Saturday, November 29, 2008

Donny Osmond: It's alright, if you don't touch

With the Mormon church having poured money into getting gay marriage somehow illegal in California, you might be wondering what the highest-profile Mormon celebrity might be feeling. Naturally, Donny Osmond isn't going to upset his church, is he, opening a page on his website to explain his stance on gay people who consider themselves to be married. (Nice to see him approaching the question with an open mind.)

Don't run away with the idea that just because he feels he has the right to tell them what to do, he's in any way homophobic:

There are many gay individuals that are members of our church. I know many of them. In fact, some of my best friends are gay.

Of course some of your best friends are gay, Donny. We all know you're not having a go at individual people, just an amorphous 'other', right?

But how can you have gay people in church: doesn't that somehow threaten all that is holy?
You ask how I react regarding their marriages. Well, I do support our Church leaders who say that we can accept those with gay tendencies in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations.

Aha! How generous. Providing you don't actually be gay, you're fine.
Everyone has tenancies to succumb to temptation, but we all have the same standard given to us by our Father in Heaven. Whether we may be tempted to be immoral with members of our own sex or of the opposite sex, we are expected to live chaste lives. This is very well explained not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible as well.

Right. But let's say that someone chooses to live their lives by their own moral code, rather than a book that you might find in a drawer in a Courtyard by Marriott; what then, Donny?
We all determine for ourselves what is right and what is not right for our own lives and how we live God's commandments. I am not a judge and I will never judge anyone for the decisions they make unless they are causing harm to another individual. I love my friends, including my gay friends. We are all God's children. It is their choice, not mine on how they conduct their lives and choose to live the commandments according to the dictates of their own conscience.

That - although not actually answering the question about gay marriage - seems fair enough. Except Donny arrives at this conclusion after running this extract from a Mormon executive:
We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

So he seems to be saying if people want to get married, that's great, it's up to them, providing nobody else gets hurt... oh, which they will, because it will bring down calamities on the nations.

It's not so much that Osmond is happy to pretend he's friends with gays while actually suggesting that for them to fall in love is a security risk, it's that he tries to seem like he's reasonable while doing the equivalent of writing a post that says 'up to you' underneath a photo of a man holding a 'sodomites will kill us all'.

Moose weekend: This River Will Never Run Dry

The un-prophetically titled one, then:

[Part of the Moose weekend]

2008 in chunks

As we approach the last bits of the year, don't forget to keep an eye on the 2008 best-of list round up entry, which expands as more interesting and questionable reviews of the year appear online. Latest additions include the 2008 Best Box Sets from the New York Times and Fact Magazine's favourite reissues.

I suppose she should be lucky she's not doing Hit Me Baby One More Time

Ah, the joys of the over-literal minds of the X Factor team, as they prepare for Britney's arrival:

The X Factor's creative director, Brian Friedman, has worked on several of Spears' tours and music videos - and promised she would have a few surprises up her sleeve for her UK appearance.

"She is going to be doing a massive performance," he said,

"You know her album is called Circus, so we're going to be seeing a circus vibe coming in".

If the judges and contestants don't all arrive crammed into a single car, you've wasted your week, Friedman.

Rolf Harris says sorry... badly

It was overdue: Rolf Harris had finally getting round to saying 'sorry' for the line about Abos in Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. And, perhaps, it might just have worked, had he not decided to head off on an explanation of What Is Wrong With Aborigines:

'You sit at home watching the television and you think to yourself, "Get up off your arse and clean up the streets your bloody self" and why would you expect somebody to come in and clean up your garbage, which you've dumped everywhere? 'But then you have to think that it's a different attitude to life.'

He said Aboriginal children were never disciplined or expected to adhere to rules until adulthood. 'Till then, they have a totally carefree life to do what they want and that quite often involves smashing everything that they have,' he told The Age newspaper.

Mr Harris blamed Aboriginal traditional values for the appalling conditions in many communities.

He added: 'The attitude is that, in their original way of life, they would really wreck the surrounding countryside that they lived in and they would leave all the garbage and they would go walkabout to the next place.

'The traditional attitude is still there and I wish there was a simple solution – but I'm not certain.'

The Mail tries to not get caught in the crossfire, and instead tries to explain how a beloved entertainer might have recorded a song which called the indigenous population of Australia "of no further use":
The song was recorded in an era when racism against indigenous Australians was rife.

Which, presumably, makes it alright, then.

Make your own Vice

One part 'do our job for us' to three parts 'think you can do better': Vice is offering the chance for readers to have a go at making their own edition of the magazine. Wildskillz bring big prizes - either cash or, if you'd prefer, an internship. Which would then allow you to make the magazine unpaid on a more regular basis.

Moose weekend: Suzanne

Good lord, I'd totally forgotten the Yamaha Band Explosion - a 1991 new band event. If my mind isn't confusing itself, it pulled on the promotion might not just of Yamaha but also Nescafe, back when Nestle were going through one of their attempts to try and convince the kids that drinking cheap instant coffee is a lifestyle choice. The NME were involved, too - a small, glossy magazine promoting the event dropped out of the magazine one week. And, presumably with management happy that the event would have happened any way, it wound up all over the TV and radio. Which is why we now have Gary Crowley introduing Moose, doing Suzanne, at the Marquee:

[Part of Moose weekend]

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The silver linings

With Woolworths crashing down and screwing up Zavvi's distribution, it's no surprise that Gennaro Castaldo, comment-priest of HMV, is looking for the joy amongst the gloom:

Gennaro Castaldo, of HMV, said: “All things Mamma Mia! were going to be huge this Christmas anyway — especially the DVD — but, with all the doom and gloom around right now, you get half a feeling that a lot more of us may turn to the sunny optimism of Abba’s music.”

Oh, yes, who wouldn't want to try and cheer themselves up with the optimism of One Of Us, or Knowing Me Knowing You or even The Winner Takes It All. It's dancealongadivorcetastic, Gennaro.

Take That saved for a grateful nation

The collapse of Woolworths had thrown a ghastly shadow over Britain - as the biggest distributor of impulse-buy records to UK supermarkets, it could mean that the grudging racks of CDs provided by Asda and the like could run dry.

Into this crisis, the record companies have marched, kind of like the magnificent seven, organising alternative deliveries of Take That's new release and Britney's album:

A spokesman for Asda said new deliveries had been organised, adding that customers "won't notice a thing".

"We are pushing ahead with a planned national poster campaign for a new range of DVD box sets, and can reassure fans of Take That that we will have their new album in store from Monday," he said.

So, your evil plan fails again, Robbie Williams - you won't stop people getting their hands on the new Take That record.

Embed and breakfast man: Moose weekend

How better to spend a late autumn weekend than by looking at some of the work of Moose, a band who should have been a lot more popular than they were but somehow managed to be eclipsed by Chapterhouse. Yes, it's more shoegaze this weekend, but superior shoegaze - and we'll dip into the more jangling, countrified stuff, too. The stuff that made Hut drop them like a hot burrito.

Let's kick off with I Wanted To See You, To See If I Wanted You:

Moose loose about the cyberhoose
Unofficial official site
Last FM

Moose's entire back catalogue is cussedly out of print, so your only hope is second hand
Honey Bee
Live A Little, Love A Lot

More Moose video across the weekend
Suzanne live at the Marquee
This River Will Never Run Dry
Little Bird

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bangkok Rock 100 axed

Given the whole not-being-able-to-fly-in-or-out-of-Bangkok situation, it's inevitable that this weekend's Bangkok 100 Rock festival has been canceled.

