Saturday, February 22, 2003

We name the spam bands

It's been a while since we've had a spate of dimwitted spam, but the work of Lil A Gets Folky can't go unmentioned. We awoke this morning to about seventeen messages from Lil A, each one identical, each one posted to an inappropriate group, and each one suggesting we support "Independant (sic) artists." It's not so much the mispselling, but the suggestion that simply because you're not signed to a major label you deserve support - "Well, obviously, the music is shite, but they've not signed to Virgin, so..." The artists worthy of respect and support are the good ones.

Meanwhile, we were deeply disappointed to discover that The Datsuns (or the Datsun's people) seem to think they need a 'street team'. Surely if Dolf sitting looking like a suck-me monkey on Buzzcocks doesn't work, then no amount of confused young people spamming mailboxes worldwide will? Their first act to is to get each member to sign up another twenty members - so it's like pyramid selling indie rock, then... Shabby and uncalled for.

Leeds United

So, after a huge police effort to find the culprits, eyewitnesses describing the scenes as "worse than anything I saw in twelve years in the army", half a million pounds worth of damage - so the court feels that a couple of hundred quid's worth of fine each and a few hours community service is the fitting sentence?

Surely not connected in any way with one of the Festival Riot Boys being the son of an MP, of course. Since (as far as we know) there's been no action brought against the organisers for their rubbish security, we're assuming the authorities are really seeing the whole meltdown as some sort of act of god.

So, planning is going ahead, and since it's hugely unlikely Mean Fiddler will be able to use temple Newsham again, the idea is to move the whole thing to Bramham Park in Tadcaster. We wonder what they're telling the owner of the estate, Nick Lane Fox, because he confidently told the Guardian he was relaxed about the idea of the riotfest moving into his back garden:

"We are talking about the sort of fencing they have at Glastonbury - 18ft high, a barrier no one can get through."

Right, so he really believes that he's going to be allowed to build a permanent structure like that in the grounds of his house? And he really believes that there's the million quid available that Eavis had to invest in his Big Fence? Maybe he will be, and maybe there is. That still doesn't explain how it'll stop a replay of the 2002 and 2001 riots, which were systematic destructions by ticket-holding festival-goers. The Glasto Berlinesque Wall is designed to stop people without tickets sneaking in, not to stop turmoil developing inside the site. That would call for better planning of security.

Friday, February 21, 2003

See? He said my face was pretty

So, the long-awaited Jackson riposte film has been shown in the US (Sky One will be finding room for it in the UK), and we'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to Jackson. It turns out we were wrong - he's a great dad, he's in no way insane, and that Martin Bashir is a nasty piece of work no question, guv.

Well, we would like to, but since Jackson hasn't sent us a huge cheque, we're going to stick to the truth. Michael, pet, when Bashir said nice things to you, he was putting you at your ease - do you see? And if you watch the Tonight which you describe as a travesty, it's clear he started off with the intention of presenting you in a positive light, but your behaviour made it impossible.

So you thought Berlin zoo would be closed when you took the kids there? Fair enough. But when it was obvious that it wasn't, why did you parade the little nippers through the midst of that scrum? See, the problem wasn't that the kids were in a dangerous situation, it was your total failure to try and get them out.

Oh, and the woman who bore your kid popped up to say its her who insists on the masks, and that she'd have another child for you like a shot. Well, I'm convinced by that. A caring mother who just doesn't bother to have anything to do with her child's upbringing, yet does insist they and their siblings wear face masks at all time - there's no way that doesn't ring true, is there? "Being the child of Michael Jackson, junior could be in danger. But if he puts a gauze mask on, everything will be fine."

Seagulls... Seagulls...

No Rock is delighted that it's team, Brighton and Hove Albion, is being given a helping hand by 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, one of their local teams.

At the moment, the 'gulls are struggling to cope with the rigorous demands of the First Division, and have launched a campaign to try and buy a new player to avoid the drop. The 80's Matchgirls B-side Deserters are going to headline a 'Beat the drop' fund raiser. Of course, the phrase 'good money after bad' might be heard to be muttered, but that's almost certainly going to be Gillingham fans...

Meanwhile, on News 24

MEANWHILE, ON NEWS 24: To celebrate - presumably - Brits Day, News24 yesterday evening gave the Hard Talk slot (normally home to thirty minutes of close cross-examination with the deputy procurement officer from Georgia, or the former Dutch Ambassador to Guayana) over to an interview with Tom 'Bloody' Jones.

This was bizarre on several levels - first up, the intellectual pairing of foreign correspondent Tim Sebastian and Las Vegas floorshow Jones was odd in itself. That, leaving aside that the Tom on News24 was (i) more orange (ii) less bald and (iii) totally unbearded compared to the Tom that had just been on ITV suggested the piece had been taped some time ago, would have been enough.

But, for some reason, they'd decided to do the interview sat underneath a spinning glitterball, which meant that while Tom rambled through his responses to the not-exactly-hard questions, your attention kept being distracted by the little flecks of light bouncing off Sebastian's pate. Curious.

MORE BRITS: Simon Tyers, who we shall forever call the No Rock Spy, has turned up with more Brits-related observations:
I'll just have to bullet point these instead of uncomfortably welding together these disprite strands:

* Something Always Happening At The Brits was a curious angle for ITV to take in its advertising anyway, partly because the TV trailers were making out it was all about the music, but mostly because their line went "remember John Prescott getting soaked by Chumbawamba, or Jarvis Cocker onstage with Michael Jackson, or Bryan from Westlife challenging So Solid Crew last year?" Well, not really, as one happened before the show, one at the after-show, and the other was completely missed by most of the audience, the TV crew, radio, journalists and essentially pretty much everyone except a bloke from L!ve TV with a camcorder. And no-one mentions Brandon 'The Salon' Block at all, so the one moment they have got they can't find a reason for using.

* The worst thing about the set-up was that, unlike, well, every other proper industry awards ceremony, Davina was told to wander around the audience and make off-hand comments to people, getting hard glares for her troubles, which made it look like she was trying too hard. They perhaps meant it as "look at all the stars here!", but it doesn't give the impression of her as bringing calm to the event.

* And the award presenters! Vernon Kay you could just about get away with, if not the pre-nominees banter (Vernon, in an attempt to gee up the audience: "Garlic bread?" Davina : "Peter Kay!" Vernon : "No, I'm not Peter Kay." Audience : "....") Next award - Tess Daly! I know she's in the ITV idents, but that doesn't mean Robbie Earle got an invite.

* Why did they change the name of Best Newcomer? If Will and Norah had won that it would have been better understood than a thin veneer of 'breaking through with their great original sound'.

* Did you hear any of the Radio 1 coverage? Since Collins and Maconie buggered off it's been Scott Mills and Nemone locked in a Portakabin very much not having the time of their lives, and ruining the claims of being first to the breaking ceremony news anyway by commenting on performances, dresses etc. well before they're supposed to - the OB unit producer can't even get his head around the concept of as-it-happens reportage. This time the gimmick was they had 'spies' - they never established what this meant - in the artist area texting back, because that's what young people do, on gossip of the quality of "Gwyneth's here", "the Sugababes aren't in their seats" (Nemone : "actually, aren't they about to perform?") and "Avril Lavigne looks bored", all treated with the level of studied cynicism that that woman who does the entertainment news on Jo Whiley's show does because that's what Heat do, isn't it?

* Interesting to see that, scrabbling around for a story, any story, after Kylie's been disposed of they've alighted on Chris Martin's 'anti-war' speech, as if a) being anti-war is the very limits of left-wing politics and b) he'd launched into a five-minute discourse on UN culpability and the oil issues, as opposed to an offhand comment that would have passed without notice if Frank Skinner had said it on that night's Unplanned. Still, at least he didn't have his bloody Make Trade Fair T-shirt on.

Tragedy's song is seldom worth the effort

A British man has been cleared of killing his fiancee - they'd been arguing over Alanis's Ironic; she tried to hit him with a "cobra shaped dooorstop" and he wound up strangling her. Now, isn't that ironic - don't you think?

Like, whatever

The Australian Herald Sun got an interview with Avril Lavigne - who, apparently, has never bought a CD in her life (presumably not something the RIAA would be keen for us to focus on.) If you've ever been in any doubt that behind her panda eyes, Avril has anything other than a Homer Simpson mind, it makes fascinating reading:

Is it daunting to think you've sold ten million albums in six months?
You know... surprising?
It's weird... I don't understand the question.
There's a lot of rumours going around about you, including an ex-manager saying you were more contrived than Britney. Did that hurt?
That I'm more what?
More contrived than Britney.
I didn't hear that, but I think everyone kinda knows the truth to that.
What truth? That he's bitter or about you being contrived?
I don't want to talk about him.
Well, what about those rumours that you were a record company creation, just like Britney?
Well, there's that rumour then there's the whole thing where everyone likes me because I am not contrived and because I came out as myself and I stood up for myself. Different people have different opinions. Hearing people say, "Oh you're fake," it's like, OK, right. No I'm not. I mean, like, I wear my own clothes to photo shoots, like, whatever. Everything I do, it's like, me. I'm not, like, trying to be a flower or anything like that.

