Saturday, September 07, 2002

SOMETIMES, YOU MISS THE MUTTERING: For example, I'd managed to go two years without knowing that the Foo Fighters had been distributing what sounds like pretty one-sided material attacking the normal scientific conventional wisdom that HIV and Aids are interconnected. Thanks to Kellie for bringing it to our attention.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Wishfull thinking defined

FINISHED WITH THAT WOMAN CAUSE I COULDN'T HELP HER WITH HER MIND: Or what Melissa Auf Der Maur did next - which was to record an album of Black Sabbath covers. Note-for-note. We're not sure if there's any point to the project for her new band Hand of Doom - or if there needs to be any - but, regardless. There it is. A thing of beauty which may be a joy forever. Or, on the other hand, it could be a lazy attempt to cash-in on the Ozzy boom. Who can say?

In the future, everyone will record an album

For example Steve Burns has. Who he? He was the (US) host of Blues Clues - oddly, like the chap who did the UK remake of the format (and Blue himself, if we're honest) there was something weirdly camp about him. Actually, he's a grown man helping a bloody blue dog solve a pathetic problem, what's not to be Dorothy there? Anyway, he's recorded a record. Like Kelly Osbourne. And 'Handy' Andy off Changing Rooms. And that bloke off Due South.

Shouldn't there be something like a test before people are allowed into a recording studio?

POP PHILOSOPHY: We especially liked Three Chords and the Truth from Tiny Mixtapes, and rather think you should read it. Of course, we realise this means ntk will give us an extra point of blogger death, but we're prepared to risk that.

SING SING - nb:THIS IS NOT A TRAVIS LYRIC: are reporting that Sing Sing (still carrying the 'emma from Lush's new project' labels) have washed up on the shores of the US and are about to tour diligently through that nation. This is good news, of course, for people in the US; it's also good news for us, as we'd assumed the whole project had been folded up and packed away.
but clearly it hasn't been

UNIVERSAL PRAISE: Now, let's say something nice about the major labels - let's praise Universal's bravery. Bravery, indeed, because as soon as the tabloids come across their new signings Busted and their soon to be released single What I Go To School For, their press office is going to be beseiged.
For those of you yet to come across it, this track is sung by a bunch of schoolboys, and it details the only reason they go to school - one nubile teacher who, they are convinced, is as deeply in love with them as they are with her. So, when her boyfriend goes "away", they call round at her house, and schoolboy fantasies ensue. The video rams this point home by having the uniform-clad lad leering through her letterbox and receiving spankings from the teacher that we suspect aren't meant to help focus their minds on their Latin homework.
Of course, it's hugely brave of Universal to release this now - because the other option would be that they've been so stupid as to not think through the consequences of releasing a single that encourages kids to call round to their teachers homes following a year which has seen the Amy Gehring case, Soham and the meltdown of the criminal records bureau as they attempt to process background checks on people working with kids; we're assuming they intend to make a heavy-handed and ill-considered satirical point rather than having spectacularly misjudged the mood of the nation.

AT LAST SOMEONE SPEAKS UP FOR THE RIAA: Hey, soundbitten, the last thing we need is for balanced, considered pieces in support of the music industry. This is the internet, pal, and we're kind of like the G-Men in reverse - seeking out legitimate businesses and smashing their stills and scattering their customers. Seriously, though, you make some fair points of a 'hey, the big five are doing their best, let's cut them some slack' nature, but what you say isn't quite as convincing as you'd hoped.
Of Pressplay and Rhpasody prices, you say "First of all, there's the price: Both charge $9.95 a month for the basic service, which may seem reasonable at first, but look at how it works out. If a typical song is 3 minutes long, and you listen to this service two hours a day, that's 1200 songs, or almost a penny a song-listen!" Very droll - and a penny a song sounds like a great deal when you put it like that. But it's a bit silly, isn't it? Why not make a supposition that the person will be listening to the service 24 hours a day on three machines? Wouldn't the price get even lower? And what if they only liked punk, so the average song would be two minutes long (as all great singles should be)? More seriously, you forget that you have to sign up to both services, doubling the price at a stroke - and with a third service looming, you're looking at forking out thirty bucks before you get anywhere. And, remember, this is for a service that basically is competing with radio, not CD sales. It's not a huge sum, certainly, but we're at the stage where they'll be offering tempting rates to establish themselves and force the competition out of business, whereupon they'll be free to whack the price up to anything they choose. They did this with our buses, you know.
Oh, and to even get a chance to try the system, you need to have a credit card, so lets ask all the under 18s to leave the debate right now, shall we? Thank you for creating and sustaining the rock industry for the past fifty years, teenagers, but your parents can take it from here.
"Almost as annoying as the ridiculously high prices of these services is the terrible "selection" of artists they offer. While Rhapsody may have over 190,000 songs to choose from, they're all from artists who are so obscure you won't even find them on Frank Sinatra?" - goes on to list all the great artists you can hear on Rhapsody... "where's the variety? Where's the genuinely established acts? Where's the hot new talent? " Now, this is quite a compelling, seductive suggestion - maybe we should throw away our MP3 software and sign up. All these great acts, waiting for me to hook up with them? Excellent.
Oh, hang on... Due to licensing restrictions, Rhapsody's on-demand music subscription service is available to U.S. residents only. Righto. So even if I do want to pay, I - nor anyone else in the entire fucking world - can actually access the bloody music? Right, well, that's going to stop me downloading stuff - why would I want to have a NERD MP3 on my 'puter when I know that I could be listening to a legitimate version. If I lived in New Jersey.
To truly preview new tracks, you need to burn them to CD. You need to take them with you to the beach. You need to spend some commute-time with them. You need to share them with a thousand friends or so, to see what they think. Buying a CD is like getting married: it can take years of evaluation to really know whether or not you like a song enough to commit to it.
Well, actually - yes, to a certain extent. I'd say that one of the things that has shaped my record buying in the last few years has been the covermount CDs that come with magazines; tracks that didn't catch into my soul on radio play have, subsequently, wormed their way into my affections by dint of being next to something nice on, say, one of the mighty fine Uncut CDs - but, really, of course, you're attempting to argue that the labels are right to only stream the music, rather than to allow the people who've paid for it to choose where and when they want to listen to it. Now, I don't know what your neighbourhood is like, but mine has no broadband access. The whole of the area I live in, from the waterfront, up past the tapas bar, across the park and all the way to the Motorway? There's neither BT nor Cable broadband, and if you ask them when they plan to bring the future to a not unaffluent area, they snort, and say "there's no demand, pal." So, when I am at home, I'm left with a standard dial-up modem. So, unless I want to do nothing but stream music with my computer, I get a load of drops, stutters, rebuffers and the whole deal and - unless I move - there aint no prospect of anything different. Assuming Rhapsody does roll out its service globally, if I can't download tracks to my hard drive in order to play them smoothly, I'm not interested. Further, being young-ish and still in possession of much of my own hair, I like to sometimes venture away from my Mac. I get driven round in a car; I go shopping. I walk into work. Sometimes I go to the toilet, or upstairs. Now, why is it unreasonable of me to expect to be able to make use of the music subscription service I'm paying for to provide me with music for these parts of my life? Apart from anything, most people's PC have nasty little speakers, and it would be better to play the music on the device they've bought for that purpose.
See, your explanations sound reasonable, but let's not forget the labels have been bounced into getting their act together by the existence of downloading - this sort of stuff would have made much more sense if it had been introduced five or six years ago, rather than as a struggle to snap lids back on Pandorean boxes. And if the new services don't start to try and work out why people have taken to MP3 - and its not simply or even mainly because its free, it's more the flexibility, the global reach, and convenience - then there's simply no point in even bothering. Rhapsody and its siblings are currently the equivalent of town criers - alarmed by the rise of newspapers - offering to come and shout the news to you while you're in the cluddgy. Rhapsody lets people listen to music on computers. MP3 uses computers to enable people to listen to music. The distinction is important.
[Thanks to The Minor Fall, The Major Lift for bringing this to our eyes]

BUGGER: The aliens have come, and they have a message for us. They're Levellers fans. (Actually, it's been made for their new video. Crop circles to promote crap singles, then.

LET'S DO SOME MORE RUNE READING, SHALL WE? Has Graham Coxon Left Blur? Ah, yes and no utters the gnomic Fatboy Slim. He isn't on the new album. He wrote none of the songs on the new album. But he hasn't left the band.
So what does that mean? Apart from the whole thing has dragged on so long we're starting to lose interest, we're interpreting it thus: The band went to Morocco without him. He is not involved in the new album. He has not left Blur.
Therefore, Blur must have left him.

