Friday, September 13, 2002

SAVING TIME IN A BOTTLE: And, at this point, No Rock And Roll Fun is taking a short break - we'll be back on September 21st (earlier if Elton John gets shot, or something). And since we're leaving you to your own devices, we'd just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's written, both with words of praise and corrections for the inevitable moments of sloppiness, for which we offer apologies and thanks.

SLAP ON THE EAR: I know looking at a VH1 top ten critically is probably one of those tasks that doesn't actually reward the effort expended upon it - like eating celery, or the Iraqi ambassador talking to the UN - but even so, I happened to catch the Top 10 Men In Make-Up today. Or rather, the top nine; I missed number 10, and although the Sky Digital programme guide listed "some of the artists", it actually had two in its list who didn't appear, so I can only speculate on who was meant to be there. Anyway - these are the ten:
10 - Gary Numan or Marilyn Manson
9 - Marc Almond
8 - Robbie Williams
7- Steve Strange
6- Twisted Sister
5 - Robert Smith
4 - Boy George
3 - Adam Ant
2- David Bowie
1 - Kiss
Now, leaving aside the presence of Robbie Williams - nominated on the 'strength' of Let Me Entertain You, when he parodied Kiss in the video, and as such not really a man in make-up at all - there are clearly two acts who don't fit here. And one of them is at number one. Sure, the Sister and the Kissters do have make-up on, but it's not in the same way that Adam or Robert Smith wear make-up; to include them you might as well throw in Insane Clown Posse and have done with. There's make up, see, and then there's "make-up"; and there's a hell of a difference between beautifying yourself and putting on a mask. And we'd have thought the distincition was a pretty important one - indeed, the distinction is pretty. But... it's just a VH-1 chart, and I think we've made it to the fluffy leafy bit already...

ALL THIS FILE-SHARING ISN'T MAKING US RICH: Nice to see that UK ISPs are bleating about people using the internet for file sharing - which is a little bit like butchers complaining about meat-eaters pestering them for steaks and chops. Since any accessing of the internet is going to involve file-swapping of one sort or another - unless the good people at Freeserve actually want us to restrict ourselves to reading old all-text pages (maybe they should send out CDs with Mosaic, rather than Explorer on?) - and since the adverts for the ISPs encourage us to sign up with them generally depict people doing groovy things online, rather than just peeking into Google's usenet archive, what exactly do they expect to happen? "It's eating away at our margins" they complain, to which the response must be: well, you've buggered your businessplan - is that our fault? Recalculate your price point and stop blubbing, for crying out loud.
The BBC report is amusing, because it floats the idea that maybe people should be charged for the bandwidth they use - hey, maybe metered internet time could be the future? Like the way unmetered internet time was meant to be when they started to offer it?
Anyway, at the end of the piece is a hint that maybe Napster isn't quite totally dead yet - it seems a company wants to buy the name for a porn service. It doesn't say if they plan to use it for legitimate or copyright-busting porn, though.

LIFE'LL KILL YOU: Sorry to hear that Warren Zevon has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, according to YahooNews. I've never much liked Yahoo as a brand name, but it's at its weakest when its reporting news like that - Warren's dying, says Yahoo!

Thursday, September 12, 2002

AN AGE-OLD QUESTION: From You are talking too loud - does playing an instrument change the way you listen to music?

FLY MAN, FLY: Dave Rowntree, out of The Blur, is standing for office in the forthcoming Musicians' Union elections. Apparently he was spurred to take a political stance after getting a round-robin from the BPI trying to bark up artists support for Jean Michel Jarre's copyright-campaign. Describing the approach as "loathsome and vile" he continued ""The BPI doesn't represent people in bands. "It works with and is entirely controlled by record companies and quite often their interests are at odds with bands" The BPI counter that "The BPI does represent record companies - but they have to look after their artists and represent their interests" - which has to be bollocks, of course - how on earth can an organisation designed to represent employer's interests also nurture those of the employees? It doesn't work that way in teaching, say, where Head Teachers and their staff are enrolled in different bodies, to avoid the inevitable conflict of interests that could develop otherwise. The BPI shouldn't be apologetic - its role is to ensure that its members squeeze every ounce of profit from the raw materials of music - but it's ridiculous that it pretends to be simultaneously cherishing those raw materials.
Blimey - he's not so quiet after all [BBC News Online] - Lets just hope his first job isn't representing Coxon in a constructive dismissal suit

MAPLE LEAFING: A hybrid of sense and nonesense from the Canadian National Post about British music - apparently enjoying a "resurgence" in the former colonies (i.e. Coldplay have got to number five with their dirge-collection in America.) Rightly scornful of plans to open an official Office of Pop in New York - Bunf of the Super Furry Animals snorting "You just don't want to be on that list of bands that they're going to promote through that office. People are just going to laugh" - it then goes on to suggest a half-arsed rifling of the clippings library and a spatchcock of ideas, such as the low profile of British acts since 1997 has been " perhaps lulled by the ultimately anodyne nature of their Prime Minister." Yeees... that'll be it, then. Except, of course, Tony isn't anodyne - he's ruthlessly lining himself up slots at the EU and UN, and any bloke who'll happily warble out that, yes, he really does think the nation who put him in charge should pay a "blood price" to support America in Iraq can hardly be described as watery. Wrong, perhaps, but not anodyne in his incorrectness. If only Brit bands had marketed themselves as global brands half as effectively as Blair has, by now Fred Durst would be waiting tables at Wendy's and Slipknot footage would be rolled out for young people to laugh at on prime-time TV shows.
Then, of course, they turn to radio one. What do they tell Canada? "BBC Radio 1, which sometimes features independent music late at night, feeds the populace a steady diet of synthetic pap during the day. " No, no, no - if that was the case, the battle to save the Evening Session would have been lost ages ago. And pap during the day? The top ten most played acts on Radio One last week were Jurgen Vries, Underworld, Truth Hurts, Ash, Sugababes, Liberty X, Eminem, Oakenfold, Appleton and Miss Dynamite - the odd piece of pap, sure, but on the whole pretty damn impressive. (If rather dance-heavy - see yesterday's piece on the Evening Session). So where does the paper get the idea that Radio One is wall to wall Pop Idol and Atomic Kitten? Step forward Tom Gray from Gomez: ""People running our public radio ... are not really music people. They are more news people ... We've become lifestyle-obsessed and dull." Anyone who has ever heard the monstorously bad Newsbeat on Radio One will know that that's just not true - the reason for the poor support for Gomez (and Tom's subsequent sour grapes) is firstly, Gomez aren't very good (although critically acclaimed), and, second, Radio One offers more daytime support to dance acts. It's not, in short, that Radio One doesn't take risks; it's that its musical heart isn't with guitars anymore. Whatever, its a grievous insult to claim that Radio One is pumping out "pap" - that would be the commercial stations (top 10 most played being Sugababes, Atomic Kitten, Coldplay, Darius, Milky, Liberty X, Vanessa Carlton, Enrique, Oakenfold and Madhouse).
We musn't lose sight that Radio One still has a soul to fight for.

