Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crimewatch: The Ambience Affair

The Ambience Affair had a guitar pinched after a gig in Cork last night:

Keep 'em peeled, and if you can help them, let them know.

Gordon in the morning: This isn't actually good news

Worrying Stone Roses intelligence this morning:

IAN BROWN can swap his old Adidas tracksuit for a gold-plated number thanks to The Stone Roses reunion.
Eh? A gold-plated tracksuit? That might have just about worked if he'd gone for 'trainers' rather than 'tracksuit' but gold-plated clothing?

So, yes, The Stone Roses are going to make new awful records:
A spokesman for the band confirmed yesterday: "The Stone Roses are pleased to announce that they have signed a record contract with Universal Music in London and with Columbia Records in New York."
I'll bet they're pleased.

Gordon proves that he never really cared about the band that much:
Fans have been waiting nearly 20 years for new material.
No, Gordon. Fans have been spending nearly 20 years wishing they'd been a one-album band.

Twittergem: On current events

From @david_flynn:

David Cameron you massive plum head. How the hell do we expect to get any points in Eurovision now? #letsnotbother

Friday, December 09, 2011

Popobit: Dobie Gray

Dobie Gray, who dabbled across many genres, has died.

Writing for its American audience, the New York Times suggests Gray would be best known for Drift Away:

A great song, but from a UK perspective, his big gift to music was The In Crowd:

Although Gray didn't write the tune, it was his idea that inspired Billy Page. The song has been covered by everyone from Bryan Ferry to the Chipmunks, and even survived being mangled to make a BT advert extolling the virtuse of an "in-phone" you could have "upstairs while I paint my toes".

Grays origins are murky - nobody is quite sure how old he was, or where precisely he was born. He came from a sharecropper background somewhere in Texas, sometime during the Second World War. Even his early recording career was confused, as he tried a variety of names - Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis and Larry Dennis - before settling on Dobie Gray.

After his success in the 70s, he relocated to Nashville and concentrated more on writing than performing.

Dobie Gray was around 70; it's believed he died from complications related to cancer.

Gordon in the morning: No Harry, not happy

Poor George Osborne. He turned up to switch on the Christmas lights in Knutsford, only - as Gordon reports it - to be booed.

Gordon claims that the audience had been led to expect that Harry Styles out of One Direction was going to flick the switch, and the booing was in response to Osborne turning up.

To be fair, I think Osborne is quite capable of turning a crowd into a hissing mass of discontent without having to not be Harry Styles.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gordon in the morning: Chronicle of a death retold

Without any apparent sense of irony, Gordon's deputy Lia Nicholls reports how Lady GaGa worries she'll die like Lady Diana did:

A source close to Gaga says she sees herself as a "pop version" of Diana who died aged 36 in a horrific car smash in Paris in 1997. The source revealed: "Gaga has always been absolutely fixated on Diana and sees herself as a 21st-century incarnation of her.

"She knows she is almost as recognisable as Diana and is hounded by photographers and fans on the same level.

"Gaga has had dreams about dying the same way as her and has genuine fears that her fame could literally kill her, either in a chase or at the hands of crazies."
Goodness, "source close to GaGa", these terrible photographers. I wonder why they'd even be chasing her?

Surprisingly, Nicholls doesn't put a "GaGa fears we'll kill her someday" headline on the story. Second day running The Sun has missed the chance to play up its central role in a big news story.

Just one thing: GaGa "almost as recognisable as Diana"? Really? Doing ITV2 specials with Perez Hilton hardly in the same league as dissing the Windsors on Panorama, is it?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Radio One remixes dance programming

Radio One is overhauling its specialist line-up, which MediaGuardian suggests might be to do with making the station younger:

Radio 1 has come under pressure from both its commercial rivals and the BBC Trust to attract a younger audience after the average age of its listenership kept creeping up.

[Ben] Cooper added: "It's important that Radio 1 continues to develop new talent and the station keeps evolving for our young listeners. These changes to our evening schedule will strengthen the range and depth of the specialist music offering on the network."
However, while three of the more durable specialists are stepping down - so long Kissy Sell Out, Judge Jules and Gilles Peterson - others are staying. Annie Mac remains, despite having had half a decade's start on Kissy Sell Out; 45 year-old Judge Jules will be waved off by the 51 year-old Pete Tong, still on the station; and although forty-something Peterson is hoping to find a new home at 6Music, Annie Nightingale remains on One for her 70th birthday year. It could very well be, simply, that Cooper thinks some of the specialists were starting to sound played out, and wanted to bring some fresh sounds - rather than younger blood - to the station.