FRATERNITY FOR AN ETERNITY: Are we reading this right, or is the BBC Scotlblog really suggesting we should try and knock the Radio One website over? Can't we just punch Chris Moyles instead?

WHY STARS EXPLODE: Taken from the Liverpool Echo's serialisation of the Atomic Kitten "biography" - Kerry ChipShop Katona laying out the things that would have had to change for her to stay in the "band": 'Alright, but I don't want to sit in a Chrysler van any more and I certainly don't want to go to Japan again.'

Thursday, September 05, 2002

SWEET?: Trouble over at the Vincent's house, as Gene's daughter files a lawsuit claiming that daddy never gave her nuffink, and now its time for his estate to cough up.

MORE HOUSING CRISES: Oh, Madonna - you've been spending too long hanging about on Popbitch, haven't you? What else could explain your outburst against council housing in London? Don't you realise that public housing is one of the glories of this country - or at least, was? Did you not know how ridiculously posh your Lady of the Manor comments would make you sound? Where do you think the thuggish gangsters your husband makes his dull little movies about actually come from? Where do you suppose the people who make the city what it is come from? (Clue: It's not the penthouses)

DAYPOP BURST: If, like us, you're fond of daypop and its nifty blog-and-news search function, you might be wondering what's happened to it. Well, according to the daypop weblog, Dan Daypop headed out for holiday, and the whole thing crashed, and he didn't know until he tried to log on (presumably from some internet cafe) and can't do a thing until he gets back on the thirteenth. Until then, this site about caterina will, inexplicably dominate the Daypop Top 40 like it was some sort of thing taking the piss out of Bush using lego or something... I wonder if she knows?

CORRIE ZEITGEIST-BY-ACCIDENT: So, clearly, of course, the Duckworth's house has never been a rectory, old or otherwise, and the building where the tallest doctor in soap upped Tracy Shaw's duff is in no way Balmoral. And yet, over in real life Manchester, a building has been given a snizzy sounding name without having any connection with the title it now bears.
That the Hacienda had to close is probably inarguable - no club can be a constant, what with each generation wanting to make its own mark and the tendency of people with drugs to eventually turn any oasis of sanity into a seedy, gun filled moronhole. But you can understand the bitter laughter floating through the city at the news that the horrible, overpriced flats (half a mill for a tenement with better PR, anyone?) being flung up on the site of Fac51 are being given the Hacienda name. Maybe there's a lesson there, that the rallying cry for anyone on the outside will eventually be repackaged as a brand beyond your own means, but it still feels like a hell of a slap - like naming your dogs after someone else's heroes you fed to them.
Dave Haslam brave enough to refuse to live in expensive house on principle [SocietyGuardian] - plans to turn Factory Cat into country get-away strenuously denied

SMART PEOPLE FIGHT BACK: Possibly a hacker who's made a mint out of MP3 (yeah, right) but someone's put up a million bucks to allow Duke University to create a center at its Law School to find a balance on copyright law. Excellent.

COULD CONNIE BE THE NEW JOHN PEEL?: The New York Times went to watch Ludacris recording a rude-word free version of a song for AOL subscribers, and came back reporting that it had seen the future, and is sort of convinced that it works. Basically, AOL creates exclusive content, helps to break bands, makes money by flogging tshirts and stuff; everyone's happy, it seems. Almost.
A lingering question is whether AOL will unfairly favor Warner over other labels. Mr. Conroy says that he will typically try new programs first with Warner because it is easier to get started, but will then open them to its rivals. Yet of the nine acts featured so far this year in AOL's artists of the month program — its most prominent promotional position — four are from Warner labels, double its share of the music market.
"We get more than our fair share of the slots," said Paul Vidich, executive vice president of Warner Music.
- without a trace of shame. Now, while you can understand AOL wanting to make good use of the stuff it got in the merger it lied to make, its hardly filling us here full of joy at the prospects for the future if the AOL-tied audience are going to be offered a policy skewed in favour of Warners artists. Even if they let in their other chums from RIAA, the upshot is going to be - as usual - independent artists being squeezed out. And people who don't have it in them to get an ISP that's better than AOL aren't likely to go seeking out music elsewhere, either...

An acoustic bit from Beth Orton on KCRW in Santa Monica. Forty odd minutes of vocal perfection.

WELLER, WELLER UH...: Maybe it's part of getting old, but it just seems former heroes are so keen to demonstrate their feet of clay they're wearing flip flops and pointing going "look! look!"
Now, Paul Weller has long since stopped putting out anything worth listening to - indeed, since the demise of the Style Council it's been awful to hear one of this nation's greatest songwriters emitting what seems to be one long wail of male menopause after another; and the hanging out with the Gallaghers has been disappointing (like watching Jesus fawning round Paul Daniels). But he's gone another notch down with his new anti-war stance.
Talking to BBC News, he's announced that he doesn't intend to take part in any campaign against the forthcoming Iraqi adventures. Which would be fair enough - nobody should be forced to protest against anything - but his reasons are pretty disappointing: But he said he would not get behind any campaign after being "used" by the political group Red Wedge in the mid-1980s.
"It was the biggest mistake ever for me because once you get involved with those people you see how it's all run," he said.
"It's more about their egos and it's not about really making a difference."

Whats this? Weller was "used" by Red Wedge? A curious word for him to select; and even more curious is the way that Weller, who was one of the main spokespeople for Wedge at the time (along with Bragg and Somerville), now comes to speak of his former cause as being ego driven. Maybe the jibes endured by Red Wedge still rankle with him - and even fifteen years on, 'red wedge' still gets thrown about to stop any pop person with aspirations to agitate, educate and organise in their tracks - and maybe his subsequent misadventures, including the very public accusations from a year or two back, have just calcified his soul, but to do nothing because he met some people who were interested in themselves more than a cause sounds like a lame excuse. After Red Wedge, remember, Weller was involved in the no-less ego-fuelled Band and Live Aid, which surely shows that sometimes these things can make a difference, even if they're unlikely to change the world?
Not that Weller is entirely sitting at home hoping the world will go away of its own accord. He has written an anti-war song, and that's where his clay feet get fired, painted and sold as a doorstop. The man who wrote Going Underground is now coming up with this sort of thing: "His song, called A Bullet for Everyone, is included on Weller's new album and is aimed at "Tony Blair and his boyfriends, or Bush and his." The man who once fondled Merton Mick's ear is now using "queer" as the ultimate insult. Cheers, Paul.
That a Bullet For Everyone was written at Noel's house probably says it all.
Maybe it is for the best if you stay away from the rallies, Weller.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

MILKING IN THE EVENING: Oasis, we're told, are going to start recording on another album just as soon as they can - not bothering to wait until they've got something to say, or something worth hearing. Churn... churn... churn. I used to hope that they'd split, sooner or later; that Noel would buy into Man City and Liam would start to collect bus conductor's caps; that as their charmlessness faded into memory and the constant feed of meaningless stories and valueless opinions dried up, we might be left alone with a body of work, which we could weigh, and that the excitement and delight with which we greeted the very early stuff like Live Forever might become again the primary thought when we hear the name Oasis, rather than the unedifying sight of Liam and Noel shouting at passing cars and trying to pretend that I Am the Walrus was them all along.
It's not going to happen, is it?
Now, I see the future stretching out for us, as long as it takes a thought to form in Liam's mind; peppered with roughly an album a year, each a little bit less special than the one before; each selling enough to convince the boys that its worth shuffling the same elements again. There's no sense of compulsion to create in the work of Oasis, just a punch-the-clock mentality - "we're a band, therefore we must make a record" - and this shows in the quality of work produced.
The tour coming up also shows a similar machine-like attitude to the act of being Rock Stars. They've stepped down a venue size, but it's the same die-cast routine - credit card hotline, sell-out in as many minutes possible; and always, always - maximise the profits. Bearing in mind that a small tour costs less than a big tour (you've got a smaller stage and don't need as much stuff; fewer people coming means less stewarding; less insurance; less of everything) and that neither the Gallaghers are exactly blown away for a few bob, didn't anyone who scrambled to get tickets stop for just a moment to ask whether £28.50 is anything more than a figure that they've come up with and doubled? Thirty quid for a gig at the Royal Court is bloody outrageous - nobody minds bands making a living, but then there's just out and out greed. If a tout tried to charge face value for this show, they'd be lynched - "how much, mate? thirty? you're having a bleedin' laugh, aitcha?" - the same price as a night at Glastonbury (itself disgustingly overpriced, remember?). And yet the remaining Oasis fans pitch up, slap their cash down, doubtless plan to buy the £45 tshirt too. It's been too easy to suggest that anyone who's made it to 2002 with anything but contempt for the Gallaghers must be a little bit soft underneath their beanie hat, but when they happily line up to hand over such sums to the people they've already made multi-millionaires (Noel reputed to be worth about £23million) and don't even stop to murmur, you have to wonder.