SPAMCLAWS: It's bad enough when scabby little oiks we've never heard of fill our boxes with spam promoting their bands, but this takes the biscuit - our cat-like filters at bothsidesnow just stopped this mail in its tracks:
Here's a thought - Madonna is incredibly, incredibly rich. If she wants to promote her film, why doesn't she pay for advertising? Isn't that a radical notion?
"Loads of rare prizes to be given away! Join now and participate in the first contest to win Collectible Swept Away Posters!
So, missy Millions spends a fortune on making a film, and yet wants to promote it by giving a few posters away? And not even to everyone who she expects to create a false word of mouth? Just how tight is that?
Anyway, in order to play our part, here's some word of mouth - from the Evening Standard, quoted here: Proof that Guy Ritchie's troubled new film, Swept Away, starring wife Madonna, is as bad as rumour 
suggests. The flick failed to impress at an industry screening in London last week despite numerous 
editing changes. The biggest talking point was Madonna's alarming body builder physique. "It might
not be very good but I can tell you it's improved immeasurably from the edit I saw before," said my 
man with the popcorn. "The problem for Columbia, Tri Star is they can't "bury it". They're under 
pressure to promote the film properly because Guy and Madonna live in London".

Happy to help.

APPLETON POP: The two from the All Saints are enjoying their moment in the sun, feeling the number two chart entry for Fantasy is a vindication of their songwriting skills and demonstrates clearly that Shaznay and Mel were wrong to see them as two dim dollybirds (see the news of the world for an example of them not being dollybirds). Which would be fine, except that with 25,000 copies, only once this century has there been a lower-selling number two, and that (fab Sophie Ellis Bextor's Murder on the Dancefloor) wasn't in its first week in the chart.
What is noteworthy, though, is this week is the first time the top three in the UK has been all-female, with the Kittens, Applteons and Sugababes lining up together.

BACK WHEN I WAS YOUNG: I took a course while at university in Pop. One of the highlights was being given a tape with White Riot on it, while someone declaimed "A... B... A... B... C" over the top. It was splendid, because even although the person who'd produced it (someone from the Open University, I believe) had clearly a wide and deep musical knowledge, and could probably transcribe a song in musical notation merely from watching the nodding head of a record player pick-up arm as it travelled along the vinyl, he clearly had no understanding that what made White Riot White Riot wasn't the cadence of the beat or the chord changes, but the trousers and the sneer. And the pogoing. I thought of this tape again when I read this on, an attempt to boil pop down to its barest bones. In a sense, Vox Lobster is spot on - yes, Britney and the others are little more than a bunch of arpeggio and phrasing, and can be examined as such. But that's a little bit like exploring the new Zadie Smith by considering the font and colour of inks used on the cover. To try and pin pop down into the piece of music itself is to miss the essence of what pop is - a shared experience, a bunch of common assumptions, a spot of lust, a phrase that gets caught bouncing between two of your synapses for a day. You won't find pop in the mechanics; it lives in its usage.
And maybe if there is a place where 'classical' stops and 'pop' begins, it's the line where the music moves from being purely of itself, into being of the world.
[hearty thanks to soundspy for the original link]

VILLAINY: Blender magazine have drawn up a list of the top 25 villains in rock. Presumably Mark Chapman is at number one due to this role in providing Yoko Ono with a constant platform and forcing the name change of Liverpool Speke Airport; Ike Turner is at number 2; Hell's Angels come in at three; Marvin Gaye's dad at four and cocaine is in at five - two places ahead of Tipper Gore. Obviously, this is all a bit of a summer filler-flam, but we'd be curious as to how, say, cocaine is higher up the charts than Car Crashes or plane crashes, which have killed more rock stars than drugs; and Tipper Gore did little more than make herself look silly - it's probably giving too much kudos to the PMRC to suggest they struck fear into the heart of rock to such an extent. And, of course, the damage the PMRC did is nothing compared to the ruin wrought by the RIAA and its members. But you saw that coming, didn't you?
Simon Cowell will be disappointed at coming so low [NY Post] - staff of Probe Records in Liverpool mysteriously absent