The full list of changes, as detailed by the press office, are:

The Essential Mix will move from Saturdays (3.00am-5.00am) to Saturday (1.00am-3.00am)

Annie Nightingale moves from Fridays (2.00am-4.00am) to Saturdays (3.00-5.00am)

The Punk Show with Mike Davies will move from Tuesdays (2am-4am) to Wednesdays (12midnight-2am)

Nihal moves from Wednesdays (12midnight-2am) to Wednesdays (2.00am-4.00am)

Annie Mac, Fridays 7-9

Pete Tong, Friday, 9-11

Skream & Benga take Fridays, 11-1.

Toddla T, Fridays 2-4

Charlie Sloth, Tuesdays, 2-4

It did appear that Radio 1 had got totally funky by hiring someone with an asterisk in their name, as the press office reported this:
Friction* will be joining the station to host his own drum & bass show on Mondays (2am-4am).
But it turned out to just be pointing to a footnote inviting journalists to not confuse Friction and Bobby Friction.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Explaining the error

Yesterday's surprise appearance of an HMV order page for Amelia Lily's X Factor winner's single caused some eyebrows to be raised, and conspiracy theorists to head for the net.

Who can reassure a worried nation? Step forward HMV's explanation expert Gennaro Castaldo:

" was looking to accept customer pre-orders for versions of the X Factor winner's single recorded by each of the three finalists," said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

"Due to a technical issue, only Amelia Lily's details were uploaded.

"These have been temporarily removed so that all three finalists details can go up at the same time.

"This has been the result of an unforeseen but regrettable technical issue, for which we apologise and ask that nothing further be construed."
Well, that seems... hang on a minute: you were inviting people to pre-order records, two of which don't exist and never shall? That actually seems more scandalous than any possible rigging of the X Factor.

Soulobit: Howard Tate

Howard Tate, who disproved the dictum about no second acts in American lives, has died.

Tate was a major soul star in the 60s - he toured with Aretha Franklin and scored hits on the R&B chart, most successfully with this:

But he felt he was being sold short by the record labels; in the early 1970s, he quit music altogether. He destroyed his own records, and joined the insurance industry, a place where he felt he would be able to keep better track of what was owed to him.

So complete was his divorce from music that many believed he was dead - that's showbusiness, where not being on TV is the same as being in your tomb.

But insurance wasn't any kinder to him. After his daughter died in a fire, Tate spent a decade in thrall to addiction.

End of Act One.

A chance meeting and the rise of the CD conspired to bring Tate back - he'd cleaned up his life and become a minister when he bumped into one of Howard Melvin's former Blue Notes in a shop just as the reissue market kicked off by the CD had rediscovered his 1960s albums. By 2003, Tate was back in the studio; even landing a Grammy.

It's not clear if the industry ever paid him the money he felt he'd earned earlier.

Howard Tate was 72; his death was described as being due to natural causes.

Gordon in the morning: Gordon in the courtroom

A worried Gordon brings news this morning that someone has apparently threatened to reveal secrets about Tamara Ecclestone. You know how much The Sun, and the Bizarre team in particular, hate the idea of someone's privacy being invaded.

Which reminds me: Gordon's name came up once or twice in the Leveson enquiry into the press yesterday. Unusually for Gordon, who likes a story that he can place himself in, the tale doesn't get a mention in today's column.

There's not even the chance of a mock-up image of how Gordon and Justice Leveson might look if they came together to thrash things out:

Yesterday, Chris Atkins appeared at the enquiry. He made the movie Starsuckers, which set out to prove that certain newspapers would print any old rubbish without a care for the truth of it. I know it's hard to believe Smart's name would come up in this context, but it did. From the Guardian's live blog:
One of the stories that Atkins and his collaborator Jen got into the papers was about a Girls Aloud singer.

"Sarah Harding was secretly a fan of quantum physics".

It ran as a lead story in Gordon Smart's Bizarre column in the Sun complete with a fake quote.

