MARIAH CAREY: WORTHY OF AN ENRON EXEC: That Mariah Carey's big comeback interview was on Tonight With Trevor McDonald at all itself speaks volumes about the relaunch of Loopy McChest's career - the desperate attempts to remake her as a credible, street artist are over, and she's now firmly back in the Celine Dion mass market, pick up a CD at Tescos with a bottle of lambrusco, background ballad segment. Not a singer any more, but just a commodity.
The interview with Big Trev was fascinating - clearly she'd been preparing her answers for quite a while, and clearly Granada had promised to treat her like a queen - MacDonald offering the claim that she was "without doubt the biggest female star in the world", something that Nicole, Madonna and the dead Princess may contest. But all the preparation couldn't stop her stumbling, speaking in half sentences and failing to actually answer the questions she was being asked. It must have been hell to edit anything coherent out of the mess, judging by what actually made it to the screen.
Someone at Tonight clearly had a sense of mischief, though, as while she tried to bluster through the claim that her MTV appearance wasn't so bad - "the actuality of what I did was nothing major" - they intercut scenes from the show which would have attracted a small crowd in a victorian show ground. Her refrences to the breakdown were confused as well - first she tried to get us to pity her - apparently, having offered her millions of dollars those evil people at EMI expected her to go and make records and videos for them, you know. "I kept saying 'I'm tired'" - did you, Mariah? If it was so bad, why didn't you just not turn up? Hand back the cash and leave? But it gets most odd when she talks about the day she was carted off. At first, she explains the ambulance being called by her mother thinking she was "tired" - now, when i was a kid, my Mum didn't ring the paramedics when I was getting knackered. Then, she's asked why if there was nothing wrong with her, she went off into rehab. Apparently, since her mother had called the ambulance "it's already going to be in the papers anyway, so I might as well go to hospital." Righto, Mariah. That makes perfect sense.
Turning to the massive pay-off from EMI, she's asked about the 1800 people who lost their jobs shortly after she walked away from the company with thirtyfive million (to say nothing of the millions more flung at trying to make something coherent out of her recording sessions.) She expresses not a single ounce of sympathy - she can't even find it say "I was sorry about all the redundancies", "I realise those people have families"; not a word. Like an enron executive, she tries to make us feel she's the one who's been wronged - "I think I've been made a fall guy for a lot..." Really, Carey? Poor you. Still, having thirty five million pounds must ease the pain there, somewhat?
Self-centred, self-serving, self-deluded. A charmless performance to promote charmbracelet. Hopefully people will remember the smug smile with which she answered the question about redundancies in her wake at EMI when they see the album on the racks at Asda. If you must buy an album like that - maybe for a relative - go for Will Young instead. At least he really needs the money.
Saturday, November 09, 2002
MARIAH CAREY: WORTHY OF AN ENRON EXEC: That Mariah Carey's big comeback interview was on Tonight With Trevor McDonald at all itself speaks volumes about the relaunch of Loopy McChest's career - the desperate attempts to remake her as a credible, street artist are over, and she's now firmly back in the Celine Dion mass market, pick up a CD at Tescos with a bottle of lambrusco, background ballad segment. Not a singer any more, but just a commodity.
Friday, November 08, 2002
HERE COMES THE MEN IN BLACK MARKET: Hey, chill, Columbia Tristar. So you stuck out a few DVDs without Macrovision enabled? So what? My cat is able to disable macrovision on our DVD, and he won't even come out from under the bed on his own...
NOW I DON'T WANT TO SHOUT, BUT: Second Clash sell-out of the day, as Joe Strummer attempts to justify letting Jaguar use London Calling in an advert:
"Yeah, I agreed to that. We get hundreds of requests for that and turn 'em all down. But I just thought Jaguar…yeah. If you're in a group and you make it together, then everyone deserves something. Especially twenty-odd years after the fact. It just seems churlish for a writer to refuse to have their music used on an advert and so I figured out, only advertise the things you think are cool. That's why we dissed Coors and Miller. We've turned down loads of money. Millions over the years. But sometimes you have to earn a bit, so everybody gets some."
I really don't see the logic here - if the aim is to make as much money as possible, why not let everybody use music? If, on the other hand, Strummer really believes that Jaguar - the car of choice of Annie Walker, John Prescott and provincial mayors?
Strummer's final word is "it's no use being holier than thou" but also manages to opine "I personally would not download or burn a group that has to count every sale",and, when the Londons Burning TV people wanted to use the song as a theme "If you make some spaghetti you don't want it chopped into microsections of what it should be",so clearly he still finds some mileage in being hollier than thou. Really, it's simple: you either let your music be used for ads, or you don't. There's no difference between Jaguar, Budweiser, the International Olympic Committee or Microsoft. We'd have more respect for people who just say "they found out what our price was and offered it" rather than trying to pretend that there's something more noble about a luxury car than there is about a bottle of beer.
Ta to rocktober for the pointer
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO: If you like electronica with icy female voices, you might find Friday afternoon passes a lot more pleasantly in the company of Pleasant Stitch. If you've never really felt that Bjork had much point after she left the Sugracubes, this should delight you.
WHERE OFF-TOPIC STUFF GOES TO DIE: No Rock And Roll Fun - Colour Supplement 2 this week has stuff on when girlfriends read your blog, three-line whips, gay sheep and sailors, and the bloody Butler. By putting that there, we keep No Rock music-fixated.
BLAME CANADA: Now the battle against file sharing is being taken to the streets of Canada. The CRIA (their equivalent of the RIAA) are launching a series of commercials to express the "Value of Music" and warn that, you know, if you download MP3s, there won't be as many artists around in the future. Or at least a whole lot less money to fund record company marketing departments.
Brian Robertson, head of the CRIA says "There's a whole mindset with a generation now that you don't necessarily have to pay for music to enjoy it" - older generations, of course, would slip a farthing in the speakerslot of the wireless for every tune they listened to; while even as recently as 1995 teenagers would think it wrong to gather in each other's bedrooms and listen to tapes without everyone ensuring they'd paid some sort of levy.
The article we've linked to - from the Globe and Mail - starts off by featuring someone so untypical as to suggest parody. Marcus Fryia, who "buys the occasional CD" but "he and his pals get most of their tunes free from" the interweb. We suspect he might be some sort of composite, as every music lover we've come across does download, but still buys as many CDs as they can possibly afford.
Anyway, there's a further complication in Canada, because downloading isn't illegal. At the behest of the CRIA, every single tape and blank CD sold in the country includes a mandatory tax which gets given straight to the recording industry. So, if the CD burners of the north have the idea that they're not doing anything wrong, it's because they're not. Indeed, people who use CD burners purely to store data and their own material are actually being ripped off. It's kind of ironic that a shedload of cash is being taken from consumers, given to record companies, who are using it to fund a campaign trying to make people feel bad about doing an activity they've paid through the nose for.
