Saturday, June 19, 2004

... AND YOU ARE THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS: Prizes for everyone at the Silver Clef awards, organised by the Nordoff Robbins music charity. George Benson sashayed across to take the Raymond Weil International Award, Iron Maiden won something called the Deluxe Space Special Achievement Award. They gave Morrissey a prize for "being an inspiration to others", an influence so deep they gave best newcomer award to Jamie Cullum and another prize to Will Young - neither of whom, I suspect, would be here today without The Smiths.

GEORGE IS GETTING UPSET: One of Lionel Richies ambitions, he tells Jet magazine, is to reunite the Commodores - god alone knows why, it's not like there's not already umpteen opportunities to hear Easy Like A Sunday Morning on any commercial for a sofa company or anything else that comes vaguely under the leisure heading. Even more perplexingly, he seems to refer to himself in the third person, like George Costanza when he gets upset.

HANDS OFF OUR RADIO: The Consumer Electronics Association has attempted to head off the RIAA's latest move, to try and stifle digital radio in the US by insisting that any programming is copy protected. The CEA has pointed out that there's absolutely no reason to assume that there's a problem with digital radio, and wonders aloud why the RIAA is suddenly making a fuss:

"The introduction of DAB functions will be an enhancement, not a replacement, for analog signal acquisition. RIAA has never requested an imposition on FM broadcasting, so one must question the absurd result of imposing impairments on DAB broadcasts, but not on FM broadcasts, which are comparable in quality and received by the same device at the same time."

... and, of course, are equally possible to record on a computer. Have the RIAA not noticed what you can do with the BBC Radio Player and audio hijack, for example?

J-LO SAYS NO: After the reports earlier this week that Jennifer Lopez would be signing up with Tommy Mottola comes the denial:

"Earlier in the week there was a statement in one of the Hollywood trade papers indicating that Jennifer Lopez was in talks to be managed by former Sony executive Tommy Mottola. This information is not true and was never substantiated by Ms. Lopez or her company. The information is false, and currently Ms. Lopez is not in discussions with him, nor any other manager or management firm. All of Ms. Lopez's business dealings and transactions are handled by her business partner/manager Simon Fields."

We might take this a little more seriously if this statement had come from Jennifer Lopez, and not from the press office which would be run by, um, Simon Fields.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS...: There's a curious piece on the BBC Collective site at the moment focusing on the death of the music/style magazines. What makes it especially interesting is that it should be written from an insider's perspective, as the author is Stuart Turnball, former Sleaze Nation editor, music editor for Sleaze, and an associate editor on X-Ray. If anyone should know why music and style magazines are failing, it should be Stuart, whose CV comes across like a hurricane chaser of magazine collapse. He makes some interesting predictions - it's "only a matter of time" before other broadsheets follow the Observer in launching a standalone music supplement (The Sunday Telegraph Boogie Box? Can't see that somehow; while the Guardian already has pretty much that in the Friday Review, albeit sharing its space with films as well, like Uncut); he also fumes "Anyone who considers today’s style or music mags rebellious is deluded. When you’re in the pocket of advertisers or the clutches of an obscenely rich and usually Philistine publisher, you are, as Bill Hicks so beautifully put it, “sucking Satan’s cock”" - he edited a magazine for Capital Radio's XFM brand, and worked for Sleaze, remember, so it's kind of curious where the sudden distaste for such titles comes from.

Stuart's conclusion:

"The future of the UK underground press lies in a marriage of digital and print. Mags supported by websites and vice versa, with no dictates from advertisers, supported by users/readers for users/readers – the only way for honesty and truth to remain intact. We need fresh mags and fanzines to rise out of the mire and explore the in-between spaces of contemporary culture, the areas ignored by commercial clamour. It’s an ideal, but where would we be without ideals?"

Although he doesn't quite manage to explain how, precisely, the magazines will support the websites and the websites will support the magazines without the need for either of them to ever bother with setting up an advertising department. If only we could be told how, precisely, the unique way these endeavours will be funded.

OH, YES, HE'S BACK HOME...: The ongoing tragedy of Pete Doherty: No sooner had the Libertine returned to the UK, but he got pulled over on a driving offence. A search discovered, allegedly, a flick knife, with the end result that he's now looking at a court appearance for driving dangerously, without a licence, and without insurance, and possession of an offensive weapon. He might find jail harder to evade than The Priory or the thai monastery.

WHERE WERE ALL OF YOUR LAUGHIN FRIENDS?: The reactivation of Psychic TV seems to be more than just a whimsy on the part of Mr. G. P. Orridge - they're returning with some dates in the US, the long-delayed Godstar album (a soundtrack to a movie about Brian Jones, of course) and some sort of bizarre attempt on the part of Genesis and his wife Miss Jackie to merge via plastic surgery to create a "third being", Breyer P Orridge. The frankly icky sounding scheme is being touted about under the Pandrogeny banner, and it sounds like the sort of thing Discovery Health stick out when they've run out of programmes about GIs having babies and getting married.

AVRIL LAVIGNE BUYS HER FRIENDS: We mentioned a while back that we thought the free gigs in the Mall suggested that Arista, Avril Lavigne's label, didn't feel entirely confident that the second album from their angyr young Jennifer Aniston clone was going to be able to work on its own merits, and so in need of an awful lot of shoring up. Now, it seems, Arista were so afraid that Avril's comeback might stiff they paid a small fortune for radio plays. And since the media is never an industry to look a gift horse in the mouth, stations across the States were happy to take the cash and play Avril again, and again, and again: WQZQ-FM happily put Don't Tell Me on 109 times in a week. Now, there's nothing strictly illegal about this - payola has been outlawed, but, apparently, providing you mutter something about the track being "brought to you in association with..." it's seen as advertising. Except, of course, when the number of plays of records are being totted up - even though the plays have been paid for, they still count as airings for a track on the radio; which helps a record leap up Billboard's National Radio Play Chart. And a song which does well there will get added to playlists of loads of other radio stations, who don't want to be caught not giving space to a record that's clearly hot. Now, you could argue that a comeback by Avril would have made the list anyway, but a few hundred paid-for appearances here and there can make the difference between, say, number six and number four in the top ten, and, crucially, between being a riser and a faller. And, let's not forget, radio plays are also counted in to the chart position on the US singles chart, so it won't hurt there, either. In fact, the situation starts to look more and more like Viz's old charts, where positions were based solely on the amount the label coughed up. Avril's single is a success, yes... but someone's really had to pay for it.
[Thanks to Maximus for the link]

Friday, June 18, 2004

AS I PUT ON MY MAKEUP/ I MOVE MY LIPS IN TIME TO A LITTLE PRAYER FOR YOU: While we understand the reasons, say, Britney Spear lipsyncs on stage (because if she was actually miked up, you'd hear the words 'ow my bloody knee' every few minutes), and why Posh Spice does it (to spare us having to hear actually attempting to sing), we can't help but feel disappointed that Aretha Franklin pre-recorded her Star Spangled Banner - in her vestibule, no less, for the NBA finals.

