this battle of the culture wars, this:

Slash still using his Chris Derrig copy here... :) that's his favourite guitar

Which is either a spectacular missing of the point, or else a wry comment.

Courtney blogs... and blogs... and blogs...

Courtney Love had a little splurge on her MySpace yesterday, breaking all records. She posted 56 posts, give or take, but the record-breaking aspect was most of them made some sort of sense. Given they were only reactions to clothes, it wasn't hard, but it's a start.

i could barely drag my ass into what Vogue US( wich i wont even read) and UK ( wich i adore) and FR( wich i LOVE) and IT ( wich is genius and endlessly amusing) called " the BEST DRESS OF THE DECADE" its onybeen worn once, its black taffetta called the "punk Dress" with a cross of crystals, thick with crytsals, i kept trying to say sanc

See? Sort of makes sense. Sort of.

Coyne-operated game

To push the Christmas On Mars DVD, The Flaming Lips have launched an online game. I've had a bit of trouble getting past the loading scheme, but that could just be me - I used to struggle telling the time on a Game & Watch.

KajaGooGoo - now with Limahl, too

Last year, the unsuccessful rump of KajaGooGoo - the bit left after they'd kicked Limahl out - reformed.

This year, thought they're back, properly complete with the walking anagram. Wonderfully, Limahl still talks in pure Smash Hits language - "life is not a rehearsal" he explains.

Of course, it'll all end in a bunch of tears but for now, the band are together in Germany; the UK can look forward to two dates in Milton Keynes (The Stables) early next month.

There's a plan to make an album - which, I suspect, the world probably isn't that bothered about.

Galaxy 102.2 gets in touch with its audience

Global Radio are probably wishing they'd removed all local programming from their network, after someone managed to break into West Midlands Galaxy 102.2 and started to swear on air, apparently. The phrase "I'm still fucking here" might have been heard, depending on who you choose to believe.

Police arrested the intruder, although it's believed John Noel Management is offering to represent him.

Jackson loses another friend; gains another lawsuit

You'll remember all the excitement over the teaming up of Michael Jackson and Sheikh Abdulla Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, son of the King of Bahrain. How's that working out for Michael, then?

Not well.

Having lavished cash - £4.7million, apparently - and products upon Jackson, the Sheikh was surprised when Jacko then failed to deliver anything resembling an album or an autobiography. (Clearly, he'd not followed Jackson's career that closely; had he known he might not have expected anything.) It's now all going to court - and Jackson is being sued in London.

In his defence, Jacko claims he thought the things he was given were gifts and not upfront payments. Presumably because the value never reached eight figures. That's when the quid-pro-quo kicks in.

Happy returns: Boss Hog

Coming back together for the All Tomorrows Parties Christmas bash: Boss Hog.

Oh yes. Seven years on from their last gig.

They're also doing The Luminaire in London on December 8th.

Whigfield: Miley Cyrus

It looks like the internet has been busily writing off Miley Cyrus. Presumably someone, somewhere, confused Reg Varney and Hannah Montana.

Gordon in the morning: Smart on smart

They teach you at journalism school - lesson one - that dog bites man is not a story while man gets a little older, buys a jacket to keep warm? That's news, isn't it, Gordon?

WHEN ARCTIC MONKEY ALEX TURNER met TV presenter ALEXA CHUNG last summer he looked a typical Fred Perry-sporting Sheffield lad.

Now it’s like he has taken on board all the advice from Gok’s Fashion Fix, the Channel 4 show she works on.

In a double-breasted grey jacket and striped shirt, he appeared more country gent than boy-next-door yesterday as the pair arrived at Heathrow from LA.

Actually, Gordon, he looks like an indie kid who has decided to wear something appropriate for the weather. But still, you wouldn't have embarked on this piece unless you had a rounding insight with which to conclude the piece, would you? Otherwise you've just published a fairly rubbish shot of a bloke because he looks like he's decided its too cold to go out without a jacket of some sort. Share you insight with us, Gordon.

He’s certainly come a long way.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday at the Mill: Toyah

Ah, god bless the Pebble Mill At One team for allowing Toyah to perform an over-literal version of America For Beginners. You could almost use exactly the same approach for Kids In America, you know.

[Part of Sunday at the Mill]

I'm Jewel, and Palin's like a glittery prize

Apparently falling for the line that women didn't like Palin because she wasn't feminist enough, Jewel has leaped to fellow Alaskan Sarah Palin's defence:

"Alaskan women are very can-do women. We're the pioneer state! The women who settled (in) Alaska had a large role in shaping it. The way I was raised, I never thought I was any different than boys. You can really see that in Sarah Palin."

Fair enough - although Sarah Palin's background is beauty shows and sports reporting, which is hardly the sort of stuff that shaped the pioneer state. (Actually, isn't Ohio and not Alaska the Pioneer State anyway?)

The trouble is, of course, shooting a few moose doesn't make a feminist. Certainly not if you do it in your time off from, say, happily allowing rape victims to be charged for the kits to collect evidence, or leading attacks on reproductive rights.

Downloadable: How I Became The Bomb

It's a 'free music for an email' type swap deal: How I Became The Bomb are giving away
Volume I: Who Dares Wins through their website.

Sunday at the Mill: The Colourfield

A slightly late start with the 'record' button for Thinking Of You, perhaps; and then daytime pulling out all its stylistic tricks for Castles In The Air. You can see why Terry Hall almost smiled:

[Part of Sunday At The Mill]

Paul McCartney promises trip to the Carnival

You might have thought with the Anthology albums and those half-arsed bits of old song that were made into a "new" Beatles record, the world already had everything the Beatles had ever recorded, plus a spot of stuff they never did.