MORE THAN SEW SEW: When I was a very small boy, I used to dread the days when we had needlework. I always felt it to be wrong that I was rubbish at it, especially since being rubbish at football and slightly gurly I should have taken to it like a clown to irritation. But it wasn't to be. Somewhere, at my Dad's house there's still a half finished lobster waiting to be cross-stitched into life. Maybe what I needed was something like sewkits, which provide you, me and everybody with the wherewithall to make a mini-sampler of album covers. Or maybe I just needed to get out more.

CELEB BIOG TWANG: The point at which credibility - already a forgotten term - expires totally from Geri Halliwell's biography. From via the News Of The World and, probably all the newspapers; Geri tries to convince us that she really was in love with Chris Evans and it wasn't just a desperate, whorish publicity stunt:
"When I was a wannabe, I had a notice board in my kitchen dedicated to people whose footsteps I wanted to follow in. Alongside Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe, I also had a picture of Chris."
Know what? We don't believe you.

HAVE WE USED 'ITS ALMOST AS IF THEY WANT THEM TO FAIL' AS A HEADLINE YET?: Yahoo and others are reporting the slow-take-up of 'official' music download services, identifying the lack of compelling catalogues and poor marketing as two reasons why Pressplay and Musicnet haven't exactly seized the music lover by the hand. Add in prices out of line with reality, and you've pretty much got a set-up that looks like it's being thrown about as a future plank to hit web-using music fans with. "We tried to sell you stuff, and you didn't want it" they'll wail.
Not that we'd recommend you sign up to Pressplay merely to spite them.

NEXT TARGET, SAXON: Thanks to Nigel over at the yes no interlude for bringing our attention to this from the Pleather Yourself site - as he says, clearly the fake-leather dominatrix pic must have had some effect...
meanwhile elsewhere on the pleatheryourself site, there's a flash file of stars who wear Pleather - so you're sat there looking at Britney (that redcatsuit turns out to be pleather); jane 'moonlights as a dominatrix' wiedlin, and so on... when, all of a sudden bloody Moby's face looms into view holding a pair of trainers aloft. Someone should sue them, or something...

we've already burbled on at length about Boy George, now officially installed at the Sunday Express as some sort of expert on this music the young people listen to, so we'll instead rub our eyes with wonder and ask just what on earth the Independent on Sunday were doing giving their profile slot to Morrissey, a person who they believe the nme no longer feels any emnity towards - well, probably not; but since the current nme views Morrissey in the same way it feels about Werthers Originals, cream teas and the early work of Alan Bennett, it's not really surprising, is it?...

FHM is, in a bold new move for tack, selling its current issue on "Girls next door" - i.e., it's Readers Wives, only for people who've not quite got a relationship yet. In a strange twist, Maxim has got one of Atomic Kitten in their nix; until recently, of course, Atomic Kitten were the girls next door to pop papers' home...

the New Statesman marks the 2000th edition of Top of the Pops by getting a lot of facts about the show completely wrong ("the format has never changed" an impressive attempt to paint out the Tony Dortie years; since most of the writing about the Staggers recently has been Martin Amis-inspired poking about in its Stalinist era, maybe this is just an old habit dying hard) or else treating them unfairly - sure, the Pops did havethe likes of Travis, Saville et all presenting quite late on, but they weren't actually that old back then; besides - they were also presenting on Radio One at the same time; it's not as if the team at TV Centre went out their way to drag 'em in from the Day Centre. And why shouldn't people past their 20's present a programme designed to reflect the taste of the whole country, anyway?...

not that anyone over about 13 buys singles these days, anyway, if the Friday Review is to be believed - in an interesting exercise, Alexis Petredis gave a nine year old twenty pounds and let them loose in HMV. They came back with Nickelback and Puretone. Winningly, they also said Robbie Williams records would only ever be bought "for my mum or something..."

Music Week has had one of those perplexing mini-revamps that magazines sometimes do shortly before full on overhauls. I've never quite seen the point of these - why relocate the coffee table if you're about to start knocking walls down? - however, they find space for the nme's Conor McNicholas (the editor now, you know) to pledge that the paper won't take the dumping of the evening session lying down...

the cover of the nme has the faces of coldplay hanging over a dry, arrid desert. The naughty design department deserves an extra rub of the belly for that one...

never one to over-react, all of page three is given to a picture of a bloke stood in front of some fire with the words "Festival In Flames." It occurs to us that if MF do get to hold one of these next year, they should revive their Phoenix Festival title. In a five-page special, the nme pretty much bury any hope the Mean Fiddler might have of getting a licence next year, parading a range of reports from gig-goers criticising the organisation and stewards, and the police. And some words of support: "If the local residents have a problem with five days of a 365-day year being taken up with noise and mess in their beloved park, why don't they move?" - mmm, yeah, thanks for totally useful input, you moron. But, seriously, there are some huge questions that need to be addressed here - claims of police over-reaction, stewards bottling customers, fears of explosions. Some people put the numbers of rioters at 1,000; others at less than the claimed 500. What's clear is something went wrong at Leeds - perhaps not terribly wrong, or perhaps seriously, seriously wrong. The West Yorkshire police says it's had no complaints about police brutality to theme (some may not find that surprising); Melvin Benn says that the complaints he's heard are "not specific" (a rather selective reading of them, we'd suggest) and describes the events as "surprisingly good natured", which seems breathtakingly arrogant compared to the emails the paper publishes from gig-goers: "people running to get awat... people crying... no help on hand... tear gas thrown at us... a kid no older than 17 bottled by security... like being in a war zone... cops kicking and beating someone... people beaten brutally... police charge down the hill swinging their batons. Lots of different perspectives - almost everyone saying that, aside from the riot, it was a bloody brilliant weekend - but nobody much seeming to know exactly where the truth lies. Amusingly, Ikara Colt weren't allowed to play Leeds because they'd inspired a few fans to clamber on stage at reading the night before. Quite right too, Mean Fiddler. Can't let people get away with that sort of thing...

other news: coldplay "triumph" at London gig; eminem booed at MTV awards; blur split mystery deepens... I'm starting to wonder if they shouldn't have strung the leeds riot out a few pages more; U2 are going to put out a greatest hits album, covering 1990-2000, although oddly it'll also contain a new single, which surely means it'll be 1990-2002, doesn't it? Anyway, it covers the period long after they'd moved from decent music to being the Steve Penk pranksters of pop, so it doesn't really mattter; dave grohl has added his weight to calls to Save Lamacq; Beck has written a song for Winona Ryder - it wasn't meant to be for her, she only said she was taking it out to look at it in the light, and that was half an hour ago; Craig Nicholls isn't nuts, he tells the nme, clutching his arms to his sides, rocking and muttering "Craig is fine... Craig is fine..."; Richard Ashcroft goes through the tracks on his new album one by one - delights such as the troubles of a sharedealer, with his homelife going to pot because he's at the golf club trying to make deals. So, the sort of thing we can all relate to, then; there's also stories about Andrew WK and Kelly Osbourne, but we can forgive them...

on bands: the catheters - the nme reckon they're the best band named after something you shove up your urethra... ever (oh, yeah? what about the banana splits?) and murderdolls - another spin-off from slipknot, they look like Coronation Street's idea of what goths dress like...

Tim Wheeler does ten tracks for a CD - Avalanches, Super Furry Animals, Stiff Little Fingers... we'd like to be on his tour bus, please...

Johnny Davis asks Coldplay "if you weren't in this band, what would you make of Coldplay, reading your interviews? Will replies "I'd probably be very bored." He's not wrong, believe me...

reviews: ash - intergalactic sonic 7"s ("never lost the ability to twist their high velocity passion for pop into a stream of great singles", 9); john squire - time changes everything ("70's bardic rock", 8); Mark Rae - Rae Road ("come on, sun", 7); delta - hard light ("truly great", 6); various - 4scott ("two quid goes to charity; KLF; Charlatans; Badly Drawn Boy - what more could you want?", 7)...

sotw is death in vegas - hands around my throat ("welcome to the dark side"); not kelly osbourne - papa don't preach ("daddy must be so proud"); or mudhoney - sonic infusion ("bangs along like there's no tomorrow")...

live: jj72 in camden ("dark; difficult; at times brilliant"); the kills in new york ("fucked-up and ragged"); pretty girls make graves in glasgow ("disco-trash-hardcore-sleze-rock of the highest order")...

and, erm, that's it, since the heart of angst (sorry, nmemail) has been ripped out to make a news feature, although there are some moans about the trains at reading...