Unless, of course, the CRIA are willing to abandon it's levy?
SING YOUR SPEECH: Interesting event at the University of Central Oklahoma, where the issue of the First Ammendment right to free speech was approached by getting the audience to sing previously censored songs. We're not sure the extent to which standing in a crowd bellowing 'we all live in a yellow submarine" will help protect American's rights to express themselves, but if it does, it can only be a good thing.
But why was Yellow Submarine banned in the first place?
HALL OR NOTHING?: Elvis Costello in the Rock Hall of Fame we can understand - and maybe it'll be a good thing; it'll give the Liverpool Echo someone other than Macca to bang on about. But The Clash?. Shouldn't this be the sort of thing they'd be against? Whatever happened to No Beatles, No Elvis, No Stones?
AUTO DA FEY: You'll already be aware, of course, of the Auto festival, the event at Rotherham's Magma steel museum on December 14th. You'll know it'll be the last chance to see Pulp perhaps for a long time, perhaps forever. But what you might not have grasped is the rest of the line-up: Röyksopp, Lemon Jelly, LFO, Four Tet, The Bees, Baxter Dury, James Yorkston, The Kills, Zongamin, Jamie Lidell, Chris Coco, Piano Magic, Trevor Jackson, Capitol K & Leafcutter John, Optimo, Annie & Timo, Bjorn Torske, SchneiderTM, I-Monster, Erlend Oye, Asleep At The Wheel, Tony Morley, John Peel, Quixote visuals and Warp Films & DJs.
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THIS JUST IN: The Sydney coroner has launched a scathing attack on Fred Durst for his part in the death of one of the audience at the Big Day Out:
Ananova reports: "The Sydney coroner said the band should have stopped the performance once they became aware of crushing in the crowd.
She added that lead singer Fred Durst should have acted more responsibly.
Ms Milledge accused Durst of using language that was "inflammatory and indeed insulting to the security staff who were engaged in their best efforts to extricate crucially injured patrons from the crowd collapse."
Durst's response has been to say that he "No one is a winner in a court case where a young girl has lost her life. When the industry is properly regulated I look forward to bringing the Limp Bizkit band back to Australia."
Well, Fred, there generally isn't a winner in any inquest, is there - you seem to be confusing a judicial inquiry into the cause of death with, say, suing someone over who wrote the guitar riff to a tune. And how come you've not made any attempt to engage with the personal criticism levelled at you? It's a bit rich to try and suggest the problem is that industry isn't properly regulated when the coroner has singled you out for "inflammatory" behaviour. And why have you still not answered one of the key questions - if you were concerned about the safety of the event before you took to the stage, why did you not stop the gig as soon as there were problems? In short, did you value your image (and not wanting to look 'uncool' and 'square') over the life of one of your own fans?
PITY HEAR N AID HAS BEEN USED AS A NAME: While we're on the subject of educational campaigns, Metallica and Ozzy are going to appear in a teaching video about the dangers of hearing loss, funded by the splendidly named Hearing Aid Music Foundation. Although, frankly, we'd recommend these people for US based hearing matters.
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STUBBED: We're far from convinced that Moby and Sophie Ellis-Bextor are the best people to front an anti-smoking campaign. Although Sophie may not have had so much as a Silk Cut Menthol since her teenage years, she just comes across like a packet of Gitanes a night woman; and Moby is the sort of geography teacher whose lectures are liable to make even the most pious kid rush to the tobacconist.
Still, the guy who's runnning the campaign is called David Byrne. Maybe he could issue warnings about the risk of burning down the house?
Thursday, November 07, 2002
AGAIN, MOBY IS LIKE ANTI-MIDAS FOR GOOD CAUSES: No Rock is vegetarian, and has been for over a decade. But when we see the humourless approach of Moby to Butterball's turkey line, it makes us wish we weren't more than the thickest piece of oak-smoked bacon frying next to wild mushrooms on a hungover winter morning. See, if Moby was suggesting that, taking Butterball at their word, people ring up with amusing turkey questions, that would be funny. But, no, Moby wants us to ring up and hector Butterball instead. A dull, joyless approach that's doomed to fail. They'll hear "There is no correct..." and terminate the call. Whereas faced with a call like "Is there anyway to cook the turkey using chocolate?", they'll not know if its genuine or not, and have to parade through an answer...
WHOOPS - I DID IT AGAIN: Memo to Bobby Brown - if you've got drugs on you, don't break the speed limit, dimbo.
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POST-DEATH ALBUM THAT WORKS: While the news that six unreleased Aaliyah tracks are going to be cobbled into some sort of posthumous affair - we're thinking 'Plan Nine From Outer Space' rather than 'Unfinished symphony', the post-left eye TLC album is out and, thanks to 1Xtra, is being streamed online until Sunday 10th. And it's cracking.
WHAT CAN IT ALL MEAN?: Today's Popbitch mailout has helped fill a couple of gaps in Christian O'Connells show, but also brought Katie Cassidy, daughter of David, to our attention. We're bemused why her logo seems to have been designed by taking the Home and Away logo and copying it, but even more puzzled by this statement:
DUE TO SECURITY BREECHES THAT HAVE AFFECTED KATIE'S APPEARANCES, AT THIS TIME HER UPCOMING EVENTS AND APPEARANCES WILL NOT BE POSTED UNTIL AFTER THE DATE. WE HOPE TO HAVE THIS CORRECTED WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. THANK YOU AND KEEP CHECKING BACK!
Now, it might be that there's some awkward stalker problem or something happening, which might make security a concern. We don't know. But what on earth is the point of drawing attention to the problems, and then only promoting events after they've happened? It makes no sense to us...
SEARCH TERMS: In what way would No Rock be offering "mailing list making fun of old people"? Or "sexy women bodies in rock & roll"? We don't know what "Julian Casablancas scam" is, but we'd like to. And, making a change from requests for "Holly Valance Spread And Naked", a first panting search for "yeah yeah yeahs karen o nude."
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
'BYE, JIMMY: Apparently the original plan - for him to move to weekends when jermey vine takes over Radio 2's mid-morning slot - has been dumped, and now Jimmy Young is going to retire at the end of the year. While it saddens us, we're guessing that maybe he doesn't want to turn into the shamble-sadness that is Breakfast With Frost's stock-in trade.
IF WE PLAY THE RECORD THIRTY TIMES, WILL YOU SAY 'I LOVE TO BE BUGGERED BY BEARS?': Justin Timberlake was asked what his gay fans would make of his new album. His response?
"Um . . . honestly I've never really, uh, I've never really . . . something that I've thought a lot about. . . Something that I will say, you know, about, you know, the whole community is . . . that I appreciate is that . . . and the people that I've met that are, I mean, it's so nondiscriminating where music goes that it's . . . it's all . . . sometimes it's almost inspiring that there's people out there who just like music because they like music."