There is, however, one outstanding piece of tape: Carnival Of Light, which was really a McCartney solo piece with the rest of the group noodling about banging stuff. Like a Beatles with three Ringos.

Inevitably, though, even this must now be dragged out and given a proper release:

'I like it because it's the Beatles free, going off piste.'

Although not "free" as in the sense of he's going to give it away. He's got an expensive ex-wife to support, you know.

Embed and Breakfast man: Sunday At The Mill

It's the point during days off ill of highest risk: by the time Pebble Mill At One came round, your mother would be alert to signs of not feeling so ill any more and a fitness to attend the afternoon session at school.

Like most long-running, high-episode shows, the need to fill the music guest slot day-in, day-out meant the researchers would be forced to move outside the usual comfort zone of their audience and so you'd sometimes see unexpected guest appearances. Not Scraping Foetus Off A Wheel unexpected, but unexpected nevertheless. Aztec Camera rather than Des O'Connor.

It was less true by the time of the later 1990s Pebble Mill (not "at One") revival, though, when the series was more self-consciously trying to hip itself up to reflect its return to a daytime schedule which now traveled on the back of Neighbours.

Sadly, it's "embedding disabled by request" for the Janice Long show session favourites Westworld doing Silver Mac. It's a real pity, as all the elements are here: pointless shots of the band performing, long-lens stylee, from outside the asbestos-riddled Birmingham HQ of the BBC; and a bored-looking audience sat in seats whose handrails give the impression of something between veal heading for slaughter and the world's worst rollercoaster.

Even more sad is that Ted Chippington's appearance on the show - uncomfortable might be the kindest description - has been purged from everywhere it appears.

So, let's start with Morrissey's trip to Brum, sitting through Paul Coia's polite but forensic music book review segement ("some captions have been mislabelled, but the good thing is it shows the new, sophisticated Lionel Richie"):

A couple more visits to Pebble Mill coming up today
The Colourfield

Urban Music Awards: Only a little bit stabby

If the Urban Music Awards had been attempting to celebrate British youth and show there's more to life than knife crime, it botched it a little as poor security allowed the prize-giving to descend into chaos:

Three people have been stabbed during a music awards ceremony in south-east London.

One man was seriously hurt while two others received minor injuries at the Urban Music Awards at the O2 arena.

Kanye West is believed to have already issued a complaint about how it was decided who would receive minor injuries at the awards.

Taling to the BBC, the team who run O2's Millennium Dome complex sounded slightly surprised that such a thing could have happened:
An O2 spokesperson said: "Nothing of this nature has ever taken place in the venue before and all the usual stringent security measures were in place.

"We are working closely with the police to understand how this happened. Our thoughts are with the victims of the attack."

O2 didn't comment on if - as with the tickets - O2 customers get a chance to be stabbed at their venue before the opportunity is opened to the general public.

Curiously, though, while O2 claim that the security on the night was its usual, stringent self, others told the BBC a different story:
Natalie Williams, 32, said: "Before anything even happened I commented to my boyfriend, because we live nearby and come here a lot, and we usually get screened coming into the building. Tonight there was nothing."

Chris Miller, who was reviewing the awards for an online music guide, said people were wandering into the press room without a pass.

"Even when we were waiting outside in the press area for stars to arrive, it was a melee," he said.

"The security was so slack."

Apparently there had been a deal in place to syndicate the awards show to fifteen countries but, as the prize-giving was abandoned, that might not happen now.

LWT - sorry, ITV Local London - were in attendance, although somehow it slipped their minds to mention that they were broadcast partners in the event rather than just bystanders when they published their report.

Winehouse mash-up

The News of the World seems incredibly excited over its Amy Winehouse's amusing tongue-in-cheek complaints about Simon Cowell. Someone rang her doorbell, she was amused rather than angry - it's not a great revelation, is it?

Hang on, though, there's more:

In the astonishing outburst in Camden, north London, Amy admitted she was sitting indoors in her UNDERWEAR eating COTTAGE PIE.

I think there's a macro at the News International tabloids that automatically caps up the word "underwear" - but who knew cottage pie was that important? Something that you might, indeed, admit to. Perhaps it's the decision to eschew the lamb of a shepherds pie in favour of the beefy delights of the cottage pie which so upset the paper. Does Winehouse care nothing for the hill farmers of Wales?

This week just gone

Searches for pictures which have brought people to No Rock this month:

1. McFly naked pictures
2. Heather from Rock Of Love naked pictures (and variations thereof)
3. Heather Mills porn pictures
4. Frontal nudity pictures
5. Nelly Furtardo nude pictures
6. Lynne Perrie pictures Television X (mercifully, they're not looking for Ivy naked)
7. "t in the park" + "front page picture" +2003
8. A picture of a modest girl
9. Beth Ditto naked pictures
10. Brighton And Hove Albion pictures shorts

There's also a search for "Britney Spears pictures no knickers please", which shows that it's possible to be polite even when looking for the most tawdry of wankfodder on the net.

These were the more interesting in a very backwards looking new release week:

Loop - Fade Out
- Part of the reissue of the whole back catalogue

Robin Guthrie - 3.19

Tony Christie - Made In Sheffield

Johnny Cash - 1977 Christmas Special

The Damned - So Who's Paranoid?

Herbie Hancock - The Definitive

Lonnie Donegan - Rare Tapes From The Late 1960s

The Smiths - The Sound Of The Smiths
- Mozzer-baiting tatty cash-in round-up