GHOST VANISHES: Look, you could at least try and look upset at the news that Ghost of the Robot, James Marster's band have split.

Let's all take comfort in James' statement, shall we?

After two great years of music making and touring I have decided to dissolve the band Ghost of the Robot. This was not an easy decision to make but one that was thought out thoroughly with consideration to you, the amazing fans and my amazing band mates.
There are no bad feelings or creative differences that lead to this decision. I have always given 100 per cent of myself to my craft and I felt that the band and the fans would suffer now that I will be devoting all my time to new film and television projects since Buffy and Angel are no longer in production. Please know how much I have appreciated everyone's support of me and of the band. I hope that you will continue to support me in my future film and television projects.
This decision will not affect me participating in or attending any conventions. I love the feedback I get from my fans and look forward to the next time I see you.
All my best, James Marsters."

The PS - "actually, I just saw Fifty Odd Foot of Grunts and suddenly came to my senses" seems to have dropped off.

IT WAS ALL A COMPUTER ERROR. APPARENTLY: That's the reason that's being given for the libraries receiving dozens of copies of the same CD under the terms of the overcharging settlement. You'll recall that the record labels of America were caught overcharging American consumers (even although prices in the US were about half of what they charge us in the UK), and as part of the deal to make things right, they're having to give free CDs to libraries. But a computer error at the company adminstrating the giveaway has created some odd situations:

Among them are the librarians at the Tacoma (Wash.) Public Library, who last week received a shipment of 1,325 CDs that included 57 copies of “Three Mo’ Tenors,” a 2001 recording featuring classically trained African American tenors Roderick Dixon, Thomas Young and Victor Trent Cook; 48 copies of country artist Mark Wills’ 2001 album “Loving Every Minute,” 47 copies of “Corridos de Primera Plana,” a greatest hits compilation by Los Tuscanes de Tijuana (2000); 39 copies of “Yolanda Adams Christmas” (2000); 37 copies of Michael Crawford’s “A Christmas Album” (1999) and 34 copies of the Bee Gees’ “This Is Where I Came In” (2001).
“Not to disparage the artists represented, but I was pretty surprised by the numbers,” said librarian Lara Weigand, noting that the library system normally would stock no more than two copies of the most-popular titles at each of its 10 branches. “I didn’t know what the terms of the settlement were for schools and libraries, but I did not think that it was the intent that we would get more copies than we could use.”

But even if the multiple copies have been a mistake, it doesn't seem that the titles themselves are - is it really in keeping with the spirit of the agreement for the companies to use the opportunity to dump piles of shit, unwanted old toss onto the public library service? It's as if publishers sent round copies of Geri Halliwell's biography, Nasty Nick's book and some old latin primers. Christina Aguilera's Christmas album? Let's give it to the libraries. Entertainment Weekly's Greatest Hits of 1971? That's been taking up space in the warehouse. Des Moines got the most wooden of all the wooden spoons on offer - 430 copies of a CD containing just Whitney Houston singing The Star Spangled Banner. We'd be interested to hear if any library got a record that anyone in their right mind would have considered paying for.

MEGALITHIC CORPORATION NOT BAD, RULES EU: It looks like the competition cheifs at the EU can't think of anything wrong with Sony and BMG merging; it's rumoured that the union will get a go ahead next month.

APPARENTLY, WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUS SHORTAGE: The joint Missy Elliot/Kelis tour has been axed because, apparently, there just aren't enough buses to cope with the entourage. Now, it's easy to snort and say "that sounds like a lamo excuse, indeed, they couldn't have made it any more obvious that Missy and Kelis hate each other's shoes and can't stand to be in each other's company if they'd announced the tour had been axed because Kelis had attempted to force Missy's head down the toilet to show her the blue goldfish", but it might just be true, you know: after all, the way the railway has been run so rubbishly for the last couple of years, could there be a bus left in Europe that hasn't been earmarked to provide a rail replacement service?

NOT THAT THEY'RE LETTING IT FADE AWAY, OF COURSE: Warner's commitment to Maverick, the Madonna vanity label they've just thrown her off, has been clearly demonstrated by the announcement that twenty two of the 40 staff should nip down to the Janitors office and ask if he has any big cardboard boxes to put their stuff in. We're imagining the other 18 will be well advised to not get too comfy in their new offices in Warners HQ, either.

"YOU'VE GOT A NICE VOICE BUT TO BE HONEST, I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU'RE IN ANY WAY DEVOUT": As the number of Pop Idol clones continues to increase at a lick and a split, Gifted comes to the air this October in the US - like American Idol, only for Christians. The prize will be a management contract and a seat, if not actually at God's left hand for all eternity, quite near him for a little while.

LET'S SAY TOM JONES, "FOR EXAMPLE": Apparently, an un-named star is going round asking insurance companies to take on his chest hair. The company will have to pay out if the star loses more than 85% of his chest hair, apparently, although "if the star was to be left with a bald torso through war, revolution, radioactive contamination or terrorism" there would be no payout. We just bet Osama's* sat in a cave somewhere right now plotting to drag Tom Jones "for example" into a car, drive him to the middle of nowhere and shave off his luxurious chest hair, filming the whole thing to put up on a website.

* - we know he's dead, but we thought we'd offer George W a helping hand.

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT: We hope the joy Rod Stewart feels at finally getting a star on the Hollywood walk of fame isn't lessened by sharing the deal with Donald Duck. And, um, Emilio Estefan. The full list of musicians getting the paving slab treatment this time round is: Emilio Estefan, Al Green, Herb Jeffries, Billy Joel, the Righteous Brothers, Carly Simon and Rod Stewart.

GET ORF MOI LAND - THE LAW'S WITH ME: In a total shock, the British judicial system has sided with rich landowners in the battle over Madonna's land. The Planning Inspectorate has decided that only half of Mado... sorry, Esther's land will be open to the public. Still, you might get to have a go on the rest of the property when she's "decided" to donate it to the Kabbalah bloke for him to grow Rolls Royces on.

It's been a mixed day for Mr and Mrs Ritchie, though; Guy's bemusing Swag series for Channel Five has been shooting again. The programme is meant to lay tempting trails for thieves and then catches them when they take up the offer - literally, You've Been Framed - only some brain box on the programme fucked up and managed to leabe the camera equipment vulnerable. Thousands of pounds worth of kit vanished. Oops. The thieves didn't pinch the tapes of the show, for some reason, which suggests they were pretty discerning.