BLUR SPLIT. OR MAYBE NOT. OR MAYBE: The whole have Blur split, or what, thing has gone on again a bit more and longer. Coxon insists talking to the
nme that he's still in the band, but, erm, the band are just doing their own thing at the moment and he doesn't really need to be there; he also didn't know they were going to Morocco to record. Graham, son - if your mates all go off abroad and don't tell you, you might want to spend some time thinking about if they're still your mates.

A LITTLE ARCHIVE SOMETHING: Shirley Manson interviews Pink - from the December 2001 Interview; discussing how she stole Linda Perry's number and talking about doggies.

MORE AWARDS FUN: robertshaw, bsn's man in the know, travels to an awards ceremony we bet you hadn't heard of...
went to my first ever awards ceremony last night and it was an industry one of all things. the musos, apparently. I'd never heard of it but dotmusic has: it's by the musicians, for the musicians (man) and they covered the inside of the hackney ocean in grass for that authentic festival experience. or something.
I was there as a guest of the darkness who were, as every the living embodiment of ROCK, though only for two songs. they were on v. early (half-past eight) so I don't know what a roomful of half-pissed could-bes and have-beens (with a smattering of ares) would've made of them. the actual awards ceremony was presented by your favourite rent-a-presenter and mine, lauren laverne, unably assisted by a pissed johnny vegas (who capped off a marvellous display of incoherent
ranting by vomiting behind the podium).
tony rogers from the charlies won best keyboardist, and was there to collect it, and the charlies won best live band, too, which he also collected, this time with a rant about west bromwich. at least I think it was west bromwich. tim sent a message from la. johnny greenwood won best guitarist (message from la), alan white from oasis best drummer (brother steve from the paul weller band), peter hook best bassist (steaming mad rant about bassists being better than lead guitarists; the award was presented by noel redding from the jimi hendrix experience, too) polly jean best vocal (someone from island)ian brown best single (surprisingly dry and succinct), and damon gough best songwriter (grateful if sceptical; joined on stage by peter hook and mani from the primal scream). I think that was all.
in between and after we had performances from big sur and kid galahad who were both nowt special. oh, and the modfather won some kind of lifetime achievement affair. his drummer picked it up, because paul doesn't do award ceremonies. end of the night saw reef play with noel redding on bass, they did 'hey joe' and 'voodoo chile', both of which were surprisingly good, even though I thought him the lead singer (I knew his name, once)
Robert has since contacted us to point out he does know its Gary Stringer should have looked a bit more overawed.

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS STILL GOING: Court blocks sale of remaining bits of Napster to Bertelsmann (who, since they're getting out of online music distribution anyway must be, like, really, really gutted); company finally unplugs for good; era ends.
More interestingly, it means the millions that BMG has lobbed into the company over the past few years has been pissed up the proverbial wall, which will make them chuckle like a drain as the realisation sinks in that they've paid 1996 prices for Zomba (i.e. well over the odds.)
Who'd be a big label, eh?
Hey, is this rope attached to our ankle? [MediaGuardian] - maybe we should have untied it before we kicked them into the hole...

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET?: Capital Radio shares fall more than 10% because of Tarrant's plans to leave breakfast; Clear Channel directors order extra Kleenex

LOCKS DROPPED: CNET reckons that the big labels are starting to cool over plans to introduce copy protection in the US. Mainly because they're a bit scared that the press backlash when they bugger up people's machines, of course; what's interesting is the defence that BMG's vice president of new technology has advanced for why they're continuing to plough ahead with using Europe as guinea-pig continent:
So far, European consumers have been slower to take up playing CDs in computers, as opposed to in conventional CD players, Haussler said. That's made it easier for labels to introduce copy-protection technology without as much fear of a backlash, although growing PC penetration in Europe is now making the markets more similar, she added.
In the United States, "it's actually a really big political and legislative issue," Haussler said.

Uh? Of course, what they reallyty mean is not that we here in Britain still use proper record players rather than our CD tray (which is arrant wasp toss, of course) but just that in Europe there's not the same keenness to enter into class action lawsuits - nobody this side of the Atlantic saw a penny back from Milli Vanilli, you know - and so they'll be happy to press on.

PROMPONDERENCE: The news that Gareth & Will are "playing" the Proms this year has set a lot of hares running in all sorts of directions, with the times just one of those lining up to report that the duff twosome are supposedly crashing the citadel of Classical Music. Only they're not, of course, they're doing the Proms In The Park - which has always been more Radio 2 than Radio 3 - and even then, they're doing the Children's BBC bit of Proms in the Park - so, about as close to the heart of the Albert Hall as the posturing of the Last Night crowd is to the real spirit of Britain.
Anyway, this hasn't stopped Proms head Nicholas Kenyon rushing up to defend having the stars of ITV's 'anyone can be a pop star' being involved at all.
They are two people that kids really relate to," he said.
"We have to recognise there is no longer a dividing line between the classical and pop worlds. They're not in completely separate camps - there's an overlap.
"We have to respond to what the audience listens to, and the audience's tastes are wider and more volatile than ever."
The audience is a "voracious consumer of all sorts of cultural experience", he said.
But he added: "The Proms will always be a festival based on the great classical repertory"

Now, I've a great deal of respect for Kenyon - or maybe he'd prefer that I have Res-pek for him - but clearly this is blether of the first order. Gareth and Will might be two people that kids can relate to, and audience tastes are wide, but that's not really a reason to include them in a classical music concert - kids like football and can relate to Beckham, but you wouldn't throw a five-a-side footy match into the mix, would you?
And while it's true that there's a lot of crossover between classical and pop, there's surely a better way to illustrate this than plonking a couple of plonkers from the charts onto the line-up? Radio 3 is nowadays packed with shows which occupy space between the Top 40 and the dress circle, but none of those would give housespace to glorified karaoke artists; it's clear the only motivation for the Proms to do so is to get a few more bums on seats (or anthills, this being a park.) Which is fine, and it might have the desired effect (you'll come for the Hits, you'll stay for the Saint-Saens), but it actually seems to reinforce the idea that classical music is difficult, and a pill that needs sweetening with a lot of froth. Which surely should be the exact opposite of the message the C-BBC Proms is for?
Let's throw in some lapdancing, too [BBC] - that seems to go down well...

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

REJJIGGED: JJ72 blaming "unforseen circumstances" for their rearrangement of their tour dates.

GET ME A HAMMER... GET ME A GUN... GET ME SOMETHING: I was going to never mention again the horrible, horrible, horrible remake of The Tide Is High by Atomic Kitten, but I really feel I need to. First (there's always a first, isn't there?) the lame-assed little rap bit in the middle took not one bored person with a rhyming dictionary and a copy of "Write the Val Doonican Way", but four people - four people to come up with a makeweight cod-rap, and not one of them noticed it made no sense.
Secondly, they're proud of themselves - Hugh Goldsmith, the head of Innocent, Atomic Kitten's label was crowing to Music Week "Doing covers can be a dangerous thing, but we added a really great twist to the song with the new middle eight." Now, let's just leave aside the unarguable fact that anyone who bought the Kitten version wouldn't have been born 22 years ago when the single last was in the chart, and as such were probably totally unaware it was a cover version; and that the middle eight only twisted the song in the way a gunsman twists a partridge's neck, lets just examine the claim that "doing covers can be a dangerous thing." Can it? In what way precisely is tromping out a new-ish version of a song that's already been proven to have the winning formula be passed off as being 'dangerous'? If its so dangerous, how come a fifth of the top selling singles of the year so far have been cover versions? How come Robbie Williams knocks off a CDs worth of covers in an lunchbreak from playing the goose and tramples everything in his wake? Why did the dreadful Simon PopIdol choose to not only get Gareth Gates to do a cover version, but chose to get him to do a cover of a song he'd previously had a number one with when he'd got the actor-gimps Robson and Jerome to cover it as well? Holly Vallance? That Eva Cassidy album? Covers are probably the safest thing you can do in the music industry, short of debuting the song at Princess Di's funeral. And that was even a bleedin' cover as well. Jesus Christ, Freak Like Me was a cover of a bloody mix.
I really ought to have a lie down.

