Saturday, January 08, 2011

Allo Darlin' weekend: Henry Rollins Don't Dance

If you're not convinced by the Darlins yet, surely you must be won over by now?

[Part of Allo Darlin weekend]

Cheeky Girl tries Winona Ryder defence

You'll have heard that Gabriela Cheeky Girl was cautioned this week after doing a Madeley and whisking forty quids' worth of stuff from a Sainsbury's. But this wasn't theft - oh no, it was research:

[Mother Cheeky Girl] Margareta Irimia told MailOnline that Gabriela decided to steal from Sainsbury's to research her role as a gangster's wife in a film that unknown Hertfordshire author Jason Cook is trying to get made.

Margareta said: 'Gabriela was worried that it didn't match the Cheeky Girls sweet image and she found it very difficult to think about getting into the role as the wife of a gangster.

'Also she was bored. She decided she wanted a buzz to see if she could become a gangster. She was desperately worried she couldn't do it.'
There's quite a gap between 'researching a film role' and 'bored' - although neither of these options actually turn pinching stuff into a legal activity.

So Gabriela was trying to be a gangster's wife. By shoplifting? That's not a gangster's wife, that's Muriel's mother, surely?

And if Mother Cheeky is to be believed, it was inept shoplifting, too:
She explained: 'She walked out of the store with a one litre bottle of Appletiser. That was all. Instead of going to the till, she just walked out. And the security was running after her. It is like a joke.'

'But she got so stressed about it she was sick in the afternoon. She's never done anything like this before.'

'It's not the girl's character. She just decided that would try her new gangster status.'
But 'possibly acting as a gangster's wife' doesn't make you a gangster. If she'd got a role of the back end of a pantomime cow, would she have felt compelled to crap in a field?

The film itself, by the way, is still at the 'trying to raise funds' stage - so rehearsing might be a little pre-emptive. Although maybe that's why she started with a bottle of Appletiser; by the time the film was starting rolling, she'd probably have graduated to hanging people upside down in meatlockers and shouting at them.

Which would still be more fun than that Touch My Bum song.

Allo Darlin' weekend: Kiss Your Lips

Recorded for Off The Beaten Tracks:

[Part of Allo Darlin' weekend]

PRS spend more of artists' money on pointless survey

PRS For Music have shown once again their dedication to ensuring the royalties they collect don't get pissed away before reaching their members by commissioning another poll calculating the "hardest working artist".

It's a heartbreaking list:

1. Peter Andre
2. Status Quo
3. JLS
4. Westlife
5. Rod Stewart

It's based on how many dates they played during 2010 and the number of braying idiots who went along, but also forms a handy chart which could be used to argue persuasively that music should probably be switched off now as it's all too horrible to contemplate.

PRS also produced a chart for bands playing smaller venues, which implies that playing a theatre rather than an arena requires less hard work somehow. The top three:

1. Example
2. Ellie Goulding
3. Tinie Tempah

From this, you can ascertain that people who hold down day jobs, play three gigs over a weekend and rehearse every evening aren't considered to be hard working at all by the PRS, but I'm guessing that nearly all hard-working artists would rather the money spent on producing the chart would have been given to the people who actually earned it.

Embed and breakfast man: Allo Darlin'

One of the shining lights of 2010, Australian-Kentish and incredibly well-connected (various Darlin's also spend time in the Tender Trap, Darren Hayman and The Secondary Modern and Hexicon), let's spend some time looking and listening to Allo Darlin' to brighten the winter gloom:

That's Dreaming, their single from almost-a-year-ago.

Robert Forster - who knows a thing or two about these matters - is something of fan; he reviewed the album for Monthly:

The first impression the album gives is of lightness and sweetness, qualities not in vogue and not usually associated with either depth of feeling or musicians attentive to sonic detail.

It's just not clear why their name has an apostrophe to indicate the dropped 'g' but not the dropped 'h'. That worries me.