"I don't know, for some reason I find it in this community more than one another is that . . . you know, um . . . honestly I don't know. I think, uh . . . I never really thought about it. I hope that, uh, all types of different people, they like it, I mean, 'cause uh . . . it's kinda somewhere in the middle of . . . of . . . of the styles that are going on right now. So um, you can only hope for the best."
Right. I think that's clear, then, isn't it?
BECKHAM BACK: Skeletor has signed to Telstar to produce more albums. Oh, joy. Apparently she'll be back in the studio later this month, which we hope doesn't get in the way of her proper job.
WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Nirvana Week Special Edition
you sometimes have to wonder where radio reviewers come from - Eizabeth Mahoney in the Guardian on Friday seemed to be apparently unaware that the BBC Asian Network has been operating as a national station for two years - to the best of our knowledge, and as such her rant about why the BBC hadn't created this before 6Music would have been muddled headed even if it wasn't for the claim that six is aimed at a "well provided for" audience. Because all non-classical music is the same, of course...
talking of radio stations, XFM have entered the publishing market with X-Ray (I do wonder if Capital curse the day the station chose X as its name - there aren't many marketing opportunities there, are there?). We suspected that the title wouldn't get much beyond the M25, but were delighted to discover that not only its distribution, but also its writers, roamed much further than edge of the Great Wen. It seems the idea is for the magazine to promote the digital life of the station (DAB, D-Sat, web) rather than for it to pick up sales off the back of the FM station in London. The chosen format - Glamour-sized A5 - is very now, but somewhat offset by the need to include a massive and unwieldly card to carry the free CD, but since the CD includes the Flaming Lips, The Bees and the Von Bondies, we're not really complaining...
XRay pulls off a difficult trick for a monthly, and carries some news we'd not heard before - that Ministry of Sound has pulled its backing from City Rockers electroclash label - X suggests its a sign that electroclash is over, but we'd suggest its more an indication that MoS's balance sheet is as red as Britney's pleather catsuit...
If we've got a problem with the title, it's that there's too many recurring monthly gimmick slots - we don't think "are going to be huge" or "absolute power" are bad ideas, but it does look like shorter pieces are going to get straitjacketed very quickly...
The Darkness, by the way, "Are Going To Be Huge" - "We're not taking it lightly" they say, "but also we realise that the most pretentious thing you can do is take yourself seriously." Wandering Steps give a "it's grim up north" guide to Preston; peter hook is given absolute power (wasn't this a Simon mayo slot?) and he'd ban Pop Stars - "If I walked in front of Pete, Louis and Geri I can imagine what their reaction would be " reckons Hooky. And of course he can - it'd be similar to Everyone's Reaction to Revenge...
Rock and Roll heretic takes on Jim Morrison, splendidly concluding that he "never achieved his poetic licence"; The Von Bondies do a Top 10 (MC5, Blacktop, Gories); Label of Love (isn't that a 6Music slot?) is SubPop; "Who are the new Bolans?" asks X-Ray, choosing Jeff Buckley - well, he's dead, I suppose, so its not a totally ridiculous claim.
The big interviews are with Wayne Coyne -"God is one of the great human inventions - the idea that something cares for you in the middle of the night. I have a weird combination of Dr Seuss, Nietzsche and Dickens that I carry with me like a CD collection"; Dave Grohl - "I've always made fun of myself from the time I was 12 years old" he says, which isn't something you can imagine Kurt doing - and Liam Watson, who produces the White Stripes wearing a white labcoat. Normally, producer interviews are really dull, but Liam is great value - he reveals that his mixing desk "used to belong to BBC Wales Cardiff."
Vanity Fair has produced a special music issue, and in addition, for the UK edition there's a Britbeat supplement which meets Ms Dynamite - but doesn't get much out of here beyond fame being "mad, mad, mad", and shows just how far the game's up for Damon Albarn, as Robert Palmer chooses him as his man of the moment. "Damon released an album for Oxfam this year" trills Mr Palmer. Unlike Oasis, who stuck out one for the Record and Tape Exchange. The supplement's list of buzzbands - Craig David, Goldfrapp, So Solid Crew, Beth Orton, Oakenfold, Badly Drawn Boy and Kosheen sounds curiously dated, like finding a magazine from 1999 at the barbers...
The magazine proper has a fold-out cover affair featuring Gwen Stefani, J-Lo, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys (and then, on the inside of the fold) Norah Jones, Eve, Nelly Furtardo, Shirley Manson, Barry White and Debbie Harry. Even Christine Hamilton could spot the odd one out in that line-up. Apparently Barry hadn't been invited, he just turned up and started rubbing the women's lower backs muttering "too small... too small." Disappointingly, Jennifer Lopez didn't act like a diva at the shoot...
a few years back, there was some godawful band made up entirely of bluebloods. it was shite. there's now the New York equivalent with Tatiana Von Furstenberg and her chums...
Moby uses ginger-flavoured toothpaste. Ginger is, of course, a powerful natural remedy for nausea, and so it makes sense that he'd choose it when he has to look at himself in the mirror; the Donna's big tip for on the road beauty is waterproof mascara; Christopher Hitchens travels Route 66. His article lasts slightly longer than a trip up the road keeping within the speed limits; James Wolcott thumbs through some rockbiographies and resolves "not to become a crack whore" - although maybe if he'd chosen something from nearer this century he might have changed his mind. Grace Slick once tried to give drugs to Richard Nixon, you know. Thank god she didn't succeed; he'd have wound up releasing the Watergate tapes as a concept album...
Elvis Costello takes us through a day, listing what he listens to as time matches on and he loses a bit more hair - this is actually such a brilliant concept, it should immedeatly replace any of those "My Top Ten" retreads the pop press fall back on to fill the odd column. He dusts to the Pet Shop Boys in the morning and fights sleep with Lucinda Williams. Of course he plays In The Wee Small Hours in the wee small hours...
The stupidity and venality that killed Warners as a label is examined in loving detail, ending with the sting: In the summer of 2002, the price of a share in AOL Time Warner wouldn't have bought you a ticket to the opening night of Don Juan in 1926. These people are one-fifth of the RIAA, working for music, you know...
La Mer - better known as Bobby Darin's 'beyond the sea' has its life examined, from World War II French classic to 60's US cheese hit, and - we hope this has been photocopied and stuck on the wall of the British Pop Music Office in New York - the 1964 British Invasion has its prime movers regrouped to discus what exactly happened. Over-funded government initiatives were not on the menu; and there's a third edition of the Rock Snobs dictionary of names to drop. Soprano deborah voight is pictured pretending to be Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.