MICHAEL JACKSON ADMITS: THERE HAS BEEN A VIOLATION: _ But of course, it's nothing he's done. Jackson has been moaning about the leaking of the settlement details from that time he hadn't touched the kid, but gave him eight and half million anyway to keep quiet about the whole incident which never happened anyway.

"I respect the obligation of confidentiality imposed on all of the parties to the 1993 proceedings. Yet someone has chosen to violate the confidentiality of those proceedings."

Yes, funny that you'd be especially keen to keep all those details very quiet indeed.

"These kind of attacks and leaks seek to try the case in the press, rather than to a jury who will hear all of the evidence that will show that I did not, and would not, ever, harm a child. I have always maintained my innocence, and vehemently denied that these events ever took place."

But Michael, since you've always maintained there was nothing at all even the least sardine-scented about writing that big cheque out a few years back, why would you be so upset by the details filtering back out now? You tell us you did nothing wrong, and this generous pay-off was little more than an administrative way of tying up a couple of loose ends - so how could it influence the jury?

ROCK'S OWN KOLLEY KIBBER: Remember, if you spot Pete Doherty walking about anywhere, you win a fabulous prize. He's now rumoured to have left Bangkok and is back in Britain, says the nme. We think he might have run out of detox programmes to try.

KID PLUCKS PICKS: For some reason, Kid Rock has had a load of plectrums printed with a message saying how great he is, which he is handing out to people if they want them, or even if they don't. Rock says he got the idea off Steve Martin, who used to hand out business cards to autograph hunters, but seems to have missed the point that when Martin gives someone a card saying "This is to certify Steve Martin is a very nice man", people will think "Ha-ha, the dry commedian has a subtle sense of humour"; whereas if Kid Rock gives you a small piece of plastic with the words "This pick certifies that I have met Kid Rock and found him to be VERY F***ING COOL!" on it, you're going to be more likely to think "conceited prick-pot."

HEY, LENNY, LOOKING GOOD: There's something slightly disturbing about Lenny Kravitz going on about how he's in great shape for forty - it kind of makes him sound like those guys you get in shower rooms in gyms who stand in front of you and invite you to pet their pecs - "I'm forty seven, see, but my coach says I've got the six pack of a ten year old lemur..." We're wondering if all of Lenny's bluster about he's in really good shape, and how age isn't nuttin' but a number, is for our benefit or his. It sounds less like a statement, more like something you'd repeat to yourself over and over again when the pillows have got too tear-soaked to sleep on.

NOT SO IDLE: Hurray! Idlewild are back, and they've written some new songs. They'll be playing new stuff. But they'll be showing them off in LA, which isn't quite so convenient. Unless you live in LA.

THE STUBBING OF THE HIP-HOP FAGS: You'd have to at least admire the way British American Tobacco tries to deny that Kool Mixx, the Hip Hop cigarette, was in any way aimed at children. They've now agreed to pull an advertising campaign that a judge in New York said was using that new dancey music to persuade youngsters that the future lay in tobacco rather than apples and celery. We're not sure a product called 'Kool Mixx' could really be claimed to being aimed at children, though - it has all the funky, trendy air of a home haircut; we only wonder how Kool Mixx made it through the test marketing while Far Out Daddio and Groovy Smokes failed.

THE IRON FIST IN THE VELVET GLOVE: There's a small piece of history been made with Velvet Revolver's number one album - of course, it's not the first time a nation has fallen for a self-proclaimed Supergroup's schtick, but it is the first time a copy protection CD has topped the US charts.

HEY... HE'S A ROCK STAR - LET'S VOTE FOR HIM: According to an early opinion poll, the Australian Laor Party's grooming of Midnight Oil's Peter Garret to stand as a candidate in the Kingsford-Smith constituency in the forthcoming elections could pay off - 39% of respondents said they thought having the bloke who did the vocals on Beds Are Burning would be "a good thing" for Labor. Rumors that the Australian right are trying to get hold of a phone number for the singer from Mental As Anything cannot be confirmed.

DOWN BRING ME DOWN, GRRRRROOOS: The web-watching service at Netcraft is reporting that the RIAA is facing another wipe-out as the MyDoom.F virus orchestrates another DOS attack on the unpopular trade assocation. It's happening on the 17th of each month, and while we'd always stress the importance of ensuring your computer is free of viruses, we're almost prepared to make an exception in the case of this one.

CHRISTINA'S SONGWRITER - CHILDREN MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT: We were surprised to see the apparent grip of fear on the part of the City Learning Centre, Southfields. They've invited Darren Edwards to provide a four week course in music songwriting and mixing for 12 to 16 year olds. Presumably after booking him, they listened to his masterwork, Dirrty, and issued an edict that the children attending would need to be accompanied by an adult.

GIVE ME BACK MY CHART: Ooh, we do love Playlouder - not only is it the home of the excellent singles club, but now they're carrying the Chain With No Name indie chart, the one which - as they point out - used to fuel the Chart Show's indie charts. Ah, a leaping off point to remember when you could still see The Bolshoi on TV at teatime.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

MORE TEENS CAUGHT IN THE RIAA WEB: So, it's no surprise that the RIAA has managed to launch an attack on another minor, suing a 17 year old for illegal downloading. And, of course, they say it's not about the money:

"The idea here is not to win lawsuits is not to make money," Jonathan Lamy of the RIAA says. "It's to send a message that there are consequences to this activity...These are not casual downloaders," Lamy says. "The average number of songs on these individuals' hard drives that they are making available or downloading for free is around 800."

We've noticed the subtle shift from prosecuting uploaders to prosecuting any soft enough target they can, and that's what's going on here. But there's another interesting aspect to this case - the kid involved downloaded her music from, a site which has a big splashy "100% Legal" button on its front page. Isn't is possible that this girl had been trying to do the right thing, and had heard about the exciting legal download services that the RIAA tell us might be the future of music, and elected to try one out? If the case does go to court, couldn't she have a pretty strong defence if she really did believe that it was a legal service? Wouldn't it make more sense for the RIAA to take on than a teenage girl? Or would that be a bit harder for them?

THE NEW KYLIE? YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY: We have to break into our usual doings to bring you this young lady, who - having grown tired of her Kylie tribute act - wishes to become "the new Kylie":

by dayby night

The extraordinary thing about her is not that she looks closer to the new Sonia, but her choice of stage name. By day (pictured left) she is Suzy Hopwood, mild mannered paper pusher at pricewaterhousecoopers. By night, she takes the stage, and to mark the change, has adopted an "exotic stagename." Now, you'll recall from the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy that Ford Prefect ended up with his odd name because he erroneously believed it to be typical; we can only assume that a similar process has lead Suzy to assume that there's something exotic about her nom de tune: Schula Mornay.