Allo Darlin the album

Say Allo, click goodbye
Official site
Last FM
MySpace (MySpace still functioning at time of publication)

Kiss Your Lips for Off The Beaten Tracks
Henry Rollins Don't Dance at the Duke Of Uke
Tallulah at BBC Introducing
The Polaroid Song

Michael Buble ponders Michael Buble

Michael Buble doesn't think he's sexy, you know:

The Canadian singer - who is set to tie the knot with Argentinean actress Luisana Lopilato on April 6 2011 - says he is never approached by women and can only see his self-deprecating sense of humour as the reason why people would fall for him.

He said: "They don't approach me and I don't think I'm sexy.

"If there is anything sexy about me maybe it's that I'm a goof and I don't take myself seriously. Isn't that kind of sexy? If you just take the p**s out of yourself a bit.

"I don't think sexy is, 'Hi, nice to meet you.' I sing beautiful songs and I mean what I say."

CORRECTION: In the first sentence of this article, I claimed that Michael Buble doesn't think he's sexy. That sentence should have read:

Michael Buble thinks it just makes him even more sexy when he talks about how he's self-deprecating, all the time thinking 'heh, nobody in the world is as good as I am at pretending that I don't think I'm all that'.

I regret the error.

Gordon in the morning: Young people

Could it be true that - like S Club 7 - Beady Eye (the Oasis Outlet store) is going to generate a Juniors spin-off?

Gordon says yes:

A BEADY EYE single was announced yesterday but there is already a Beady Eye Juniors group in the offing.
Unfortunately, his story then says "no":
LIAM GALLAGHER says his son Gene, who's nine, is learning to play drums, while his bandmate GEM ARCHER says his lad Joel, 14, is more interested in dubstep.

Gem told Radio 1: "My son's already making his own dubstep tracks and I'm encouraging the generation gap - I tell him it sounds like two radios playing at the same time."
I've tried putting these two quotes in a centrifuge, I've boiled them to a nothing and stirred the reduction in with a catalyst; I've peered through a telescope, a microscope and an oscilloscope. No way can I see how those two quotes stack up to the imminent formation of a Beady Eye Juniors.

Liam also takes the time to remind us about the Blur-Oasis battle, like a old major recalling the Indian campaigns, blissfully unaware that it was all over:
Liam couldn't resist a dig at old rival DAMON ALBARN when talking about his boy's music taste. He said: "My kids are into that GORILLAZ stuff - and that is music for kids, with all those videos."
I know Gallagher must think this quite the tart put-down, but instead it gives him the air of a confused pensioner muttering "the kids today with their Playboxes and all them shooting games".

Still, given Gallagher's target audience seems now to consist entirely of men born in the immediate postwar years, maybe that won't do him any harm.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Right-wing scum try to set neighbours on Billy Bragg

The tiny, tiny brains of the absurd right-wing, forever spinning in mostly empty skull cases looking for someone to blame for imagined slights, have started to point at Billy Bragg. One of them has apparently learned how to write, and started sending hate letters to Bragg's neigbours:

The mail urges them to drive Bragg out of the village, where he owns a £1.5million mansion.

It claims “Billy Bighead Bragg” has “shunned the poor embattled English he was raised amongst to bask in celebrity style.”
You've got to love the idea of someone writing to a person's neighbours to criticise the sort of people that Bragg has chosen to live amongst - "dear rich snobs, please evict Billy Bragg from amongst the rich snobs he's living amongst."

Still, the green inker has a point - how can Bragg have shunned the people of England to live in Dorset, eh? That's virtually France, that is.

Swellers fella yells at labels

It's worth getting past the unlikely-sounding opening to The Sweller's Jonathan Diener's state-of-music blog because it's pretty sharp:

The idea for this rant all started when I was watching Weezer videos from 1996 during the “Pinkerton” album cycle. I started thinking how much magic the 90s had when it came to good music. I think of the bands that started in the 90s like Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Weezer and how they still have very relevant careers
I said the opening sounds a bit unlikely; anything that kicks off proclaiming the relevance of Jimmy Eat World to the second decade of the 21st Century is on shaky ground.