The Sun objects to this and have asked the Leveson inquiry to challenge it. It says it rang Sarah Harding's PR who gave them the quote.

Atkins says he finds this "a remarkable coincidence" as the Sun did not challenge this claim about the fake quote since the movies came out two years ago.
You've also got to love a response which quibbles over how made-up the quote was while not actually engaging with the wider question of how a totally bollock-stuffed story appeared in Smart's column in the first place.

Chris Atkins does point out that running rubbish doesn't actually stand in the way of being celebrated by your peers:
Gordon Smart was, after our film, voted the number one celebrity journalist of the year and second was Clemmie Moodie of the Mirror and both of them ran our stories.
There's your angle, Gordon: "Judge hears of Sun man's awards success". It's not all grim news for The Sun in the courtroom, is it?

By the way: the original of that photo is worth a look.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Womble rumble

Mike Batt is not a happy man. Why is he unhappy?

Because The One Show has failed to treat the Wombles with the respect he believes they deserve.

He triple-tweeted:

"One Show" - very unfairly just played (couldn't be more than 3 seconds ) W. Merry Xmas to Carol King in "Cracker or Turkey" vote. - (more)

- she's a yank, never heard of Wombles, - -and the other two songs got at least twiceas much screen time and were voted "crackers" (more)

..ever had the urge the kick the TV in? What a shitty thing to do in the name of "TV". I don't often get angry.
But isn't it better to be voted "cracker" if the alternative is to be thought a turkey? Isn't being called a cracker a good thing?

And, seriously, Mike: it's some men dressed up in woolly costumes, being judged in a segment on The One Show. Is it really, seriously, worth getting so very angry about? Do you think Great Uncle Bulgaria would approve of that shower of intemperate tweetage?

HMV announce the X Factor winner

A couple of weeks ago, STV screwed up and accidentally gave the impression the vote to bring back one bunch of chancers to the X Factor was a waste of time. They published stories that had been held in reserve while the vote was still running, leading to mutterings of "fix".

Today, @realshowbiz has come across this:

It purports to be an HMV webpage claiming Amelia Lily will be releasing the "X Factor winner's single."

However, if ITV had fixed the vote, and told HMV, wouldn't they also have let on what the winner's single would actually be called?

A day we never thought we'd see

Who would have ever expected Smokie And Roy "Chubby" Brown's terrible novelty hit to be inspiring headlines in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung half a decade later?

Showbiz Zoe with Zoe Showbiz goes to Romford

You'll remember Zoe Griffin, the former Sunday Mirror showbiz writer who now... well, you remember her.

Let's catch up with her "live like a VIP" blog where, yesterday, she went to a shopping centre in Essex to watch some people from a gameshow do a PA. That's less living like a VIP, more like living like someone on their way to Greggs to pick up lunch.

The PA was from Little Mix, off the current series of X Factors. You'll recall they used to have a different name. Zoe certainly does:

The band, who had to change their name from Rhythmix to avoid trouble with a long-established charity with the same name (don’t mess with do-gooders), bounded on stage to rapturous applause at the shopping centre.
"Don't mess with do-gooders" - what a nasty, sneery way of dismissing a charity which has been doing good work with young people for years. There's an implication ("to avoid trouble") that this was some sort of good-natured tussle, rather than a case of the band having to change their name because it refused to roll over simply because Simon Cowell attempted to bulldoze their name off of them. Griffin conjures a vision of angry do-gooders rather than good people having their work disrupted by an entertainment programme which thought its marketing needs were more important than people who help people.

Still, fair play to Zoe for pointing out the fundamental flaw in the day:
After the gig came the signings. As the band don’t actually have any material of their own yet, it made this particular part of the day a bit difficult.
At least they've got a name of their own, I guess. Or rather are able to use a trademark owned by Simon Cowell.

Gordon in the morning: It was on the television

Appearing not just in his column, but also under his byline, Gordon Smart reveals this:

IF there's one man who should have been let on Blind Date, it's Angelos Epithemiou.

The former burger van owner admitted to Cilla Black he tried to get on her old telly favourite a few times but was knocked back.

Angelos was a guest on Never Mind The Buzzcocks last night, which our Cilla hosted.
She's not your Cilla, Gordon. The Sun long ago forfeited any right to pretend it had an interest in Scouse heroes.