Besides the difficulty with complicated long words, and the sudden contradiction between not having heard the rumours and then, oh, those rumours, what's perhaps the saddest thing here is that you can bet she really does think that because she chooses the trousers she wears for Rolling Stone covershoots, she's like a latterday Chrissie Hynde.

Also, during the course of the very brief interview she flatly denies ever having described herself as punk. Oh yeah?

"my musical influences are pretty much anyone I listen to, mostly rock, punk, emo music" Chart Attack webchat

She jokingly points out that touring with her own "skater-punk band of rocker boys" probably won't be all that different from her childhood.VH1 profile

Avril describes her fashion style as a mix of skater and punk profile
... and so on...

It's major versus major

EMI are reportedly weighing up joining a class action against Bertelsmann because of it's underwriting of Napster. This, of course, should be viewed purely on its own, and not mulled in the context of the oft-mooted BMG/EMI merger rumours.

Interestingly, it could be argued that Bertelsmann would be able to launch a much stronger case against EMI, suggesting that one of that companies, Robbie Williams, appeared to encourage the 'theft' of its copyright material in widely-reported remarks last month. Go on, the quiet Germans... give us all a laugh.

Meanwhile, the stakes in file-sharing wars have been upped with both the new Madonna and White Stripes records having duff spoof versions loaded into the main file swapping systems in a bid to undermine them.

Too late, guys. We wondered in this space why Metallica didn't do this back at the start of their battle with Napster; it might have been effective then, killing off the reputation of file-sharing as the Place To Go To Get The Tracks at its birth. But in 2003, it's not going to have the same effect, is it? People have built up a collection of tracks, and know that Not Everything Out There is rubbish; they'll also have micronetworks of trusted sources to try first by now. And with the faster speed of computers and connections spreading out - so you spend a couple of minutes downloading a track, and its not genuine? No real loss, just try clicking on another in the list. It's no worse than downloading a recommended track and finding it's shit. Indeed, all spoofing is going to do now is put off the casual sampler - "is the white stripe band I keep hearing about any good? Oh, this is a spoof track. I shall sample Def Leppard's wares instead." And a Madonna .mp3 which is one idea repeated over and over again for three minutes? How would that be different from the official release?

One last thing: If the record companies are using the networks for spoofs, how does this affect their legal relationships? Presumably they don't object to the system swapping their spoofs - if they did, they'd have to prosecute their own IT departments for uploading them in the first place - so they're merely increasing the amount of legitimate material zapping from machine to machine, which is going to make it harder to get the networks shut down. A massive own goal caused by moving way too slowly, then.

What a difference a stiff letter of complaint to your plastic surgeon can make

Pete Burns on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, 2002

Pete Burns on Liquid News, last night.

True, his lips still make Leslie Ash look like she's pursing, but even so... you wouldn't stare at him in the street anymore. You'd give a second glance, but no rude staring.

Something always happens at the Brits

Maybe we could have ITV for false advertising. Although, to be fair, the duffest Brit Awards so far wasn't their fault, more down to pisspoor planning, but we should have known the confidence with which they were allowing them to be broadcast on merely a two hour delay (enough for them to have cut out the Prescott drenching; not enough to have made anything approaching a silk purse out of Sam and Mick) was a signal they knew it would be dull.

Partly because they were held in a theatre. This is so wrong - with the audience all seated in ranks, coupled with the lack of refreshments, you don't get the sense that this is a music industry awards ceremony; it feels more like The Smash Hits Awards, only with all the energy sucked out the room. No wonder they resorted to playing taped applause all evening. Of course, with the quality of awards winners on offer, you can see why they were keen to rig the show to minimise hecklers - "It's good" said one of Blue "people are showing us respect the way we show the rest of industry respect." But you have to show respect, you bus-wheel; singer in a boy band is a few slots below the guy who unjams the photocopier in the EMI heirarchy; whereas the thought of anyone with any sense sitting seeing you pick up a prize - a prize - for your "work" and not shouting "Bumcrack" at the top of their lung power is frustrating.

The second big problem was the timing. Ironically, holding the awards a full twenty four hours before broadcast not only means they didn't have that late-afternoon rehearsal feel to them (Pink struggling to sing 'get the party started' while rush-hour hadn't yet got underway would have been wrong even if the sound hadn't have been so shite as to suggest that Edge Lane University had sent its sound engineering trainees to oversee the event, having first stuck sharp pencils through their eardrums), but also the excitement and tension of who was going to win what was sucked away by other shows.

Last year, kicking off after eight meant the News Shows Interested In That Sort of Thing had all gone home to bed, and by the time the awards made it to TV the 'who had won what' details were fuzzy enough to make it almost as if you didn't know. This time, the early kick-off meant that even John Craven's fucking Newsround was carrying results of the winners just moments before ITV1's expensive show started. So we knew who'd won what, heard the best bits of the speeches and knew that nothing unexpected was going to happen. Never did Buffy and Angel seem more appealing.

As for the awards themselves, it's starting to become increasingly obvious that although her heart is firmly fixed in the right place, Ms Dynamite doesn't quite have the quick wit needed for a spokesperson for the youth of today. Saturday's gaffe - instructing the largest peace demo in British history to "keep fighting" and then trying to salvage the moment by adding ", peacefully" - had been largely ignored. But now we have to file it next to her descrpition of that very shite reworking of Faith (Pre-publicity had promised a duet with George Michael; instead we got a glorified video karaoke moment) as "it is an anti-war song, but not in a negative way." Right. Under these circumstances, it's clear why Her People were busily hassling the backstage media troops, as reported on Liquid News - most notably insisting that Ms Dynamite wouldn't take any questions about why she'd thanked "her husband" on stage. Which is a pity, as without allowing a swift clearing-up of that one, they'll allow the feeling to grow that maybe she's been forced to pretend she's a single sassy gal about town when really she's happily and cosily married in a bid to make her image a bit more street. Which we're sure isn't the case at all, is it?

BBC Breakfast's report suggested that the evening had been all about "urban" - "even Kylie" they suggested. Now, obviously this was just an excuse to get her arse on the screen - and anything that forces Natasha Kaplinsky's strange origami head off the air is to be welcomed - but The Fantastically White Kylie and the Fantastically White Justin doing a even more de-sassed cover of Rapture (a fine song, but the first visible attempt of White America to draw the teeth of rap by giving it a friendly face)? It was about as 'urban' as an outward bound course run by the Wurzels.

Interestingly, is still plugging the event as happening sometime in the future, which shows just how on the ball the coverage is; again, scooped by Newsround.

So, who did we have?

British male solo artist: Robbie Williams
British female solo artist: Ms Dynamite
British album: Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
British group: Coldplay
British single: Liberty X, Just A Little
British urban act: Ms Dynamite
British dance act: Sugababes
British breakthrough artist: Will Young
Pop act: Blue
International male solo artist: Eminem
International female solo artist: Pink
International album: Eminem, The Eminem Show
International group: Red Hot Chili Peppers
International breakthrough artist: Norah Jones
Outstanding contribution to music: Tom Jones

It's hard to know what the most dispiriting award is here - I'd guess Sugababes being treated as if they were a proper dance act, but Robbie Williams' award once again shows how unchallenging the British Music Industry has become. Ironically, considering two of its rivals were merely (very weak) cover versions, probably the best of a bad bunch award was for Liberty X's single. Okay, it wasn't by a country mile the best thing released last year, but the success of Liberty X and absence of Girls Aloud and Hear'say does show that the judges of Popstars - a cross section, don't forget, of music biz types - really don't know how to spot a winner in a locked room.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Not on: Your Nelly

'Unforseeable personal matter' leads to postponement of Nelly and Eve tour.

Good luck, but...

We're pleased that Stelios is taking the judgement against Easyeverything to High Court Appeal, but we're not sure that attempting to argue that someone downloading a copyrighted album onto CD to play it later is akin to video recording a TV show to watch later is going to fly. Clearly, the BPI will be able to argue conclusively and persuasively that there's a difference between taping something either broadcast Free To Air or else paid for by prior subscription, and burning a CD of material that hasn't been made freely available. Stelios would be better placed pointing out that EasyEverything merely made the computers and CD burners available, and it was up to the individual users to ensure they were not breaching copyright guidelines.

ALMOST AS TOSSY AS THE AWARDS THEMSELVES: There's a dismal piece on the new look BBC News Online about the Brit Awards. For a kick off, it worries that the awards have to be carefully arranged to ensure it doesn't lose credibility in the eyes of 'serious' music fans - which is a bit like suggesting Bush spends time trying to sell his policies to peace-lovers.

What is interesting though is that the slippery question of 'what the fuck is urban?' was judged by Wilber Wilberforce, head of 1Xtra, because the Brits judges didn't have an answer of their own. Genres are pretty slippery things, admittedly, but if nobody really knows what fits under a heading, then how can the heading stand? At least the Brits should have the balls to call the award what it is "The Token Black Person's Award"; better yet, they could open up their voting processes to ensure that all British talent, regardless of race or backing from ITV, stand an equal chance of winning the main awards.