And, in the midst of the usual faces pictures (Elton John, Randy Newman, Eminem) comes "the next big things" - Rosey, Tweet, Claudette Oritz of City High; Vanessa Carlton; Michelle Branch; Andrew WK (snurk! snurk! snurk!); Craig David; Sonny of POD; Musiq; TapRoot's Stephen Richards; John Mayer and Lamaya
the then-weekly nme is a Special Nirvana Issue - "everything you need to know about the greatest rock band of our age" (erm, isn't that Bleach, actually?)... "Nirvana is a trio who play heavy rck with punk overtones" says the first exclusively-reproduced page of genuine Kurtwrite (TM) suggesting that Kurt's grip on grammar was a slim as his grasp on sanity...
news: Chris Martin from Coldplay jokes that playing with Noel Gallagher is "even bigger than when Bryan Adams and Mel C teamed up." No, Chris, because to be funny, it would have to be true. You're closer to Tom Jones and The Cardigans, mate; Ryan Adam's bid to recreate Evan Dando, this time as farce, continues as Noel Gallagher claims that until he'd heard Wonderwall peformed by Adams, he hadn't been able to play the song properly. That's because Ryan is actually a musician rather than a gormless ug, Noel, and he can bring magic even to one of your songs. You should hear what he can do with a songwriter's back catalogue. The NME is a bit behind with the Missy Elliot story - warned that they'd have their Royal Appointment warrant withdrawn, Gerrards have axed the adverts which proclaim Missy Elliot 'new royalty.' Paul Burrell is said to be considering an appilcation to Missy as we speak. Better news for the Queen, though, as the Strokes have contacted NME to make it clear that rather than saying "God save the Queen - maybe we'll assassinate her after the show", Julian had said "I'll probably get assasinated for saying that" - you can see how the slip was made, what with the two sentences sounding so similar. But why would the Strokes be bothered? Where was Julian in the 50 coolest last week? Mark him down two places; the apparent confusion between "news" and "stuff that Big Brother releases press releases about" continues as nme runs a piece that some knicker company in the US is going to use an Oasis track on its commercials - hey, who said they'd never crack the States. Oddly, the track in question is Hung In A Bad Place - not a phrase we'd want associated with our underbunders; there's a nice page on Jam Master Jay and coverage of Bill Drumond's silent protest - Alanisly getting more attention than anything he's said in years; Great competitions this week - The Libertines will name your band if you win, although we suspect they might call the band something like "Holly Vallance Spread And Unashamed" while you can win a tape with Graham Coxon's Virgin radio session and his drawings all on it and everything. To win you have to text "CUNT" to Damon's mobile as many times as you like; The Hives come clean and playing as a Stooges tribute band; Thom Yorke's played a solo set in California, suggesting even the rest of Radiohead have got sick of him...
Brendan Benson has chosen the tracks for the CD that doesn't really exist, you know - Elvis Costello, Adam and the Ants, Swervedriver (we've seen Swervedriver mentioned in more pop papers in this last month than during their entire time as a going concern)...
on bands - the thrills - the dublin bay pop art experiment; liam lynch- who does that United States of Whatever track that's all over six at the moment, and is [big drum roll] - The First Person To Go Through LIPA (Liverpool's answer to Fame Academy) to get a Positive Mention in the NME! Hurrah, that's hundreds of millions of pounds well spent, then...
"You're just left with some sort of question mark. And it lasts forever" says Dave Grohl at the start of the Kurt-fest; of course you are, but it creates just the right sort of vacuum to drag pages and pages of special editions in, doesn't it? But to be fair, the nme does the Nirvana stuff really well; John Mulvey's piece on their place in music is all you'd hope for; even being honest enough to admit that when Bleach came out, Edwin Pouncey alone tried to get people interested but was washed away in a paper obsessed with Madchester. But, of course, they all joined up eventually: "[Nevermind] will stand up as a new reference point for the future post-hardcore generation" wrote Steve Lamacq during a rare gap between retelling the story of the time Richet manic cut his arm in Norwich. Mulvey concludes: "Worth dying for? That would be ridiculous. Great music is often described as transcendent. But lives are so much more cmplicated and worth so much more than that. Aren't they?"
A great album generating great writing. Sometimes its not just dancing about architecture...
Steve Sutherland introduces the diary extracts, tellingly observing "we know pretty much all there is to know about Kurt Cobain - he was always fiercely autobiographical - and there are few revealing insights." Besides the pictures Kurt drew - which looked awfully akin to those found in the books of the Fort Worth Killer - the most eyecatching thing is Nirvana's Top 50 albums of all time (maybe he was working for Entertainment Weekly undercover? Hang on - Pee Pee The Sailor? Probably not, then)...
There's an A to Z of "obscure" rock references in Kurt's diaries - mummy, who were The Bangles, Dinosaur Jr, Urge Overkill and Wire? (the Zombies appear both here and in the Vanity Fair rock snobs a to z) and a 'where are they now?' of former colleagues and collaborators - did you know the Jesus Lizard split up?
anyway, back to now: reviews: albums:
craig david - slicker than your average - "he really is all over your boink", 8
stone roses - the very best of the stone roses - "there have already been stone roses compilations before" (and doubtless will be again), 10
pearl jam - riot act - "entering a powerful middle-age", 8
romeo - solid love - "so-so rather than so solid", 5
sotw: the thrills - santa cruz - "debut of the year"
not: bright eyes - lover i don't have to love - "astonishing"
kylie - come into my mouth - "primairily of interest for the Fischerspooner remix on the DVD" - can you think of a more dead sentence than that?
cat on form - a butterfly kiss the tar of a thousand births - "inspired by Fugazi"
live: vines, birmingham academy - "evolving at an extraordinary pace" - no mention of Craig's rumoured man tits, though
ryan adams, LA Wiltern theatre - "occasionally crappy, but for the most part inspired"
ravonettes - E1 93 Feet East - "lab-pure smack rock formula but it doesn't matter"
electric6 - brighton pressue point - "they've yet to have their finest hour"
and finally - someone in Angst claims that Pete "pulled off that denim skirt." Bah, we wish.
ANY EXCUSE TO MENTION THE SHOP ASSISTANTS ON A RAINY WEDNESDAY IN AUTUMN: Alistair Fitchett's consideration of c86 has turned up on Tangents (thanks to TMFTML for the tip) and it's well worth reading. The funny thing is, of course, that even as we lambast the people at the nme because One Love doesn't measure up to Ruby Trax, Alistair condemns the class of '86 NME writers for putting together a collection will failed to live up to the C81 collection. (It occurs to us that we'd probably give a kidney to the nme if they put together a compilation before Christmas simply to be able to call it C02, you know.)
Alistair's good on what drove the scene - especially on the 7' single good, CD bad debate, but he doesn't seem to have grasped that, actually, those of us who stared hard at the shiny discs in their strange tiny boxes have actually been given a vindication of sorts, in the long run. It wasn't so much that we objected to crystal clear sound - although the benefits of hyper-hi-fi reproduction to bands trying to replicate the sound you got from a dodgy dansette was lost on us - but what the CD represented. To us, it seemed like a device designed almost solely to benefit the record labels - making it harder to put out independent stuff, allowing them to redraw terms of trade in their favour under the banner "It's an untried medium", giving another way of flogging the exact same thing. Of course we all knew we'd wind up with CD players in the end, but we were determined as hell we weren't going to be bounced into buying £300 machines just to hear bands on £15 discs when we could have used the equipment we already had and got 8-99 albums instead.