You do realise that Angelos isn't a real person, and that he was telling a joke, by the way? I know you probably think that you're playing along with the character comedy, but what you've done here, Gordon, is just transcribe a gag that everyone saw on the TV last night.

I know that copying down stuff from electronic communications is Bizarre's house style, and that these days it's harder to justify actually listening to phone calls, but I'm at a loss as to what the point of this is. Maybe tomorrow it'll be a shaggy dog story Gordon hears in a bar.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Gordon in the morning revisited: Bad Monday

Gordon Smart's story about a Happy Mondays reunion from breakfast time had wilted by lunch:

The band's representative told NME that although singer Ryder and brother Paul were on better terms as reported, it was a "bit of a leap" to suggest Happy Mondays had anything planned for 2012.

However, she refused to completely rule out the possibility of the band doing something together next year, in light of plans to re-release their classic album 'Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches'.
Once again, Smart proves to be the man you can't trust.

Dry your dishes the "pop columnist" way

How much money do you have? Good news - unless you said 'none' - as you can turn some of that money into an officially-endorsed luxurious "recreation" of the original Black Type tea towel. For years writers of "letters" to the nation's premier pop periodical Smash Hits would hope to be judged the best, in order to win a record token and tea towel.

The "record token" has vanished into the haze of memories - something to do with buying Frisbees in shops, I think - but at least we can all enjoy our very own tea towel. And, because this is now, you don't even have to write an amusing letter about Kate Bush, as Swingorilliant is actually selling them. For cash. That's why I asked how much money you had.

Jason says: "That'll do"

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The dead sell on their own

Hey - that Amy Winehouse album is merely being released as a tribute, yes, and the fact it's been rushed out to hit the Christmas market is just a coincidence.

The Evening Standard reports that it's already number one:

Amy Winehouse topped the charts today with a posthumous album.
Eh? But it's Monday. How has she topped the charts "today"?
Four months after she was found dead in her Camden flat, her new album, called Lioness: Hidden Treasures, has topped the iTunes chart within hours of its release.
Wow. That really is number one in some sort of chart.

But who can give a view on this? Who can tell us if it's alright, like giving a dead man's shoes to a charity shop for someone else to get value from them; or terrible, like digging up Benny Hill to steal his silver? iTunes don't have a spokesperson for these occasions, so the Standard turns instead to Gennaro Castaldo:
Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said: "There could be an emotional reflex among the public, who may feel compelled to buy by way of paying tribute to Amy."
Yes, don't say a silent word of prayer or play the record you already own. That isn't paying tribute. If you're not forking over a credit card, you're some sort of beast. An uncaring, evil, beast.

Talking of which, there's an unnamed HMV spokesperson wheeled into position in the Guardian to talk out their face about Jeremy Clarkson. Could it be a shy Gennaro?
An HMV spokesman said: "We've found in the past that controversy involving artists, with all the media coverage this generates, can often boost sales of their products.

"Clarkson is one of those 'Marmite' personalities that you probably either love or hate, and the chances are that many of the public he upset weren't likely to be among his fans in the first place, while people who do appreciate his sense of humour and follow him on TV may have felt prompted to go out and buy his Powered Up DVD over the weekend."
Or perhaps it's people deciding his career is over, feeling compelled to buy his DVD by way of paying tribute. Who can say, eh?

Madonna will go to the Superbowl

During the FA Cup final, every year, my Dad would holler "the band! show us the band!" as the screen cut from the half-time entertainment to Hill, Moore, or whoever yakkitying away about the sport just shown.

Were he to be around for the superbowl next month, he'd probably be yelling "the pundits! In God's name, bring on the pundits!" as Madonna and Cirque Du Soleil top up their earnings for the current tax year.

Gordon in the morning: Mondays come round again

It's hard to get that excited about the fourth coming of The Happy Mondays, especially as there's a tawdry attempt to try and shoehorn it in onto The Stone Roses comeback, as Gordon explains:

A source said: "After the success of The Stone Roses reunion, there's a real clamour to get the group back on the road and document it properly."[...]
[T]his time they want to do it properly, with full tour dates and possible slots with The Stone Roses.
You'll bet they want to sneak onto the Roses' dates, which will turn this latest reunion from one that settles whatever the bills that have come up this time into one which might actually leave them ahead.