Meanwhile, if Private Eye were pissed off by the hijacking of News At Ten to promote the jacko doco, we'd imagine the next issue will be crackling with rage that last night's edition - already pushed back by the demands of Football and Footballer's Wives, the show that nobody actually watches because they can catch up on the 'shocks' in Heat anyway - was largely given over to puffing The Brits.

Hell hath no fury like a media organiastion scorned

We're not sure why, exactly, Granada are talking to lawyers about the cancellation of the Girls Aloud/One Ticket Sold tour.

Surely if anyone has a beef, it'd be the poor promoter who signed up thinking he'd be having a cash-cow of a UK tour to run, only to be lumbered with the Saccaharinebabes and a paler shade of Blue. What are Granada going to base a claim on? The fact that the promoter has pointed out that their show promised "Popstars" and delivered only poppets?

More Eurovision trouble

This year's Eurovision Song Contest has got itself all sticky and messy again, with the Belgian security services outing their contestant Soetkin Collier as a former neo-Nazi sympathiser. The band she sings with - Urban Trad - have, rather oddly, removed the forum from their website, but they promise they're "Shaking up celtic music." Certainly.

This time, the beard will stay on

Sorry, we meant "bride"; what a nasty mistyping. Yes, apparently pissed off that Rachel Hunter has buggered off, Robbie Williams is now looking for a wife.

Apparently, the irritating twit told the Daily Mirror he's been hanging out in singles clubs in America, which is an image we cherish, as it reminds us of nothing so much as Dear John when the forgotten pop star (played by the bloke who went on to be Tosh in The Bill) was convinced that everyone would remember him - we'd quite like to see Robbie singing 'You know that I love you/ think the world of you/ so don't break my heart this way/ not on my birthday.'

On the other hand, his desperate bids to convince us that he's a suave, worldly figure who clicks with the chicks, while really leading an empty, desperate life at his mother's house might make him a bit more like the serie's Kirk StMoritz. Then again, Ralph, the turtle-loving sadsack also has Williams features - his stage act consisted of playing the same record over and over again, reading out phrases from a piece of paper he'd hoped would show him to be cool. It's hard to choose.

Anyway, we're going to bring you the Williams' quotes with no further comment here, as the chances are you'll work out when to puke for yourselves:

"I'm currently in the mode of looking for Mrs Williams, not Mrs Right now, but I don't actually know a lot of people in LA.

"The LA culture isn't weird for me at all because I stopped drinking a while ago. It's great for me, there's a great coffee culture. So me and a couple of mates just go trawling around bars or the cinema.

"That's where Mrs Right now comes by and says 'Hi'. I'm currently like, 'Free Single Pop Star, Straight Acting, Needs Wife'."

Robbie says he may even settle down with an American girl. "Marrying an American might be the end of the bride search. But not for a green card. I think I have an exceptional talent so I'm alright there. But the talent does help in the search, somewhere in the relationship when I've got to know them really well."

Hmmm. Mind you, the Daily Mirror seem to think that its news that the giant cat-napping mice from the Levis advert are done with digital technology. Are Mirror readers so dim they'd have been thinking a breed of giant people-mice were walking the land?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

What the pop papers say: Anglo-American edition

Working through the pile of American magazines on the sidetable:

There’s something slightly sweet about Hilary Rosen’s attempts through Wired to make us hate her slightly less. Firstly, she tries to prove that she’s not an enemy of the music fan by saying that she’s good mates with, amongst other people, Tipper Gore - well, that’s me won over then. I had assumed Rosen merely to be a slightly neurotic fool doing the wrong thing but believing it to be right. But if she’s hanging out with Tipper, the woman who founded the bloody PMRC, then I have to coclude she’s actually some sort of robotic monster who is set about pulling the world to pieces. There’s an attempt to suggest that there’s something homophobic about the attacks on Rosen; this might be but - genuinely - I had no idea up until now that she was capable of love at all, much less the one that has trouble speaking its name. The vignette of Rosen’s partner sitting at home throwing things at the TV the night Hil hung out with Eminem at the Grammys is interesting, too - I don’t personally think that Eminem is the gay basher many would hope he is, and so I don’t agree with her objections, but what does it say about a person who cares so little for lover’s opinion that she’d go and shake hands with someone who reduced that lover to a impotent rage? That Hilary can happily leave her siggy other to break bread with the enemy gives a glimpse into the Commerce-First mind of a woman who wants to prosecute individuals for file sharing. The sooner she goes, the happier the music world will be.

Copyright is the focus of the rather wonderful Stay Free. Its curious how a title which teaches ‘beware of big media’ is so quick to accept as fact some of the curious claims of the wilder edges of the press - to support the Stay Free contention that we’re all having our minds sucked by the media, press cuttings are trotted out ‘proving’ the case. At least two of them are nonesense - one which says that in that terrible Manchester case where the girl was tortured and burned to death by a gang, one of the gang members kept repeating the Childs Play “I’m Chucky - wanna play?” mantra (actually, the court heard that the rave track which sampled the line had been played constantly to the girl while she was tortured - although not any more pleasant, it rather removes the causal link between film and violence) and another which reports, oddly, that fourteen people died in England copying two rugby stars shown in an advert leaping off a waterfall. Really? The summer of waterfall death jumps seems to have passed me by somehow. The rest I can’t comment on, but...

Still, that’s quibbling with what is otherwise an impressive study of the bid to stop information being free like it wants to. Most fascinating is the suggestion that the glut of rap tracks which lazily take an entire riff and sing some new lyrics over it - think Puff Daddy’s Every Breath You Take, Sam Mumba’s demolition derby of Ashes to Ashes - are also the fault of copyright tightening - it’s just too much effort to clear any track which attempts to build a new song from snatches of dozens of tunes, the old new art of sampling, so what actually gets through is stuff that requires little more than a single phone call and one contract being faxed.

Of course, copyrights and wrongs are one thing; but its sex that’s exercising the minds of the true Punk and Goth thinkers right now. Punk Planet’s cover story is ‘Punk Porn’, an investigation into the profileration of ‘alternative’ nude sites on the web. “Is it really punk” worries Jim Horwatt “or is it just a load of girls with red hair and their tits out?” Of course, what the likes of really represent is about as punk as those postcards of Matt Belgrano are punk. Jim misses the point and frets too much about how punk the girls are, when really the question should be: how punk is the distribution? The worry is not so much that women are taking their clothes off - c’mon, surely we’re past the idea that cunts and breasts shouldn’t be shared if their owners so choose? - but that even while a DIY route is perfectly possible through the internet, something akin to an AOL Time Warner has sprung up. What we should be seeing is a website which doesn’t select girls, but just stands there and says “we’ll provide a search engine, and a billing and paying mechanism; anyone - boy, girl, other - can use our service.” The place to be angry isn’t that suicidegirls and others are pretending their valley girls are punk or goth when they might actually be Avril fans, but that they’re setting down the rules about who should be seen. Surely what we need is a true punk erotica - one which is open to anyone who wants to take part; not a system which would have been the musical equivalent of The Damned being told “come back when you can play.”

Clamour also has its g-string up its butt about sex, as apparently people have been cancelling subscriptions over the cover of its “lets talk about sex” issue. I think they got it wrong, but for reasons other than they seem to think. “Putting sexy, appealing women on the cover is a controversy. it is certainly un-PC... are we stooping to the level of Maxim and Hustler? Are we attempting to sell with sex?” Well... yes. See, there’s thousands of sexy images you could have used for your mission to reclaim sexiness and celebrate the joy of the moist and shaggy. Choosing two scantily clad, conventionally pretty women - ooh, with piercings - is a lame cop out. If you really wanted to say “it’s okay to be sexual”, how about selecting an image from the ranks of people who never get their sexual selves validated by magazines covers - the people who don’t have pert tits and/or six packs?

Elsewhere in Clamour, Chuck D pops up to tallk about how he doesn’t believe in albums anymore, dismissing his soon-come album project as something done to “comply with the offline option.” Really, if the RIAA had its wits about them, they’d be begging Chuck to take a small office in their organisation.

Knee-jerking elsewhere, Bust probably have a Quark Xpress file saved on their hard drive which says “Music Issue” and always opens with a Le Tigre cover. While Kathleen Hanna must have inspired thousands of women to rock, you have to wonder if the apparent monopoly that Le Tigre now have on Feminist Rock is starting to work against that effect - that Le Tigre is all, and all that can be known? In short, have Le Tigre become the Beatles to Women-In-Rock’s Liverpool? There’s also a curiosity - asked why they think so many women are getting involved in electronic music, rather than snort back “because the producers like to face up dance tracks with girls in short skirts” or say “because they like it”, Jo’s response is “because it doesn’t have to be produced live.” Her point seems to be that it leaves you time to dance to concentrate on your performance art, but it comes across sounding a lot more like “... because you only have to press a button.”

It also turns out Joan Jett has a ‘what would Joan Jett do?” tshirt and they talk to Marianne Faithfull and Missy Elliot too. It’s not a bad issue at all, just relying on Le Tigre is a bit over-obvious.