AND FINALLY: IT'S MORAG V THE FASCISTS: Or rather, what happened when Morag went to the Love Music, Hate Racism day in Manchester on Sunday:
I wasn't exactly bursting with energy sunday morning and was pretty pissed off than I'd missed the march; but as luck would have it the bus incercepted it5 and I leapt off and joined in somewhere along oxford road. The turn out was pretty impressive; I'm guessing at least 5,000 and there's a lot to be said for chanting and waving banners. Of course whether or not it actually makes a difference is another matter and I could understand why Marie skulked off to the park somewhat embarrassed. But I think sometimes it's good to be idealistic and when you're up against BNP scumbags who like to pretend they represent the silent majority, well getting up and making a noise seems important.
A more serious concern for me was the relative hegemony of the crowd; not many faces that weren't white and rather smug looking. Of course I had the obligatory encounter with the SWP; why can't they see their semi religious fervour and knee jerk outrage is counter productive? Then, when we reached the park we faced the gauntlet of collections, petitions and book sellers; I felt under siege. Surely they'd have been better taking a more strategic approach rather than all thrusting madly at the crowd?
The carnival itself was helped along nicely by the glorious sunshine; tbh I saw so many old friends and felt so mellow I only paid scant regard to what was happening on stage. I had particularly wanted to see Miss Black America but somehow managed to miss them completely; the schedule unsurprisingly went out the window and I really couldn't tell you who we heard but it the kind of stuff you always hear at things like this.
I did catch Billy Bragg, well as much as was possible given the inevitable inadequate is in the sound quality. He started off with sexuality and a couple of the finer woody guthrie numbers, then there was a new song `it's all about the oil' which was possibly trite but very timely and went down brilliantly. These may be obvious truths but they still need voicing. However it quickly went downhill from there. He gave a long and well intentioned but muddleheaded and boring speech about the whole anglo hyphen saxon concept he keeps blethering on about. This included the assertion that there is no BNP or similar in Scotland or Wales. He then launched into that dreadful song `I eat vegetable curry at least once a week/ then the next day fry it up as bubble and squeak/ cos my appetites half english and I'm half englisg too.' This was followed by the abysmal `pull down the union jack' and a smart retort to some wanker in the crowd who gave a nazi salute.
Just when I was questioning why I still give Billy Bragg a place in my heart he sang an updated version of `waiting for the great leap forward' and ended with `a new england' which still brings a lump to my throat after all these years.
It was time then for more wandering; there was a couple of dance stages and some precictable stalls but by now I was wilting and craving a cool drink. Foolishly I went for a beer which failed to perk me up and instead induced sleepiness and a terrible craving for roast potatoes. There was no sign of Rachel and I didn't think I'd last though to the Doves without keeling over so I got the bus home; naturally the stop before my destination she called to say she'd arrived but with bags of regret there was no turning back for me.

MORAG II: A busy weekend this, which saw Morag on Saturday go to the Americana One Festival at Liverpool's Masque venue
or americano as the venue had billed it. mmmmm. a coffee fest; yes
The day got off to a very bad start when my brother claimed he wasn't expecting to have to go and see some bloody boring bands but thought I just wanted to crash at his house afterwards. Er, no Adrian; that's why I said on Wednesday I want to get the last train home but I've bought you a ticket anyway. I'd forgotten just what a bad tempered git he can be sometimes; however I suspect an undisclosed hangover as
fter a few coffees and a huge scowl at me (plus a rather bizarre diatribe about how I spoilt his plans to buy a new phone and get a biffy dvd that's allegedly only available in one tesco store in the country) he declared himslef ready to go and then only moaned about it being country a couple of times.
The afternoon was cramped and hot and we were too far away from the stage to distinguish who was on half the time; it did all rather seem to melt into one. Lots of lamenting lost love and aching violins aplenty; very few stand out songs. Special mentions to Cicero Buck who I will defineltey look out for; they had a woman singer and some songs with real passion. I also the have-nots a great deal; they are young and pretty and have some beautiful harmonies. I know everyone thinks they love ryan adams a bit too much but I think they get away with it. Plus Matt Hill's producing their album and I confess to having a huge soft spot for him. It's a shame his set got cancelled but at least he had a good excuse; he was in las Vegas singing with an Elvis impersonator at a friends wedding. I just wish the
afternoon had moved me more; I wasn't filled with inspiration
There was a break between the free show and the main acts, we missed the screening of O Brother Where Art Thou so we could go get some food; by this time Adrian looked like he was almost enjoying himslef and I was glad tio be there with him. When we returned, after a hefty delay, we went upstairs for the main attraction. Whilst we were hanging around I discussed whether we were really a scene or not and Adrian kept telling people I usually drag him to see Britney.
I've seen Michael Weston King a few times; each time I think `he was rather good; I must buy a good sons record' and then I get distracted and forget and can't remember why I thought he was so good. And guess what; same happened today. I can recall he was accompanied by Allan Cook on pedal steel, possibly the hardest working man in show business (if this counts a show business) Anyhow if there's a guest pedal steel player at a show in the Uk there's an 85% chance it'll be Alan and he's always a very welcome sight.
Bap Kennedy was ok: I'm damning with faint praise because I suddenly found myself craving glamour and pop stars and passion instead of some amiable bloke singing nice but unremarkable pub rock numbers. Bonus points for the vampire song though.
I love The Arlenes and was really looking forward to seeing them live for the first time. They play fairly traditional country but they do it so well; maybe I'm just a sucker for the husband/wife dynamic. I can't help but think if the handsomes didn't have mental health issues maybe they would sound like this. I spent a gratifying amount of time Saturday talking abut the handsomes, always a favourite subject as y'all know. Anyhow, I digress. back to the arlenes. Sadly Steph wasn't there, having just had a baby (Honey Belle Arlene; what a cool name) and tbh I was disappointed, they were good with out her but nothing special. Her absence also made it an unremittingly blokey night. save for a backing vocalist on a couple of Bill malonee and Michael Weston King songs the evening stage was entirely male. I found that profoundly depressing, not least when I realised I couldn't think of anyone I especially wished was there.
Token genuine American Bill Malonee was the highlight of the night for me; intelligent, haunting songs and the evening's first sighting of charisma. I've always enjoyed the Vigilantes of Love but this was an unexpected delight. He reminds me somewhat of Mike Scott, not least because of his entertaining , thought provoking and occasionally barking words but noone seemed to see this so perhaps I'm wrong. There was some inexplicably moving harmonica playing and he apologised for any trouble his country may be causing at them moment. Memo to self: buy my own copy of audible sigh.
Peter Bruntnell does what he does very well indeed; that thing is strumming his guitar and singing languorous melodies about darkly humourous stuff you wouldn't expect (cryogenics, hating tabloid journalists, the joys of Hull) I know he can rock out too but I was sort of glad it was just him and the ubiquitous James on guitar as it fitted the mood better. One track, not even his best, did that weird thing music can do sometimes and transported me back to the first (and last) time I'd heard it.
anyhow next up were witness; after all the hype and adulation they were almost inevitably a let down. For some reason I was reminded inexplicably of The Real People, probably as a result of the scouse indie contingent there to cheer them on, and in truth that's what they were; and average indie band with very little sparkle. I wouldn't even have said americana was a particular influence on them and yes, once again it was totally blokey.
Perhaps I'm being a little harsh on witness; their last song was a power pop cracker about a man who uses a buggy as a zimmer frame and I suspect they may well be a grower and I'd be keen to hear the album. but right now, I didn't think they belonged on my heart on this stage.
the whole night had overrun spectacularly so I was pretty glad I'd been offered a lift back to manc with steve who produces Triste magazine (the next issue of which includes my encounter with richard buckner) His brother has just moved to chicago; this made me jealous and pretty pissed off. if he can do it, why can't I? the answer seems to be my lack of expertise about animal feed. grrr. The conversation then drifted onto the place of kazoos in skiffle bands; this made me much happier. But it was late, I was tired and I am, as often stated, crap at navigation, so we got to whalley range via cheadle and thus it was 3.30 am before my head hit the pillow.