But should we be thinking of this in terms of the Roses? Let's listen to that "source" again:
"The Mondays have had offers from film companies, including Film4 and Sky, who want to follow them for the reunion. There will be gigs next summer and a re-release of their classic album Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches. A DVD will also be released of the comeback shows and the documentary."
Ah, doing a comeback to make some cheap television. This isn't Mondays-as-Stone-Roses; this is Mondays-as-Steps.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's lucky Fred Durst has his sitcom to fall back on

Limp Bizkit's comeback album wasn't a massive success, it's fair to say. And surveying warehouses full of unsold boxes of Gold Cobra, Interscope decided there was only one course of action.

Not that Fred Durst is bothered about being dropped:

He said of 'Gold Cobra' and the band's reaction to their departure from Interscope: "One of the things with 'Gold Cobra' was that it was a record for us to do for ourselves, for the core fans, for some of the people that we know in the industry. It wasn't our step forward to make a big pop, smash radio record; we just didn't want to make that record at that time. We have been working for a while now to renavigate where we are going to take Limp Bizkit and finally we have been able to get off our label and become independent."
Aha! So it was all a cunning plan to release a record so incredibly bad only the most slavish of Fredheads would buy it (and he really must remember to thank his Aunt Maude and Nanny Peeks for that) that the label would have no choice but to drop them.

A brilliant plan. Although apparently one they've been trying to put into practice since they first released a record.

But when life hands Fred a massive box of unsold lemons, he sits down and plots the invention of a machine powered by lemons which will turn other lemons into, like, some sort of liquid that attracts, you know, really hot chicks or something like that and dude it's gonna be so cool:
"We just want to go play a concert and crush it and turn it into a big-ass party. The record thing sort of kind of always got in our way, but it's part of the game and we love writing music and it happened that we had some songs that became popular and we never thought that would happen. So with this way, we can still go tour."
He continued "and, right, Mom says I can so stay in the basement so long as I help out in the garden and take her to the Church Beetle Drive every Thursday, and she won't even care if I take friends back there, I'll bet."
He continued: "We do very, very good on our touring, and we mainly tour outside the United States. It seems like in the United States, they're waiting on a song, they're waiting on a hit, and the rest of the world doesn't necessarily operate that way. So I'm waiting until we can really give them something they can sink their teeth into and then they can be reminded about how ill Limp Bizkit is live".
"Yeah, obviously in the States the gigs don't go down so well because they're just wanting to hear, like, the song they paid to come and see, but overseas, we're like Gods. When we played Paris, France in England this time they were like, listening in respectful silence and didn't even disturb us by clapping or nothing, and when we play overseas the promoters always put us in these small rooms which means they're like hand-picking the people who come to see us and keep out the guys who just want to hear the song. Can I have a pizza? I'm hungry."

Every little helps

With everyone fixated on John Lewis' Christmas advert, this seems to have slipped by:

Really, Tesco? The Fairytale Of New York? I guess this means that the song has now melted so far in our national psyche that the lyrics have been replaced with just a chanting of "Christmassy Christmassy Christmassy" whenever we hear it?

This week just gone

The most-read pages with 'Christmas' in their names of all time:

1. Salford Lads' Club plots to reunite The Smiths
2. BPI advertiseswarns about cheap knock-off goods at boot sales
3. Radio One: The traditional DJ's Christmas lunch
4. EMI blame Robbie Williams for spoiling Christmas
5. What The Pop Papers Say At Christmas from 2003
6. Boy George trial rescheduled for after Christmas
7. Christmas in 1987: The Sounds reader's poll
8. Biffy Clyro release single on Christmas Day
9. Shane McGowan spends Christmas singing with a whale
10. The Monster Ballad Christmas

This week's interesting releases:

The Lemonheads - Hotel Sessions

Download The Best Of

The Unthanks - Songs Of Robert Wyatt & Antony And The Johnsons

Download Songs Of Wyatt...

Kirstin Hersh - Paradoxical Undressing

Kindle Edition of Paradoxical Undressing

Balance: European Hardcore Music

Eion Devereux - Morrissey: Fandom, Representation & Identities