Amongst the non-Thai acts playing were supposed to be the Manics, Ash, and Hoobastank. So, on the bright side, that's one less Hoobastank gig.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: El Records

Whoever would have thought there'd be a picture of Bad Dream Fancy Dress in the broadsheets today? It's alongside Rob Fitzpatrick's hymn to El Records in The Guardian:

And now Alway has reinvented El, turning it into a daring and stylish reissue label that is driven by his desires to save and promote great forgotten music.

"I originally came to the record industry as an enthusiast," says Alway, sitting in his sunny front room in Richmond, south-west London. "And part of what enthused me was mystery. I imagined in my green innocence that other people felt the same way."

MySpace take your name - for a redirect

Mobile, the band, have been building a fan base through their carefully-nurtured MySpace for the last two years. They're just about to head out on their biggest tour ever. So, they're a little annoyed - to say the least - that MySpace have stolen their URL. Hypebot quotes Don Affleck, the band's manager:

This is a fucking joke right?!?! Nope, apparently Team-Myspace (fuck
ya!) came down and rained fire on Mobile's myspace url because they are launching their "mobile" platform whose url is:

The band's url WAS: --- so they're not even
using the band's actual url!! They just couldn't stand to lose any
eyeballs during their marketing roll-out of their wonderful new service!!!

So now, after 2 years of the band authentically building and nurturing relationships online, Team-Myspace click-fucks the band out of their url.

NOW I understand why music lovers AND musicians are migrating away from Myspace and onto Facebook, Bebo etc. -- TRUST -- there can be no trust in a place that can takeover one's address at will -- how would a community service survive if users knew that at any moment their little plot of cyberspace could be stripped away?!? I can understand if you threatened to kill the president or suggested that your big black van was a sweet innocent candy store....but isn't Myspace all about the music?? Didn't they just launch their music service in the USA??? But Myspace isn't about the music.....never has been....this is about generating advertising revenue. Funny thing is, shit like this proves Team-Myspace only knows how to beat a dead horse; and who the fuck is gonna' be friends with a dead horse when the alternatives are active communities which users can trust?

A small, pointless move - if they really were worried about people getting confused, they could at least have offered the band the opportunity to keep their URL in return for a 'looking for MySpace's mobile service? Really? It's here' banner - or at least to put a banner to the new URL on the mobile site.

What makes it worse is the random URL that was going to be given to the band - so they've not only got one change, there's going to be another change when they finally get to choose another URL. Given that this is one member, could someone - perhaps "Tom" - at least have given them the chance to choose the new URL before shunting them away?

Downloadable: Ladyhawke

I plug RCRD LBL a lot, admittedly, but that's mainly due to the stream of good stuff they offer. Amongst their latest delights, a free remix of Ladyhawke's My Delirium. Tastellent.

Terry Christian gets the word from the judge: No

Terry Christian has been in court this week, somehow trying to argue that, despite having had a freelance contract to present on BBC Radio Manchester, when that contract expired and wasn't renewed that he was somehow treated unfairly.

He also complained - bemusingly - that his producers gave him scripts with things to say on them, like everyone else on radio gets from time to time. (Perhaps someone should have tried that when he was doing The Word?)

The judge has rejected his claims for unfair dismissal.

Thank god Gordon Brown has time on his hands

I could just about see sending a stenographed form letter to the twelve X-Factor finalists, what with the lotofgoodworkforcharity. But seemingly Brown has so little to do he dashed off personal notes to all twelve of them. He's dreading the workload if the BBC bring back 1 vs 100.

Noel Gallagher admits being on a par with The Stones

Having tried so long to be The Beatles, Noel Gallagher has realised that Oasis have morphed into the Stones instead:

"Everybody knows who we are. You have to see us in league with The Rolling Stones now," he declared. "Everybody's heard of the Stones, everybody knows what they sound like, everybody knows what they do. You either go because you like it or you don't. It's easy."

Band who haven't written a decent song in decades, still desperately trying to look like they're in their 20s, churning out new albums despite being an oldies group, living a champagne and butlers lifestyle while pretending to be street-fighting men... you can see what Noel is getting at... but everyone knowing them? Outside of the UK and a clutch of large US cities... does... anyone... much... I mean, if Noel is Jagger, I'm a fruit. Or possibly a vegetable. Maybe I'm an avocado. But... what is this... happening... to me... mashing... garlic...

Mumbai jazz festival cancelled

Understandably, in the horrible circumstances: this weekend's Jazz Utsav festival in Mumbai has been postponed; a joint gig featuring Anoushka Shankar and Jethro Tull in the city is also likely to be called off.

Becks beffudles

Becks is running a music giveaway, with a scratchcard taking you to a page where you must share information - the stuff on offer is pretty good - Santogold, Cicada, Phantom Limb. But a black mark to the company for it's mixing of opt-in and opt-out check boxes on the email harvest page...

Darkness at 3AM: Words and Bonds

Oh, 3AM Girls, did you accidentally send a first draft?

P Diddy wants to Moonrake it in as the next James Bond and has already spent £500,000 on making an 007 audition tape.

Moonrake it in? Moonrake?

Gordon in the morning: Kings Of Leon on the brink?

If you wade through what is a bloody awful Bizarre this morning (Jodie Marsh, Britney Spears is pretty) you do get to quite an eye-catching story: The Kings Of Leon tour at risk as the band, supposedly, fall out:

The FOLLOWILL lads have had a major bust-up over frontman CALEB’s boozing.

The band told me earlier this year that they had turned their backs on their hell-raising rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

But Caleb has been hitting the bottle big time, causing tension between him and his brothers NATHAN and JARED, and their cousin MATTHEW.

Gordon reckons the band haven't spoken for a "couple of weeks" and that management are getting nervous with the arena tour about to start. There's even quite a clever headline: KOL? with the "KO" in red.

But Gordon doesn't seem confident in the story - it's so hedged, it's buried down today's business, and it ends like this:
I hope they make up in time because this tour — which sold out in minutes — promises to cement their status as one of the best rock acts today.

So either we're going to get a "you heard it here first" or Gordon can just go "phew, it never came to that, just like I hoped".

Meanwhile, Pete Samson is again in charge of the splash, about "junkie diva" Amy Winehouse "planning a split" from Blake. This is tagged as an exclusive, but given that the Bizarre column has been predicting this since about 1934, it's not really so very exclusive.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Axl Rose has some cloudy issues with Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper, you might conclude, has made good on its promise to provide all of America with an unpleasant pop to mark the release of Chinese Democracy - you could get a voucher to turn into a drink. All a bit of harmless fun, right?

Not according to Axl who had instructed his lawyers. TMZ reports:

Rose is accusing Pepper of profiting off the Guns N' Roses name, after the soda company's website malfunctioned during their free Dr Pepper giveaway on Sunday. The 20 oz. handouts were a promise made by Pepper if "Chinese Democracy" ever hit the shelves.

Axl's lawyers are demanding full-page apologies in four major newspapers, an extended period of time to collect on the free suds and payment for unauthorized use the G'N'R name.

Apart from being utterly, utterly humourless, it's a bit puzzling - if Rose is annoyed that Dr Pepper somehow misused the good name of Guns N Roses in their promotion, why does he want the promotion extended?

And given Buckethead's appropriation of KFC's buckets in an earlier iteration of Guns N Roses, does Axl really want to get into a brand-ownership cock fight?

Gordon in the morning: Standards and non-slipping dresses

With Dita Von Teese doing Playboy and Duffy's dress, Gordon doesn't know where to look this morning.