Venus, meanwhile, gives its cover space to Aimee Mann but then suggests that the Gore Gore Dolls are “one of the few stick it to the male acts in rock and roll” - as someone said about someone else, yes, because the way men stop young girls wearing short skirts is so unfair. Miss Kittin reports how she refused GM the rights to use one of her tracks because she didn’t want to be playing music that had its roots in detroit while taking cash from the company that fucked the motor industry and the city up. Venus also found a more interesting point at which women, punk and the web intersect - Rocking Rina’s World of 1970’s Women in Punk.

Oddly, Resonance might come from Seattle, but its main interviews (Badly Drawn Boy and Doves) gives it an eerie feel of being a better resourced City Life. There’s also space for Sing-Sing, though, which is more than you can say of most British magazines, although Emma tries to make a brave face when she observes that the band have never quite fitted into any one of the NME’s ever-changing scenes.

Filter give five pages to Coldplay. Naturally, a lot of photography is called for to fill the thinky-gaps this leaves. Meanwhile, Johnny Marr announces “I’ve seen the death of idealism masquerading as pragmatism while Siouxsie contradicts the Le Tigre party line by enthusing about the current tour - she might “come off [stage] like a wet rag” but “there’s something liberating about not having to rely on backing. Tapes or loops or samples... you’re restricted by those. They can be a crutch.” But Siouxsie, they set you free to concentrate on your mime...

Anyway, back to Britain - The Big Issue has got a lumpen piece on Mel C; we’re pleased to see her back but would someone please try and talk to her like she’s intelligent rather than treating her like she’s Emma Bunton?

And the NME. The cover is Chris Martin and Noel Gallagher. Yes, it’s the awards special, and as ever the awards makes me feel like Pop Papers is badly missing the point - if this is what the readers value, why waste effort worrying about the quality of a magazine whose readers have such lumpen tastes?

News is mainly awards-flavoured: Noel damned Ryan as a “fucking lightweight” because he was too ill to perform - although Gallagher insisted he’d only play if a string quartet backed him, which suggests that he’s some sort of ponce to us. Graham Coxon expressed mild surprise that he’s been replaced by someone from the Verve as a member of Blur; Nas defends the violence of rap because it “reflects a violent world” and praised Eminem for educating us - which is true, I’d never have thought of just tying my girlfriend up in the trunk so as to increase her suffering when i drove off the bridge; Tenacious D are making a movie - oh, good. I really can’t wait. Hendrix’s body has been moved to a giant marble dome to mark what would have been his sixtieth birthday - that’s going to give the 27th Century archaeologists something to puzzle over - “some sort of space emperor, we think”; Courtney is going to go after Eminem for being “stupid and sexist” - it’s unclear if she’ll do this naked or dressed as a giant duck, of course, but you can look at several pictures of her in her underwear in the news pages while you guess. Clearly, importing a news editor from the stable that produces half of Britain’s pornography mountain was an inspired choice for the nme; Spector’s defence is going to be that it was all a terrible accident - I didn’t realise my skull was loaded, presumably...

Turin Brakes do the CD choicey choicey - Cranebuilders, Neil Young, Talk Talk

Hot Hot Heat are asked to choose what’s Hot or Not - because of their name, see? If you’re a band, you might want to call yourself Pick of the Whores on this basis. Hot things include Bandages (their album) and coffee; Not is all television and the Bob Dylan debate. Got that?

The Sights worry that a lot of bands are jumping on the rock bandwagon. Really?

Those awards, then: Hero - ozzy; TV show - The Osbournes; best live venue - the astoria; haircut - liam; dressed - thye hives; website - (you really have no shame); event - reading/leeds

Oasis get nme artist of the year and best Uk band - Noel picks the Stands as a band to watch for next year, thereby giving the “Gallagher kiss of death” that has claimed so many acts over the years, and is the only reason why Digsy and Smaller aren’t picking up one of the finger-shaped awards this year, we reckon.

Coldplay’s Rush of blood picks up nme album and best album (it’s worth having the two awards, isn’t it?)

Libertines are best new band (“we’re just a bit bewildered” - well, a poll that values the Tines and Coldfuckingplay is a bit of a headfuck, isn’t it?)

Ryan ‘earache’ Adams is best solo artist - this year, he says, “my head has been so far up my ass” but this isn’t self awareness of what a twat he’s turned into, just that he thinks he’s been paying too much attention to his album to see what else is out there.

The Vines get best single, but don’t turn up - see! Cracking up, aren’t they? Ha! But Doves get best nme single but wandered off before the award was presented, which is cooler

Polyphonic Spree got the ‘fuck me award for innovation’ - but then a paper impressed by Andrew WK will stand with its jaw agape at anything from a monkey on a bicycle upwards

On Band ... sorry, Hot New Band of the year are the yeah yeah yeahs - with them and the Libertines getting the “new” prizes, why will we be here next year reporting Gallagher and Martin picking up the big prizes again?

Godlike geniuses the rest of the Clash showed up, and tutted over the way the bands on the night had had a great platform and, um, didn’t do anything with it. “Bands today have no consciences” fretted Mick. Doesn’t Kate Moss look like Shirley Manson these days?

The Jackass people were there, but I’m afraid thats the sort of thing we have to put up with these days.

50 cent - get rich or die tryin’ - “grimy, fearelessly boastful tales of new york street hustling”, 8
appleton - everything’s eventual - “utterly absorbing... whether the world will listen is another matter”, 7
echoboy - giraffe - “the cure being eaten by a dalek”, 5

sotw - junior senior - move your feet - “pure pop sunshine”
zwan - honestly - “dreamy bauble of psychdelia”
nick cave - bring it on - “nick delivers the word ‘chrysanthemums’ like there’s a pack of wolves at his heels”
the darkness - get your hands off my woman - “welcome them like sons”

nme awards shows:
afi - there isn’t a dark soul wihtout their hands in the air”
face tomorrow - “polite angst”
80s matchbox bline disaster - “shouldn’t be out allowed their cages”
idlewild - “the band they always promised they could be”
ladytron - “they officially rock, then”
ikara colt - “you don’t have to talk common to talk rock and roll”

and, that’s it. Next week, it’s the White Stripes. Maybe 2003 can get going, then...
[slightly delayed - the google takeover of blogger seems to have slowed things down a bit...]

Glastonbury - It's on

What's curious about the Mendip District Council vote allowing Glasto to go ahead is that the Council allowed the licence by a vote of ten against four, but only eight voted in favour of the increase in attendance to 150,000.

150 thousand. Is it just us, or is the near doubling of the size of the festival in the last decade a bit of an indication of how Glasto has really lost its way a lot? In South Park, when Cartman came into a load of cash, he bought a theme park, all for himself. Then he had to let a couple of people in to pay for security; then a few more to pay for the maintainence, and so on. In the end, Cartmanland was more busy than the park was before he took it over. It seems that Glasto has become Cartmanland - the Festival. There's not going to be much room for that special atmosphere with all those tents...

Want to dress like Atomic Kitten?

Until now, you'd have had to merely jiggle about in your own underwear. Now, though, you'll be able to dress your eight year old like a scouse hooker. Splendidly, the Atomic Kitten kids' clothes range is going to be exclusive to... British Home Stores. Ha! That'll show all those doubters who sneered at the Kittens as being "terminally Littlewoods", won't it?

The band have apparently helped "design the range", which must have been fun - the actual designer having to patiently explain over and over "They're eight years old... they won't need uplift and separate because they won't have anything to uplift and separate..."

One true sale

I'm having to shout to make myself heard over the noise of the spontaneous street party that has broken out to celebrate the cancellation of the Girls Aloud/One True Voice tour - poor ticket sales, apparently.

What's funny is that Louis Walsh is blaming the crap take up of the opportunity to stare at the bands on the presence of One True Voice on the bill. "It was doing Girls Aloud no favours" he claims "they'll tour on their own later in the year." Right, because nothing harms ticket sales like having two top ten bands on one bill, does it? Or is he merely saying that Girls Aloud fans are so stupid they don't realise they could just turn up after 1TV had been on?

Girls Aloud - last month: bashing the shit out of toilet attendants. Next month: sluicing the shit off toilet walls.

Publicity whores publicise split

We hate to have to break it to you, but it's true. The mutually self-serving relationship between Rachel Hunter and Robbie Williams and The Sun and The Mirror has come to an end.

Rachel confirmed the split in this week's Hello: "It's true, we've broken up. We'll both remain firmly in the papers, but it became increasingly difficult to carry on the publicity when we hardly even met. Sometimes we'd be in different countries, which can make getting together for something as simple as a faked paparazzi shot almost impossible. In the end, we decided the best idea would be to move on to other stooge dates as we both needed different things: I needed to keep a profile despite not actually having any talent or anything to offer; Robbie is just looking for a moderately attractive woman he can hang about with to stop people whispering that he's clearly gay."

Racing Stripes

With the new White Stripes album leaking out onto the web, the release date has been bought forward by a whole week. This is, of course, really being done in response to the tracks getting out on the web, and isn't in any way a rather lame publicity stunt. Oh no.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Radio Daze concluded

R na G - Camchuairt
The reliance on lots of plainsong - despite this being the what’s on guide - shows the problem that Gaelic has in attracting new speakers - Welsh can rely on the odd Catatonia track and the likes of Anhren +spelling totally awry+ but when did you last hear Gaelic rock?