More about Americana One on the official site

MORE-AG ON LEEDS: Another bsn perspective on the Leeds Festival, from Morag this time - no thanks to James Naughtie...
They day started with a panic; I had been told the train strike would not effect Manc-Leeds trains; Today said otherwise and a quick call to the national enquiries revealed only one train to leeds all day! Aaaaargh! In a tizzy I grabbed a cab to the coach station, bought a ticket for a coach only to try and board it and be told it was full up and I shouldn't have been sold a ticket and no I couldn't get a refund because I could hget a later (too late coach) Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh! On the off chance I walked to the train station, only to find a train for Leeds leaving in 3 minutes with no reported problems. So, actually I arrived in Leeds early and for the first time ever got to Avani's house with no Beeston-related mishaps.
Despite the fact we've all lived in leeds for years, and been to temple newsham many times, we still ended up going round in circles and getting lost and missing the mouldy peaches. grrrr.
anyhow, we got there in time for mercury rev who are one of my favourite live bands ever. Its been recoreded before how I believe they were better with david baker and that I never ever play the last two albums because except fotr a few they bore me but still I love them and try never to miss to show. They sounded very symphonic today; I sat in the sunshine smiling and when they played frittering I cried a little, simply because I was thinking about how many times I've heard them play this song and how I've never felt as happy with myself. Goddess sounded good and the dark is rising is spine tremeblingly good (it always takes me back to lying on a floor in brooklyn listening to a holiday tape and wondering what neil young album it was on)
Avani and Cathy went somewhere else but returned to inform me, much to my dismay that they were really really looking forward to seeing the dandy warhols because they are a huge favourite band. eh? I was having none of it; not when peaches was on. I didn't love her as much as I wanted too, largely because it was too early and I was surrounded by pissed up lardy white boys leering at her. I stayed to cheer but then I spotted some people io really really wanted to see and so drifted off towards guided by voices who are a band I never think about but always really really enjoy.
There was a tangible sense of excitement about the white stripes; I'm surprised they weren't on later. They were utterly fantastic and totally sexy.. Oh I want, I want, I want. kind of funny how the monitors never showed them in the same shot but I got close enough to see the real thing sigh They played a fair range of stuff, best version of hotel yorba I've heard and good to see the crowd liked theolder stuff too. There was a mass singalong to I know you and me are gonna be friends and a few groans there was no fell in love with a girl but they made me feel like a giddy teenybopper and that can never be a bad thing. yum, yum, yum. There was a very dangerous crush on the way out, mainly cos all the sheep were off to see the vines. We were headed for the loos instead; now I don't like talking about festival toilets and I expect them to be grim. But I don't expect there to be hardly any and for them to be fenced off and for them to be mixed sex (in practice if not by design) and the crush against the fence really was disturbing and I'm not someone who gets freaked by crowds.
This sort of typified the festival for me; a too big mass of people many of whom bad tempered and ill managed. there was a very uneasy atmosphere; too many people too pissed and with too little to amuse them; there seemed to be an awful lot of arguments and kids being bolshy with each other (and no; I don't think it's cos I'm getting old) There didn't appear to be many stewards around, although to be fair those at the gates were very polite and happy to help and slightly apologetic about the petty bureaucracy (eg Cathy had to go 5 miles up a hill as she had a weekend ticket and couldn't get her wristband from the same place as us; they couldn't sell me a sunday ticket on saturday – although this turned out to be a blessing)
Anyhow I escaped out of the arena to see rory and sarah which was ace and have some beer which was less ace but still very welcome. We talked about lots of stuff and put on some glitter and then I felt bad about missing bands and they had to go do stuff and so it was back into the lions den only this time I wasn't smuggling sandwiches.
I saw a bit of the breeders (ace as ever) and then went to see the reindeer section (ditto) They had Aidan Arab Strap with them and sounded mighty fine, but I wanted a joyous festival singalong experience and so went to see pulp who did not disappoint. They were fantastic. Jarvis had bare feet and was at his god of pop sparkly best. It was pretty much a greatest hits set; I whooped with joy at a wonderful version of babies and I still love the heavier version of common people they do. The I love life stuff is still fabulous and even the slight this is hardcore sounded better than I recall. I'd forgotten just how good e's and whizz is when sung to a crowd; It was proper festival appearance and it made me feel glad to be alive.
Jarvis was on top form; when they played bad cover version he talked about stars in their eyes and how he did rolf in exchange for contacts for the video (that is still my favourite tv moment on the last few years right now) and he took the piss out of people bungee jumping and best of all launched into a tirade against toploader (`you know when there's a song stuck in your head, I've got that shite dancing in the moonlight…..) If I believed in such things I would demand him a knighthood. Sir jarvis of popdom; I love you.
One of the things I love about leeds is bumping into drinking buddies from my past, I love just wandering round being sociable in the sun (and erm rain) and so it was all pretty cool. This is the most time I ever spent by the main stage of any festival. I had wanted to see the polyphonic spree but Avani was worried about the crowds and the dark and wanted me to stay close, so I saw the Strokes. They've improved since last time I saw them but still I reckon they are one trick ponies with rich daddies who got lucky. Last nite rocked my socks tho.
The rather poor line-up and the terrible conditions disuaded me from returning Sunday. It's not a decision I have come to regret although I did have a good day – Jack and Meg and Jarvis saw to that. For all kinds of reasons I'm not surprised there was a mini-riot and for all kinds of other reasons even if there is a leeds next year I won't be going

MORE ON WEBTHEFT: Of course, facts, "facts" and stats keep swapping round the MP3 debate faster than an Eminem album onto a Broadband-connected iPod, but if you're in the mood for some more: consider this - according to BPI figures, Internet sales now account for one in every twenty CDs sold in the UK. Now, surely if the interweb was strangling the life out the industry, and the sort of people who have access to a world of free music will never buy a record again, that figure should be falling rather than rising?
Another explanation for the current malaise in the music industry might be found in one of the other pieces of data, which suggests that supermaket sales account now for 16% of all CD album sales in the UK, while specialists and music chains are seeing their share of the market fall. Now, generally the music industry see supermarket sales as a Good Thing, because you can pick up Pink while you p-p-pick up a Penguin. And to a point that's true, but our experience of the range available in Supermarkets suggests the convenience may come at a price. Go into a record shop to buy a copy of the Oakenfold single, and you're going to be in a room full of other singles and albums, many presented attractively and priced competitively. It's virtually impossible to come out without buying more than you went in for. In a supermarket, not only is the range smaller, but you've got steaks, charcoal briquettes and own-brand brogues also competing for your attention - the result is that even if something else does spark your interest, and that's quite a big if - you've got all sort of other pulls on your cash making a snap purchase far less likely. If our theory is right, you'd expect to see that the supermarkets share of the pie rise, while the pie itself gets smaller - and that's exactly what's happening.

ASK THE NASTY MAN TO SAVE THE BUNNY: Now, we here at No Rock have long been vegetarian and generally are happy to throw our support behind animal rights campaigns - if there's a donkey about to be ridden in Spain, or a poor sheep being forced to live near Carla Lane, we're there, with the petitions and candles and the "Hell... No"s. But surely the people at PETA have better things to do with their time that try and get Judas Priest to retitle an album a quarter of a century old from Hell Bent For Leather to Hell Bent for Pleather? But they are, and even sending ver Priest pictures of themselves gimped up in the leather-like cruelty-free gear. You might want to muse on more worthy uses of time and effort; I'm sure you'll come up with quite a few.
See? We're not making this up - we send bands pornographic pictures of ourselves, it's stalking. PETA do it, it's campaigning...
This is more like it - Pink doesn't do fur. Anymore.

PERPETUAL SHIFTS: Now that the dauphain has been chosen for the Jimmy Young slot, and our man Jeremy Vine is already taking requests for "something from Bend Sinister", the next great job in radio up for grabs is the Breakfast Show on Capital. Chris Tarrant has been doing it since just after radio was invented, and it's reckoned he could be responsible for 25% of the profits for the station, so if they fudge the succession it could spell disaster for Capital - especially at a time when foreign companies (we're using this as a euphemism for Clear Channel) might be allowed to take over British broadcasters. It's hugely unlikely, then, that Mark and Lard will be getting a call soon.
Someone seems to be trying to start a rush for Christian O'Connell, currently doing the Xfm breakfast slot, but perhaps best known to the public at large as being the mysterious, wooden person on the Pete Burns edition of Never Mind The Buzzcocks. To be on a show with Kerry McFadden and still be the worst performer on the night is a special talent indeed. We in Liverpool were rather surprised when he popped up on Xfm, as we'd assumed his disappearance from Juice had been because one of the station's management had tuned in and heard one of his programmes.
Also rumoured to be in with a chance is Dr Fox - who is not a real Doctor; a real Fox; or a real person. The oddly-necked one who drives the Pepsi Chart Show (or the 'Your Name Here' Chart Show) can't be a serious punt, though - he's been around at Capital so long his postion can only be compared to that of Prince Charles; by the time the top job finally becomes available, he's going to be too old for it.
Apparently, Ant and Dec are being lunched. shudders
Meanwhile, the BBC has signed Sara Cox up for three more years, which, at present rates, would mean the loss of three million more listeners.
Danny Baker broadcasts at breakfast too, you know [MediaGuardian] - DLT is hapy to clear his diary

Cyberpunk defined

BOL - BOOKS OFFLINE?: According to the FT, Bertelsmann are about to either scale down or close entirely its online books and music sales department, an empire which includes CDNow, BOL and It's suggested that Amazon might snap up a large part of the assets of any shake-down; even if it doesn't the giant of online retailing must be pretty much on the point of giddy-goosery with the likely demise of its main competition. Expect the gap between online price and store price to get a lot less attractive in the next few months.
In related news, the European Commission has approved BMG's takeover of Zomba, the label that gives us Britney Spears - the Commission reckoning that it won't really increase BMG's market share much. Maybe not, but "they're so big it doesn't matter if they get a little bit bigger" is hardly sound reasoning; and allowing one of the big labels to swallow down one of the biggest acts in the world is hardly a blow for competition, is it?