But it gets better - much better - when he asks why the music industry is struggling. Basically, he reckons that the businesses are trying to cream off too much money. Greed has turned away the consumer:
Now look at current show/concert attendance. So many venues are struggling to stay open. My friends all over the country and world who promote shows, work at venues, etc. have told me how bad things have been. Several big arena tours are barely selling out. Ozzfest and tons of huge festivals were having problems and a lot of them had to cease to exist due to lack of attendance. Also, for a NON-festival show do people really want to pay $15 in charges in addition to their $25+ concert ticket? No. People nowadays would just rather not go. It’s showing. And bands selling $35 t-shirts isn’t exactly drawing a stampede of fans to the merch tables either.
Funnily enough, Jon's argument actually echoes quite neatly a piece in the Wall Street Journal from last week - that the grinding upwards of ticket prices has started to kill demand and if the music industry wants to grow, it needs many more people happy to pay lower prices than constantly gouging a smaller and smaller core audience.

Perhaps if the record industry ever gets a break from its meetings with lawyers, it might like to think on that.

[Thanks to @jamesthegill]

Liverpool City Council really want to bulldoze Ringo's house

Following Grant Shapps' intervention, Liverpool City Council are demanding they be left alone to pull down the street Ringo first lived on:

Cllr Anderson is writing to housing minister Grant Shapps, who demanded a re-think over plans to knock down Ringo’s former home – 9 Madryn Street – and hundreds of others in Toxteth’s Welsh Streets.

The council leader insists demolition and redevelopment of the Welsh Streets remains the best option for the area.

The council said bulldozing 295 homes would cost only £800,000 compared to the estimated bill of £75,000 per property to refurbish the houses.

In his letter Cllr Anderson wrote: “It is doubtful that any developer would consider this a good return on the extensive investment they would have to make in order to bring all the properties up to an acceptable standard, particularly as the risk of ensuring sustainable future occupancy would be high, given the experience of the last 30 years of decline."
A large part of the 30 years of decline has been because of the decade of uncertainty as the council has tried to free up the land for development, so that's a bit of red herring; Liverpool City Council has a habit of pissing on its chips and then saying "nobody will eat these, they smell of piss".

And you've got to love Anderson comparing the cost of flattening the houses with the relatively tiny investment required to make the homes habitable again - surely it'd be more honest to compare the cost of demolition and rebuild rather than just the demolition alone?

Perhaps rather than saying "it's doubtful" that a developer would want to do this, why doesn't Anderson ask them? Is it because he's afraid that - as in some other Northern towns - many developers would love to have the chance to revitalise gorgeous Victorian terraces?

Gordon in the morning: Somebody in this room is thief

Gordon's column is more or less a procession of people in skimpies today - for some reason, we get two stories about Fearne Cotton wearing a bikini. And the singer from Maroon 5 with his clothes off.

Apparently, the nude shoot is from Cosmo - of course it'd be something Gordon had read in a magazine - and is supposed to promote awareness of male cancers.

Yes, it's the perfect place to talk about male cancer, in a magazine read nearly exclusively by women and the odd man trying to fill his gossip column.

Given that everyone's heard of cancer, and most people would struggle to remember Maroon 5, I think you could safely argue that this isn't really using Maroon 5 raising awareness of cancer, but the other way round.

The success of this as a public health campaign is demonstrated by Gordon's vague reference to "male cancers" without any further mention of the supposed focus of the pictures. Mind you, it sounds like he was a bit distracted:

He showed off a toned torso and some pretty cool tatts in the photoshoot.

And his modesty was preserved by a pair of perfectly manicured female hands .

The owner of the fortuitous fingers is unknown, but she certainly got a unique view of the US rocker.
That lucky, lucky woman, eh, Gordon? Maybe you should ring up Adam and ask if he'll talk you through those tattoos, eh?