Jazz FM - Nicky Horne
‘Little’ Nicky Horne, late of American Football coverage on Channel Four, offering “smooth jazz and classic soul”, apparently, although what he’s actually playing [Angela Johnson] sounds more like bog standard new R&B to our untrained ears. “Have you heard about this movie Analyse That...” reads Nicky, lining up a feature about the largely unwanted mob-psychosis sequel. Apparently Jazz FM have got involved with the promotional work. Every time they think they’ve got out of the contract, they get pulled back in again.

Akash Radio - Bhangra Fever with DJ Sunny
Coming live from the Arches Business Centre, of course. The address is excellent. DJ Sunny, on the other hand, brings all the joy of a local radio DJ to his links, even doing that irritating thing where-ah every word-ah is ended-ah on an ah-ah. And talking a little bit too fast only with long gaps between every word, as if this is any way going to give an impression of excitement. It doesn’t. Also the tracks seem to have been passed to Stock and Aitken to produce, so everything good is lost in the mix and you’re left with a workaday beat on the top. Gah.

1Xtra - Drivetime with Rampage
Proving that music radio doesn’t have to be mind-deadened, Mike Anthony is orchestrating a text and email forum about the costs of djing now that vinyl is becoming a luxury item. You can’t help wondering if the predictions of the sceptics when 1xtra launched - that it was a way of stripping the beats out of Radio One - might not have had something of a point to them as the daytime stuff over on FM we’ve heard recently has been pretty, well, pale, if not exactly white. Having said which, it’s great that there is now potential to build a specialist network of stations that can, with their national footprint, find a wider audience and perhaps sustain themselves. Whats curious is that while the Asian market is being explored, and the BBC have got ‘urban’ under control, there’s loads of gaps still being left to wait for their moment in the sun. And equally interesting is the lack of any advertising on the services which aren’t also represented on the proper radio. A company with a stack of ideas and a decent sales force could be making hay here. Anyone got a cheque book?

BBC R n Gael - Caithream - Cluil
On the other hand, you might suspect that the gaelic speaker in search of a what’s on show is rather superserved at the moment.

Galaxy FM - Drivetime with Simon Dale
Standard Top 40 dance gubbins

BBC7 - The Big Toe Radio Show
“We need your emails” they plead, before playing Sinead Quinn. “First play” they announce, which on 7 might be true, but to try and claim some sort of exclusive on the number two record is pushing your luck a bit. Still, at least this time round Kid’s radio bosses have decided to abandon their strict refusal to allow pop music on their shows. If only they had kept some rules about shite pop music.

MeanCountry - The Drive Time Show
Does anyone want to text anna and say “My dog done died?” No? Just me then. Mean sticks firmly to the mushy country music that you hear in dockfront pubs. This station is, of course, part of the Mean Fiddler empire, and as such is to be given a hard stare anyway.

Phew, and then it’s the Pub Channel. Which is on TV...

RADIO DAZE: Here at No Rock, our boiler has been condemned, so today it’s my solemn duty to sit waiting for the landlord to come and look at the problem. While I freeze my ass off, I’m going to take the opportunity to sampe every single radio station being carried on Sky Digital right now - the good, the bad, and the Gaelic only services. Are they just stuff that’s available elsewhere, or else shite? Or are there some little gems sitting there... What do you think?
Radio One - Breakfast Show with Sara Cox.
Sara Cox is doing a long and involved anecdote about Valentine’s night - now, merely five days ago. Her life intersected briefly with someone vaguely famous who she didn’t know, at a place where Russell Crowe once had a fight. The thinking behind her having the breakfast show, apparently, was that she’d be out doing stuff that she could report on the next day. But seeing Shaun Ryder (for it was he) across a public space - surely even I could do that? Then she reads out a story from a listener about meeting a beautiful (well, “fit” to be exact) girl during a set at Reading. The point of the anecdote is unclear, since they parted company at the end of the set and never met again. The feeling starts to settle that maybe the Breakfast Show on radio one is now a Beckettian nightmare, where nothing quite happens, although it looks like it might.
Muse - Plug In Baby. Oooh, classic tune, followed by Kylie - Love At First Sight. Which is also a classic tune. But don’t we pay our licence fees for Radio One to be New Music First? I’m sure LAFS has got the riff from Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills buried deep inside it. No, really.
Newsbeat comes on - starting with the 130 deaths in the South Korea tube; the 30 deaths in the Chicago nightclub and the three year old stabbed in the chest in Birmingham. Mercifully the Beckham football boot story turns up. As is the way, you’re asked to text your opinions on the story - “make sure you type ‘NEWS’ first” you’re warned, in case, presumably, the texts go astray and the travel department start to report on an out of control scot bearing down on a pretty boy cuasing tailbacks. Emily Eavis simpers that a letter from Chris Martin helped make the council green light Glastonbury - oh, yes, nothing impresses sixty-five year old men in suits than a letter from a rock star. Out the news with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers as Sara warns [inaudible] inspectors on the way. Time to flip...

Radio Two - Ken Bruce
You’ll have heard a lot about how young and funky Radio 2 is these days. As we tune in, Ken is wishing one of his listeners a happy fiftieth birthday (everything’s relative) and then playing Stevie Wonder’s Mr. Know It All. It’s incredible that, for a man as undoutably talented as Stevie is, such a large number of cack records have been released under his name - the Woman in Red soundtrack, this, I just called to say... and anything Paul McCartney did with him, ever, for example. Curious. Next up, from the album of the week (a best of, mark you, which seems to be very Radio 2) is Tom Jones and the Art of Noise doing ‘Kiss’. Art of Noise role was to provide a thin veneer of respectability and some wheezing noise. This was, of course, to be the blueprint for the next stage of Jones’ bloody career, and as such was responsible, however innocently, for Tom Jones and Mousse T doing Sex Bomb.
The White Stripes! This is better! Oh, it’s only a trail for Six Music. If I’d timed things better, I would have been here for Ken’s actually rather good Popmaster quiz, but it was not to be, alas...

Radio Three - Composer of the Week
It’s Hugo Wolf this week, 1860-1903. “Wolf tended to immerse himself in the works of a particular poet until he had exhausted all of their material” informs the EPG, which sounds more like the sort of dire warning Giles would give Willow rather than a jolly invitation to a dance. Today, it’s his settings of poems by Morike, which apparently calls for an awful lot of violin. Donald Macleod introduces New Love - the poet had wondered if two people could ever know each other perfectly. “Wolf decided they could not.” This was while he was supposedly at his most cheery, too.

Radio Four - Book of the Week - Hotel Bemelmans
Scarily, the first words on Four are in German, albeit in the unmistakable cod German of Richard ‘you terrible cunt’ Griffiths. This sounds like one of Four’s attempts to bring a largey forgotten work back to the popular audience. As is usual, it merely serves to point out why largely forgotten in the first place.

Radio Five Live - Fi Glover
She wants to hear from Peter in Barnes before the ten o’clock news, but Peter isn’t there, so Fi moves on to Eugenie in Birmingham. “Is this going to help you?” asks Fi, but before the maths co-ordinator can get much of a word in, they go to the news and sport. Now the death toll is down to forty nine in South Korea. Inflation is unchanged. Tim Henman has returned from a shoulder injury. More cricket coming up. It turns out that Fi is pronounced as the first bit of “fee, fi, fo, fum” and not the second one. Eugenie is still waiting when we return after the news.

Classic FM - Henry Kelly
We’ve missed the school run and the Hall of Fame Hour, so god alone knows what this segment would be.
I have quite a soft spot for Classic FM, but fear that its like listening to a sixties station that only ever plays Twist and Shout era Beatles (like any Gold station at all, then). It smacks a little of Attarah’s Band, who toured schools in the 70s on a mission to demonstrate that music could be fun. I always had my doubts - “surely music is fun? Oh, that sort of music” - and was always suspiscious of the remorselessly cheesy, upbeat style of presentation coupled with the patronising assumption of what young people would connect with - “you’ll like this, kids, its about animals.” Henry Kelly is just cueing up Carnival of the Animals as I arrive. So, like Attarah’s Band, only we don’t get a sticker and someone showing us how the clarinet can sound like a mouth organ, too.

Virgin Radio - Russ Williams
Britain’s second national local radio station, in the midst of a huge advertising push which focuses on the music it plays, rather than the personalities on the station. Unsurprising with the presenters they have, I suppose. The pledge to not repeat any song between nine and five. This at least means that we can be certain we won’t have to sit through this particular David Gray track again.
They trail that odd phone-in that seems to be the true direction the station is heading in; they’re giving away supermarket loyalty points tonight - how would that work? “Confess you’ve fucked your kid and get a million Sainsburys points... if you’re a battered wife, get 50,000...”
“Did you know one in four people suffer from tiredness?” Here are the adverts, then. Teletext Holidays (when did the pseudo-internet become a glorified travel agent? How did that happen?); Renault Laguana; Nappies; have your cattaracts removed. Who exactly is the target Virgin audience? That woman who had IVF treatment when she was 60?
The first post-commercial track is Travis, so we presume the answer is yes.