The Bamboo Review

Or, Becky goes out and rogers Wilco:
I'm trying to write about the wilco shows but my thoughts and phrases keep scattering when I remember the joy of the audience and both bands all singing along during 'california sky' while the disco ball threw constellations of glittering light all over the room and I felt my chest almost bursting open from the sheer perfection of that moment.
I need some distance.
but distance brings the dry facts and these shows weren't about facts. they weren't about set lists or instrumentation or the musicians. they were about the moments... the blue maracas in ken stringfellow's back pocket.. the computer guy from wilco sitting in a spotlight next to the drumset and getting a haircut while the minus 5 rocked out without acknowleging the gag.. wilco brilliantly reinventing old favorites by seeing them through a new yankee hotel foxtrot lens.. anne counting 44 "nothings" and me counting 38 the next night during 'misunderstood'... that word over and over again until that was all there was - tweedy and his microphone and that word echoing in your head, his worn-out, lived-in voice wrapping around you like a favorite scratchy blanket you'll never get tired of.. it was about scott mccaughey's gold brocade jacket with the black velvet lapels and ken singing 'holocaust' in a voice so lost that I wanted to cry.
I have notes. pages and pages of little things that struck me as memorable or funny or noteworthy. and I wish I was a talented enough writer to accurately convey to you all the atmosphere of beauty and happiness and companionship that I was a part of for those two nights.
this wasn't about lust (although I'm now officially admitting my crush on ken stringfellow) and it wasn't about being cool or hip or indie. YHF may top the year end polls, it may not. but what wilco did was make music so good that I forgot my feet hurt and I forgot I needed sleep or food or air. I think that's enough.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Saved for a grateful nation

Rare TOTP stuff from the glam era has been found... albeit on tapes made by the time-honoured "putting a tape recorder next to the TV speaker" method (honestly, Mr born-after-1980, you haven't lived with your VHS and your DVD and your MP3). Thank god for obsessives, eh?
They've even got Suzi Quatro [BBC News] - "get yer head out the way of the screen" cries from Dad not in original mix

Thank you kindly, EMI

EMI have been booted out the FTSE 100 Shares index, which means - basically - they're no longer one of the top 111 companies in the UK. Or, in music terms, they're a Best of the Spinners album.

I MUST HURRY YOU: Both sides in the Corporate Music versus File Sharers case are pushing the judge to make a swift decision, in their own favours, of course. Kazaa and the others are relying on the precedent that allowed Betamax to carry on making video machines on the grounds that they had other uses than just copyright-thieving ones; while the music industry believe they've got a cast-iron case because, you know, they're just encouraging kids to make a mockery of the law and all.
"I want a decision before this dial-up download of Stars Wars is finished" [CNet] - time is, after all, money

What The Pop Papers Say: The Blackburn and Lamacq edition

It's perhaps not surprising that virtually every general magazine has chosen as a subject for its cover this week that milestone, with the exception of the Radio Times which has gone for quite a different milestone, marking the 2000th edition of Top of the Pops (although, actually, TV Cream seems convinced the 'notable' episode passed some weeks back); they have a fold out cover of some past presenters. It's perhaps unsurprising that the current team of nomarks are banished to the bit that you can't see, and the team that people have heard of - Saville, Mike Read - are given the shelf space. I mean - Richard Blackwood? Lisa Snowdon? Wisely, the innards of the magazine have been handed to Stuart Maconie, a man who is able to write with genuine affection about the show. Holly Johnson credits David Bowie hugging Mick Ronson on the pops as being the first show of genuine affection between men on proper telly, you know...

Talking of the Pops, how bad is Amanda Platell? For some reason, the pointless woman has decided to turn from a subject she knows little about to a topic she knows nothing about, as her gaze turns from politics to celebrity in her frequently embarrassing new Statesman column. She condemns the people partaking in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here as people who have "dreamed of, or slept with" celebrity. Amanda, here's half a clue for you: It's called Google. Type in a name and you might find out that Tony Blackburn is, in some sense, an uber-celeb. Leaving aside the fact he's the highest rated AM music show presenter, Tony created the Radio One Breakfast Show format that's still in place today (modernised, but basically unchanged otherwise). He presented Top of the Pops for years (that, and not 'get me out...', is why he's on the Radio Times cover this week - at a time when the show was a mighty force on British TV rather than a quaking brand buried against Corrie. More crucially, his very public breakdown following Tessa Wyatt dumping him, and the fall-out and following interviews, was the event which set the template for the celeb-goes-nuts/celeb-gets-rehabilitated cycle that drives the tabloids today. Someone who comes from a tabloid background should know that...

Following the Blackburn celeb crack-up route, a sad piece in the Observer OM follows Adam Ant on his downward spiral. All a bit upsetting, really, as Adam frets that "I know its going to be Rock Star Goes Nuts." Which is, of course, part of the deal you make when you seek fame - people will embrace every new nuance of your painted face and hang on your opinions; but they'll also stare at every unpaid bar tab and piece of misbehaviour. When you live your life as theatre, you can never go and hide in the wings...

Music Week reports that a "bewildered dance music industry" are embracing cheesey-dance as their only hope of avoiding wipe-out as the market for beats falls away. This means more songs about rubber ducks, less Moby. There's no way to slice that so it sounds bad, so to make clearer: the future is Scooter singing Supertramp in Minnie Mouse voices. Forever...

the nme has black rebel motorcycle club on the front - "drugs! death! paranoia!" - yeah, but what *new* have you got for us?...

there's five pages about the blur split - headlined 'blur in crisis', like they were the Middle East; but it all hangs on the non-appearance of the Graham on the Webcam, really. Mozzer denies he's ever had an offer to reform the Smiths - ten quid and a box of new energy Boost bars, then, Moz?; Marquee reopens (or rather, old sign hung up outside new club); police deny last week's stories about police brutality during the leeds riots (and, so far, no formal complaints have been made); stars are flocking to record at Toe Rag studios, apparently; Pete Libertine's ex-girlfriend is threatening to sue the band for using a line from her dear john note as a lyric; JJ72 have had their album date pushed back to make way for Suede - in all, there's news right up to Page 24 this week; curious since its actually rather a quiet week...