It's taken a decade and a half for CD-Rs to turn round and bite the BPI and RIAA in the butt.
And to talk about McCarthy's legacy and not mention Stereolab - which I really don't think Tim could have been involved with if it wasn't for the need to shake the shackles of shambling - seems wrong, somehow.
But, really, my main problem comes at the end - "Instead they laid the foundations for the desolate wastelands of what we came to know by that vile term 'Indie'. What more reason do you need to hate it?"
Now, C86 wasn't quite my punk, but its the nearest thing that I have, so of course I'm biased. But to suggest that C86 was the blueprint for indie - not that it's a term of abuse in itself - is unfair. Unlike some of the magazine-related-compilation tapes that came later - Melody Maker's Romo springs to mind - c86 didn't feel like a forced attempt to create a scene, more a record of what was happening at the time; perhaps the last great example of the music press shutting up and listening to the sounds it could hear. If you want to lay blame for the lazy indie which followed, other targets suggest themselves (Alan McGee, Oasis). Interestingly, when we railed against the CD, Creation was the main label we suspected of being too in thrall to the technological revolution.
One day my children will ask me "What did you do in the war?", and I'll have to say "Nothing, but I did used to pointedly ask 'Is this available as a proper record?' when waving CD singles about in Rounder."
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IT'S NOT 'ALL HAIL SATAN, LORD OF THE DARKNESS' AGAIN, IS IT?: Apparently, Missy Elliot is offering a million dollars to anyone who can work out what she's got back-masked on her new single. Presumably she hasn't heard about these new fangled tape machine things, has she? Could be expensive.
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
AND PRESUMABLY YOU WERE MADE TO WEAR CLOTHES?: The increasingly risible Aguilera says that she wasn't allowed to get her ears pierced as a little girl - so she has eleven now. Apparently she has a new piercing done everytime she gets a bit fed up. The way the press is lashing her, she'll be setting off metal detectors when she comes within a mile of an airport pretty soon.
MAKES HILARY ROSEN LOOK LIKE MARILYN MANSON: Killing a few idle moments dancing about on the RIAA website again, I've discovered A Parent's View. In a rambling piece of nonesense, John A Yahner relates how in the 60's, he played the Woodstock album at a dinner. It had sweary words on it. His parents were not amused. Now, he has kids of his own. One of his kids wanted to buy Eminem. Apparently, this guy needed to have what the big label screeching "Parental Advisory - Explicit Lyrics" actually meant to him, but then the helpful record store staff suggested similar albums that his kid might enjoy without hearing a whole heap of language. (This whole story, from Country Joe to little Kyle, is clearly made up, by the way, but that isn't the point.) Yahner states that "So who’s to decide what music is acceptable? In our house, with our kids, my wife and I. We are the censors; we set the limits. That’s our job. It is not the government’s job." But hang about a minute, in your little tale of shopping you say that you tell little Kyle that he can have any CD apart from the ones with Parental Advisory labels on them - so you're actually not making the decision at all, you're passing the buck to a third party, aren't you?
"Whatever we listen to, I don’t want the government telling me we can’t hear Miles Davis’s Bitch’s Brew because there’s a nasty word in the title." See? The whole labelling thing isn't some sort of sneaky back-door censorship program, but its a way of protecting free speech. Never mind that the vast majority of PA stickers wind up on albums by black artists, and that some of the big chains in the US won't touch an album with a label on it at all - it's guaranteeing your freedom. Wouldn't you rather have a self-selecting bunch of music industry "experts" censor your music for you rather than have the government do it?
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YOU FUCKIN BITCH: Pink has got CD:UK into trouble - or rather, her record company did. Its curious that apparently nobody at the label nor at LWT spotted that Pink's shirt said "You fuckin bitch" until the pre-recorded performance was on the air. Apparently five viewers did, however, and their complaints were upheld by the regulator. Meanwhile, they decided that the thirteen people who rang up to complain that Channel 5's mocking Michael Jackson's Face were wrong to claim the show was unfair.
THIS IS MEANT TO ENCOURAGE THEM?: The Walsall Express and Star reports Pete Waterman is promising to run naked through the streets of Walsall if the local team wins the Worthington Cup. Now, is that really the sort of thing to lay on a team as they prepare to take on Blackburn in the third round?
POPSTARS IN REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES: One-time Princess of the Posse Queen Latifah now reduced to flogging bras. She is to be the face - well, not mainly - of the splendidly named Curvation undies.
OOH, LOOK - THE LAST PIECE OF SYMPATHY JUST EVAPORATED: Is it possible to get those guys to go back and finish the job? Peterborough United Football Club are getting grief from Victoria Beckham because they're trying to use the nickname they've had since the first world war (yes, Victoria, there's been two of them). Peterborough - the original Posh - have received an objection from the woman who makes Steve Lamacq look tubby to their trademarking of the name, on the grounds that "posh" has been used in connection with her for all of five years. Does the daft bint not realise that people called her Posh as a gentle term of abuse, because "Embarassing Middle Class Social Climber In The Style of Margot from The Good Life But Without The Taste Spice" was too much of a mouthfull?
THE LIVE ON THE DEAD: Pete Townshend was charged by The Observer with reviewing Kurt Cobain's journals. "'I hope I die before I become Pete Townshend,' wrote Kurt Cobain in his journal in the middle of one of his rants against the rock press establishment. Why? Because I had become a bore? Because I had failed to die young? Because I had become conventional? Or, simply because I had become old?. No, Pete, it's because you've turned into a self-satisfied bore, as your review shows repeatedly:
" If this sounds rather professorial, that's me, the first proprietor of the rock academy of lyric analysis." God, no wonder Daltrey chooses to spend time with his fish rather than with you. He uses punk to describe Nirvana - in quotation marks.
"What follows appear to be the scribblings of a crazed and depressed drug-addict in the midst of what those of us who have been through drug rehab describe as 'stinking thinking'" Well, there's an insight. Who'd imagine that Kurt's personal thoughts would have revealed that?
"If the first draft words for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' are here somewhere, I'm not sure I could find them without help. I believe that there are actually three drafts in this book. But the song on the CD is clear, outstanding, dark, ironic, amusing and disturbing at once. It occurs to me that somewhere along the way, in the business that passed between his first infantile scribblings and the rehearsals and recording studio sessions with his band members, Kurt Cobain had a lot of help to reorganise, focus and realise his ideas."
Did it occur to you that maybe Smells Like Teen Spirit was a song, and to look at the work in progress gives you exactly that - a work that isn't finished, that is still being refined? If I read the margin notes and scribbles on Post-Its you made as you lumbered towards your review of this book, I dare say it would seem to be full of half-thoughts and ideas you later abandoned. I'd suggest you don't buy the DVD version of the Matrix, Pete - it might hurt you to discover that Trinty was held up by strings. And, erm, yes - the rest of the band would have had some sort of input into the finished article. That's what bands do, isn't it?