Talk Sport - Mike Dickin
I’ve never quite understood why Talk Sport bothered to rebrand as a sports station since, whenever I happen by, it’s talking about non-sports matters. “We despise Jacque Chirac. But we admire him as well. [slight pause] If that’s possible. This is talk sport...”
And they’re off to ads - ambulance chasing solicitors happily followed by a warning about twenty kids a week being mown down by speeding motorists. They should run these the other way around - “Slow down, or you’ll have a bunch of failed conveyancing solicitors pursuing you for damages...”
Mike’s back now, warning us about how our feelings about France are complicated, inviting us to add to the mess. “But first the news...” Talk are leading on Tony Blair’s popularity rating dropping to minus 40 before the South Korea story.
“I’m an arsenal fan and our team is full of French” offers a caller. “Is it a psychological thing from the Hundred Year’s War?” You can actually see the debate has started to make woozle patterns.

Classic Gold - Graham Rogers
Pete from Classic Gold in Peterborough pops up to ask for any old stamps we might have - he says they’re collecting for guide dogs, but I suspect if they can get a few more First Day Covers, they’ll have enough to put gas in the advertising sales department car. Who collects stamps these days anyway? Surely it’s not the sort of hobby where large numbers of people are taking it up all the time? Do kids comics still have those ads where you answer three questions and get sent a packet of stamps? And if not, then how do Classic Gold propose to turn these stamps into labradors? Or will they just dump sacks of Non-value Indicator First Class Definitives outside the houses of the blind and do a runner? I’m still pondering this as Crocodile Rock ends.
Then Brenda in Stowmarket is introduced on the line. “Hello, Steve” says Brenda. Graham tries not to get too hissy about her getting her name wrong. If Brenda can answer ten questions correctly, she’ll win a mug. “There’s also a Keep Fit video. Could your daughter do with losing some weight?” asks Graham - oh, he’s pissed off.
‘Bourbon, digestives and malted milk are all kinds of what? Yoko Ono was married to which of the Beatles?” I suppose they’re only easy if you know them. If, say, you’d had your memory wiped by evil magno-monkeys, then it would actually be quite tough. Stowmarket appears to be knee-deep in magno-monkeys.
‘The sun aint gonna shine any more’ - the walker brothers. Hmmm.

The Storm - Cueball
Presumably not bearing a presenter’s name as whoever turned up to read the liner cards gets to be a star. Cueball are having a Rock revolution, which involves unsigned bands with the names Renton, Santa Carla, zedisforzebra and stalefish1 battling for your text votes. Zedisforzebra, of course, are at a total disadvantage because even if people could be arsed to enter that with their thumb, it’s just going to melt down the predictive text feature on most phones.
There’s lots of tracks in a row that sounds like a Sum 41 album has been left on, but then, surprisingly, Black rebel motorcycle club turn up. Hey, let’s party.
Scarily, in fifteen minutes there are no adverts, no announcements. Just rock and trails. It’s eerily like being in an empty chat room...

Planet Rock - Chris Radley
This is clearly more your rockers wearing shirts with lacy sleeves, dreaming of having sex with Nancy from Heart and hoping that one day - maybe - their tunes will form the backbone of a musical co-written by Ben Elton. ‘Here I Go Again’ by Whitesnake is in full foot on the monitor flow. A break for news - “the death toll continues to rise” - and it’s AC/DC. Okay, not totally lacy sleeves, then but the rest - I know for a fact - holds true...

The Core - CoreNon-Stop
Justin Timerblake’s limp Cry Me A River welcomes us to a segment that - unusually - advertises what’s coming up next: Divine Inspiration, LL Cool J, Junior Senior. Handy, that, as it allows us to move on without missing a beat

Capital Gold - Mick In The Morning
That’s Mick, as in Mick Brown, as in Pat and Mick, to you. I wonder where Pat Sharp is these days. He’s promising ‘The lunch pack’ (“that’s three great songs chosen by you”, apparently). He’s also playing Crocodile Rock, funnily enough. Then Abracadabra, and Itchycoo Park. It’s like listening to one of those albums they sell at three in the morning on ITV, which is incredibly depressing, Especially in daylight.

XFM - Kevin Greening
Yes, somehow the poor man’s Adrian Juste has wound up on - what is by default - the coolest radio station on ‘proper’ radio. (And wasn’t it nice to see their breakfast show host Christian O’Connel being challenged over his lack of musical knowledge on Buzzcocks last night.) While people come to look at the boiler, U2, The Cardigans and The Charlatans play on in the background - thank god the plumber didn’t turn up while we were at Planet Rock. Advertisers include, splendidly, the Raveonettes, which is better than Declan Swain. The Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. And just when you think you might stay forever, they go and play Lenny Kravitz.

BBC World Service - Sports Round-up
Awkwardly, South Korea are being discussed as a potential venue for the next but two Winter Olympics. “There are problems of transportation to be overcome” says the report, which presumably was recorded before some nutter let off a big bucket of explosives in the underground.

BBC Radio Scotland - Southern Soul
Is there anyone from Danny Kelly era NME who doesn’t have their own show on radio? Doctor Cosgrove is presenting a five part series about soul here (which seems odd for Scotland’s national station at lunchtime, but there you go - presumably its guaranteed an audience of at least Pat Kane). The sweet joy of ‘I’m your puppet’ is shattered by a sudden trailer for ‘Getting On A Bit’, an awkward sounding week of programmes about how - hey - old people are people first, old second. Then Lesley Riddoch starts up, with the news - now the death toll is a hundred, and there’s something happening to fishing quotas.

BBC Radio Wales - Nicola Heywood Thomas
We crash into the news as it’s yakking on about congestion charging in London - I’m bored shitless about this, and it’s in the same country as me. No matter how many times they try to make it relevant to me - “if it’s a success in London, it’ll be coming to your city next” - I can’t find it in my heart to get interested in the plight of people in London having to pay to drive somewhere. We’ve had that with the Mersey tunnels forever. NHT returns to pick over the corpses of a woman and a small baby found dead in Rhondda, a tragedy which clearly didn’t make the (UK) National News because dead woman + baby doesn’t outrank living but stabbed three year old in news maths.

BBC Radio Ulster - Talk Back
“Let’s find out what Iain Paisley Jr makes of it...” Oh, let’s not, whatever “it” is...

BBC Asian Network - Top Ten With Ray Khan
An uneasy mix of the top ten album tracks and, erm, “the top ten news stories.” I wonder if they have a daytime-nighttime distinction on the Asian Network similar to Radios 1 and 2? Certainly, the music Ray’s playing seems to be slightly less exciting than the stuff you used to get on Lancashire at weekends. This seems to be the Asian version of the Jimmy Young show.

BBC Radio 4 Long Wave - You and Yours
This station, of course, is a cheat, as except for when its doing Yesterday In Parliament, a quick church service or the cricket, it’s just radio four again. You and Yours are - as they are over on Radio 4 proper - discussing the plans by Tesco to introduce in-store TV. “It started innocuously enough, with intercoms...” Still, nice to hear Asda FM’s jingles while sat at home.

WRN Europe - National Public Radio - Morning Edition
Sadly not the fabled Morning Edish on Radio Fish, but current affairs from Washington. They’re running a piece about a woman who stood up to drug dealers in her neighbourhood. “It cost her her life. And the life of her five children. And of her husband.” There’s then rather a lot of rather bad piano music. If we can make it through another hour and forty minutes, there’s the prospect of news in English from Radio Netherlands. Oh, hang about - North Korea are threatening to withdraw from the 1953 Armistice which ended the Korean War. Apparently Alan Alda is being put on standby.

Premier - Worship with Rick Easter
I wonder if all the presenters on this god-bothery station have names of major religious festivals - Tamsin Christmas; Helena Ascension; Toby Third-After-Whitsun. It’s quite lively for a church show - indeed, the EPG promises “Rick’s own brand of humour.” The first track sounds like a saved Liz Phair, who sings a song that includes the lines:
“I saw a man on a box/ he seemed a little unorthodox/ and he was preaching up a storm”
Which is splendid. This is part of Rick’s Tuesday Lunch Bunch, apparently. Rick is having trouble getting to see his choice of doctors at his local group practice, but he can’t get an appointment before the 14th of March. He then thanks everybody at Sainsbury’s for helping his ma when her bag was snatched - they gave her her shopping for free. Part of this is making me feel warm and fluffy for humanity; part of it is making me think of a scam I can pull if I can find an old lady to work with. But Rick hasn’t finished - he’s now reading out an email he’s got. I should point out this isn’t an email that he’s had sent to the show, it’s a spam email. And now he’s giving away a Playstation Game - devil’s work, surely? Thin end of the wedge, isn’t it? “Next, a classic hymn...”

Heart - Pat Sharp
That’s Pat as in Pat and Mick. I wonder where Mick Brown is these days? “Kick start your day with the time tunnel” suggests the EPG, which suggests that Heart’s audience is made up mainly of unemployed lazeabeds who don’t get up until noon. Pat recommends if you’ve got kids, you should think about visiting the zoo, and fades up Take That’s Back For Good, as if to herd us all out the house to look at zebras. Someone rings in from Surrey to request a Michael Jackson song for her daughter who’se chipped her two front teeth. Well, he can be a bit rough, can’t he?