(By the way, they're not "pretty cool" tattoos at all - they're the same tigers-and-foreign-script that most nineteen year-old boys would get at a parlour if they'd unlimited funds and just consumed two bottles of Grolsch.)

Elsewhere, Liam Gallagher - you remember the 1990s, don't you? - is moaning about how Noel "robbed" him:
Liam said: "I've heard his new record 'cos I f****** sung on half of it. When I was in America for Dig Out Your Soul he swiped some off it because he obviously knew he wanted to do a solo album. So he can talk all the bullsh*t about, 'Oh, I was intimidated,' and all that. F***ing nonsense. Behave. He knows. The people know. And I know."
The people know. They just don't care, Liam. Stealing late-period Oasis songs? It'd be like pinching a pair of Pretty Green trousers - the moral wrong is surely outweighed by the sympathy you'd have to feel for the thief's lack of taste and judgement?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Will opine for food

With HMV cutting off limbs in a bid to stay alive, Gennaro Castaldo has been out and about trying to shore up confidence in the stores.

He's assured Watford that they shouldn't be alarmed:

Mr Castaldo said: “We are actually talking about a relatively small number of stores across HMV and Waterstone's chains - less than 10 per cent of our combined estates, which are likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other – thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand, which is obviously not an issue in Watford.

“The vast majority of HMV stores around the country will not be affected, and we will look to ensure that the specialist offer and service that we make available to our customers in these locations is maintained. Likewise, we will look to redeploy any affected staff where we possibly can.

“This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals.”
But what about St Albans? Can residents there trust they'll be able to keep shopping at HMV?
“We are actually talking about a relatively small number of stores across HMV and Waterstone's chains - less than 10 per cent of our combined estates, which are likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other – thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand, which is obviously not an issue in St Albans.

“This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals.”
It's that sort of attention to reflecting the local market that makes HMV such a success, of course.

Could Gennaro also make a tiny tweak to his script for all of Essex and Suffolk, too?

Glad you asked:
Gennaro Castaldo, head of press and PR at HMV UK and Ireland, said the stores to be closed were “likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other, thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand, which is not really the case in Suffolk and Essex”.

He added: “This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals."
It almost sounds as if there's nowhere at all that HMV will be closing its stores.

It's going to be 40 HMVs, 20 Waterstones, by the way.

The finger of blame being pointed at the poor weather, of course - although the snow was the same snow that fell outside John Lewis, and they managed to increase their sales to record levels.

HMV also mutter that they've been hit by a slump in entertainment sales generally. But Rough Trade saw their sales grow at Christmas. So that's not a real explanation, either.

On, Laura Snapes suggests that indie musicians might suffer if HMV vanishes, for two reasons.

The first is that HMV pays upfront rather than takes records on a sale or return basis - which is fair enough, although the genuinely independent range at HMV is so small these days it's only a small contribution.

Laura also worries that if you take HMV out of the equation, you lose the Fifty Quid Man:
£50 man is usually cause for slight ridicule (hi dad!) rather than concern, but Colin Roberts, who works in artist management and online PR, is well aware of how artists could suffer without his haphazard forays into HMV.

“Those people who see an act on Jools Holland’s programme, or read about them in a broadsheet, and then buy a record because of it – they’re about the only people who end up propelling an artist to recoup.”
But this misses the point: HMV is struggling because HMV has changed itself into a horrid place to browse for music, a kind of Lord Of The Flies flashmob where the CD section has been hidden behind an army of lifesize Borat cut-outs. Saying we need to save HMV to protect older blokes who impulse buy records is on a par with launching a campaign to protect Mauritius to help the dodo.

Courtney Love tweets into court

In a few day's time, Courtney Love's tweets about Dawn Simorangkir are going to court, as the fashion designer sues for defamation.

Love suggested via Twitter that far from owing money Simorangkir was seeking, it was her who should have been showered in thanks and cash:

"She has received a VAST amount of money from me over 40,000 dollars and I do not make people famous and get raped TOO!" Love wrote.
Of course, being Love, this isn't just about Twitter, as she spewed this sort of thing all over the internet.