It's Duffy's dress which gets him panting most heavily, though:

Duffy nearly in the buffy

which would be a brilliant headline on a story about her getting drunk with Sarah Michelle Gellar and the pair hitting on each other, but rubbish on this one. As Gordon himself admits, this wasn't even a slipping dress - what looked like a bra peeking out was part of the outfit:
When I saw these pictures I thought she was suffering a wardrobe malfunction and her frock had slipped down.

But apparently it’s meant to look like that.

But he ran the photo anyway.

Had the dress actually been sliding down Duffy's body, the tiny bit of what-would-then-have-been-a-bra was so slight it's hard to see even then what would have been noteworthy, unless you're the sort of bloke who freeze-frames Corrie every time Becky chooses a top with straps narrower than her nethergarments.

Now, cast your minds back to when the storm was breaking over Russell Brand's Radio 2 programme and how disgusted Wade and The Sun leader team were:
THE BBC hoped a swift apology with flowers would douse public fury over Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

But protests from 10,000 disgusted licence payers show they have misjudged the public mood.

Georgina Baillie, whose fling with Brand was betrayed in his obscene calls to her grandfather, Andrew Sachs, wants him sacked.

We now know this juvenile pair of overpaid twerps aimed even more unforgivable smut at the legendary Fawlty Towers star.

The Sun, then, is clear: tawdry public detailing the sexual conquests of Russell Brand is the sort of thing that is morally wrong, especially when the only reason the woman involved is famous is because of her grandfather.

Oddly, though, it's quite acceptable for Gordon Smart to run a long piece about Russell Brand having sex with Che Guevara's granddaughter, complete with computer-generated images and laddish back-slapping about bedposts and successful charm offensives.
If I was FIDEL CASTRO I’d get the grandkids kitted out with chastity belts pronto.

Thank god Castro never appeared in a sitcom, otherwise that would presumably require The Sun to run an editorial calling for its own management to sort itself out. Clearly, though, it's not juvenile smut to taunt a grandfather about his kids being shagged by Brand if he's left-wing.

It is a lovely little thing, isn't it?

The delightfully nuts "are you the butler" knockabout Bing and Bowie take on Peace On Earth and Little Drummer Boy is being recreated for a single featuring Aled Jones and Terry Wogan. While might be somewhat eclipsed by the Colbert/Willie Nelson version, it's got to be better than the X Factor winner trumpeting to number one, surely?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Second coming of Jesus Lizard

All Tomorrow's Parties have a knack for resurrection: next year, The Jesus Lizard are doing a brief reunion centered round the Minehead event. There's also talk of a Chicago hometown round-up for the comeback.

PRobit: Rob Partridge

The death has been announced of Rob Partridge, music PR.

Partridge started out writing for Music Week and the Melody Maker in the 1970s, before jumping the divide to work in PR. He started at Island in 1977, moving swiftly from head of press to a seat on the board, working to build the careers of - amongst others - Bob Marley, Kid Creole and U2. When he left to go solo in 1990, he took the press handling of the Marley estate with him to Partridge & Storey, and continued to represent the estate until 1997.

His original partner in Partridge & Storey - which became Coalition on moving offices. Neil Storey left the company in 1996 and in 1999, the organisation branched out into management.

Rob Partridge, who was 60, is survived by his wife. He had been ill with cancer for some time.

[UPDATED with corrections to Partridge & Storey section, 27-11-08]

Pre-recording: that'll keep Jonathan Ross in line

Tim Davie, BBC's head of music and audio, has suggested that when Jonathan Ross returns in January, his Radio 2 programme might be pre-recorded to keep him in line:

"It's a little early to confirm anything at this point. We've said that on January 24 the Jonathan Ross Show will come back. That's the lead assumption," he said.

It is understood that most of Ross's Radio 2 programmes were aired live, but sources have suggested that more may be pre-recorded in future or that the show will be subject to tighter editorial controls.

Ah, yes, pre-recording. Although given that both the TV show where he told Gwyneth Paltrow he'd fuck her and the Russell Brand programme were prerecorded and still went out anyway, it's not clear how.

Davie also had some thoughts about music TV:
Davie added that there was "lots more work to do with music television".

He said shows such as BBC2's celebrity conducting series Maestro and forthcoming Top of the Pops specials were ways of making music appealing to television commissioners.

But didn't Top Of The Pops get cancelled precisely because it wasn't appealing to commissioners, and it only got brought back this Christmas due to complaints from the public rather than out of the love of the commissioners?

Watch: Blue Christmas

Happy Thanksg... erm, Holidays. This is First Aid Kit, and they've just signed to Wichita:

Thirty years

Jeffrey Lewis will, if you give him two minutes and seventeen seconds, bring you up to date with the history of Rough Trade records:

Helsinki trip

Nominated by Creative Review's useful guide to innovative new pop videos, here's the latest Architecture In Helsinki promo, for That Beep:

Mercy me, it's Murphy free

Roisin Murphy is playing Brussels tonight; if you can't make it - or won't, or maybe you're just banned from Belguim entirely - her website will be streaming the whole thing for free.

Bono & boys bounce beared bloke's bits back

The vague prospect that there might be something interesting on U2's new album - the collaboration between the band and Rick Rubin - has come to nothing:

Guitarist The Edge said the Irish four-piece scrapped early sessions with the renowned knob-twiddler because it did not suit the band's style of recording.

"We actually laid all that stuff to one side. Really out of deference to Rick and that set of songs we just said, OK, that’s that, and we drew a line," explained the guitarist. "So none of the Rick material went into this project. Everything has been written subsequently."

Instead, then, it's more Eno-Lanois stuff as per usual, which is easier to churn out and seems to get lapped up, so why try any harder, huh?

Is this the path to making four million dollars, Jacko?

Let's not assume that the sudden urge on Michael Jackson's part to write an autobiography has anything to do with the friendly out-of-court settlement with his former patron.

It would be cruel to expect a courtcase in five years with a publisher trying to claw back a massive advance paid out for a book that Jackson had somehow failed to deliver.

That's great, Matt Belamy, but you could just do 'good' instead

Are Muse shifting from being challenging to, well, just becoming show offs?:

The trio also revealed that the album could feature the "hardest song" frontman Matt Bellamy has ever written.

"There is a new song in three parts, more of a symphony than a song, which I have been working on sporadically for many years," said the singer, answering another question. "As a large percentage of the composition is orchestral, I have never wanted to collaborate with a string arranger as they may make it 'theirs'. So I have been arranging the orchestral elements myself, which is taking a long time. It should hopefully make the next album as the final three tracks."

To play the track live, concluded Bellamy, he will have to clone himself a minimum of six times - and he intends to do that for himself, too, as these Korean cloning labs always want to mix in a bit of their own DNA.

Sheffield Arena patronises older people

I can't be sure, but judging by Sheffield Arena's attitude to Cliff Richard fans, I'd imagine they did that over-emphasised, over-loud way of talking when they issued the ban on queuing for tickets: "It's not safe, dear... NOT SAFE to be out all night AT YOUR AGE..."

No other band - or rather, their demographic - has been told they can't queue. Sheffield Arena try to explain their reasoning:

Simon Bailey, the marketing manager at the Sheffield Arena, said staff had a “duty of care” which they would not be able to provide if customers were camping outside the arena for days at a time.

He added: “We are unable to staff the queue to ensure customer safety and the area isn’t suitable for people to be camping out exposed to the elements.

“We also often have events on in the arena that require a clear entrance and exit through the area where the queues form. We have no services available such as toilet and wash facilities.”