UCB Europe - Steve Best in the Afternoon
“Can you say how effective praying is?” asks Steve
“I don’t have the figures in front of me... we never the numbers until a week afterwards” replies a west midlands accent. “These crusades have a powerful impact. God is using this vehicle to win masses of people to Christ.” This is all a bit scary, isn’t it?

Cross Rhythm - Community Vision
Putting the rock into Christian, another god channel but with people bellowing “You’re the saviour of the world/ saviour of my soul/ saviour of this generation... NOWWWWW” before launching into a morally clean guitar solo. Apparently, when they turned up at the record shop, the devil had already been in and bought all the good tunes. “Doesn’t this generation need a saviour?” worries presenter Mike Farrington, before entering into a chat with Sharon Pennant of Women Arise. She’s also from the West Midlands, which suggests the Black Country is the next best thing to Paradise on Earth. And, of course, has excellent rail, road and air links with the whole of Europe. While UCB is laid back, CR is a lot, lot more intense; apparently Women Arise are constantly praying for the station. “It’s not just for women, is it, Sharon?” “No, we also have... men.”

Oneword - Between the Lines
It’s a bit unfortunate for Heart and Oneword that they’re shuffled in with the Christian Stations as they both have names that suggest they, too, might be about to launch in saviour-chat. Oneword, of course, is the WHSmiths to Radio Four’s Foyles, so at the moment Jon Steele is talking to Paul Blezard, and its not clear who is meant to be the guest author.

Solar Radio - Brad Lee
They promise “soul funk and jazz” and yet Brad is back announcing Liberty X who, frankly, when you can’t see the clothes, are just so much nothing. Then they go into a five minute advert break. Blimey...

Panjab radio - Gal Baat
Even in a langauge i don’t speak, I can recognise “phone-in host trying and failing to get caller to shut the fuck up so they can go to the news on time”

PrimeTime - David Hamilton
The erstwhile Diddy is playing Elton John - at least it’s rocket Man this time round - and preparing himself for the “Who am I?” competition, which might not be the most tactful game to play on a station aimed at a retired audience, when you think about it. The news at one is leading on Blair, who’s “standing firm on the issue of bombing Iraq.” Now, its 104 dead, 93 missing in South Korea, and they’re saying there’s “outrage” that it was allowed to happen. They come out the news with Frankie “Gimme the moonlight, gimme the girls...” Vaughan. Class. Though you can’t help but wonder whether PrimeTime will shift its music policy on year-by-year as its target audience dies off, so that by 2045 they’ll be playing Nirvana. If they don’t already, of course. I must remember what Radio Scotland taught me - Old people aren’t just old, are they? Judy Garland doing “Mammy, how I love you.” Maybe old people are just old after all.

Sunrise Radio - The Afternoon Lunch Box
The lunch box gag again. Actually, Sunrise are still working their way through an impressively wide-raging news bulletin - apparently one hundred families had occupied the site of the Buddha statues blown up by the Taliban in protest at the lack of housing. Even more comprehensively, but slightly more dull, is the reading out of expected plane arrival times. Where is Amar Grewal and the “greatest hits of all time”? While we wait, it’s worth considering just why no asian music appears in the UK Top 40, ever. Since we know you only need a few hundred sales to make the chart, is the only reason you never hear Mark Goodier struggling with Asian pronunciation that the labels releasing the stuff don’t pay cash to the BPI? If any station really wanted to have a chart that set itself apart, they’d look at comissioning something truly inclusive rather than just another ‘what’s selling in Woolies’ pisspoor rundown.

Talk Gospel - Grantly
“Gospel greats into the evening”, a scary promise at lunchtime. I really wish Talk Gospel was the biblical equivalent of Talk Sport, with call-ins from ill-informed believers. A long parable about a cheque and a signature is being spun out by a man who sounds like he’s in tears.

Total Rock - Matt’s Metal Lunchbox
Lunchbox joke sighted again. The music sounds cradle of filthy, or at least filthy. I start to yearn for some gospel. Or perhaps a girl with a guitar talking about being saved.

UCB Inspiration - Today! - Lifestyle
Extravagently punctuated show from the floridly named Jan Scother-Husband, offering just that. Harmonic girls singing about Jesus saving them

The Mix - Today’s Best Mix
They’re playing R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I can Fly’, which is neither qualifying on either “today” or “best” tickets here. Of course, R Kelly can rely on his conviction that he could fly when he has his day in court - if he believes that, surely it’s equally plausible he believed that girl was twenty-one? Then comes Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Zephyr Song (hey, flying themed hour, perhaps?). It’s funny that the RHCP managed to suddenly reposition themselves as proper pop artists and kept hold of their rock credibility in a kind of REM style repositioning and nobody really noticed it happening. It’s not even like they compomised that much, apart from swapping socks for small shorts and using a bit of colour in the videos. Maybe in the future Korn will start to do songs your grandma likes?

TWR - Telling The Truth
Jesus, no pun intended, how many bloody Christian stations are there? And why no Islamic stations? Someone is putting us right on things we may have got muddled up with about Babylon during the time of Daniel. You know what? I’m happy to remain in the dark.

The Scene - Becky Lee Live From Chester
I suspect this was what was once Purple Radio, the gay station launched by the straight man? You have to wonder about the “live from Chester” part - is there something especially gay about Chester? Are they going for the antiquing gay market? Irritatingly, this station sounds badly tuned in, which is frustrating with satelitte radio as there’s nothing you can do about it. Like so many of these stations, there’s that feeling that there isn’t actually anybody in the studio. Checking the website, apparently there are studios in Manchester, Liverpool and Chester (I’m guessing they say ‘studios’ but mean ‘bedrooms’) and they broadcast on FM in, erm, North Africa. Still, nobody’s talking and it may actually not be gay at all. Girls Aloud’s Sound of the Underground rattles past. Maybe it’s not gay after all. Just... confusing, but also a hopeful sign that anyone can have their own radio station these days. Hurrah.

UCB Bible
Non-stop Bible reading. Infuriatingly, they don’t tell you where they are. There’s smiting going on, which makes me think its a long while till they get to the whore of Babylon. Radio 4 once did the Bible, but in fifteen minute chunks it took forever to get through. This would be quicker, but demand a bit more pluck.

UCB Talk - Godly Pursuit
“Roy and Jill present a programme looking at people’s quest for God.” Another Brummie accent talking about a Crusade - he might be the bloke who popped up earlier. He seems to be set to talk for longer than the bloke reading the Bible - it’s like being introduced to every Nigerian Christian individually.

RTE Radio 1 - Liveline with Joe Duffy
A screechy woman is complaining about the lot of teachers in the Irish Republic. Maybe she could swap places with Eugenie? Just jumping in, it’s hard to spot exactly what her beef is; something to do with money or something. Now a man is shouting back. It’s lots of shouting about something. Clearly this is going to go nowhere.

SBN - Back to Back
The student station, promising “as little chatting as Emma can manage”, which is a bit of an odd claim - why not just burn all the tracks to CD and let them play if that’s the idea? Before anything musical happens, there’s news - Blair leading off. Curiously the ‘and finally’ item is the same as the one chosen for PrimeTime Radio, about handbags with lights in. Oh, Oasis Songbird. That’s just rubbish.

Club Asia - Party Mix
Although its debatable how many Sky Digibox owners would be partying at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday, who cares? This is splendid bhangra-bollywoody stuff. The EPG promises “no sudden brakes”, which is nice. This is the first time my ears have leapt up since The White Stripes, I think... but reluctantly, we must press on...

Real Radio - Dave Croft
Like a Digestive after a cream cake, we find ourselves in South Wales’ oddly networked playing of that irritating tune which threatens to kick Courtney Love’s ass. Oh, but hang on - Brass In Pocket now. That’s so much better. Somewhere, there’s a thesis waiting to be written under the heading ‘Could Brass In Pocket get to number one these days’ - it’d have the odds stacked against it, because while superficially female fronted music seems to be about women in control of their sexuality, they’re actually more traditional in their command - the rules (such as shown in that one about “Ring first before you come round”) they’re laying down are about relationships, not about sex. You still don’t get to hear women singing a la Hynde about grabbing their sexual pleasure. The Tide Is High, but pants are still on.
Next comes Cher and Fontella Bass. It’s an odd mish-mash that’s only held together by the force of the locality - why anyone besides possibly a couple of expats would want to tune is mystifying.

EWTN - Holy Rosary
For those who can’t get their god-needs elsewhere, another religious station. We join them just as crowds are calling for Jesus to be crucified. Whats funny is that with all this Christ stuff on, there’s very little actually attempting to convert; almost all of the radio stations seem directed at people who’ve already signed up for the project.

Sukh Sagar - Community Health
“Prevention of disease by professionals”, which sounds less like a health show and more like the mission statement of Rentokil Initial to us. Unfortunately, we can’t say with any certainty.