DASANI FIGHTS BACK: A lot of the action on the download front this week has been the battle between iTunes and Napster. But one of the other players in the market, Mycokemusic, has decided it's time for it to remind people that the CocaCola company isn't only about being brutal to South American Trade Unions and bottling tap water at a massive mark-up. Oh no, they're in the music business, too. It's claiming to have flogged half a million songs in the last two months. An interesting and extraordinary claim - since just two weeks ago, the BPI were claiming that there had been 500 000 legitmate downloads in the UK, this year, in total. Perhaps sales have really taken off this last fortnight, then?

POOR JENNIFER ELLISON: As if her attempts to try and make winning the kitchen thing a focus for the third relaunch of her career wasn't dispirting enough, she had a 21st Birthday Party which was meant to be "star-studded" but could only scrape up a couple of other Hells Kitchens people, The Cheeky Girls and, god help us, a bloke off The Salon. And then, just as she was hoping that at least it would mean that nobody would be taking the shine off her...

... Jodie Marsh turns up. Which is a bit likea parish priest trying to make himself popular, only to have the Pope turn up and wave over his shoulder.

I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON WELL...: The truth is out there, I can tell. Mel C has issued a statement denying that it's anything down to her that there's no Spice Girls reunion this year:

I didn't intend to post a message until after the tour but unfortunately there's something in the press today that I want to put straight, although I have numerous times before.
The Sun again today have printed a story about how I'm such a bad sport for not doing a Spice reunion tour.
As I have said before I have never been approached by anybody, Virgin Records, Simon Fuller, Victoria, Melanie B, Geri or Emma regarding a reunion and I am completely unaware of any of the other girls desire to get back together.
I am so excited about my new album. The tour is proving to be a huge success and is completely sold out. I chose to play these small venues and did not advertise these shows as I am not promoting anything. They are for fun, for you guys and to try out new songs before I start recording.
It's really annoying to keep reading all these lies so I just wanted to clear things up in case any of you had any doubts. If I don't see you in Cardiff or London I'll see you soon.
love Melanie xx

This is, of course, like denying you've been responsible for finding a cure for cancer or preventing a helicopter slicing the head off some children - we know you're just being modest, Mel. "I am totally unaware of the other girl's desire to get back together." Yeah, right.

IT'S NICE THAT YOU'RE "RELIGIOUS", BUT SHUT THE CAKE UP ABOUT IT: Graham Norton's decided not to bother inviting Madonna onto his new chat show, because he's afraid she'd just bang on about Kabbalah all the time. It's kind of sad that she's gone so quickly from giving good quote to drearying on about Kabblah blah blah - without ever getting to any of the interesting stuff. Indeed, the only fascinating thing to have come out of Madonna's mouth in the last couple of years has been Britney Spear's tongue.

THE ENTENTE CORDIALLE: Obviously Lee Ryan hasn't got any for a while, if the reports of his kiddie-in-a-sweet-factory reaction to meeting fans are true. Poor Aurelie Verhaeghe had won a competition to meet Blue in France when Lee, she claims, decided to try and turn her prize into a punishment:

"He kept asking if I wanted a bath. He had a bath and then he just jumped on me. It's the first time anyone did that to me. Then he began to kiss me and touch my body. I said I didn't want sex.
He started to kiss me again and put his hands on my boobs. I said 'I can't do that. I'm an emotional person,' He said, 'Don't you do foreplay with your friends?' Then I called my dad to pick me up. I'm glad I didn't have sex with him. I did not know anything about his reputation."

Oddly, Ryan's spokesperson says he doesn't remember meeting this girl at all. But we doubt if anyone could make up a phrase as clumsy as "Don't you do foreplay with your friends?" We wonder if he said it in French.

LET'S HOPE THEY HAVE A UTILITY BILL WITH THEM: More money matters now, with someone dipping into their pocket to pay over seven grand for Glasto tickets in a charity auction. In other Glastonbury news, the other night someone got so bored during Colin and Edith's Glastonbury show on BBC Three they cut to the empty Strictly Come Dancing studio at one point; and what's all this business about female-only toilets at the side of the Pyramid Stage? Why don't they just carpet over the whole of the field and put in some comfy seats.

Of course, the BBC will be there for all your live streaming audio and video needs: has all your portaltastic needs. Actually, having slagged off the Glastonbury Calling show, they are having some nice things on there - Goldfrapp doing Yes Sir I Can Boogie [Real, streaming], for example.

BOBBY BROWN ISSUES TERROR THREAT: While appearing in court again over the child support he'd forgotten to pay, Bobby Brown issued a chilling warning that he intended to "work harder to try and keep up with the patyments." While some observers suggested this could just mean he'll stop trying to feed Miracle-Gro to the roots of his withering career and get a proper job, most are agreed this seems to be a threat of future tours, appearances on TV programmes and possibly even Best Of CDs.

WHAT DOES EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION BUY YOU?: If the documents just released are to be believed, silence. That's what Jacko is meant to have paid to the last boy who accused him of fiddling with him - not, of course, that Mr. Jackson did, he was just afraid that if the boy went round saying he had, it might harm his career. We still see it as a curious act of charity that would rather pay eight and a half million quid to a person who's calling you a child abuser, rather than stand up and prove your innocence in a court room.

Laurence Llewelyn Bowen could have had sex with his wife 1,417 times for that, you know.

THEY SHOULD HAVE TRIED EBAY: A load of old music-related stuff got left unsold at the Cooper Own Auction House Rock Legends special have been left unsold after the owners failed to ask the opinion of the Cash in the Attic team before setting their reserves.

Unsurprisingly, nobdy was much interested in paying the GBP347,000 for an early Prince mastertape, while nobody was sniffing for Lennon's final autograph [reserve GBP82,000]. Apparently, every time someone was about to bid, they imagined no possessions and decided not to. They did manage to get rid of a Hendrix out-take (GBP20,000) and the copyright for 18 of Hendrix's artworks - which went for GBP41,200, although the artwork themselves weren't included.

PEARL JAM RELEASE ACOUSTIC CD: It's a recording of an acoustic set Ver Jam did in October last year; it features some "unlikely" quirky covers and a couple of touchstones done all stripped down. Eddie Vedder said "Really? You think it sounds like Nirvana Unplugged? I had no idea they did one."

"OH DEAR, I SEEM TO HAVE LEFT THIS LARGE SUITCASE OF MONEY ON YOUR DESK": That's not what's going to happen when the heads of Sony and BMG meet EU competition commissioner Mario Monti - they'll be using the opportunity to explain just why having a megalithic united SonyBMG wouldn't crush the life out of other, smaller record companies. Of course. They also won't be picking up photos off of Monti's desk and saying "This your partner? Very pretty. Wouldn't it be awful if something happened to them?" Just running a couple of Powerpoint presentations and presenting some figures. That's the plan.