There's a rundown on The New Lamacq betting - Colin Murray, Zane Lowe and Mike Davies out front; there's also some weasling from the Radio One head of Specialist, Live Music and Speech Ian Parkinson, which is interesting. They say the show is being axed because "it's Steve's show, and to simply put in a new presenter would be wrong" - curious that, since the Evening Session has been presented by Goodier and Wylie as well, and on thursdays it's done by about five different people - why would the regional editions be possible if it was Lammo's show? The big hint here is that they wanted rid of the ridiculously gaunt one, a feeling confirmed by the 'managers vote of confidence' that follows. ("Steve remains a key presenter at Radio 1, fronting one of our flagship specialist shows" - yeah, we'll give that until Easter). "There's nothing wrong with the Evening session, but we feel that a new show and a new presenter will give us more freedom to approach the alternative music scene in a new and exciting way. We want to take the championing of new music to the next level." Now, since it's hard to imagine anyone more passionate about their music than Steve, this can clearly only mean: we want to play stuff Steve doesn't like, so he's out. I mean, how can you approach the music scene in "new ways" other than playing the records, giving out sessions and talking to the bands anyway? "You have to remember that the Evening Session has hugely widened its musical remit over the years" - no it hasn't; and I'd challenge Radio One to demonstrate that it has. It's always been mainly guitar based with occassional forays into dance. Sure, there might be more punky/nu-rock nowadays, but that's because there's a lot more raw material around right now. Besides, if the show *has* adapted over the years, why stop iit now? Asked if Radio One still has a duty to play alternative music, Parkinson says "It's not a duty, it's a passion." Erm... actually, mate, it's a duty. You're funded by the licence fee to provide something for everyone, and part of that is playing music from beyond the pop mainstream. Its why Radio One is worth saving from the people who would privatise it. It's why Radio One deserves to be funded. You might enjoy doing it - that's great - but still, never forget - you're there for us. Okay? And for a final spot of spin, challenged that Radio One has a bias towards dance and urban, Parkinson retorts "It's simply not true. There are more hours devoted to guitar and alternative music than urban and dance." Now, clearly there's no need for a quota to be applied, and radio 1 should be doing all these things, but... c'mon. All the 'indie' shows have been pushed back in the schedule to make way for more shows like Dave Pearce's - when's the Breezeblock on now? Half past nighttime? - and from the end of Mark Radcliffe on Friday, it's pretty much pop and dance solidly until, well, Radcliffe on Monday. In sheer terms of hours, it might be there's more guitars on the network, but the impression of Radio One is of a dance-heavy station. Worse, much of it is scheduled at the same time that commercial stations are doing substantially similar programmes, robbing listeners of any choice...

on bands - wit - the atomic kitten of electroclash and the zutons - another Bandwagon band...

Marcie Von Bondie started to play guitars "because boys made me." That's her off the ladyfest wish list, then...

BRMC are asked who their favourite authors are. Peter's response is "Who wrote the Old Man and the Sea?" - which is apparently the only book he's ever finished. No such problems with which rock star they'd most like to have been - Jimi Hendrix, Ian Curtis, (more playfully) Kurt Cobain. I wonder why people think they're detah-obsessed?...

the centre pages are given over to that "No war on Iraq" ad from Blur and Massive Attack. Which is great to see, but I'm not entirely sure that the claim "Both the British and US governments have stated their preparedness to use nuclear weapons in this war" is entirely true - haven't they just not ruled out first use, and not with regards to Iraq specifically? Its a small point, but it would be a pity if a strong moral cause felt the need to inflate the case to win people to its side. That's for *them* to do...

Didn't the nme used to love Oxide and Neutrino? Maybe its to avoid falling into the trap last year, when the paper seemed to be too quick to let off their So Solid chums for the fifteen year old with a broken jaw incident, but this time, O&N are paraded for the prime knobcheese you'd expect of an act who will sing "most of the time when you meet a girl, that girl will be a ho" - and who think that Peter Stringfellow is "proper safe." Hmmm...

Coldplay do the ten tracks - Pixies, Streets, Smiths, Kraftwerk, Aretha, Clash. Blimey, they listen to all that, and *still* make records that sound like weedy old gant toss. Makes you wonder...

reviews - soft cell - cruelty without beauty ("verge on the hamfisted", 6); death in vegas - scorpio rising ("adds up well", 8); miss black america - god bless miss black america ("al the wrong music", 5); paul weller - illumination ("long may he rail", 8); atomic kitten - feels so good ("cows", 3); roddy frame - surf ("uncool, of course, but beautiful", 8)...

sotw - the datsuns - in love ("we're besotted"); not suede - positivity ("go quietly now, and [your fans] will remain true", nor Avril Lavigne - complicated ("nowhere near as shit or wrong as the impending busted single"), nor BRMC - whatever happened to my rock n roll ("a very good record")...

live: foo fighters at ULU ("they've kept getting better"); Libertines in Scotland ("wistful as they are brutal")...

from the small ads: "Manics/Placebo fans wanted for university dissertation research. What draws you to these bands?" Contact if you want, but it sounds like a trap to me...

suffering for art's sake

SMART AS THAT, EH?: We're prepared to bet that Holly Vallance was, at the very least, repaying a PR favour when she told The Sun how she sends pictures of her tits to her boyfriend to cheer him up (Nokia waits for sales uplift as FHM readers dream of crossed lines), but we're worried she might be even more stupid than she seems. If I was hundreds of miles from my beloved, I don't think I'd want to be sending them into a sexual frenzy by flashin them through SMS.
Also on this page is is a frankly stupid story that claims Manchesters United and City "might come to blows" because they've got neighbouring boxes at the forthcoming Oasis gig. Apart from being a total twat of a non-story (two teams of professional sportsmen are quite able to being in the same place at the same time without beating each other to a bloody pulp, otherwise football matches might be slightly more gory affairs), but it shows what performing monkeys Oasis are now - luxury boxes for the so-called fans? I don't think we give a fuck for Burnage anymore...