Her team have got a defence, though:
Love's attorneys have their own witnesses, including a medical expert who plans to testify that even if Love's statements were untrue, her mental state was not "subjectively malicious" enough to justify the defamation lawsuit.

That claim -- something akin to an insanity defence for social media -- suggests that Twitter was so appealing and addictive for Love that she had no appreciation for how the comments she posted would be received by others.
Karl T, who pointed this out to us, observes:
Love's defence, that Twitter is just so darn fun that she's unable to prevent herself from broadcasting whatever passes through her brain is an interesting one, to say the least.

In other news, shouting at dustbins and picking fights with the radiator people are protected under the 1st amendment.
It's going to be a tricky one for Love to pretend that she had no idea what people would make of her Tweets, as surely she'd already got into enough trouble tweeting about the people ripping them off to know exactly what they'd go down like.

If you really love Britney, she might give you a track

It's not unusual for pop stars to ask fans to jump through hoops in return for a freebie. This, though, is something different: Show Britney you still love her, and, erm, she'll let you buy a record:

On Monday, January 10th Britney fans worldwide will be encouraged to share a message on Facebook 2 million times.

Once this is accomplished, her new single, “Hold It Against Me” is unlocked for radio & for immediate sale on i-Tunes.

Sony Music Canada is offering the opportunity to Canadian stations to have their listeners participate through a customized Facebook widget that listeners can then forward.
In a similar move, our local butchers will put sausages on sale if we applaud loud enough when he walks down the street.

[Thanks again to Michael M]

Pink Floyd suddenly realise they don't mind digital after all

Last year, you'll recall, Pink Floyd took EMI to court to prevent the label from splitting up their albums to sell individual tracks as digital downloads.

The band insisted it was all about artistic integrity - their music was only to be enjoyed as part of a whole, or else as incidental music on Only Fools And Horses over photomontages of Delboy selling stuff.

But ten months is a long time in artistic integrity, it turns out, as Pink Floyd and EMI have come to a deal which will allow you to buy the odd track here and there.

So, it was never about the purity of the vision; just the size of the cheque.

[Thanks to Michael M]

How big is an average music library?

Have you ever got music library envy, and felt that your stack of digital music files might be on the light side?

Tidysongs reckons it's 7,160 tracks.

A note of caution here: that's based on people who've invited their software to clean up said libraries. And people who only have a few tracks in their collection are less likely to bother paying for a service to tidy up - partly because they can still do it by hand, if they wish; partly because if you don't have that much music on your PC, you're clearly not that fussed about music.

Still, it's an interesting statistic, in a pub-quiz-tiebreaker sort of fashion. Hypebot reports some further numbers:

* The average number of songs missing album artwork is 4,230
* The average number of songs missing the name of the artist is 490.
* The average number of songs missing track or year information is 1,984.
* The average number of duplicate songs is 814.
They suggest that 'dirty' songs must indicate some sort of wrongdoing:
Why would you have dirty songs?

Either you ripped a bunch of songs off random CD-Rs or are using LimeWire Pirate Edition, among other things, because iTunes and Amazon downloads come complete with artwork and don't have any misspellings in the titles.
Perhaps. Or, perhaps, you've ripped them from CDs you paid money for. Or downloaded them from a legitimate source that didn't have artwork, or correct tagging. Again, things that you might expect people with larger collections to be doing.

The XX shuffle Adele

Perhaps one of the nicer surprises of last year was that Adele's new album is actually pretty good. And now, the surprise gets remixed, as Jamie XX remixes - demixes - Rolling In The Deep. Abeano has the stuff.

Gordon in the morning: The smell of rotten flesh

Okay, maybe you can understand at this slow news time of year that you might run a photo which exists solely to promote Rihanna's perfume.

You might even forgive it being second lead on Bizarre, assuming you could find something interesting to say about the promo shot, which is Rihanna sniffing a flower.

What do you have for us, Gordon?