NO CRUEL REMARKS, PLEASE: Geri Halliwell is having singing lessons. Apparently she's trying to get her voice back to the way it was before she had throat surgery, which strikes us a little bit like going to a plastic surgeon to have your birthmarks put back in.

AND FINALLY, MADONNA? AND FINALLY, ESTHER: Madonna has apparently taken her culty duties really seriously, and has changed her name to Esther - which is kind of funny, what with her managing to get to this stage of celebrity without actually needing to change her name. She's also revealed the "ritual" she and former movie maker Guy Ritchie have when she comes home after a hard day feigning lesbian sex and pretending to be electrocuted:

"She takes a bath and he comes and chats about his day", reports Ananova. Having a bath in the evening and talking with your partner about their day, eh? The lives of celebrities are just so unlike ours, it's fascinating.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The covermounted weekly review of the music press
When Word first launched, we seem to recall Mark Ellen making it clear that this was a different sort of magazine; promising it wouldn't fall back on the easy allure of cover mounting CDs as a way of attracting our attention. We suspected at the time this was a not very subtle code for "we can't afford to give away CDs"; were it really a touchstone, it's a principle that's been abandoned this month, as Word finally gives us the marketing equivalent of a knee trembler. It's not a bad CD - although it's got Bebel Gilberto on it, which is usually akin to hanging out a big sign saying "Dinner Party Inside" - offering Franz Ferdiand, Dogs Die In Hot Cars and Jolie Holland.

The 'people you've heard of saying things they like' bit features Paul Weller, who admits that "if I try to read a book it takes me months" - which confirms that when he posed with a copy of 1984 for the back page of Smash Hits he was just, well, posing. Andrea Corr confesses to a love of Nik Kershaw, and Kirsten Dunst begs that we don't make sport of her for enjoying Coldplay.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen reckons he spends six thousand quid on a shag, by the time he's paid a babysitter and flown the wife to Venice. It would work out cheaper to just fuck the babysitter, Larry.

With Morrissey back and on something close to a charm offensive (even organising Meltodwn to avoid a clash with football matches, if you please), Mark E Smith seems to be left alone to fly the flag for Manc Miserablism. And fly it he does - talking to David Cavanagh, he almost confesses to a spell of depression just after the wife-beating business. "It lasted a year or two... it's called too much fucking whiskey, to be honest with you." More cheerfully, he also talks about turning his back on Mute when they started making "suggestions" about how the album should sound.

We heartily recommend Mark Ellen's slightly grumpy "if you told kids that today..." history of early rock festivals, especially since it sneers at this year's innovation, which is your tent will light up if you send it a text message. Bloody hell, why don't they go the whole hog and relocate to a bloody Marriott Courtyard? Less welcome is a seventy-eight page retrospective of - go on, guess. No, sir, not Nick Drake, but thank you for playing. Yes, indeed, that would mean this month it's Jeff Buckley. There is something slightly poignant in that the last song he ever sang was the theme from Top of the Pops, but... how many more times must the tale be told? Can't we just have a brief period - let's say a year - without needing to run through their tragedies all over again? We could call it a morbid moratorium.

If Word turning up at your front door clutching a shrinkwrapped CD is unexpected, if someone had told this time last year the NME would be hooking up with Morrissey to produce a covermount CD, you'd be walking backwards with a fixed grin as fast as possible. And yet, here it is: John Betjeman, Gene, even Raymonde (bloody hell, the last time they'd been attached to the front of a magazine it would have been one of the Record Mirror vinyl giveaways). Excellent all round.

The excitement of a Mozz CD has meant there's a double cover thing going on; the cover proper would have been the Red Hot Chili Peppers - we're not certain, but we think this might have been their first NME cover ever, unless we've blacked out something horrible from our minds. (We expect to be told we're wrong on this one in about fifteen minutes).

Sadly, the big picture is Pete Doherty being given a big hug as he goes off to clean up in Thailand, Alan Mcgee's words "he might even reject the West" ringing in his ears. As it turns out, it looks like he's rejected everything. Troubled stars are everywhere this week, as Craig Nicholl's recent break-up is considered in an extraordinary piece (and we mean that in a good way) by Dan Martin, which ends observing "too often in rock you can be forgiven for injecting yourself with as much heroin as you like, but if your reaction becomes erratic, the only reaction you can expect is ridicule. How can anybody begin to address the stigma that is mental illness if not even the people paid to safeguard an artist's well being can bring themselves to use those two words together?" It's a great piece, rightfully angry that Nicholl's employers - the record label - have done fuck all to help him, and trying to restore some dignity and sympathy to someone whose behaviour has left him with precious little of either of late. It's slightly undermined by, a couple of pages later, the My Red Cell piece making the lazy, clumsy misuse of Schizophrenic ("we're one band... the next, we're like another") that Geri Halliwell fucked up with.

In other news: Caleb from the Kings of Leon has shaved off the beard; unfortunately, he's not cut the hair, which leaves him looking like he might know the Statue of Liberty is buried somewhere outside.

Peter Robinson hooks up with Tim Rice-Oxley out of Keane. Mr. Rice-Oxley asks Mr. Robinson not to make up anything to make them sound interesting.

Do Me Bad Things - who are rather good - are the radar band. Blimey, big bands are the thing these days, aren't they? Whatever happened to the three-piece?

!!! are quite proud that they were the only band to get political at coachella - although that would make us a bit depressed, to be honest, if that were us.

The posters are "rare and unseen" rock things - all feels a little bit Uncut. And one of them's the bloody Beatles. Oh, and there's also an interview with Avid Merion, who really seems determined to try and wear out a welcome. Oh yes, you've got a rubber face on. Ho-ho. Surely doing a routine about Craig David in 2004 is on a par with Mike Yarwood's desperate trotting out of Harold Wilson in the early 80s? And at least Yarwood could do Wilson's voice.

the hidden cameras - shepherds bush hall - "have your cake and fuck it"
him - download festival - "80's metal in nu-Goth clothing"

the cure - the cure - "not an easy album to love, but...", 8
the concretes - the concretes - "'chico' is currently the best song about a talking cat", 9
ministry - houses of the mole - "Ministry? Lovely?", 7

shystie - one wish - "its the return of the bad gyal"
the zutons - remember me - "cutsey retro delight"

and, finally, Al Murray loves David Bowie. Well, they've both done commercials.

JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED: In the US, it was Ronald Reagan who was the honorary figurehead of the stem cell researchers. In the UK, oddly, it's Mari Wilson - yes, the one who lead the Wilsations back in the 80s, and who's one of the leading lights of the live jazz lounge scene - who's popping up all over ITV News to call for research on cloning, as a possible solution to diabetes. Will it make a difference? Inevitably: perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

IT'S LIKE OLD TIMES: Back in the past, hundreds of years of warring between countries could be brought to an end by a well-timed union of the offspring of the nation's leaders. So, maybe, the relationship between Elizabeth Jagger and Sean Lennon could signal an end to the endless wars between The Beatles and the Stones. In fact, a threesome with Lisa Marie Presley, and pop music will have been effectively given the opportunity for a fresh start.

MY NAME IS PRINCE, AND I AM GRUMPY: Prince is less than impressed with the lawsuit being brought against him by a student who claims he got his bodyguard to rough him up at Minneapolis airport; indeed, the diddiest man in funk is now counter-suing Anthony Fitzgerald for USD50,000 in damages for the invasion of privacy (Fitzgerald took the purple one's picture) - although this did all take place in public.


The only thing standing between us and a Steps reunion is Lisa Scott-Lee. Lisa's enjoying being a solo artist too much to give in to Faye Tozer's demands the band get back together.

Tozer is desperate for a regrouping of the band, but for artistic reasons, you understand, nothing to do with even Southport panto bookers refusing to return her calls:

"I really think Steps have more to achieve and I'd love the group to do more songs together. But Lisa isn't keen as she's enjoying being a solo artist. We just need to convince her."

Yes, it was terrible that Steps split up before they'd achieved their full potential: it's hard to believe they never played the Last Night of the Proms, made a hardcore porn movie or recorded a Star Wars theme. Added to which, there were one or two BeeGees songs they never quite got round to watering down and sticking out as their own. We wonder how Lisa will be "convinced" - we've seen movies that offer clues; usually they kidnap a loved one or a child and threaten their lives unless the reluctant one comes out of retirement. We'd suggest Lisa checks her locks and tells her friends to watch out.

THE MUMMY OF THEM ALL: Aw, bless, Madonna's a traditional mom after all. "Even my children have to clean up their mess" she insists. Madonna doesn't have staff? Incredible.

MAKING MUSIC TO PLEASE THE CRITICS: This is slightly quirky, but interesting - pitchformula has taken the reviews from Pitchfork, analysed all their reviews, and produced music which should make an average Pitchfork critic absolutely content. We wouldn't be surprised if the author, Loren Jan Wilson, is soon approached by an executive from Sony carrying a large pile of pages ripped out of Rolling Stone and with a pleading look in their eyes.

LOPEZ MULLS RETURN TO MOTTOLA: Perhaps panicing following her departure from the Forbes 100, Jennifer Lopez is in talks to get Tommy Mottola back as her manager. However you look at that, it does have an element of the SOS about it, doesn't it?

LET'S HOPE IT DOESN'T RAIN ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: Alanis Morissette has gotten herself engaged to be married. She started dating actor Ryan Reynolds by email, and, after finding out that he wasn't really a fourteen year old girl and revealing that she wasn't really a cop lurking in chatrooms to catch kiddiefiddlers, they decided to give it a go.

Apparently he was "the star of National Lampoon's Van Wilder." Reynolds actually went and asked Morissette's permission before asking for their daughter's hand. We're imagining their response was along the lines of "if you can stop her popping up all over the place pretending to be naked, we don't mind if you marry her. Hell, we wouldn't mind if you eat her."

Christy Moore, Damien Rice and other Irish musicians have recorded a track - Little Soldier - as part of their protests against George Bush's forthcoming visit to Ireland. Christy Moore says "The world seems to have become a more frightening place in recent years and freedoms are being eroded. This man coming to Ireland with all the baggage he brings means the people of Ireland’s freedoms are being eroded as well. Irish musicians have always lent their voices to music and issues. It’s great to see people who do become involved and do get up on platforms to make their voices heard.”

Bono is busy in New York setting up a venture capital firm.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

SPEARS SIDELINED: Britney's knee has brought down the Onyx Hotel - the tour has been axed because Britney is going to be immobile for six weeks in a hard brace. Somewhere, there's a fanfic writer whose story has come to life.

SINGALONGAOBIT: Eamonn McGirr, who holds the endurance singing record, has died. The Northern Ireland born resident of New York raised a million bucks for a cerebral palsy in 1996 when he sang for eleven days without a break. He died from complications arising from a spine injury he sustained when his bar stool gave way underneath him.

REINSTALL DRIVER: When we suggested that Minnie Driver turning her attention to a recording career might be a matter for concern - citing Fifty Odd Foot of Grunts, Dogstar, and Soul of the Robot as some reasons why it might not be a Good Idea - we were inundated with emails. Nothing unusual there, with so much spam floating about, we're always inundated. But some of the emails were actually saying "everything might be alright, she's quite good." So, we look on the news that Zoe Records has picked up Driver's Everything I've Got In My Pocket with less panic than we usually would. Although the phrase "a cover of Springsteen's Hungry Heart" is normally enough to have us breathing into a brown paper bag.

BOOTYLICIOUS, AND BOOTY-LADEN: Beyonce has been catapulted into the Forbes magazine celebrity 100 list, which uses a secret formula to calculate the value of actors and singers and so on, taking into account their pocket book, their clout, and the likelihood that a picture of them in their knickers on the cover of Forbes will shift extra copies. While Beyonce is in, Jennifer Lopez has dropped out the list - presumably because she keeps having to fork out for all those weddings; Eminem and Dr Dre have both gone, too.

HE WAS A SK8R BOI... OH, NO HE WASN'T, WAS HE?: Fred Durst has taken the opportunity to set the record straight about him and Avril Lavigne - he claims he never bought Avril a burger in the hope it would lead her to have sex with him. Durst, 42, told WWCT Rock 96.5 FM:

"Maybe she's in denial. I don't really know her, but I guess she's cooler than I thought since she can just get on and make up some shit and talk shit, so.. maybe she's as cool as everyone else out there.
"It's kind of weird…I'm sure I'll bump into her somewhere sometime. Some skate-punk party."

We love the way that Fred seems totally incapable of pulling out two words in a row that make any sense - he reminds us a little of Coupling's Patrick, who is so unused to having his motives questioned he's incapable of actually lying his way out of the situation. We're not sure if Avril making shit and talking shit is in any way like Fred's great mysterious romance with britney from last year.