" I sometimes get letters from people who write and draw like Cobain. I put them in a file marked 'Loonies', just in case they try to sue me in the future for stealing their ideas."
Curious, you believe these people to be mad and worthy only of being ignored and belittled, but you're not quite certain, are you?
"There is some insider interest generated by some of the images. On page 139, there is a small cartoon of a baby swimming underwater, obviously the inspiration for the cover of Nevermind . But that art was redeemed because the face of the child was happy and free. Cobain's cartoon is captioned: 'Sell the kids for food'. No irony here. In a world plagued by the abuse of children, it is depressing, because what troubles Kurt was and is still real."
It's intertesting that Pete is so self-important that he believes knowing what the cover of one of the best selling albums of the 1990s looks like makes him an "insider." And what does "the art was redeemed" mean? Does he mean that its a naked child underwater, which is, you know, a bit Gary Glitter, like, only the kid's smiling so its alright, then? And doesn't even a fleeting moment of clarity offer Townshend that in the cartoon, maybe Kurt is commenting on the world rather than offering a Gordon Brown style solution to child poverty? If he thinks that the Nevermind sleeve is of a "happy and free" child, I suppose its possible that it doesn't. But does it never occur to Pete to wonder why the baby on the album sleeve is chasing a dollar bill?
"That this should be muddled with his resentments, his political naivety and his extraordinary self-obsession (he worried at one time that he was lactating because his nipples were always sore) is simply sad"...
"When Cobain was in deep trouble with heroin addiction in 1993, I was visiting New York regularly in connection with my own child-abuse story, Tommy , which had hit Broadway. I met Michael Azerrad who had written Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Azerrad asked if I would contact Cobain, who was in constant danger of overdosing. I had chosen this year to give booze another gentle try after 11 years. When Azerrad approached me, I was not drunk, nor unsympathetic, but I did not make the necessary judgment I would make today that an immediate 'intervention' was required to save his life."
So, Cobain is self-obsessed because he worries his nipples are leaking milk. What does that make an old fart who clearly believes that his judgement on the state of mind of someone he had never met was the key turning point in Cobain's endgame. Listen, you pillock: His wife couldn't help him. His daughter couldn't help him. What the hell do you think an intervention from someone he didn't want to turn into would have done?
WE'RE NOT IN LONDON OURSELVES: but if you are - maybe you're being punished for being bad in a previous life, or perhaps the people in the nice place you were born sent you there for a joke - you might find londonmusic worthwhile joining. It offers a weekly mail-out plugging gigs in the capital in a readable and amusing format. Which is more than you can say about Time Out.
AND WHILE WE'VE GOT OUR BRIEFS ON: With all the John Leslie business over at Popbitch, we're wondering if everyone's third-favourite pop mailout is on shakier ground than it thinks. See, back when it had its first major legal run-in, it could claim that it was just a dumb pipe. But now it's got a very public series of editors, deletions and automatic blanking out of names, it could be argued that anything that doesn't get wiped is, by implication, being endorsed by Popdog. We're kind of assuming that they had a stronger legal position when the place was more chock full of libel, ironically enough.
By the way, did anyone see XFM breakfast gimp Christian O'Connell's My media in the Guardian yesterday - he's a "big fan" of the Internet - presumably he's on the terraces every week cheering it on - but he says he can't wait for Thursdays when Popbitch comes round. Now, if he's such a big fan of the web - chanting "there's only one Berners-Lee" how come he doesn't spend his time like every other feckless London tosser on ver Bitch all day everyday?
LEGAL QUERY: Dave Gorman is out on tour. The advert for his show in yesterday's paper had a quote pulled from a paper saying, basically, if you don't enjoy yourself "I'll give you the money back myself." This quote comes from the Melody Maker. So, leaving aside the question of why Gorman is having to fall back on press clippings from a paper that closed two years ago, d'you think the Maker closed before a large queue of disgruntled punters turned up to get their tickets refunded?
THE OTHER TWO: We thought that those people who turned up early enough at the Grumbleweed's summer tour to catch Syd Little - solo - were getting a bit of a bum rap. How much worse for International Soulfest attendees who are getting the one out of Destiny's Child who isn't Beyonce or Kelly, and one of New Edition who certainly isn't Bobby Brown. For some reason, we're reminded of the Torquay guesthouse which served up a jar of Economy Jam at breakfast.
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MONKEY BUSINESS: Again, we must tip our hat to Media Monkey for this: "The long-running feud between Smashy and Nicey, sorry, Tony Blackburn and John Peel, shows no sign of easing up just yet. Peely, you remember, once compared Blackburn to the anti-Christ. "Everything he liked and believed in, I disliked and didn't believe in." Not fair, moaned Tone. "He's always sniped and me and I don't understand why," the DJ said of Peel. "I wrote him an email last year saying, 'After 38 years isn't it time you stopped having a go at me? What have I done to upset you?'" Peel has also described his rival DJ as "weird." Now it's Blackburn on the offensive again in this week's Radio Times. "I find him immensely irritating, but I've never had a fist fight with him," he declares. "I never hit old men." Steady on, Smashy! Peely, now it's over to you...
MORE ON COMSCORE: comScore Networks have finally got around to putting their press release about the decline in music sales online online, and it's kind of interesting reading - "“The music industry attributes the decline in online and offline music sales to a variety of factors, such as a slow economy, fewer hit songs, piracy, CD-burning and file-swapping among others,” said Peter Daboll, division president of comScore Media Metrix, a division of comScore Networks." Well, actually, I've not heard a single music executive and certainly nobody from the RIAA or the BPI claim that there are "fewer hit songs" about - probably because the reverse is true. For a start, in any given week there are always going to be the exact same number of hit songs - although sometimes you wish Mark Goodier would come on and say "Due to the rubbish nature of the lower end of the chart, this week there's only going to be a Top 17", that never happens. Indeed, what the trend has been for the last few years is that singles enter high up in the chart and then drop like stones. Exactly half of this week's UK Top 10 are new entries; the rest are going down. In fact, in the whole of the Top 75, there are only two songs from last week's list which have improved on their positions. This high turnover means there are lots of singles which are becoming hits, but very very few which are hanging about long enough to generate anything like any sales or recognition for the artists and albums they're supposed to be supporting.
Then there's the figures themselves - comScore reckons that three quarters of a million unique users used Napster during the third quarter of 2002. To do what, precisely? And while their discovery that between the second and third quarters of this year, USD72m worth of sales disappeared from the online market, to blame this on downloads is curious - since for the same period, the number of users of file sharing services fell too on their figures (as far as we can tell, since the survey neglects to include figures for Morpheus users). This would tend to point more to fewer people doing music related stuff online at all.