Hold on, Simon: this are only Cliff Richard tickets, it's not like they're going to be setting up a permanent Greenham style camp outside your unlovely venue. If you're that bloody concerned, why don't you just say you'll let anyone queuing use the toilets inside the arena? Presumably you have some inside - or are you expected to piss in a bottle and take it home with you when you see a band there? Could you not even come up with some sort of virtual queue? And how come you patronisingly think that Cliff fans need nannying just because they're not as young as you are? Do you think once you're past forty you lose the ability to decide if you're capable of making it through a night in a sleeping bag?

Most places would be thrilled that they had something on offer that people would spend the night queuing for - it'd be calls to the local media to come down and meet the superfans and rustling up some mulled wine for the dedicated.

If Cliff has any integrity, he'd be telling Sheffield that if they don't think they can take care of his biggest fans when they're taking money off him, he can't imagine they can take care of them on the night of the gig, and look for another venue.

Atlantic tide mark

Another step on: Atlantic Records has announced it's become the first major label imprint where digital revenues have outstripped physical revenues.

Britney: Goodness, where do the kids get these ideas?

Britney's kids are obsessed with the idea that there are creatures lurking outside:

The pop star admits she's amazed by Sean Preston and Jayden James' imaginations - but can't get them to go to sleep until she's made sure there are no ghoulies lurking in the garden.
She tells Rolling Stone magazine, "They're obsessed with monsters, and every night we look outside, and we have to show them that there's no monsters out there: 'It's dark outside, but there's nothin' out there.'"

What lively imaginations these kids have - convinced that, just beyond the safety of the home, there lurks rabid forced trying to grab them and do them hard. Where would they even dream up an idea like that?

ContactMusic helpfully illustrates the story with photos of paparazzi swarming around Britney and the kids as they attempted to go out the house.

Gordon in the morning: ... and his big chums Coldplay

Of course, the fifteen hundred words that Gordon wrote yesterday about wasn't the actual Coldplay interview, it was just Gonzo journalism. Not in the Hunter S Thompson sense, more in the Muppets sense: a strange creature hanging around backstage ill-advisedly taking the spotlight.

That means we don't even get to the interview today. And what's Gordon's big scoop after all this unprecedented access?

THERE is one huge drawback being in a globally successful rock ’n’ roll band on the road – missing The X Factor.

For a revelation like that, Rebekah Wade will be signing off any expenses claim. "If you go overseas, you can't see British television". Whoever would have thought?

Actually, you'd have thought that Martin might have sprung for a Slingbox - or, if they cared that much, got someone to send out the thing on DVD. Bloody hell, twenty years ago Smash Hits would routinely detail touring bands receiving tapes of Coronation Street. And that was back in an age when video technology hadn't even left the swamp.

There's also this:
Another story that turned their heads in America was the BBC “Manuelgate” prank phone call scandal.

Chris said: “The Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross situation, now that was world news. Jonathan Ross is funny and he’ll be back.

“I have to say, if someone phoned me up and said they had done that to my grandaughter I would be livid.”

Let's leave aside the searing insight from Martin - "Jonathan Ross will be back" is the sort of wisdom sadly missing from the Guardian MediaTalk Podcast - in what way was this 'world news'? I was out the country at time and, surprisingly, none of the US networks seemed to be in the least bit interested in a small spat over a late-night radio programme. Funny, that.

But it's not just media stories to which Smart and Martin bring forensic attention. Oh, no, they do politics as well:
He joked: “The Palin situation did my head in. It is a moral dilemma when you fancy someone but you don’t agree with anything they say. Do I want to kiss you or run away? I haven’t had that feeling since school.

“All girls have something incredible about them. In fact, I would definitely sleep with Ann Widdecombe. I stand by that comment, even when it’s all over the internet.”

Guy, the bass player and heart-throb of the band, joked: “I wouldn’t say no to Sarah Palin.”

How impressive that Chris Martin's acknowledgment of the one hundred and fifty years of struggle by women to have their voice represented in the seats of power comes down to if he wants to kiss them or shag them. What a literal tosser.

Apparently convinced that he's morphed into David Frost, Gordon then brings the conversation round to Baby P. Given that they're a dull band of millionaires, is there anything Coldplay can bring to the debate other than muttering some platitudes?
Guy, 30, who has a two-year-old daughter, said: “One of the worst crimes anyone could commit is abusing a child. It’s saddening. I can’t actually believe that people could do it.

“I don’t know what must have happened for them to do something like that. It is beyond comprehension.”

At least, you'd think, they'd have something to say when they get on to music, right? But the trouble is, Gordon clearly isn't even listening to what his new chums are saying. Chris attempts to flesh out his thoughts about the band finishing in the next couple of years:
“Being in a band is like being a footballer. We have an age limit. It is fine to be a middle-aged band but you have to have put the work in.

“By the time the Rolling Stones were our age, they had five times as many albums. Before you get to 33 you’ve got to have at least five albums. We don’t want to sit around and drink cocktails."

After Chris Martin laments that Coldplay's output is just twenty per cent that of The Stones, how does Smart react?
The band’s work ethic is seriously impressive.

No, Gordon - they've just said that it isn't. What makes it even more cringey is that Gordon would have written this after hearing Martin say it in the flesh, after having transcribed it from the interview, and then having typed it into the interview. Three times Martin admitted the band were slackers, and Smart still hails their work ethic. Perhaps he just couldn't get Martin and Widdecombe out his head.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Secret Machines reveal secrets

Secret Machines are heading off on tour early next year:

Wednesday 11 February - GLASGOW - King Tuts
Thursday 12 February – MANCHESTER - Ruby Lounge
Friday 13 February - SHEFFIELD - Leadmill
Saturday 14 February - NOTTINGHAM - Rescue Rooms
Sunday 15 February - BRISTOL - Thekla
Monday 16 February - LONDON - Islington Academy
Tuesday 17 February - BRIGHTON - Digital

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Don't call me darling

Amongst the acres of coverage of the Pre-Budget Statement, who can you really rely on to call the Chancellor correctly? Why, HMV fact doctor Gennaro Castaldo. Will the VAT cut save us, Gennaro?

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo agreed: "Retailers are already seeing huge price decreases at the moment, so 2.5pc is unlikely to make a significant difference.

"There are probably better ways to put money into the economy. We are finding that consumers have already taken into account the discount they will get from retailers. Sales of our DVD box-sets are already up by 10pc in terms of volume."

The retailer is currently selling a number of box-sets at a discount. The collection of Alfred Hitchcock films, which usually retails for £80, for example, is now selling for £20.

I don't blame Castaldo for taking the opportunity of being asked about the yawning chasm of the PSBR to plug a fairly standard end-of-line price cut on an elderly box set, but it's surprising the Telegraph saw fit to include the detail in its report.

A sight to gladden the hardest heart

Orange Juice, reunited at the Tartan Clef awards on Sunday.

Bassobit: Kenny MacLean

The bassist with Platinum Blonde, Kenny MacLean, has died.

Scotland-born Kenny joined the Canadian group for their second album, Alien Shores when Mark Holmes wanted to concentrate on singing. Although successful in Canada, the band never achieved the hoped-for sales and, after one last attempt at a relaunch as The Blondes, they fell apart. A 1999 reboot didn't feature MacLean and this, too petered out after a few months.

MacLean went on to have a wide range of solo successes - on the night of his death he had been at a part celebrating his third solo album, but he had also been active in classical music and soundtrack writing. Kenny had been working on a show Rock Through The Ages which offered a whistle-stop singalong tour through five decades of music - somewhat heavy on Beatles, U2 and Keane and, perhaps less surprisingly, featuring great chunks of the Platinum Blonde songbook.

The cause of death has not been reported.

Forget about that suitcase: Bush pardons John Forte

George Bush has pardoned John Forte, hip-hop artist and occasional Fugee colaborator as part of his Presidential winding-up.