I've left that great page blank

You won't need us to tell you that today, there's a slight overload of memory. Amongst the things we could probably do without are Yoko Ono's world peace film, Mary J Blige's special insights ("I was supposed to go to Europe...") and Traa from POD's confused "when something like that happens it puts a lot of things into perspective. Living in America you have that feeling of being untouchable. Not only being untouchable but you never think something like that would happen. We are spoilt in our country because there are other countries like Israel in the world that deal with stuff like this all the time … terrorists.
I think for us, there is a pride where we come from and it definitely makes you re-evaluate life, the things that are important to you and the things that aren't important to us. It makes you have a love and zest for being grateful for what you have and just being here. A lot of people lost their lives on that day for no reason. It is a sad situation."
Um... yeah, thanks for that, mate. If nothing else, it shows the value of silent contemplation.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

WE NAME THE SPAMBANDS: Worst of all the forms of Spamband, surely, are the bands who spam with poorly-thought out, self-aggrandising press releases, like we not only care, but are journalists. Step forward 50 Hertz: "With comparisons to The Smiths, Muse and Ride it is clear that 50 Hertz have that special something" No its not, not at all - being compared to someone doesn't mean that you're good. I have a friend who compares any bunch of pisspoor scaredycats to The Smiths - it's not a form of praise from her. "Mixing the unique theatrical nature of Mark's lead vocals with the epic, burning rhythm section, 50 Hertz take the best bits of their contemporaries and whisk them into a modern frenzy." What? 50 Hertz are whisking their contemporaries into a frenzy? And do you mean contemporaries when two of the bands you namecheck have been dead for thirty years between them? And why did you tell a jj72 list all this at such dull length?

WHITE STRIPES, STROKES SPLIT: A split single, that is, in what the nme are calling "the most-wanted single of all time." Well, it'd be a nice thing to have, but most wanted? Surely, if X is the number of White Stripes fans and Y is the number of Strokes fans, logic dictates the number of people who like both bands has to be less than the total who likes either, Mathematically, then, there is the potential - indeed, the likelihood - for the record to be desired less than either a pure White Stripes or pure Strokes record. More seriously, wouldn't, say, a new four-piece Manics record be more desirable? And, sadly, the next Will Young single probably has more people getting excited by the prospect of a new release than the Strokes/Stripes thing.
Still, its a nice gimmick.

IT'S A RICH MAN'S WORLD: Should we laugh or cry that the Access to Finance session at next weekend's In The City has been opened to non-ITC delegates; but at the cost of seventy quid. For those that can afford it, there's going to be a seminar about the "practicalities, options and barriers involved in accessing finance for music-related companies." Here's one for free, guys - charging a weeks worth of dole is a pretty big barrier to allowing people with talent and skills get access to the help that could get them rolling. The advert suggests "start-up music companies" should attend - but at seventy quid a pop, how can they afford to? The panelists would probably mutter that you need to invest to develop, before wandering off to have some roast swan and champagne. If you want to go, and can afford it,

YORN STRETCHES: In a rare act of artist getting off arse, doing something, is reporting that Pete Yorn is reacting to the lack of labels in LA by setting up his own with some mates. Like, a proper label rather than one of those Big Brother type things which we presume is some sort of tax-avoidance scheme on the part of Sony and Oasis.

TO BE PERFECTLY FRANK...: I'm not sure, had I been in charge of the Blogcritics Frank Black interview I would have chosen to lead off with the apparently burning question "You have used changes in time signature throughout your songwriting career, often in the form of foreshortening at the end of a phrase. The effect for me is to propel the song forward - what is your intended effect or affect", especially when there are some juicy nuggets further in - rumours of an ubergroup, for example. But on the whole, the interview could almost have been spun by Craig Brown for the Private Eye diary slot, as blogcrit after blogcrit walks up, starts a five-thousand word question with a Sovietesque piece of 'all praise to the Pixies', paints in some background (a lot of background) and then asks a closed question, getting a bemused but polite brief response from Mr. Black. It's not an entirely pointless exercise, but it does point up the problem that I have with much of the material on Blogcritics - that it takes everything a little bit too seriously, and that it could benefit from a spot more editing. it might go against the spirit of blogging (whatever that is) but, particularly on multi-writer events like this, maybe someone should be brave enough to wield a bit of blue-pencil here and there?

It's still number one

Chris Cowey - executive producer of Top of the Pops - has told the Financial Times that the chart's shit, basically. Cowey, who the FT curiously describes as the man "credited with restoring Top of the Pops as Britain's most successful television music show since his arrival at the BBC in 1997" - audiences bouncing around three million apparently counting as a success, now; and what, exactly, would have been outperforming the Pops in the late 90's anyway? Did those late night Music Box Profiles really score more highly? - is in a glorious ranting mode; he suggests that instead of being based on volume of sales, the chart should be based on value of sales instead. This way, he believes, the practice of cutting the price of singles on week of release would stop distorting the otherwise pristine purity of the listing of top-selling records. We can actually see this going down well with the industry, actually - the thought that they could have a chart that reflected the levels of cash pouring in to their chests would probably delight them. It would also mean that Kelly Osbourne's papa don't preach, which has been bobbling around in the lower sixties for the last month on import sales would have been - presumably - at least in the top 40, what with imports costing more. So the whole attempt to manage the release would have been blown out the water. Maybe the industry wouldn't like it quite so much.

But here's an idea - why not reduce the price of all CDs? There's already a load of meanignless rules governing what can and can't go into chart which distort the listing; why not make a rule in the consumers favour that chart eligible CDs have to be £2-50? It'd be good for small shops, as they'd not lose trade to the larger shops with their huge piles of 99p and £1-99 giveaways; it'd outlaw the habit of racking up prices as soon as the record hits the chart (isn't that illegal, anyway?), and it would do away with the distortion Cowey complains about at a stroke.