COLDPLAY ALMOST ROBBED: Coldplay's attempts to single-handedly make the world a beiger place were nearly thwarted when the computer that compiles the Australian Album Chart refused to recognise them as outselling everybody else. Although it would be nice to believe this was a machine demonstrating better taste than the record-buying public, the fact this left Enrique at number one for the seventy-ninth consecutive week or whatever makes us believe them when they say it was an error with the "Big W file", whatever that is
This sort of thing makes chart-heads happy [Undercover] - Machine Gun Fellatio restored to their rightful place...

Monday, September 02, 2002

TEN: Godsends for small bands on the road:
1.24 Hour Petrol Stations - Bands are forced to keep odd hours, and drive around a lot. 24 Hour Petrol Stations have no cares about the sartorial standards of their customers. Perfect. Plus, they have...

2.Ginsters Pasties - For some reason, Ginsters have the monopoly of the Motorway Service Station fridge-microwave pasty market, and as such are probably the shambling indie band's post-gig meal of (no) choice. Probably because of this, their marketing company threw out the posters of a bloke in a leather jacket eating a pasty (they wouldn't have realised being described as 'Fonzie goes to School Disco' was a jibe) and produced an imaginative Pastie-themed online Music Festival for a while. Still taste rotten, though.

3.Phonecards - now that BT are phasing out the plastic card which allows you to make calls without the need for coins - supposedly a convenience, although how you were meant to get hold of a card from a shop that was likely to be closed, and presumably without cash, which you could have used in the box next door was never convincingly explained - what will bands on the road do for the all-important emergency plectrum?

4.Ato Z Street Maps - obviously, London bands tend to keep a copy of this close to their hearts. But nobody ever has a full set of A-Z maps, so as soon as you're on strange roads, you're reduced to relying on a poorly photocopied version of the page with, supposedly, the place you're looking for on them. They seldom are, thereby throwing you onto...

5.Asking Directions - nobody has ever heard of the place you're playing, or the street it's on. Or the town that it's in. You might be lost.

6.Sleeping bags -No matter what the plans for night-time are, you'll need a sleeping-bag. If your tour manager has booked you in a "hotel", it will be creepy and you won't want to touch their bedding. If you're staying "with fans" you will either need a sleeping bag because you are in a room with the cats and their cat litter, or else you will need something to zip you away from the slightly awestruck stalker light.

7.Train timetable - handy for the drummer when he's dismissed from the band while in Newquay

8.Pamela DesBarres book - because you're not going to have any real groupies, are you?

9.Marker Pens - Yeah, you can take your gel pens and biros, but in a live environment, you need a marker pen. For a start, you're going to have to lend it to the promoter who hasn't bothered to make any signs to hang in the front bit of the venue telling people that it's 'TONITE'. Second, you need to draw up the setlist in the biggest letters possible, so Jonny Dreadnaught from the local paper will be able to read your song titles upside down. Third, you'll have to deface the cruel, unloving town with your band's artfully chosen name as a punishment for only managing to get five people to turn out for you

10. Gaffer tape - a million uses, including reparing the inevitably-damaged inevitable post-soundcheck kickabout ball. Plus useful in case you do come across a groupie...

LET'S GET THIS OVER WITH BEFORE THE ANNIVERSARY: All the many things about Marc Bolan that were great are undeniable - the look, the music, the voice, the songs. And we bet he was a brilliant shag, too. But the poetry? Oh, Marc, the poetry. Not so great.

OH, YEAH. YOU SLAG GEORGE OFF FOR NOT TALKING ABOUT ACTUAL MUSIC...: Yes, it's probably been ages since we mentioned a new band that we think you should smear your still-twitching bodies with. So, with that in mind: volcano the bear - so far, it seems: barely-there whispering gorgeousness; like Movietone but even more delicate. Yum.

MTV, TOO: Other cynical bastard (and, therefore, fun) coverage of MTV's Music video awards at:
Fluxblog - Pink proclaims onstage that she's "too drunk for this", and looks like she's going to pass out. Pink makes 1995-era Courtney Love seem really with-it and lucid.
I Know My First Name Is Jim - plus, butt cleavage. I'm now a Pink fan
Listentomemissy - Biker Slut Britney
Vain, selfish and lazy - funny she introduces pink since the tag 'singer/song-writer' as applied to jennifer love hewitt made me think of pink mentor linda perry. no i don't know why either...
Dilletantism - where's Jarvis Cocker when you need him?
New York London Paris Munich - back to 1984
Oh... and this is Pink...

BOY IN THE PAPERS: A WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY SPECIAL: Boy George has never been afraid of catching a downward spiral; having signed up for a chat show on Play UK seconds before the people at Flextech decided to make the station into a 24-hour Kim Wilde gardening network instead, he's also, it appears, carving out a niche for himself as the heir to John Junor, filing a column for the Sunday Express. Boy, how could you? It's hard to know where to start with our disgust at finding the one-time one-man counter-culture working for Richard Desmond, a man who cultivates a friendship with Blair purely to see how far right he can push him; a man who believe Victoria Beckham to be the greatest singer in the world; and a man who owns Express newspapers. It's not just that the paper is vile, vile, vile - laid-out as if a retired hot metal worker has been dragged in from Benidorm and plonked in front of a pirated copy of Microsoft Publisher, and only told half way through they went tabloid a couple of years ago; 'news' written in such a way as to make the half-thoughts of the third string columnists (Feltz, Kilroy-Silk) seem coherent; "full of pornography, the kind that's clean" as John Cooper Clarke said many years ago - still as true now; still a place where "William Hickey meets Michael Caine, again and again and again and again." The real saddness is that George writing for the Express is akin to him giving up, admitting he was a pantomime sideshow all along and, actually, that time Jimmy Saville introduced him on Top of the Pops? He was the more conventional one in that particular cultural-cross meeting.
As if to save his beautifully made-up face, George clearly tosses off the column in five minutes on Friday lunchtime - the only way to explain the poor construction, poor opinions based on misunderstood factlets, and the general air of 'will-this-do' mixed with a desperation to try and convince us - or, more likely, the freewheeling-towards-Valhalla Express reader - that the Boy is still hip.
The fact that the Sunday Express is the only place for him to peddle his wares says it all really - why would an '02 teenager be any more interested in George's opinions on the chart than my generation were with the "and your point is" when Quentin Crisp tut-tutted over rock's habit of getting youth worked up when they had no war to work it out of them again; it's another painted queen from twenty years ago whose time has passed, after all. No, George is not really sharing his view of the cutting edge; however he might describe it, his role at the Sunday Express is of state eunuch; coming back and telling us how shocking all the new things the young people are getting up are.
So, what does he have to say?
I warned you the next musical revolution would be female-led, with the odd quasi-androgynous geezer thrown in for good measure, like Fischer Spooner, reportedly signed to the Ministry of Sound dance label for a couple of million pounds.
Now, we're pretty rip and read here at No Rock and Roll Fun, so we're aware there's motes and beams here, but just where did that sentence end up? It sort of rolled off the point and never came back. Just to make it clear, George, we think you meant Fischerspooner (all one word, but two "geezers" - if you can have geezers from New York) signed to Ministry of Sound for a reported couple of mill. There's no "reportedly" about the signing, young man. They've even had a single fizzle limply into the charts, and been on TOTP and everything. And 'quasi-androgynous'? - we're not sure that you can be a little bit androgynous; that's like being slightly bald or fairly dead, isn't it? And Fischerspooner aren't really androgynous, are they? A little bit tranny in places, maybe, but you'd never look at them and go "... is it a ... or is...?"
However, back to the ladies. Canadian singer Peaches (whom I wrongly called American, which is apparently an insult) gave a superb performance at Pop Stars at London's Scala Club. It was like being 15 all over again. To be an electro superstar, you need your own "gimp".
Eh? Hang about a moment - there's an awful lot of Electro superstars out there, and as far as I know there's only one with a "gimp", with quotation marks or without. Unless Golden Boy actually spends the time between sets bound round and round with rubber? But George remembers we're in the world of the Sunday Express, where gimps are as a rare as a bent High Court Judge, and so feels the need to explain just what he's talking about:
Remember Pulp Fiction, where the scary man in a rubber suit and chains was pulled from a box? Well, Peaches gimp (serville dependent, perhaps?) is called Mignon. Though how she will take to being called a gimp is anyone's guess.
Garble much? This whole sentence is just crying out to be reshuffled into an order that makes sense. And if Mignon is really a gimp, or a serville dependent, how she takes to being called a gimp is surely not an issue at all, is it?
But less of these questions, gentle Express reader, for George is about to tell you 'bout the 'orrors he witnessed:
At a certain point in the show ("Certain point?" Is this a regular thing, then? Does it happen to order? Not very spontaneous, is it? Or did you start to nod off George, and only jerked awake at this point?) Mignon appears with gaffer tape across her mouth and bound in rope, rolling around. Peaches lovingly spits blood all over her as they duet and pogo like leftover punks.
Rather tricky to pogo when you're bound in rope, I seem to recall from experience...
The kids loved it. I haven't seen such an enthusiastic and dressed-up crowd for years. (You'll recall that George has spent the last few months hanging about at the theatre playing his musical, Taboo, so that's probably quite true.) Peaches looks rather like Sandra Bernhard crossed with Jamie Lee Curtis and a dash of Patti Smith. (This is George's way of saying she doesn't actually look pretty). So the big question is, who's a better influence - peaches or Britney Spears in school uniform? I would always opt for the edgy avant guarde over the squeaky Spears.
Um... why precisely is that the big queston, George? Apart from anything, when you talk about "influence", influence on whom, precisely? Do you mean children, old men, music in general? I get the feeling you might be talking about influence on kids, although it's not clear.
Britney did, indeed, make a video where she gyrated about in a fairly chaste way in a school uniform - although this was in 1999, so it's hardly a very current and pressing concern. But since you bring it up, she was seventeen at the time; an age when many young adults in both the US and the UK are still expected to wear uniforms. Now, since I assume you're not suggesting that Brit was a bad influence for encouraging young people to wear uniforms, but rather for trading on their dubious sexual fetish? (Some might wonder if this is the same Boy George whose Karma Chameleon is gracing the uniform-tastic album). But, without wanting to sound like a member of Iain Duncan-Smith's party (or an Express leader), as far as young girls go, I'd be rather more concerned to see ten year olds acting out explicit songs about masturbation wearing stockings and not much else than I would for them to have tied their shirts up to show off their belly buttons and bop about a bit.
Regardless, Britney's next step was to reinvent herself as a PVC clad tease and most recently made a Gimp On A Budget appearance at the MTV Video awards; presumably S&M imagery in the mainstream is somehow less crucial than in the left-field?
You won't hear Peaches on the radio, unless she tones down her language
Erm... she's got her own artist page on the Radio 1 website, has been interviewed by the network and been played a fair bit on Jo Wylie's lunchtime show, George. They're called "radio edits", apparently.
So she remains one of pop's best kept secrets.
George, we don't want to rain on your parade, luv, but she's had a Top 40 hit and recorded stuff for Top of the Pops and everything. She's about as much a secret as the desire to wipe out his father's shame being the spur pushing George Bush to attack Iraq is.
Then you have Miss Kitten - Kittin, surely? - DJs like Jo Jo Le Freak and the Ping Pong Bitches. Um... Ping Pong Bitches aren't actually DJs, are they? Or, indeed, electroclash. And none of these - pace your earlier comments - have gimps, do they? Though we do agree with you when you say
Someone get them on Top of the Pops now.
When will the music industry start being pro-active as opposed to reactive and stop serving up puerile pop?