Forte was convicted for his part in a case involving a suitcase stuffed with what police called a million dollars' worth of cocaine (so, probably worth about a third of that, using a general rule of thumb); Forte has always maintained that he believed the offending suitcase to be stuffed with cash rather than drugs. He's served seven years of a fourteen year sentence. His pardon may have something to do with his friends - Carly Simon has campaigned for him - rather than a willingness on the part of George Bush to look kindly on convicted drug dealers generally.

A smaller buzz

Buzznet, which published AbsolutePunk and Stereogum, is decimating its staff headcount on account of the recession in selling advertising around over-long posts about minor Californian rock bands.

Chinese Democracy wobbles the ground, but doesn't shake the earth

The first week sales of Chinese Democracy suggests that, perhaps, it might have been better to release the album before most of your fans died of old age:

New reports claim first-week US sales of the long-awaited Guns ‘N’ Roses album, ‘Chinese Democracy’, have reached between 300,000 to 500,000 copies.

The report also claims the album has seen 25,000 downloads through the iTunes Store in the US, though the album won’t show up in the charts until next week.

It's not a bad sale for a new album, but given the circus surrounding the release, and the sort of publicity campaign press people would boil their own feet for, it's not exactly historic.

McCartney: It's not quite an endorsement for copyright theft

Legal experts are stressing that Paul McCartney's vague words on downloading doesn't mean you can download The White Album for nothing:

He observed download culture to be a little “weird” to him, saying, “I’m not from that. I’m from going into a shop and buying a 45. We’ve come through vinyl, tapes and CDs – it’s all the same, except people don’t pay for it [now]. I don’t mind. It works out.”

That's more or less what the world has been telling the BPI and the RIAA for years now, but nobody seems to listen, Paul.
He explained that while he doesn’t download illegally himself, he was tempted to buy Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ for a penny, but only so he could tell his mates he’d paid much more.

Well, yes, Paul. I expect otherwise your friends might not know you're suckling-pig rich. Unless... you don't think he was going to try and tell Heather he'd spent his entire fortune on a download of In Rainbows, do you?

Bono introduces the charity podcast

That's effectively what Redwire is - oh, sure, it might dress itself up as an online digital magazine, but it's a paid-for podcast. Each week, you get a new edition which is built around an exclusive track from an artist you'll have heard of, an exclusive track from an artist you probably won't have heard from, and some other pieces. And it raises money for Project Red.

That's the upside. The downside? It costs five dollars a month, which isn't a great deal of cash but given that the artists being featured are quite varied in terms of fanbase - U2, Coldplay, the Killers, the Dixie Chicks, John Legend, R.E.M. and Bob Dylan are early sign-ups - it's questionable if anyone is going to want every edition. Perhaps they'd have been better off selling the tracks individually?

The other question is why only $2.50 goes to Red:

Half of your $5 monthly membership fee goes directly to The Global Fund to help buy and administer medicine to people in Africa living with HIV. It costs just $12 per month to provide someone the two pills a day they need to stay alive. So every five (RED)WIRE members generate enough money, every month, to help keep one person living with HIV in Africa alive. Simple. Powerful.

You can save someone for twelve bucks - so doesn't two dollars fifty seem rather a high overhead for delivering a few computer files? Especially when that money otherwise could be going to help save people's lives.

The queasy aspect of other Red products - where the glow of "doing good" is a major contributor in decisions to purchase, but only a slice of the profits - the profits - go to charity is replicated here. Could the running costs not be picked up by, say, the record company whose artists are getting the promotional slot that week?

Still, it's less offensive than Red's expensive fragrances, for example, and it'll be interesting to see what happens a few months in when most of the obvious Live 8 type bands have delivered a song.

Bluesobit: Robert Lucas

The singer with Canned Heat, Robert Lucas, died on Sunday from an apparent drugs overdose.

Lucas joined Canned Heat in 1994. He quit after six years, but in 2005 took on a second spell singing (and playing bottleneck guitar). He recently quit the band again, in order to concentrate on his solo career - he had released a number of solo records when he wasn't working with the band.

Only 46 years old, Lucas is survived by his parents and a son.

Do you like iLike? Like to buy i?

iLike, one of the smaller music-centric social networking which relies mainly on its Facebook presence to keep going, is seeking a buyer. It's hoping that Ticketmaster or Real might be interested, although Facebook could take the service in-house to better compete with MySpace music. Although given that Facebook tried to buy Twitter with nothing but ridiculously overvalued stock, the iLike team might be hoping they find someone with some actual money.

The Best of the Beatles

Pete Best would have loved to have been part of the opening night of Liverpool's Capital Of Culture year, but he was busy:

“I’d like to have gone to the launch – it was a great night for the city – but we were touring in America,” says Pete, 66, of Ringo’s on the roof gig in January. “I’ll admit I was torn when the booking came in. I knew something big would be happening in Liverpool at the start of 2008, but you can’t turn down work, can you?

“As it turned out, they asked me to be involved, but I couldn’t do it. Not because of Ringo. As I said, I wasn’t available.”

And you know what? When McCartney played Anfield, they wanted old Besty there but... would you believe it? Diary clash:
“Yes, we were contacted, but again, we were touring,” says Pete. “I’d like to have done it."

Still, Pete Best isn't worried about the past. What's important is the future:
It’s important the city’s culture moves on

And Pete is helping to do that by, erm, reopening the Casbah Club and releasing a record, Haymans Green, detailing his time as a member of The Beatles.

[Thanks to James M for the link]

Gordon in the morning: Psst, Serge - Gordon's hanging out with Chris

Paul McCartney is angling for an invite to the inauguration. That's just par for the course. Gordon's headline?

Mac it, Obama

Is that meant to be a pun on Barack Obama?

The fresh hospitalisation of Amy Winehouse sees another little struggle over Bizarre bylines:
Deputy Bizarre Editor and CARL STROUD

Is being deputy to Gordon really something that requires bigging up?

It's not clear which of the two writers was responsible for this gloomy made-up quote:
The source said: “It didn’t stop until she was on the floor on Sunday. She has ended up in hospital a few times after similar drink and drugs related seizures. If she carries on, one of these incidents will be her last.”

The official line on the trip to hospital?
Amy’s spokesman confirmed she was taken to hospital on Sunday but claimed she had “a bad reaction to the combination of medication she has currently been prescribed.”

Why was Pete Samson - Deputy Bizarre Editor - taking care of the Amy story? Because Gordon himself is in Santa Monica with Coldplay:
ONE thing I never thought I would say in my career is that I have been kidnapped by Coldplay.

Yes, Chris Martin bundled him into the back of a car, drove him into the desert and... oh, hang on, he didn't. "Kidnapped by Coldplay" actually turns out to mean "their PR team invited me on a press junket":
They gave me a seat on their private jet, a fancy hotel room, my own space in their dressing room, a key role in their football team and, most important, a chance to wear one of their Viva La Vida uniforms (which I once suggested were smelly — they are not).

It's funny, isn't it - Chris Martin moans about the paparazzi, even to the extent of hitting them, and yet he's happy to fawn over one of the main sources of their income.

Still, if the idea was to generate acres of unquestioning press coverage to try and push the tickets for next year's gigs, it worked:
Shortly afterwards I was ushered through a sea of friendly faces to sit down with Chris and guitarist Jonny for the first half of the interview.

Chris grabbed a pile of food for us to share, which was NOT macrobiotic, and immediately struck me as an incredibly entertaining character.

Both blokes were a great laugh, joking through the interview.