Meanwhile, amazon are reporting that their books, CDs and DVD department is increasing sales.
OH YEAH?: I regret letting cameras in, says Ozzy's wife. Oh, yes?. So much they came back for a second series?
SHE COULD ALWAYS GO BACK TO LABOURING: More bad news for Natalie Imbruglia. Not only is she reduced to trying to flog L'Oreal products aimed at the "not getting any younger, love" market, but now Avril Lavigne has robbed her of one her few claims to fame, stealing the record for longest run on the US Top 40 by a female artist. Yeah, its not much of a record but when your career consists of yakking about "visibily reducing the signs of aging," you cling to whatever you can.
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NU NEWS: Thanks to Ned from bullets who emailed us to confirm that we haven't just made up Nu in our heads: "I saw the video on MTV, it's cheap-but-classy, they're just playing Disco Hurts in a big white room and at the end they get sprayed with some kind of grainy red paint. And they look *a lot* like Blondie" - although this does sound a lot like the sort of thing we spend a lot of time fantasising about.
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Monday, November 04, 2002
THE WORST BAND NAME FOR THESE TIMES: Calling yourself Nu in the internet age is on a par with having chosen "Snake" or something in the 70's, consigning you to be hidden away in the depths of the Woolworths racks. Which is a pity, because they look amazing, and the song Disco Hurts is wonderful. But we've never been able to Google them. Maybe we've made them up inside our head.
SOMEONE STILL LOVES WHITNEY: She might have been having a slightly Carey time what with the drugs and the career slump and the Bobby Brown business, but the Washington Post reckons that someone still has a soft spot for Whitney Houston. Saddam Hussein made I Will Always Love You his campaign song for his recent election, powering him to a 100% share of the 100% turnout. Of course, we'd take this report with a pinch of salt - the Bush White House has tried many ways to discredit Saddam - pointing to his use of gas against his own people, claiming he has weapons of mass destruction, constantly running that film of his firing the rifle in the air without ensuring that he won't have someone's eye out. Perhaps trying to make people think that he inflicts such a cruel and unusual track on his people is just part of the parade of disinformation coming from Washington.
Next week: Osama Bin Laden "uses 'Simply The Best' at outrage planning meetings, claim aides."
DVD TO THE RESCUE: Eliot Van Buskirk writing in CNET's MP3 Insider has grasped that attractiveness of re-purchasing your video collection on DVD has had a massive impact on CD sales. That's about as far along the park as we walk with him, though, as he extrapolates that, since people would probably rather pay USD10 for a DVD movie than USD18 for a music CD, the music industry should start to stick out DVDs instead. Now, we would have thought that sentence was crying out to be ended with " adjust its pricing structure in a more realistic downwards direction", ourselves, but let's give him a chance.
He cites the example of Super Furry Animal's Rings Around The World, the first album to be released simultaneously in DVD and CD format. Now, we yield to nobody in our admiration for the Super Furries, but frankly, most of the extra stuff on the DVD looked like pisspoor flash animations knocked up in ten minutes to us. If every album that comes out is going to have large clumsy animations all over it, then the novelty will wear off and the value of the additions will be worn away. If, on the other hand, the record companies are forced to come up with worthwhile video extras for every track, that's going to cost money. And remember how the record industry like to complain about how much they're losing already on nine-tenths of their output? Having to get Altman in to direct videos for the second b-side of the new Shania Twain album isn't going to help with those stretched margins much, is it?
See, the logic here is flawed, and its flawed because it ignores what people really want. There are a couple of acts in the world that might work better visually than aurally - Danni Minogue we'd much prefer if she spent more time in hotpants, less in the studio booth - but beyond Holly Vallance-land, the whole point about music is that its, well, sounds, isn't it? Be honest - when you get a CD with a "bonus video footage" on it, how often do you actually play the video? I've got a stack of CDs at home that promise all sorts of visual delights, and with the exceptions of Metal Fingers In Her Body and Erase and Rewind, I've never played the multimedia element more than once; quite often the claim on the little sticky label that it's got eye-licking delights held on the disc could be absolute bunk, because I don't really buy music to watch. Van Buskirk perhaps doesn't hang out with any music fans, because everyone I know who buys video music compilations also buys the CD version as well, even when the releases coincide. My copy of Just Lookin', the Charlatans video best-of, isn't a replacement for Melting Pot, their album collection. It's an extra treat, for those rare moments when I'm not using my face to point at something else. And, certainly, if it hadn't been a birthday present, I don't think I'd have prioritised getting the DVD at all.
And this is betting without the whole shedload of controls DVD manufacturers try to impose on what you can and can't do with a DVD, where you can play it and when you can listen to it and how many people you can have in your bedroom when you play one. If you want to prove Eliot's well-meaning but wrong, imagine if someone had suggested that the music industry, to fight hometaping, had embraced nascent VHS technology, abandoned making records and just concentrated on making video releases.
Music isn't just a soundtrack.
LEAVING A CUMBERLAND GAP: Lonnie Donegan has died.
When I was growing up, my Dad didn't have many albums. The closest thing to rock we had was A Golden Age of Donegan Volumes 1 and 2. (I was a late child).
It's a great loss.
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO: Tony Wilson and Danny Baker debating whether music is dead. Two people who actually care debating the future passionately. If the RIAA or the BPI copuld muster one tenth of this commitment to their case for just one minute, we'd stop treating them like a bunch of besuited lizards.
BUT WE'D BOUGHT THE WINE SO WE WENT AHEAD ANYWAY: Clearly, the glittering launch of the Brighton Walk Of Fame had been planned with the expectation that this would be the first step in the second phase of Brighton & Hove's European City of Culture Bid. However, what with not being shortlisted, it took on the air of a slightly forlorn spot of whistling in the dark. How dark? You may choose to compare the bold claim of the start of the Argus' report: "The glitz and glamour of Hollywood came to Brighton last night as Britain's first Walk of Fame was launched." with the later paragraphs "Autograph hunters and celebrity spotters watched as the stars gradually arrived. They included Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell with her husband John Bigg and former world boxing champion Chris Eubank. - they were the most noteworthy? No Rock went to school with John Bigg's brother, and having been born in Brighton we wonder if we might make up for the lack of recognition in that Guardian Best British Weblog competition by getting our own star on the Walk. Well, since Terry Garroghan came top in the poll to decide who should be memorialised on the special pavement of celebrity (apparently some sort of late night dj), we've got to be in with a chance. Nick 'Every Loser Wins' Berry, Roger 'Who' Daltrey and David Van 'David Van Day's Bucks Fizz' Day are amongst the musical... um, participants being given the opportunity to be the target of gum-spitters for all eternity. Oh, and Leo Sayer.
But never mind the flagstones - the real glamour is in having the Brighton & Hove buses named after you.