HALF A STICK PERSON: If you're on the look out for something pointless but pleasing, don't forget the Illustrated Smiths, a scheme inviting people to send in illustrations for Smiths lyrics. Some are touching, some are very, very scary, and some are a tad over literal. It reminds me of the old Multi Coloured Swap Shop slot, back before pop videos became an essential part of every record's tax write-off programme, where a class would be given the opportunity to get out the felt-tips and produce enough drawings to illustrate the full length of a song. I remember one time a class of ten year olds struggled to conjure up a picture to sum up Gerard Kennedy's profession of love for "all the scandal and the vice" of New York, New York (so good they named it twice). I think they went for a picture of a police car.

OF COURSE, 6.99 SEEMS LESS THAN 9.99: Interesting that the Register thinks that there's something "impressive" about iTunes UK price of GBP7.99 for an album, compared with the French and German price. But continental Europeans will be paying EUR9.99 for an album, which is, erm, an even more impressive GBP6.64. And their individual tracks are only 65p - or about a fifth cheaper than the UK prices. Don't we have a right to buy the tracks in from German iTunes instead of paying the somewhat rapey UK prices?

THE SHADOWS FALL DARK: You can stick the tagline "end of an era" on anything, from the withdrawal of Florence Nightingale tenners to the departure of Bev from Corrie, but The Shadows playing their final gig after fifty years does have a genuine feeling of era-end about it. Once called The Drifters, and once little more than backline to the then slightly demonic Cliff Richard (as opposed to current, Faust-with-the-book-of-common-prayer model we have today), the band successfully extended their shelf-life by moving effortlesstly from milk bar hep cattery to providing instrumental reworkings of light pop, churning out albums of the stuff, many of which weren't available in any shops.

Sir Clifford turned up to help out with the final gig, topping off a farewell tour which had been the Shadow's first in fourteen years. Last week, Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett had been awarded OBEs; Hank - wild child to the last - turned down his "for personal and private reasons."

RE-WU-TANG: As if the whole Pixies reunion wasn't unlikely enough, now The Wu Tang clan are going to do their first gig in almost a decade. San Bernadino, on July 17th. We're guessing this won't be repeated quite as easily.

JACKO STUCK WITH LARGE BAIL: Despite the best attempts of his current legal team, Michael Jackson's attempts to get his bail reduced have been rebuffed by the judge. It turns out that Jackson's previous bragging about being a billionaire may not have helped him much here.

BYE, BOZO, SAYS T-BOZ: T-Boz, or Tionne Tenese Watkins Rolison as she understandably is seldom known, has filed for a divorce from her husband Mack10, or Dedrick D-Mon Rolison as his name is when he's not being silly.

TLC's T-Boz says Mack has often threatened to kill her, most recently on June 8th; Mr. 10 denies this and claims that Boz is just trying to "gain an advantage."

Mack 10 has been ordered to appear in court on June 22nd.

HE HASN'T HAD TROUBLE LIKE THIS SINCE THE UNION WERE OUT ON STRIKE: Jon Bon Jovi has held a million buck fundraiser for John Kerry at his house, but apparently even supporting a legitimate opponent to the President is tantamount to anti-Americanism these days:

"I've received hate mail at my house. I've had people drive by my home and shout things out," Bon Jovi told guests gathered outside his home along the Navesink River. "And I think that they question my patriotism because I decided to stand up and have a voice. And I stood up to have a voice because I think that's the most American thing that you can do."

UNFAMILIAR TO MILLIONS: Well, at least you can't deny that Oasis know what people want. The band have decided that their Glastonbury set is going to be nearly all old stuff, although they are sticking in a couple of new ones in to pad the set out (yes, after ten years they've not written enough classics to fill out a ninety minute set). Apparently, Noel's haunted by their last Glasto experience when they played new stuff to a distinctly underwhelmed audience; so this time round, it's to be strictly the tribute tracks.

LOVE AXES GIGS: Courtney Love has pulled nearly half of her planned tour of the States for the summer - she's dropped ten of her planned 21 appearances already - to spend more time with her lawyers and, possibly, to free up some time to operate the big steam press down the laundry room.

STRIPES, SONICS, FOR GIGS: As part of their warm up for Reading and mini-Reading, theWhite Stripes are playing dates in Belfast and Dublin - Marley Park, Dublin August 24th, Belfast Botanic Gardens August 25th. And Sonic Youth will be playing Brixton Academy on September 2nd.

iTUNES PRICEPOINT: Apparently, iTunes is going to launch with a price of 79p a track, or a massive USD1.43. (Better than the rumoured 99p, but to be the same price as in the US, we'd be hoping to hear something roundabout the 55pence mark.)

DEATH IN COFFEE COUNTY: Two US festival attendees have died.Both the Bonnaroo fans tested positive for drugs; it's believed these, coupled with the extreme heat and humidity at the Tennessee festival contributed to the deaths. The festival was headlined by Bob Dylan and also featured Wilco and David Byrne.

MADONNA FOLDS: It looks like Warner's attempts to force Madonna out of the music industry (at least as a label boss, have worked. Following the enormous claims filed by the parent company, a deal has been cut whereby Warners is buying Madonna out of Maverick. We'd imagine that the Maverick imprint will be allowed to gently ebb away as a result. But at least Madonna has been treated like a proper music business executive, getting a big cash reward for running a label into the ground.

HI-C-YA... HOLD TIGHT: Plans for a Spice Girls best of have been put on ice, because Mel C won't do a gig to promote it, and the label won't invest in the album unless there's a big concert to flog on as a DVD title later. They've now rescheduled the collection for 2006, by which time it'll be the tenth anniversary, and they figure Mel C will have realised she's never going to sell another single under her own name.

Because, of course, leaking the "she'll be back on her knees begging us" story to the press is exactly the right way to persuade Sporty Spice back into the fold.

I'M NOT GROWN RIGHT NOW: According to the Mirror, Chris Martin is using baby Apple [insert eye-rolling movement here] as the out going message on his answerphone. Although this could just be sloppy journalism - a simpering baby voice on the phone might just be Paltrow, surely?

CHRIS MARTIN NOW EXPORTING SONGS TO OTHER BANDS: Okay, so it's only Embrace he's polluting with leftover Coldplay songs (and you have to wonder at a song that's too rubbish for Coldplay), but that's how it starts. Before you know it, he'll be trying to give songs to Britney Spears.

GIVE ME BACK MY HEART: Is it just us, or does this interview with Harriet Scott and Jono Coleman sound like less than a ringing endorsement of Heart FM's music policy?

"I love it," says Scott. "I'd been at Virgin for four years wanting to slit my wrists to the Manic Street Preachers, and then I came here and I thought it was hilarious that you could get paid for sitting there and playing Chic and Abba. The music has changed, even from when I joined the station. We're a lot more trendy now and we'll play Outkast and Jamelia."