Gordon carries on in this style for 1,500 words, delivering something that in his head sounds like Almost Famous but on the page is 'what I did on my holidays':
Inside they cracked open some beers and a bottle of red wine for the short hop to LA.

The pilot made an announcement welcoming me to the Coldplay party.

Drummer Will and Jonny sat glued to their laptops watching episodes of The Wire.

Guy sat calmly sipping his lager and Chris bounced around the jet with a huge smile, joking with the crew.

Half-way through the flight Chris came over to me with a piece of paper with notes scribbled on it.

And then a lady did bring some food. And I had a sandwich and some nuts. And then the plane did land. And we got off the plane and I was walking behind Chris. I love Chris.
He often gets a rough time for being a bit of a geek.

But my experience with him was the opposite.

He was thoughtful, funny and impressively warm to people.

And that's genuine, of course: it's nothing to do with trying to get a good write-up in Britain's best-selling celebrity title just before expensive tickets are being pitched into a credit-stretched market. Not at all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blender about to be liquidated?

The American edition of Maxim - and its sister music-made-by-women-who-wear-bikini-tops title Blender - are being handed over to creditors of the publisher's company. Alpha Media was sold to a private equity group, Quadrangle, last year for a quarter of a billion dollars, which sounded ridiculous even in 2007, when money wasn't really worth anything and you could get a loan simply to buy a loan held by a company that didn't exist.

It's not entirely clear what a creditor would want with Blender - unless it's to seize control of the largest collection of photos of Avril Lavigne in a corset in private hands.

Dr Pepper take-up faster than that of Chinese Democracy

While America might be less than impressed with Axl's record, the nation wasn't about to pass up free pop. Indeed, so great was the stampede for free Dr Pepper, the bemusingly-flavoured drinks company are extending their offer:

"People are passionate about Dr Pepper," said Tony Jacobs, vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper. "The response has been greater than anticipated and we want to do everything we can to ensure Dr Pepper fans get their free coupon. As a result, we've extended the offer, increased our server capacity and added a toll-free number, 1-888-DRPEPPER, for consumers to call to request their Dr Pepper."

The sudden extra server and phone-in line suggests that Pepper was having trouble coping with demand. It's not, I'd suggest, that people are that passionate about Dr Pepper; more that in the current climate, you can stretch a can of the drink to feed a family of four and that's not to be sniffed at.

Whale meat later: Noah cancels US plans

Noah and The Whale have put off their US tour plans:

Some of the most dedicated, blog-aware North American friends of Noah and the Whale have correctly identified North American tour dates circulating on the internet.

It is with no little remorse and disappointment that we are compelled to cancel these dates. These words are being typed in the studio as we make progress on the next Noah and the Whale album. Between commitments in hereto-neglected Europe, we have made the sad but important decision to take time to develop these recordings over the winter months.

Despite this unavoidable necessity we would like to apologise to all the wonderful friends we made on our most recent American adventure, to anyone who has bought tickets or was preparing to do so.

The whole band enjoys an ongoing love affair with the US. The autumn tour was one of the most intense and heartening experiences of our lives and we were bristling with seasonal anticipation at the prospect of old faces and venues, not to mention new American audiences and experiences too. But there is simply not enough time in the world and we are sure that this next record will justify this difficult call.

With new songs to disseminate and even more America-famished, we will cross the pond to tour across the continent from March 2009. This is a promise, a published, globally-viewable promise.

Once again we want to express our most sincere gratitude for everyone who has seen us play, said they would see us play, or said two good words about the band. Noah and the Whale will be back and we will be back many times.

That's the second band this week electing to stay in the studio instead of going out to tour.

Let it drop now: FCC appeals Janet Jackson's nipple ruling

The Superbowl nipple slip continues to churn on: the FCC has decided to appeal against a court ruling which had thrown out fines levied on TV companies who inadvertently showed a fleeting glimpse of Janet Jackson's nipple.

The FCC - who you might have thought would have had better things to do - seems determined that the point of principal which it thinks it was upholding remains a running problem on the fifth anniversary of the incident.

Madonna is keeping herself busy

Divorce can be so difficult, can't it? Thank God that Madonna has some experience and some work to keep her busy:

"I'm sad about my personal life, but I feel very blessed and very lucky that I have the opportunity to do what I do in my professional life," she told AP.

She added: "It would be horrible if I was just thinking about getting a divorce and had nothing to do."

Yes, thank god for the challenge of a worldwide tour to keep her mind off things. Otherwise, you know, she might have to throw herself into looking after the kids or something.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to watch on the internet: Crayoning The Beatles

The estimable Out On Blue Six opens the archives for an episode of The Beatles cartoon series, with Penny Lane in danger. Last person to set up a Technorati feed for posts tagged 'where am i going to get my spacemen 3 albums from at 9am on a saturday morning now?' is using AOL.

Macca: The X Factor isn't very good

Paul McCartney - he doesn't trust those X Factor style shows:

Sir Paul, 66, said: "I think there is too much of it. You can't turn on the telly without somebody being judged by four people, whether they are on ice, or on the stage or in the jungle.

"I'm not very keen on it. I watch it like everybody. It's compulsive viewing but so is a traffic accident. It doesn't encourage creativity.

"I don't think you are going to get a Bob Dylan emerging from those shows, but then not everyone goes on those shows.

"I think it's just a phase we are going through."

Really, Paul: you think a Saturday night tv show on ITV is unlikely to uncover a Bob Dylan? Next, you'll be suggesting that The Apprentice is really not the right format to bring on an Einstein, or that Pro-Celebrity Golf is doing nothing to help find a new generation of goalkeepers for the England team.

Still, interesting to discover that Paul McCartney finds traffic accidents compulsive. Do you suppose he might seek out people who've been involved in them?

Heaven 17 covers Heaven 17

It's not just an appearance on prime-time ITV, you know: Oh, no. Heaven 17 are punting a sort-of-new record into the Christmas market. Naked as Advertised - Versions '08 is a bunch of new versions of old stuff culled from the Heaven 17 back catalogue. The Fascist Groove Thang is still unrequired.

Fielder-Civil's appeal wanes

Blake Fielder-Civil, off of the Amy Winehouse programme, has had his appeal against the sentence following convictions for assault and perverting the course of justice turned down:

He said he was "not really surprised" at the decision of the Court of Appeal.

But even so, he bravely decided to plough on burning through public money and clogging up the court system to have a crack anyway.

It seems his big idea was to offer 'being married to Amy Winehouse' as a reason for the mercy of the courts:
Giving the ruling of the court, Mr Justice Pitchford said that one of the factors of mitigation put forward was "the unwanted attention the appellant had received while in custody on remand as a consequence of his marriage to the singer Amy Winehouse.

"He sought, and was granted, segregation from the general population of the prison."

But the appeal court ruled that Fielder-Civil had no "justified complaint" about his sentence.

Although the judge hinted he might have given him a few months off if he'd been married to Mel B.

China unimpressed with Chinese Democracy

Mouthpiece of the Chinese communists, the Global Times has not prepared a garland for the new Guns N Roses album:

In an article Monday headlined "American band releases album venomously attacking China," the Global Times said unidentified Chinese Internet users had described the album as part of a plot by some in the West to "grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn."

The album "turns its spear point on China," the article said.

To be fair, though, that's not amongst the worst reviews the record has had.

Surprisingly, given the Chinese authorities have had nearly two decades to prepare for the release of the record, you'd think they'd have something better lined up for a response:
China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to faxed questions about the article, although a spokesman speaking on routine condition of anonymity said: "We don't need to comment on that."