DRIVETIME: Interesting piece in the Sunday Times (registration required) about the sort of music people play in their cars - Martin Kennedy of the Academy of Contemporary Music in Surrey (no, neither had we) has drawn up a list of the Most Soothing Tracks to play in your car, and he seems to think that having Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton on a continuous loop would be enough to guarantee an end to road rage forever. Not in my car, Pal. More usefully, the not-entirely-unsurprising but oft overlooked observation is made that drivers who have loud music playing as they zip along are likely to be more alert than they otherwise would be - unless, of course, they've got their eyes shut for the air guitar solo. I've always found it curious that along with the advice to stop, wind the window down and have some coffee, the government's Dont Drive Tired campaigns don't suggest putting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on the stereo as well.

JEAN GENIE, RIP: The funeral has taken place of Cyrindra Foxe-Taylor, Mia Tyler's mother and the inspiration for Bowie's Jean Genie (hence, of course, the headline).
A brief history [Undercover] - blimey, was there anyone in rock she didn't sleep with?
In other death news, Michael Elphick has died. Although better known for his roles in Eastenders, Three Up Two Down, Boon and Private Schultz, he had a small role in rock history playing Jimmy's Dad in Quadrophenia.

Monday, September 09, 2002

IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD*: St Etienne's Sarah Cracknell has told Ananova she gets pissed off with being seen as merely a "pretty face" and feels that her contribution to the band tends to get neglected. Naturally, Ananova choose to illustrate her plea for people to "read the sleeve notes" with a big picture of La Cracknell with hugely errect nipples.
* - their new album is called Finisterre, see? Oh, please yourselves.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH TSUNAMI: In between bursts of 6, we have been listening to Tsunami Bomb on The toast of Petaluma, California, they're a slightly more punky take on the Sleeper set-up. If you like your punk with as much eyeliner as attitude, you'll probably take to Ms M and her friends...

MMMMMM... GUIDED BY VOICES: Great news for people who like both indie and beer, with the launch of Beer Thousand, a drink dedicated to Guided By Voices. I'm not sure how far a band can be represented by a beer - using words is difficult enough - but if the brewery responsible would like to demonstrate to us, we'd be happy to approach the subject with an open mind.

BANDS I'D FORGOTTEN HAD EXISTED: Confetti. If pressed to file them in an easy cardboard sleeve, I'd say it was what you would have got if the cutietastic Fat Tulips had stopped drawing hearts and flowers and had turned instead to doing bombs and daggers. Once I'd had my memory nudged, it all came rushing back, especially the wonderful Who's Big And Clever Now, a kind of reworking of Another Sunny Day's You Should All Be Murdered, only this time it's personal:
I really hope a tower block
will fall on you
Or catch pneumonia
Standing in the rain
Just so long as
I never, never, never see you again

By the end of the song, the reason for the venom is revealed, and - of course - it's rejection:

I offered you everything
A new home
A new life
A new beginning
I offerd it all...
... and all I wanted in return was love

Girly vocals over a sparse background; if it wasn't for the bitter hate of the lyrics, you'd write it off as indie schmindie nonesense, perhaps missing the slightly more layered dark instrumentation that woud one day form the basis of Delgados entire output. Truly, one of the great lost songs, and perfect for the time between heartbreak's initial slap and the point where you come to cynical terms with it and stick the Tindersticks on.

FESTERING FESTIVAL DISCONTENT: Locals are apparently threatening to sue the Glastonbury Festival after what they claim was an invasion, according to BBC News Online. As reported at the time, the main problem with the tight-as-a-drum fence keeping those judged to be undesirable or poor out was that it left those people outside for the community to deal with - which some might think a slightly Tory way of dealing with problems. The end result was that while inside the festival all was mellowness and polite commerce, outside the villagers had what seems to have been the roughest deal ever. Micahel Eavis is currently saying he won't allow a 2003 festival unless the problems for locals can be overcome - although it's unlikely that his new partners at Mean Fiddler will be happy to see the festival suspended, so it looks like more fences, then.

BISINFORMATION: Apparently, there was a rumour that Bis had pulled their Popkomm festival date over a spat about stage times; we'd not heard this until they convincingly denied it. But its a shame that the label couldn't fund both promo for the new single and a quick trip to the continent as well; the band sound a bit grumpy with them, generally, especially with the decision to put back the release date of the new five-tracker The End Starts Today until 23rd September.

SHE'S SO... UM, USUAL: RollingStone reports on Cyndi Lauper's new ep, which is nice, but is it really tactful to describe a track from a forty-nine year as "ovaries-out"? I mean, it's a lousy phrase anyway - I assume it's meant to be read as a female version of 'cocks out', but it sounds like it's been contrived by a person with only a limited grasp of either male or female anatomy. Cocks out is an aggressive waving of the sexual organs; ovaries out sounds like the result of some ritual slaughter. Maybe the writer meant "cunt-baring?"

I COLLECT, I REJECT: Currently on ebay: Kurt Cobain's childhood home. Maybe this is the most expensive piece of rock tat yet - $200,000-worth of a house that Kurt lived in for fourteen early pages of Heavier Than Heaven. Apparently Kurt's bedroom has a 'nautical look', with a porthole-shaped door, which may give the back-room psych boys something to work with. (Life at sea... never found dry land... may explain drowning suicide - oh hang on, that's the welsh one, isn't it?...)

IF THE WEB HAD BEEN AROUND THEN, WE MIGHT HAVE SAVED JANICE: Of course, its debatable if it'll do any good, but the start of a save the Evening Session campaign is at least a step in the right direction. Of course, I'm sure the idea to axe the session has come from some godawful BBC focus group so they'd probably claim they've got public approval anyway, but it's worth a punt, isn't it?