IT'S a good job RIHANNA hasn't got hayfever.

Otherwise the lass with a rose to her nose would end up looking a right state in this sultry shot for her own fragrance, which is called Reb'l Fleur.
Oh. "If she was allergic, the photo would have been awful." Righto.

HMV to shutter 60 stores

It's sad, but I don't think this morning's announcement from HMV that it's closing 60 stores after a rotten Christmas will come as any surprise.

Blaming everything - except the horrible atmosphere in its confused and curiously stocked-stores - HMV warned it was in danger of breaking the terms of its loans:

"The challenging entertainment markets, combined with the severe weather over our peak trading period have had a negative impact on our trading year to date. In addition, there are well-reported consumer headwinds as we enter 2011," said the company. Many retailers have warned that Britain's austerity measures, such as the VAT rise, will hurt them this year.

"Given the difficult trading conditions over Christmas and the likely outturn for the year, the board now expects that compliance with the April covenant test under the group's bank facility will be tight and is taking further mitigating actions during the next four months to address this," HMV added.

Chief executive Simon Fox insisted that HMV remained "a profitable and cash-generative business and a powerful entertainment brand".
The sort of cash-generative business that had like-for-like December sales plunge over 13% between 2009 and 2010.

No word yet on which shops will be holding closing-down sales.

Bassobit: Mick Karn

More heartbreaking news to start the year, as cancer gets the better of Mick Karn.

Adonis Michaelides, Nicosia-born Cypriot, came to London at the age of three. School saw him progress from mouth organ to violin to bassoon and the London School Symphony Orchestra. He would play just one concert with his first band; the theft of his bassoon straight after, and his school's refusal to buy a replacement, lead to another change of instrument. His purchase of a second-hand bass was the moment where everything clicked for Mick.

Schoolfriends David Sylvian and Steve Jansen were also learning instruments at the time; sharing a dream of fleeing London, the three coalesced into Japan in 1974. A further friend, Richard Barbieri, was recruited; advertisements brought in a second guitarist and management and by 1977 Japan were playing live.

Breaking at a time when punk rock mandated individuality of the sort where everyone thinks and looks the same, Japan's effete style went down like a bassoon in a library. It was, amusingly, the country of Japan which would save the band - their popularity there was enough to sustain the act until the first stirrings of New Romanticism shifted Japan closer to the mainstream.

Filling a role as the Polytechnic Duran Duran, Japan hit commercial success just as they imploded.

In 1982, Karn released his first solo record, Titles and found himself in constant demand as a collaborator - he played on Kate Bush's The Sensual World, and worked with everyone from Ure to Numan. A quick sideline in sculpture followed.

If Japan had been ahead of their time, Karn's sortofsupergroup Dali's Car - which saw him team up with Pete Murphy - was doubly so, conflating Japan's minimalism with a smear of what would later be tagged World Music.

While Dali's Car drew on Karn's Greek Cypriot roots, his second solo album, Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters picked up the sounds of his London childhood in choirs and orchestras and mouth organs.

Karn then seemed to be concentrating solely on jazz - he signed with Germany's CMP - but there was to be a too-thought-through Japan reunion under the Rain Tree Crow name in 1991. Improvised and ambient, once again Karn found himself on a record which took a while to find an audience prepared to understand it.

However, Karn would continue to work with Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri, as JBK. A clutch of CDs emerged from this grouping, before Karn would again release albums under his own name. In all, his solo body of work would run to seven studio albums, covering everything from instrumental pop to jazz.

In 2004, Karn moved back to Cyprus with his wife. Last year, the news of his illness was made public, along with appeals for help with his medical bills.

Mick Karn died in London on January 4th. He was 52.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Folkobit: Gerry Rafferty

Two years after he was reported both lost and found, Gerry Rafferty has been lost again, this time for good.

Rafferty was a late-joining member of Billy Connolly's Humblebums, but Gerry told Billy he'd be better off concentrating on his between songs humour. As a consequence, both men found themselves touring under their own names.