Spokesmen for the Culture Ministry and State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, government bodies that regulate album releases and performances, could not be reached for comment.

We're given to understand the American embassy in Beijing has briefed the Pentagon that top-ranking Chinese are too busy trying to work out a way to participate in the free Dr Pepper programme to release a formal statement on the record.

It's not only the Chinese who are angry that Guns N Roses' Chinese Democracy is reflecting badly on them. The NRA has called a press conference to remind Americans that guns aren't actually such cranky, temperamental things as the band would suggest, while Bob Flowerdew was seen in his garden, sobbing, as he pruned the last of his Rosa Black Magic.

This sort of thing doesn't, actually, help any one

You'll recall Victoria Aitken, daughter of Tory MP and court-facing liar Jonathan Aitken. She somehow managed to sign a statement presented in evidence to the court during his libel trial against the Guardian which turned out to have been written by her father. Obviously having had a run-in with the law, it was natural that Aitken junior would turn to hip-hop to express herself.

And so, perhaps inevitably, it comes to this: Aitken delivering a rap about the credit crunch and how beastly and frightful it all is:

"Living off Daddy's plastic was so fantastic
Just got a j-o-b, what a misery
I just want to break free
This ain't no life for me
Vicky from the yacht, she's lost all her rocks
Vicky from the yacht, she's got holes in her socks
But take it from me, the best things in life are free."

You know, looked at from this angle, a 45p tax rate for the top earners doesn't seem to have enough punitivity attached to it.

Vicky is keen for everyone to enjoy the song, though:
"It seemed the perfect time to release this track, as everyone is suffering from economic problems due to the worldwide market crash, so hopefully it's a song anyone can relate to. I've got friends who have lost everything in this crash, and who are having to sell their homes, so they need cheering up."

Yes, what could be more cheering if your life has crumbled in front of your eyes than seeing Victoria Aitken pretending that she's had to get a job. If your friends really had lost everything, wouldn't you perhaps think twice before releasing a song that made it all sound so jolly?

"Hello, Terry - sorry to hear your job with the merchant bank has gone, but guess what? The best things in life are free!"

Oh, yes, that would put a spring back in your step.

And, as thousands shuffle to the dole office, they might find it hard to feel that some rich kid having to get a job they don't even want just as their employment vanishes because one of Vicky's chums bet the mortgage book on some trailer-covered swamp land is a cause for very much mirth.

She's right, though: the best things in life are free. Jonathan Aitken certainly enjoyed his weekend in the Paris Ritz.

This isn't Victoria Aitken's first terrible attempt to kick start a musical career: She's been at it since 2003, when she told a suprisingly credulous Independent:
"A lot of rappers sing about the Cristal and the Jacuzzis and the fast cars," she says. "I'm like, OK, that's very cool, but they have no concept of champagne and fast cars coming from that background. I've had all the Cristal. I'm more philosophical."

It's surprising that such an attitude didn't immediately see her being taken to the heart of the urban music community, isn't it?

Rough Trade want you

I'm not sure that Rough Trade are quite a desperate for new acts as makes it sound:

Rough Trade label chiefs make demo plea

It's just they're sticking out a box for bands to drop CDs into at the Jarvis Cocker powered 30th anniversary shows - which seems to be a gesture, rather than a plea.

Everything will be listened to, it's promised - although they carefully don't say they'll listen all the way through.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Mime games

I suspect this is already over the net like spray can cheese over motel nachos, but make some time in your life for The Quietus and their 'mimes recreate album covers' game. The sort of thing that Tim Berners-Lee had in mind.

No Doubt, no surprise

We all know what Gwen Stefani has been up to since slipping the confines of No Doubt and being able to get through an album without a couple of cod ska numbers. But what about the rest of the band?

Well, they, too, know what Gwen Stefani has been up to. After all, they've not really been so busy they haven't been able to keep an eye on her. Now, though, they've got the call they've been waiting for:

The Los Angeles pop group made the announcement via an instant message transcript posted on its official Web site (, but did not provide specific details.

"I have cabin fever. Maybe we should play some shows or something," guitarist Tom Dumont wrote. Vocalist Gwen Stefani answered, "I think we should go out now. I don't think we should wait. Pack up the babies and get a bunch of nannies. So fun! Would be so inspiring to get out there and play all those songs again."

The group then discusses how continuing to write new music on the road would be inspiring, and vows to alert management to its plans.

It's perhaps appropriate that a band whose career has been so built on pastiche would comeback through a faux IM transcript.

Stefani's perfume business is not expected to be affected.

Darkness at 3AM: Foot in mouth

The 3AM Girls appear to have got hold of one of those 'I Can Dress Myself' books:

Beyonce's let it go to her head. Her hat, that is.

Where else, exactly, would you expect the hat to be, team? And is it possible to only let some of your hat go to your head? Perhaps by putting the brim under your armpits?

Eurovision's Orf

Austria's public broadcaster is in trouble. Bad money trouble. Indeed, things have got so bad that ORF has announced it won't be participating in next year's Eurovision Song Contest at all. Which might be good news for music-loving Austrians, but potentially has cost Switzerland and Germany 22 points between them before the contest has even had a note played.

Gordon in the morning: Swearing in

It's possible it's built on intelligence as solid as that which led him to claim Joss Stone was recording Obama's campaign song, but Gordon reckons that Leona Lewis is going to sing at the inauguration:

LEONA LEWIS did well out of a public vote – triumphing in The X Factor in 2006.

Another fella who’s not come out of a recent popularity contest too badly is America’s President-elect BARACK OBAMA.

And it looks like the pair’s paths will cross in spectacular fashion.

See how thoughtful Gordon is, explaining who Barack Obama is in case any of his readers might have missed the election?

Gordon trills about how popular Leona is - although, yesterday, Lefsetz suggested she is "not a star in America". But even an inauguration needs an undercard.

The recharting of the album at number one catches Gordon's eye:
The repackaged version of the chart-topper’s hit album Spirit raced to the top of the album charts here again yesterday.

The double-disc now features the star’s much-loved cover of SNOW PATROL’s hit Run.

Oddly, this somewhat neutral report seems to have lost some of the anger over the padding out of the record in this way that Smart had last week:
Angry fans were yesterday claiming bosses made a U-turn on the download plan to force people to spend more cash on the physical album re-release.

My insider revealed: "If that’s the case, the Leona camp will be furious. Given the choice of a single or double No1, I know what they would have preferred."

Are the fans no longer angry? Was what was a nasty con last week somehow now alright as its finagled a number one?

Suzanne Shaw out of Hear'Say is rebuilding her career, advertising the scratchy take on sexy pants that awkward men will buy for their girlfriends from Asda on Christmas Eve. Gordon has got hold of some of the photos and, oddly, turns in to Lance Percival:
I SAY! Former HEAR'SAY star SUZANNE SHAW looks on song as she launches a Christmas lingerie range – by unwrapping HERSELF.

Meanwhile, Lily Allen has been on a waterslide. Can Gordon and his team come up with a witty headline?
It's a thrilly for Lily


Jackson settles

Moments - alright, about a day - before Michael Jackson was due to make one of his trademark mumbling court appearances, he's reached a "settlement in principle" with Sheik Abdulla Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa in the dispute over the squillions in cash the good sheik gave to the Neverland One.

No details have yet been made public, so the chances of us ever finding out what happens hangs on the prospect of Jackson not sticking to his side of the deal and the whole damn circus turning up in court again a year or so down the line. But for now, it's peace.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Richey is dead

After thirteen years, and at the request of his family, Richey Edwards has been formally presumed dead.

Rapobit: MC Breed

The Michigan-born rapper MC Breed died yesterday.