AT LEAST THE FISH ARE SAFE: From Media Monkey
Andy Kershaw's Radio 3 show is followed on air by Jazz on 3, but it's safe to assume the ex-Radio 1 DJ doesn't listen to it. "Everything that's happened in jazz since 1939 sounds like a fire in a pet shop," he tells Monkey. "It's all bollocks."
WISH I'D THOUGHT OF THAT: A big cigar, or gift certificates for Top High Street Stores, to vain, selfish & lazy for the observation that Robbie William's new one "won't win any new fans; won't alienate old fans" and that this is exactly how Pearl Jam have been making their money for the last few years. Shouldn't there be a term for this sort of act, whose raison d'etre is to produce something that will please exactly the same people in the same way as the last thing they produced?
NUMBER CRUNCHING: BBC News online headlines a report "online music sales plummet" and then kicks in with the expected "increasing popularity of CD copying and illegal song-swapping over the internet" is to blame.
Hang on a moment, though. The "plummet" is supposed to be 25%, but the survey the report is based on - by ComScore networks - seems to concentrate on American music sales only. And it doesn't count units sold, but total value of sales - still a healthy USD545. Now, forgive us if we're being a bit dense, but hasn't the number of records sold collapsed anyway? So why would you expect online sales to not see a fall at the same time as offline sales fall? Doubtless Hilary and her friends would argue that the fall is down to CD burning and the usual boogermen, but as we've said before - so many times, you're probably sick of us - you'd expect a market offering only rubbish to see a decline anyway, and at a time when a difficult economy has driven many areas to cost cutting, the total value of sales may be driven further down by price offers. Furthermore, if downloading and piracy is really to blame for the slump in online music sales, how come the similarly-challenged online DVD market has seen - on ComScores own figures - a rise in value of sales? Could it be that upswing in spending on movies online is the main reason for the fall in music sales?
MICK, WE AGREE: Of course Mick Jagger likes >TV talent shows - anything which produces flashes-in-the-pan is hardly going to challenge his position, is it? But you have to wonder if he actually was thinking when he said "Pop stardom is by definition a short-term thing. The public expects pop acts to come and go. That’s why it’s called pop.” Mick jagger has been a pop star for forty years.
OOH, I'M SCARED: The Marilyn Manson edition of Tonight with Jay Leno aired in the UK on CNBC last night (I'm assuming it went out sometime last week in the States.) Leno was clearly uncomfotable, unsettled, and unwilling to participate in an intercourse with someone who uses the context of an entertainment act to challenge his dearest values. But enough about the Bill Maher slot, he then had to bring Marilyn on. And then he was a lot more relaxed, chatting as if with a country club buddy. I think it says it all about Manson that Leno is more at home with him than a fellow TV show host. Extra amusement came when Leno asked Manson about the Playboy with Rose McGowan in. Although he tried to brazen it out, Mazza reminded us of nobody so much as the guy in the League of Gentleman reduced to wandering round offering crisps and nuts at his wife's swinging parties. Manson fluffed his defence - meant to be something about not needing to hide wanking over the magazine - and did the goth equivalent of standing in the kitchen saying "Its alright... it's alright... it's alright."
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Sunday, November 03, 2002
POSH PLOT: Despite what the CNN headline says, Kidnap plot: Beckham wife stunned, they didn't actually get as far as stunning her. Apparently the idea was to drug her so she'd be disorientated and uncertain of where she was - looking at the videos, it's clear this would be similar to the state she's in when she's recording music - and then hold her hostage in Brixton until David Beckham gave the kidnap gang of four desperate men five million pounds. I have to be honest that this kidnap plot is getting muddled up in my mind with the Spice Girl reunion rumours, whereby she'll be put in a TV studio with four desperate women, but not until someone gives her five million pounds.
Obviosuly Victoria is upset, but we'd imagine that what really disturbs her is the coverage - to make the coverage of the story worthwhile, half the world's press are sticking to calling Victoria "Posh Spice" and the other half "David Beckham's wife; once better known as Posh Spice." Honestly... does nobody recall that song with Dane Bowers? Still, good news for Madonna that the solo career has already been consigned to the wiped tape of collective forgetfulness. It'll stop people pointing out that her Bond Theme video is little more than a reworking of the Not Such An Innocent Girl video.
THE NO ROCK REVIEW: Rather than relying on Becky Bamboo, for once we're filing our own review: Gemma Hayes and Suede, Liverpool Royal Court, 2-11-02:
There’s no denying that Gemma Hayes is a technically brilliant songwriter - her songs are put together with the sort of care which, should a carpenter bring to making a dovetail joint, would bring tears to the eyes of the hardest expert on Antiques Roadshow. The trouble is that the songs, while well-made, are totally unmemorable. There’s acts of recognition, certainly - “ah, this is the other one that 6Music was so keen on” - but nothing in the songs themselves latches into your memory. Not only is there nothing to take away with you, there’s nothing even to grab hold of while they slide by you. The sort of thing that even at Lillith Fair would get applause as an act of solidarity, rather than a note of gratitude. Spookily, though, we both came to the same conclusion that she’d listened to a lot of Placebo.
Brett Anderson now has a haircut that looks like his mam did it; he was wearing trousers that Kim Wilde might baulk at gardening in; his dance routine was cribbed from Mick Jagger’s ‘Let’s Work’ video, and yet he’s still a little ball of sexual beauty. The set is almost entirely a greatest hits affair, which serves the purpose of showing off that Suede has a back catalogue that is wider and deeper than you remembered as much by what’s left out to make space (Pantomime Horse, The Drowners, all but a verse of the Living Dead) as is included (Metal Mickey, Trash, Beautiful Ones). Live, the new stuff fits wonderfully into the body of work - Positivity is the second song in, and sung like its meant; Obessions is such classic Suede at times it sounds like they’re going to crash into My Heroine. At one point, Brett announces they’re going to do a track from the (severely under-performing) new album and asks the crowd what they want to hear. Like a class who haven’t done their homework, there’s an embarrassed mumbling of “um... the third one...” and “whatever you think is best...” and “ooh, you know, the one with the stuff about... pigs or something...”
But generally, this is a triumphant night, showing that the band is far from the write-off they might have been considered. Sure, at one time the people in hall wearing car coats and jangling carkeys would have been there to chaperone rather than being the actual audience ; and sure, the wider bellies and less luxuriant hair on view don’t stop at the front row, but getting older has broadened Suede’s appeal. It takes a while to work out why Brett’s banter with the audience is more David Brent that you might expect, and then it hits you: because he is actually trying to be entertaining. They’ve turned their back on the aloofness and icy distance of the past; when at the end Brett encourages the audience to applaud ourselves, sure, it’s a cheesey, Vegas moment, but it’s also heartfelt. It’s not just sunshine and life that Suede have come to appreciate; they value the love of the audience for the warmth, and not simply as an ego-boost. When Brett dedicates Beautiful Ones to us, it’s as if Monty Burns has finally planted a big, wet kiss on Smither’s lips and called us Waylon.