Asian Gold - Afternoon Show with Ali Mumtaz
Again, putting the stuff on Asian Network to shame - maybe the BBC try to avoid the stuff which has too much sass in it for the daytime? There’s an odd change of pace when the ILR style jingle crashes in off the back of the film tune. News is leading off on a split between Britain and America. After the news, Sibby Shah comes on to provide “driving type music” - clearly not ZZ Top

BBC World Service Extra
“Providing up to the minute news and analysis in Pashto.” I’ve always been puzzled why, out of all the languages the WS broadcasts in, it’s Pashto that gets the channel all to itself. I’m guessing like everyone else they’re disecting the Alex Ferguson incident.

BBC Radio Cymru - Owain A Dylan
Music and news in Welsh with Owain and Dylan. Everything they play sounds like a bad Eurovision Song Contest entry, with that caberet band backing feel to it. We know Wales is chock-full of decent musicians, so why is it their language station is stuck playing the local equivalent of Andrea True Connection?

RWAB - David Freeman in Conversation
Oh, it means Relax With A Book. And, shockingly, the guest on the show is marginally famous, as it’s David Bellamy talking about his life and, we’d imagine, plants. Or maybe they’ve just decided to fake the interviews so every day its someone who is easy to impersonate. Tomorrow: Michael Crawford.

BBC Five Live Sports Extra - Coming up
Your licence fee at work, as the BBC can’t think of anything to do with their sports network when there’s no live sport for it to cover. So instead we get plugs, over and over. There’s nothing on for three hours yet.

Gaydar Radio - The Mix
“A fabulous cocktail of gay music to give a real kick to your day.” This station is a bit of a puzzle, too, as most of the time its the sort of music you hear in bogstandard gay clubs, so it’s like being at a club, only without the men on podiums and the certain chance of some duvet-action at the end of it. And its main purpose seems to be to plug the gay dating website, which means its for the sort of people who can’t cop off in gay bars, who presumably then wouldn’t want to be reminded constantly of their failiure. There may be a place for gay-themed radio, but surely it would be better to broaden out the musical content (as there’s nothing especially gay about one dance track compared to another) to attract the sort of gay men who don’t feel comfortable with the scene (as in the gay scene, not the station we met about a dozen or so back). Because if you’re going to play dance tracks all the time, what unites your audience is not so much their homosexuality as their love of dance music. But I bet a Classically Gay show would start to shift advertising for the station...

Family Radio - Music To Live By
“Christian Music and short features.” They’re talking about what to do if your child appears to have drunk poison. Disappointingly, they don’t tell you to pray and cast out the demons. Oddly, they tell you to call 911, which would just mean you’d end up talking to a confused line engineer while your kid twitched and frothed on the floor. “Looking after the body God gave you” Then there’s some piano music, which is actually quite relaxing. Until they go and spoil it all by banging on about Joshua 1.8

BBC 6Music - Teatime with Andrew Collins
Ah, sweetness. Hello, Andrew. I suspect I shall be back soon...

Apna Radio - Jharna
Again, I really wouldn’t know how to go about choosing one of these stations over the other, and I suspect it would take more than just a few minutes sampling to decide between Apna and Club Asia, but Apna sounds a lot more lush and laid back; zithery and slithery. Seriously, if anyone does have any advice on this, do get in touch.

2FM - Gareth O’Callaghan
RTE’s answer to Radio One, and mercifully, the first show originating on the other side of the Irish Sea to not feature histrionic shouting. Unfortunately, they’ve gone to the other extreme and are playing the sort of ballad which even Ronan would pick on as being “a bit insipid, innit?” “We were talking earlier about warts...” announces Gareth, and then... oh, blimey, plays Ronan Keating.

Lyric FM - The Full Score
Shostakovich is just coming to an end to make way for the news. Basically, not quite as fluffy as Classic, not quite as bold as Radio 3.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Tonight, tonight, tonight

What amuses us best about the page introducing the webchat with Martin Bashir is not merely that, rather than provide a link to RealPlayer or Windows Media, they provide the address with the advice that you "type it into your browser." They then say - incredibly generously - that after you've heard Martin's interview, you can keep the player. For Free, mind. But only to view "all the great video that publishes on the top news stories every day."

NME's up... just

Although it's no closer to retaking the 'worlds biggest rock weekly' title from Kerrang, the nme can take a little comfort at another slight nudge upwards in its circulation figures. The return of rock and half-naked pictures of Craig from the Vines has at least stopped the drain of readers, and the paper has now experienced a full year of rising sales.

Meanwhile, Q manages to replace the readers it had to forget about when it was found to have been getting its figures wrong last time round, and Uncut and Mojo are both doing well.

The dance music magazine sector looks to be dead, though. Expect more panic measures from Mixmag and Muzik in the next few months, followed by closure of at least one of them.

Neglect is a terrible thing

NEGLECT IS A TERRIBLE THING: Michael Jackson must be so busy what with trying to prove that Martin Bashir is a bad, bad man (we loved the little clip of his forthcoming 'I'm not weird' cut of the Tonight Special - Jackson sat on a sofa nodding while a voice, off-camera, possibly Bashir's, bangs on about what a great parent he is. Wonder if the same guy does the voice for bin Laden?) that he seems to have forgotten about his Heal The Kids charity.

Supposedly he's violated local laws by not filing any details at all about what the charity has been doing.

That, of course, comes as he's being sued for USD13million by a former business manager - not to be confused with that lawsuit over the Millennium Eve gigs.

And, according to the weekend papers, he never settled his bill for that tacky spree in the store from the Bashir documentary, so the store are refusing to deliver. Possibly wise, since Sotheby's have been forced to take legal action to get back USD1.3m Jack bid for paintings last October which he's not yet settled up for.

Parents sending their kids off for a weekend at Neverland might like to think twice: will that huge hush-money cheque actually ever appear?

Bis bye byes

As if to prove the sad truth that if you ignore something for long enough, it'll go away, it's our sad duty to report that Bis are no more. It's not quite all over, as there are three farewell dates and one last single but after that... all gone...

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Chances are, this time she won't be naked

Catch a falling star, put it in your pocket - or, as with Meg 'Remember me, people?' Matthews - put her on local radio on a Sunday afternoon. Funny how since she stopped taking Noel she's gone from having a column in the biggest Sunday paper to scrabbling for any work she can get, isn't it?

The guest slot on Up With the Partridge is waiting, Meg.


Curious that the BBC banned a folk music group from the Radio 3 World Music Awards because it was afraid that the group would use the platform to make an anti-war statement.

Interesting that the fear that the Labour Scottish Conference might be used to make pro-war statements didn't hamper the live coverage of that, isn't it?

I don't want my MTB - not at these prices

The granddaddy of music TV might find itself lost in music in the UK as Sky stares down Viacom. It could mean that MTV drops off the electronic programmes guide, making it a bit like the Lost City of Atlantis.

Black where it all began

We know that Tony Blackburn's return to Radio 1 is just for Comic Relief (or "the day of laughter" as it shall forever be known), but the BBC do tend to use the excuse of doing it for charity as a way to slide in pilot ideas.

Now, we know that Sara Cox is planning to step down from the Breakfast Show, and Blackburn proved himself to be popular on "I'm a celebrity...", so the kids know him from telly... you do the math.

Seriously, Blackburn's going to co-host with Moyles. In his time at Radio 1, Tony used to share airtime with a tape of a barking dog called Arnold. To fill gaps in the show, Tone would play the "woof, woof" noise.

Who knew he'd find a more irritating sidekick with even less to say?

Please ignore us, we're often wrong

PLEASE IGNORE US, WE'RE OFTEN WRONG: Sure, we like the new site - mainly because it got rid of the pouf-up menus, which were our main dislike. But on the other hand, James chachacha has a small list of glitches. Okay, a large list of glitches:

Yeah, it's a really great new redesign.

Except my housemate can't seem to log in to the email service any more (it brings up a javascript error, which crashes IE6 - but not Netscape 7, oddly).

Except that it looks *really* shit in IE4 or Netscape 4, or anything lower. The images refuse to load in version 3 browsers.

And none of the images used in the navigation have 'alt' tags, so that if the picture refuses to load, you can't easily tell what it is.

Which is a problem if you have navigation based on images which often refuse to load.

Except that it now takes even longer to load up.

Except that, if you were to try and print a page, there's no longer any option to print in plain text.

Except that they've left a whole load of horrible flash ads on the front page, and there's still a 'GET EVERY ISSUE FOR £1.60' pop-up.

And the text is *too* tiny. And their .css doesn't allow you to increase the font size in IE6 (but neither does my own site, so they've got me on that one).

And you would have thought they would have added accessibility features to it (there are quite a few near-blind Strokes fans out there, I hear). This is the third year of the 21st century, after all.

*Just a couple of things I've noticed after looking at it for half an hour.*

Well, I guess our excitement at the new look was because the only time we ever visit, it's been for news alone, so the navigation-imagey-thing never even occured to us as a problem. And we don't have a problem as such with flash adverts - if they're going to be there, a well-constructed flash ad should load more swiftly than a typical banner advert. And since they changed their look, we've not had a single pop-up - maybe they're rationing them more; but before we would routinely get three when we visited the front page. But your point about the lack of alt tags and ease of usability is a good one... maybe they're working on that?

Okay, okay. I said maybe...