Despite its almost cookie-cutter mid period rap sound, Breed was a genuine name - although his first name, Eric, wasn't such a perfect fit. His early work was as part of the DFC collective - nothing to do with the comic of the same name - but he went solo in 1992, starting a long run of albums which always threatened, but never quite, broke through into the mainstream. By the mid-90s, a run of three-digit chart peaks saw Breed losing a little momentum; the early years of this century saw him even failing to make the hip-hop charts. His last album was 2004's The New Prescription. The newest element was that Eric had dropped the MC from his name, but sadly, most people left the prescription untaken.

Breed had been hospitalised in September with kidney failure, but it had been believed his health was improving. Earlier this year, he'd been arrested for failure for to pay child support; the case had not been resolved before he was taken ill.

Superdrag return

Seriously, we are as excited as anyone that Superdrag are about to give us an album - Industry Giants. It's out in March next year, and features the classic Superdrag line-up.

But, as my Dad used to say "a good wine needs no bushel" and a new Superdrag album doesn't really need an overwritten press release. Like one that opens with this:

The Superdrag reunion was the talk of 2007, their performances at Bonnaroo and Monolith were the talk of 2008, and 2009 will be the year of Industry Giants, the new album from Knoxville’s favorite sons Superdrag. Industry Giants will be the first studio album by the reunited line-up of Coffey, Davis, Fisher, and Pappas since ‘98’s Head Trip In Every Key.

The reunion was the talk of 2007? Amongst Superdrag fans, perhaps, but Sky would have trouble finding a brace of comedians or commentators to fill five minutes on "The Pop Years: 2007" for a Superdrag reunion segment. Let's not oversell the band and end up looking ridiculous, huh?

Vatican forgives Lennon

Catholicism has decided it's time to forgive John Lennon for saying that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus:

Semi-official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has run an article forgiving the late Beatle John Lennon for a controversial statement he made in 1966, when he claimed that his band were "more popular than Jesus".
The article said that Lennon's comments had been, "Showing off, bragging by a young English working-class musician who had grown up in the age of Elvis Presley and rock and roll and had enjoyed unexpected success."

I can't claim to be a theologian, but isn't the point of Christianity meant to be that forgiveness is unquestioning and more-or-less built-in to the whole concept? Shouldn't the Pope have forgiven Lennon as soon as he uttered the words anyway? The whole turning-the-other cheek thing?

It's also a bit odd that the Vatican is trying to pass Lennon's remarks off as the hotheadeness of a working-class youth. Let's leave aside the whole 'coming from a nice middle-class part of Liverpool and going to art college' as disqualification from claims to being working class, and instead return to Lennon's words in the Evening Standard back in 1966. Whatever you might want to think he said, Lennon wasn't having a pop at Jesus, but at the established church, and his words weren't braggadocio from a young guy with eyes full of Elvis but actually quite considered. Presumably this is why it's taken over four decades for the Vatican to come up with a response: had it engaged with Lennon at the time, it would have had a hard time making a case.

But, you know, in a manly way

Yes, it really did look like Liam was nibbling Ricky Hatton's ear as the Gallagher brothers continued their mission to turn into the Mitchell brothers.

But, obviously, in a manly way. It doesn't mean anything, Gordon.

Boyzone on film

The one piece of soothing balm about global financial meltdown is that it might just stop the planned Boyzone movie ever getting beyond the storyboard stage. We can only hope:

At his Breast Cancer Care Ball on Friday night Ronan also said he’s briefed Cecilia [Ahern] to make the “pure Irish” film “funnier than Father Ted”.

Oh, yes. Given that Boyzone can't stand still for a photo without looking awkward and wooden, isn't crafting a script which calls for split-second comic timing a bit of a risk? Wouldn't something a bit closer to, ooh, let's say Pigeon Street be better?

If albums sales in December hit 60 million, Bob Lefsetz is going to look a little silly

Bob Lefsetz has a deliciously waspish commentary on the 100 best-selling albums this year:

33. Madonna "Hard Candy" 673,475

I bet she’s pissed. She did everything in her power to make this record a hit. Worked with the flavors of the day… But she’s an oldies act, who’s overcharging and playing venues too big and not selling out.

Love to see her squirm.

That less than three quarters of a million figure, by the way, is sales in the US. Not the UK. Presumably she's hoping that if Guy is no longer her husband, he'll have to buy the next record and she needs every sale she can get.

The best seller so far this year in the US?
1. Lil Wayne "Tha Carter III" 2,671,816

Do we want to focus on the Internet marketing campaign (i.e. the steady release of free product), the discounts/free goods to retail, the fact that a hip-hop album is number one or the low total gross. I choose to look at this final fact. There’s not a lot of road business. A 360 deal with most rappers won’t help your bottom line. Lil Wayne’s the king, but it’s not the domain it used to be.

Calling him a king is a bit much - the US albums market is barely a Dukedom right now.

The takeaway fact?
[E]asy riches are out of the industry’s grasp. The nineties are history. The golden age of pigs at the trough are done. You’d better make good music that appeals to an audience that is willing to listen to you for years. You’d better be willing to get your money on the installment plan instead of all up front. You’d better realize this is no longer the lottery, but a business based on bunts and singles instead of grand slams.

Nobody is buying albums any more, because nobody needs to. The public have been freed from subsidising filler.

Woot-ton: Dan Wootton's Coldplay time machine

I know Dan Wootton has only recently taken over from Rav Singh, but he seems to have some problems understanding a few of the concepts of journalism. Like what "exclusive" means. To top up today's XS body spray gossip column, Dan splashes a big exclusive:


Coldplay split as Chris goes sol

By Dan Wootton, 22/11/2008

COLDPLAY superstar CHRIS MARTIN is preparing to ditch his band and launch a solo career, I can reveal.


Last night Chris said: “I’m 31 now—and I don’t think that bands should keep going past 33, so we’re trying to pack in as much as possible. We’ll go for it until the end of next year.” Chris, who is married to actress GWYNETH PALTROW, will then concentrate on a solo career.

Hang about... he said that last night, and the News Of The World exclusively heard it, you say, Dan? Only, somewhat surprisingly, exactly the same quote appeared on the Daily Express website last Tuesday.

Now, it's possible that Chris Martin is such a trooper, he does just wander around giving the same interview to everybody; the other possibility would be that Wootton hopes he can pass off something he read in the Daily Express last week as an exclusive on the basis that nobody reads the Express. Or perhaps that's what the XS means in his column title? Short for eXpresS?

It's worth noting: ran a story based on the original Express piece - they were generous enough to mention the source - but have since taken it down. Perhaps they were waiting for the News Of The World to confirm the story?

This week just gone

The most read stories published this month have been:

1. RIP: Shakir Stewart
2. Patrick Jones reports himself to Christian Voice
3. Miley Cyrus: Not dead
4. Gordon Smart: Paris Hilton's split, while someone drops McFly's head in a box
5. Rod Lucas: I was in the BNP to research them
6. RIP: Miriam Makeba
7. NME: still doing a 'cool' list
8. 2008 World Music Awards
9. System Of A Down reward their most gullible fans
10. Just when the Ross-Brand story couldn't get any worse, it does - enter Parky

These were interesting amongst the releases:

Belle & Sebastian - BBC Sessions

Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust

David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Headless Heroes - The Silence Of Love

Aimee Mann - One More Drifter In The Snow

Beyonce - I Am Sasha Fierce

Doctor Who Soundtrack
- winningly described by Amazon as being by Doctor Who

Vashti Bunyan - Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind

Skids - The Absolute Game

Jane Birkin - Enfants D'Hiver