The demands of parenthood saw Rafferty rejoin long-term collaborator and former schoolfriend Joe Egan as Stealer's Wheel. However, a promising band was nearly smothered by a ridiculous contract at A&M. Rafferty walked; persuaded back to work as a two-piece the band fell apart again when it turned out they'd had their earnings pinched.

After a long period of legal dealing, Rafferty returned to solo work in 1978. The album he released first saw him not working with Bob Holness on Baker Street, the song which literally made his fortune.

It allowed him to become more relaxed about work and so he was able to refuse tours of America and only do things that really interested him - including producing The Proclaimers Letter From America.

Sadly, a stuttering series of albums saw a decline in quality matched by a decline in Rafferty's mental state. Blighted by a dependency on alcohol, Rafferty lost his wife and his health.

Rafferty had been on life support since November, following kidney failure. His fiancee, Enzina Fischini, had been told to expect the worst but initially his condition had been improving. Sadly, it turned out to be a false dawn.

Stretching the definition of 'supergroup' a little

Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue and Casey McPherson. Apparently, this is enough to constitute a supergroup these days.

Still, on this day of all others, it's an encouraging thought: don't think of that turkey curry tonight as reheated leftovers; what you have is a food supergroup. Enjoy.

Gordon in the morning: Textually enlightening about Cosmopolitan

Kelly Osbourne - who is still apparently available for work - has changed her hair colour again and, surprisingly, got a Cosmo cover out of it.

Even more surprisingly, this itself constitutes a story for Bizarre this morning.

But what can you say about 'woman dyes hair blonde'?

HELLO coys!
Hello coys? What's a coy? Why are you greeting it, whatever it is? What does this have anything to do with anything?

Still, at least you've not done the cliche-for-fifty-years of saying 'blonde hair=Marilyn Monroe", right?
Kelly Osbourne poses Marilyn Monroe-style - and forgets her past as a chubby wildchild.
Didn't Osbourne first "forget her past" about ten years ago? And hasn't she done so repeatedly ever since?

Back in November, the Sun had a picture of Kelly on the front of a magazine in a bikini, and trilled:
KELLY Osbourne proves she really has got in shape
And in October The Sun had her:
slimming down to a size six and wearing more feminine clothes
Oh, and in September, the paper mentioned she'd lost some weight:
But in recent weeks, Kelly has picked herself up, hit the gym and looked better than ever in a variety of trendy outfits at New York fashion week.
More than once in September:
But in recent weeks, Kelly has picked herself up, hit the gym and looked better than ever in a variety of trendy outfits at New York fashion week.
Much more than once in September:
KELLY Osbourne has never been a shrinking violet but she was more than happy to show off her new size 6 frame in a figure-hugging floral-print dress yesterday.
Much, much more:
KELLY Osbourne says she now has the "confidence to dress up" after slimming down to a size six.
How many more times can Bizarre churn a story out of 'woman loses a bit of weight'? If there isn't anything else worth mentioning about Osbourne, why are you writing about her at all?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Pondering Peel preservation

Ken Garner - the author of the very valuable In Session Tonight book - is currently surveying John Peel listeners about the archive and what should be done with it.

What sort of music do you make, Justin Bieber?

Yes, yes, you might call it "inoffensive undescended bollock pop", but what does Justin Bieber call the genre in which he works? MTV news asked:

"Whatever comes out of my mouth is just what you guys are going to hear," Bieber explained of his lyrical stylings. "I don't know, it's not a specific type of music. Whatever music I write, I wouldn't say I'm pop or R&B or country or anything: I would just say it's just good music," he said with confidence.
To be fair, Justin, I don't think many people were going "is this country music?" when they heard your pillow-dry-hump soundtracks. Although possibly more people thought that than "this is just good music".