A question ponder indeed. Maybe when compilations of eighties hits stop selling, and package acts of bands like Culture Club keep providing the industry with a quick fix of cash for limited investment and the labels are forced to come up with something a bit more challenging?
Anyway, I have always found myself drawn to ball-busting chicks...
This may come as news to Helen Terry. And Jon Moss.
... and I say, bring on the girls - or is it ghouls?
No, stop it, George - really, you're killing us with your witty wordplay. Though we're not sure what's in anyway ghoulish about the idea of a strong female figure? Not the tunnels with teeth, surely? But then why otherwise would you choose to describe someone like Peaches as "ball-busting" - why in terms of the male genitals? I think you'll find that Peaches has no interest in attacking male gender roles; for her, the whole point is that they're obsolete, meaningless; as old fashioned as the chorus to Time (Clock of the Heart). For all your talk of androgyny, Boy, you never were able to get past the pants as being the place where gender-play had to stop.
Perhaps Blur were on to something with their rousing chorus 'Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls, who do boys like they're girls'
Yes, maybe they were, but it was something else entirely - ladettes rather than women who deliberately prowled round the central reservation of gender.
Or Garbage chanting 'Boys in the girls' room, girls in the boys' room" on their hit single androgyny
Good choice, George. Mind you, that charted at 24, which allows us to calculate the difference between a Hit Single and A Pop Secret must lay somewhere between the numbers 25 and 35 on the chart, then.
Clearly it doesn't pay to be ahead of your time but at least this new (you know what I mean) sound has not been swallowed up by the corporate fatcats.
Ping Pong Bitches are on Poptones, whose shareholders include the Queen and Sony enriched Alan McGee. Peaches rather-fine Set It Off came out on Epic, part of the Sony empire; another wing of Sony put out Rippin Kittin. Not only do you not know what you're talking about, george, but the very record labels who you're shaking and telling to wake-up were out of bed and waving chequebooks before you'd even set your alarm clock.
I keep reading dance mags dissing Fischer Spooner because of his high-camp visuals and Electro beat...
Really? You read them close enough to see the attacks, but not to find out that he is a they? Curious. Anyway, complaining that dance magazines are rubbishing Fischerspooner is on a par with moaning that Kerrang have given Atomic Kitten a bum steer, isn't it?
... but it's fine for every band on the planet to constantly reference the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Eh? Presumably Muzik and Seven aren't praising Oasis for anything, much less their knee-bow to the works of Lennon. Or does he mean generally? And if he means generally, surely the reason that bands like Oasis have been beaten to critical death has been mainly for their simple-minded rehashing of Beatles tunes?
Get over it, drag's back. Fight it at your peril
Jesus, what drugs have you been on? Drag's never gone away, from Ian Mac as Judy Garland, through Kurt in a skirt to Nicky Wire's girl-attire, even the grungiest of the grunge have resorted to a quick trip to Miss Selfridge to restore a blunted cutting edge. What Fischerspooner do is use a bit of slap instead of writing some songs. And therein lays their problem.
See, we agree with the basic fact of this article - Kittin, Peaches and Bitches are amongst the great musical joys of our age. But you'll notice that in his directionless stride, George summoned up not a single word about the brilliant, muscular, funny music they make.

HOW SUPERCLUBS WORK: Enter a competition; sign away the next 18 years of life and work to Cream, reckons this poster to the board. Now, clearly Cream (or anybody, come to that) aren't going to go to all the trouble of creating a talent-spotting show only to have the acts they unearth disappear off to a rival as soon as they've posed for the picture of them with the big cardboard cheque. But if the terms of the contract being sent to keen, impressionable, hungry youths are really so skewed as is claimed in Cream's favour, you might start to ask the odd question or two about whether this is an ethical way to build a roster.

URI... WE'VE GOT BAD NEWS: In her admirable run-through of matters arising at the MTV VMA, the wonderful Miss Bamboo neglected to mention only the Michael Jackson incident. There's Britney - dressed in the sort of unsexy type of fetish gear that bored housewives and office bores buy in Anne Summers because they're scared they might get drugged and bottom-poked if they go into one of those shops where you can't see through the windows. Then there's Michael - looking like nothing else on earth, and nothing like he looked the last time he went out in public. Britney, for some reason, is overcome and awestruck - this is rather like a bottle of Pepsi being nervy at sharing the shelf with a can of R Whites Lemonade - and babbles that, in her mind, Michael is "the artist of the millennium." She doesn't say if she's thinking of the current one, or the one that ended a couple of years back, but it doesn't matter, because Michael seems to think that he is, in some way, the artist of some millennium as well. (Bear in mind this is the bloke who once pulled his records from radio stations that refused to call him The King of Pop. And who has just lumbered the kid he's rustled up from somewhere with the name Prince Michael II). So he starts to make an acceptance speech. Not only this, but in between thanking his parents and God, he also thanks his magical, mystical consort. David Blaine. Now, obviously Uri has been busy peering down Tara Palmer-Tompkinson's top for I'm A celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and suggesting that Rhona Cameron is stroppy because "she's a lesbian", but he surely doesn't know that Michael has moved on to a new nutso wizard bloke to hang out with. You have to pity the poor bloke - two weeks in the australian jungle with Darren Day, and you come back and find your mate's dumped you. We expect him to appear in ten years time, bearded, shouting "but Blaine... he's a bloody conjurer..."