DISAPPEARING IN A PUFF (OR A P) OF SMOKE: Another big name falls victim to the Majors In Crisis, as BMG drops Puff Daddy - or "P. Diddy" as he seems to want to style himself still. Has nobody told him about Ken Dodd yet?

Popism starting the week with a fresh new look

Sunday, September 08, 2002

A LUNCHTIME TREAT: An hour to kill, Sky Digital to hand, and a chance to see what exactly what filth we're flinging at our pop kids these days:
The random starting point turns out to be MTV2, which has Puddle of Mudd. When is Courtney going to sue over this blatant rip off of Nirvana? They might as well sing "Mum and dad went to a show/dropped me off with Gran'pa Joe..."
The Box
Holly Valance is doing Down Boy. Choosing a follow up for Kiss Kiss was always going to be tricky, and she's got it wrong - another vaguely Turkish-sounding tune (but nothing like as good) is now going to have her pegged as making watered down belly-dancing tunes for all eternity.
Now there's a competition, offering the chance to win a night with Atomic Kitten - hanging about the slightly trashier Liverpool clubs might be an easier way, of course. You have to say who originally had a hit with The Tide Is High. The actual band isn't offered, of course - presumably they want Blondie as an answer.
NTrance - The singer woman, whose name I should know because she's meant to be the next big thing, seems to have tried to dress like Anastacia - i.e. badly, in a sort of cod-S&M style that, after Britney at the MTV awards seems to be coming in, to the bitter disappointment of real perverts everywhere. The song is forgettable.
Madhouse - Like A Prayer - wasn't their last video a woman in her bra sitting down doing a poor madonna cover?
Blazin Squad - Crossroads. Industry and parent pleasing hybrid of So Solids and Five. Consequently as castrated as a salmon fishcake, and nowhere near as tasty.
Smash Hits TV. Holly again, and Blazin squad again.
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles - I'm against violence towards people, so for a half-hour let's reclassify vanessa carlton as a football, and slap her head over and over against the piano, screaming "We do not need someone who sits between Alanis and Natalie Imbruglia. And while playing the piano is a might fine talent, we don't need to watch you doing it in front of a chromakey screen."
Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up. Jesus, that hair - how did it stay in place, overhanging his face the way the top floor of shops in Chester crowd out over the street. In retrospect, this video is clearly trying to ape Club Tropicana, but somehow comes across like the place hasn't quite opened yet - where are the people, Rick? Where?
Miss Dynamite - Dynamitee. The song is slick, and wonderful, and manages to even be about her without sounding like a cringe-inducing ego-wank. So why does she spoil it all by turning up to do the video in a bloody trackie? She looks like a scouser on the way to buy a couple of dozen fags.
Kylie - In Your Eyes. She steadfastly keeps her trousers on for this, and so is only of limited interest. Oh, and she wears a dress that looks like those strange plastic strip curtains they used to hang in bookies' doorways for some reason. Still, this is all head and shoulders above Holly Valance's effort. There may be a verse for Alanis in that Kylie is head and shoulders above everyone else, don't you think?
Truth Hurts - Addictive. Lobbing a bit of vaguely eastern-sounding music in, as apparently we have to these days (since when did pop take its instructions directly from Lloyd-Webber?) but not doing anything with it, beyond using it as an excuse for a spot of belly-dancing in the video. Actually, the stupidly named Ms Hurts is the worst thing about this. Oh, hang on, there's a rap in the middle, and the guy says "thinking of a master plan." Hmm, how's this for a master plan - recognising that line was hoary when Eric B and Rakim used it, pal? Why not go the whole hog and toss an "I know you gonna dig this" in too? Cross-cultural thievery with no understanding of what to do with any of it, mixed together in the worst way possible.
A tattooed man with a bad dye job is tossing and turning in bed, while a woman who looks like she has escaped from a Muse video alternates between watching him and poking about in the undergrowth. Someone who has mistaken groaning for power moans over the top as a B-grade grunge act turn out some noise underneath.
Vibe TV seems to have disappeared
A baby is being operated on by a doctor who realises - hey, this kid has been abused. Two pounds a month can stop this happening again. The NSPCC have just ripped off the cute dead kitten advert the RSPCA are running but, sadly, a baby just doesn't have the same heart-twang tugging of an ickle kitten. Apart from anything, if you save a baby it'll only grow up to be an adult, and they're so nasty we have to give two quid a month just to save babies from them.
Oh, and The Gap are using 'Bend me, shake me' as an ad soundtrack. Go for the youth market, lads, that's the way.
Pink - Just Like A Pill. Boy, it was worth sitting through the never ending commercial break. It's interesting - as everyone from Liberty X to Britney tries to truss themselves up in fetish wear - that you can just tell the people who actually do have the fetish, can't you? Someone should quickly take the stylists to one side and point out that, if the clothes don't turn you on, wearing them won't look sexy; it just gives you the air of a shiny duffle-bag. Pink, on the other hand, is only a director's cut away from doing the video in nipple clamps.
Incubus - Are You In? There's a guy in this video who looks like Dave Stewart. I hope he's there by accident - like the strange bloke you always seem to have in your holiday snaps, looming in the corner - and not because he's in the band. Maybe that's the question the song title is trying to answer.
MTV Hits
Holly Valance again. It gets more irritating each time - whereas Kiss Kiss was a grower, on Down Boy they've tried to give the song hooks and just ended up leaving rough edges which give you splinters
Avril Lavigne - Complicated - I don't need a twelve year old to tell me that "Life's like this." You have no idea what life is like, do you? Your experience consists solely of not making the mouseketeers, getting grounded and apparently thinking that wearing a tie is a quirky statement of personality rather than a cloying affectation