We are all in the Capital now, sort-of

About, ooh, ninety minutes ago, Capital made an attempt to turn itself into a national radio station:

Global Radio, which also operates Classic FM and London's LBC station, said that the new Capital FM will broadcast the best in pop music, along with showbiz interviews, music events and news updates. It will directly compete with the BBC's Radio 1 as a national pop music network.
Except, of course, there are great chunks of the nation where there isn't any Capital station. And you can still see the old local stations that have been rebranded Capital as part of the change, so it's not a single station. And only commercial radio bosses would think that Capital and Radio 1 are similar. But apart from that, that's exactly what has happened here.

Not Forgot-Ten: Month-by-month

Just to keep things tidy, and in case you missed any of our month-by-month glossings of the year just over, here's the full list:


Gordon in the morning: The cusp of a new year

Gordon Smart has churned out a list of "what I reckon will be big" this year, which he's called What the Smart money's on - how long has he been doing this and he's only just spotted the Smart Money pun?

Anyway, it's full of timid choices and clunking reasoning:

THE fairer sex are set to rule the charts this year - after being frozen out by the fellas in 2010.

TINIE TEMPAH, PROFESSOR GREEN, PLAN B, TAKE THAT and JUSTIN BIEBER dominated proceedings last year but in 2011 girls are primed to make amends.
I've often thought that people who use the phrase "the fairer sex" - with the possible exception of Upstairs, Downstairs scriptwriters - should be locked in a cage with female kickboxers.

But, still, you have to admit he has a point. There were hardly any women artists last year with any success. If you ignore Florence and the Machine. And Alicia Keys and Rihanna. Oh, and Lady GaGa, Katy Perry and Susan Boyle. Pixie Lott, Ellie Goulding, Cheryl Cole and Katy Perry. But, you know, apart from all them.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Grant Shapps tries to save Ringo's house

Determined to step in where Liverpool councillor Flo Clucas failed, housing minister Grant Shapps has decided to save Ringo's house in the Dingle.

Actually, I say "where Flo failed", but in terms of making a large, eye-catching statement that turns out to not be pledge to protect the building at all, it's something of a success:

Mr Shapps said the house was considered by many as a "culturally important building".

"That is why, before a single bulldozer rumbles along Madryn Street, I want to ensure that every option has been considered," he said.

"In particular I want local community groups to have the opportunity to put forward viable proposals to preserve this historic house."
Of course he's going to do bugger all to actually save the building - he's a Tory, and we know how close they are to a pound note these days - but, hey, if the Big Society wants to do something, he's happy to issue a couple of press releases and sign a couple of letters.

You might wonder if Shapps' time might be better spent writing to Liverpool City Council about the scandalous neglect of the areas around Anfield, where people live, but maybe that wouldn't make it into all the papers.

Still, at least Grant has resisted the temptation to cram in a Beatles pun, right?

Oh... hang on...
He added: "It is right that the people of Liverpool themselves decide whether they want Ringo Starr's house to be demolished or to Let It Be."
It could be, he hopes, a building which would put an Octopuses' garden into the shade.

Somewhat surprisingly, while Shapps is talking about simply saving the house, Liverpool City Council react as if he wants to stop the entire redevelopment (which, actually, he should have been trying to do):
A spokesman said the council would consider the minister's request, but said: "Grant Shapps may not be aware of the fact that we have consulted extensively with local residents over these plans and the overwhelming majority are in favour of them.

"Residents have been fully involved in developing the proposals and have shown they want decent homes to replace houses which have long passed their lifespan.

"They are telling us that they are absolutely sick of the delays and the conditions they have to live in. They want the city council to demolish these properties as soon as possible so that they can get on with their lives."

The spokesman added: "It is vital for local people that this scheme goes ahead. We have not been helped by the massive cuts, but we are determined to get on with this work to improve the lives of local residents.
Of course, had the City Council simply improved the properties - which was all that was needed - the good people of Dingle would have been getting on with their lives a decade ago, and not living in area which is being allowed to slowly rot.

None of which, really, has anything to do with Ringo's first home. Nor does being Housing Minister really have much to do with Ringo Starr's home - surely that's Jeremy The Hunt's remit, isn't it?