It's the 2002 No 1 video marathon. And since they're playing Will Young, it does indeed feel as rewarding and pounding round and round some murky city street looking at Bernie Clifton's arse for 26 miles while bystanders throw water at you.
VH1 Classic
Just missed the Spice Girls from when they were good, and get terence trent d'arby instead. He really did look like a haddock, didn't he?
Incubus again. Shouldn't they be shouting and angry?
MTV Base
They're doing a flashback to 1996 - a lifetime ago for most of their viewers, I suppose.
Oh god, its Ginuwine. I wonder where he is now? Probably spelling his name out down the social, I guess
MTV Dance
Its an advert for not smoking, from some sort of pan-european campaign which shows someone being cool, and ends with the words "Doesn't smoke." This guy is feigning disability to get attention, which is meant to be cooler than having the odd fag. Debatable - I mean, if being in a wheelchair gets you loads of mates, just think what having lung cancer would do for you
dj sammy - heaven. There is nothing so hackneyed that it won't get made into a dance track sooner or later, is there? This is Bryan Adams remade with a weedy drum beat underneath it. It's as shit as you'd imagine.
The Box
Sugababes - round round - This version of the video has been recut to have scenes from The Guru in it, scattered in a random fashion throughout. It's every bit as successful as that Atomic Kitten video which had bits of The Parole Officer stuck in at various points. It does at least mean less screen time for the irritating swirling conceit of the usual video, which must have sounded so good when it was pitched - "they're in the middle of a real-live twister" - but should have been abandoned when they saw what they could manage with the budget available. Clearly, only one of the Sugababes has ever worn clothes like this before (clue - its the one whose eyes aren't at a video shoot; it's also the one who should get out and start her solo career straight away)
They want us to go to the Smash Hits Poll Winners Tour - but how can there be poll winners so early? It's september, for christ's sake... you can't have poll time until at least the end of October
The Fugees are just coming to the end of Killing Me Softly, recalling a time when there were a lot more tunes to choose from when you came to do a pisspoor reworking and you weren't lumbered with trying to make Supertramp sound at home on a dancefloor.
Destinys Child - Bills Bills Bills. At last, some real class. Though why the video is set in a hairdressers is anyone's guess. Maybe Beyonce secretly wishes she was Audrey Roberts? Maybe she's making a sublte allusion to the basis of Audrey's relationship with Alfie? Of course, the great thing with early destiny's child videos is being able to play the same game you play with Dad's Army - "gone now, gone, still here, gone..."
Milk Inc - who are you? Another fairly plain looking girl in a bikini singing over a fairly plain backing beat. I'm sure it's great in a club full of fairly plain girls in bikinis, played really loud. However, not being drunk on Archers Aqua, it's time to
Smash Hits
S Club Juniors - seriously, even watching a minute of this makes me feel dirty and scared; like that feeling you get the first time you get incest spam in your mailbox and you think "christ, I hope that doesn't mean I'm going to get arrested." I can't imagine any reason why a child the same age as the Juniors would want to watch kids their age having a better time than them - isn't it just maths prodigies set to music? - so presumably the whole point of this bands existence is to provide an innocent outlet to paedophiles?
Stereophonics - Handbags and Gladrags. I think I was happier with the kiddie-fiddler videos.
Robbie & Kylie - Doing It For The Kids. Mildly better than doing it to the kids, I suppose. But only mildly.
Bowling for Soup - Girl all the bad guys want - for plot reasons, the too-pretty-to-like-this-sort-of-music-in-real-life girl has to lean forward for the entire video. And too much is made of the pissing/shitting gag. But the extended spoof of Fred Durst - lampooned by those he'd imagine would be the ones who'd champion him - would surely hurt.
Marilyn Manson - Tainted Love - Or the goth 'the tide is high', of course; a cover that might sound halfway decent if you were young enough to not know that there are other, better versions available. You know that mazza thinks that the video should be read as "outsiders turn up at party, and take it over"; really, though, it's "old guy turns up at teenage party - what's with that? Has he no friends of his own? Is he incapable of forming his friendships with people of his own age? Isn't it a little sad that a man like that is reduced to picking on kids only a couple of years beyond their jelly-and-musical-chairs party years?"
Harry - So Real - She looks like the blonde one out of Steps. Why do rock acts bother with the quiet, tuneful first verse things? It's on fucking Kerrang TV, we know it's going to suddenly turn loud and shouty; cut to the bloody chase, won't you?
Play UK
Boy George is interviewing Jenny Eclair. Oh god almighty, and they wonder why this channel is so underperforming its going to be axed?
Again, we crash in the middle of a charity appeal. £3 a month can help animals. Why does the RSPCA need more money than the NSPCC? Is pulling kittens out of litter bins really more expensive than saving kiddies from their parents? Or do they merely feed their doggies better than the NSPCC feed the rescued children?
MTV Hits
Ronan Keating - what the hell is that bulge in your trousers, Ronan? If that's really you - which I doubt - why aren't you making gay porn videos? Personally, I think its as fake as the package which Russell Crowe swings as he comes downstairs in white nix during Romper Stomper, but somehow Crowe's nazi-cant is more musical and less offensive than Ronan's song
Sugababes - Round Round. MTV Hits going with the non-Guru version of the clip, which probably makes sense. Although they could perhaps cut it with another film - lets face it, the connection between the song and the movie is pretty loose anyway, so why not? Maybe it could be enlivened by having some scenes from Women In Love slotted in here and there
Eminem - Without Me. Just as there are two standard Eminem songs - jolly, ironic, self-obsessed; and dark, gloomy, and self-obsessed - there are also two Eminem videos. One sort has a grave in; the other throws loads of ideas at the screen and never quite gels. This one... oh, but you will have seen this seventeenthousand times, so you don't need me to tell you, do you?
That's it, I'm going for lunch