Jono is slightly less enthusiastic. "We work in commercial radio, so people want to hear their favourite songs. Because we hear them every day we might get fed up with this Anastasia song or that song from Will Young, but you have to remove yourself and say, 'I'm playing this for Helen and Steve - it's their favourite song, it's their anniversary today.' "

The same piece also explains who Century FM's ficitional target audience is:

Debbie, a name arrived at by looking back at statistics to discover the most popular name for baby girls 33 years ago, is married with two kids. Her husband spends his weekends watching football, while she watches soap operas and Sex and the City. She likes to keep in touch with current musical trends, while also reliving the disco hits of her 1980s youth.

... wants to keep in touch with current musical trends, and yet inexplicably listens to Century. That's like wanting to keep up to date with the news and tuning in to ITV.

MORE POP STARS HEADING FOR POWER: While Midnight Oil's Peter considers if he can throw his lot in with Australia's Labor Party, in Japan Shoukichi Kina has declared his candidacy for the Upper House on the Democratic Party ticket. He's called "The Bob Dylan of Japan" but looks a little more like the Tom Jones of Tokyo to us; amongst his policies are the replacement of weapons with musical instruments - a crazy idea, which might just work; after all, if you want to repel invaders, having Travis and the Stereophonics playing at the borders is going to be highly effective.

All these pop stars leaping into proper politics. Wonder if it'll happen here? Sit down, Robbie Williams, stay in your seat.

FOLKOBIT: The death has been announced of Eugene Raskin, the folk singer. Raskin's most famous work is an Anglicisation of a Ukranian folk tune, Those Were The Days, which he created for his folk act with his wife, Gene and Francesca. A chance hearing by Paul McCartney lead to the song becoming a hit for Mary Hopkins in 1964. Raskin, who was 94, also found time to be adjunct professort at Columbia for forty years, produce three books on architecture and a handful of plays.

Monday, June 14, 2004

A WORKING DEFINITION OF DESPERATION: Madonna and Britney kissing was a major publicity coup when it happened the first time; to plot its recreation just stinks of desperation. Jeez, at this rate, Madonna'll be being photgraphed again being taken up the ass by Vanilla Ice before the year's out.

THE FALL SPLIT AGAIN: You know the drill by now - Mark E Smith in "not easy to work for" shocker.

THE i IN iTUNES MIGHT NOT STAND FOR INDIES: So it seems that while iTunes is determined to start itself up in Europe tomorrow, talks to bring indie labels into the fold have stalled and so the first few days trading might be missing the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Pixies, and the White Stripes. Indeed, they could be missing anything up to a quarter of the top selling bands in Britain.

PARTY LIKE ITS 1994: Those of you with memories which stretch back across to a time when Steve Lamacq was one half of a double act and the scars from the loss of the proper Radio Five were still red and bleeding will recall Fierce Panda's habit of sticking out ridiculously well-filled compilation eps with equally ridiculous pun names. Bands like Green Day, Idlewild and Supergrass would turn up on records called stuff like Dope is Important and so on. Well, ten years on, and the Panda have decided its time for a slight return (the Bluetones, now we come to think of it, were amongst those bands) and so on July 5th they're unveiling On The Buzzes (ten years they've taken, to come up with that pun). As you'd expect, it's full of creamy, dreamy goodness:

Razorlight – ‘The Dagger Song (alternate version)’
Ludes ‘She Was Just A Girl’
The Rakes ‘Something Clicked And I Fell Off The Edge’
The Rocks – ‘Celeste’
S.Rock Levinson – ‘Spitting In Italy’
The Souls – ‘Gangsta’

And ten years from now, it'll be worth a fortune on Ebay. Assuming anyone still has record players.

OH, GOD, THEY'RE NOT JOKING: INXS have decided to piss away whatever integrity remained after their short period with Terence Trent D'Arby as lead singer by using a Pop Idol format to find a replacement for Michael Hutchence. The worrying thing is, what if someone attempts to make a British version of this? The closest thing we've got an INXS in the UK is the Blockheads - they've carried on after their leader's demise, with a series of stunt ("guest") front people (even Phil Jupitus at one point), so in that sense they'd be perfect. Let's hope it never happens.

SONY ADMIT THEY'VE BEEN ANTI-SOCIAL, PROMISE NOT TO BE IN FUTURE: The prospect of a Sony music boss being sent down for breach of an anti-social behaviour order has been lifted, as the label have promised to stop flyposting in the UK. Remember to keep your eyes peeled, as I'm sure Sony will welcome any help they can in ensuring they don't make a slip and accidently break their promise.

More amusingly, BMG haven't made the same promise - the summons against their Lucy Handsford has been withdrawn because she's about to leave the company, but Camden Council will merely choose a different name to put in the frame.

STRAIGHTEDGEOBIT: Sean McGrath, former bassist with Saves The Day, lost his battle with cancer on Friday.

Born in New Jersey in 1976, Sean switched from guitar to bass at the age of 14. He carried the bass for Mouthpiece, sXe legends Hands Tied and provided backline support for No Doubt before joining Sefler in 1997. Renamed Saves The Day, the band released two records before Sean moved on - to try alternative comedy, a proper day job and The Alps, who were working on a debut ep at the time of Sean's death.

CAMPBELL GRANTED STAY OF EXECUTION: Well, okay, he's not being executed, but Glen Campbell has had his court appearance for sentencing put back 24 hours, to allow him to fulfill an appointment to perform at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. He'll now have his porridge handed down to him on Tuesday.

COX POPS ONE OUT: Sara Cox has given birth to a baby girl, Lola Ann, weighing in at 7lbs, 11oz.

It's not known if she intends to bottle feed.

THE REUNION OF THE SNAKES: Although every journalist in the kingdom has got a 'Pete Doherty/Richie Edwards - Tragic Twins' article ready to go in their 'My Documents' folder, remember that being so full of drugs you could give birth in Milton Keynes General and not feel any pain doesn't always have to end in tragedy. As if to prove the point, oh look: The Happy Mondays are doing a reunion gig. Must have been a hefty tax demand this year, then, Shaun?

MY DRUGS BUDDY: We can't actually take the piss out of Lenny Kravitz for keeping a joint he shared with Mick Jagger for a year - although we might snicker that he thought it was a "sign of respect" - because we did keep a bottle of beer in our kitchen for two years because it had been given to us by Mikki from Lush. And also, of course, because we hardly ever cleaned our kitchen in those days.

DOWNLOADS, DOWNLOADS, NOTHING BUT DOWNLOADS: With just twenty four hours to go until iTunes hits the UK, the other legitimate download services are flapping their tailfeathers in a bid to get noticed. OD2 has launched an a la carte service, including a penny-a-play jukebox. Sonic Selecter, which is some sort of horrid plug in for the nasty windows media player, will allow ("from just") 75p downloads from the 350,000 songs OD2 has available, which appear to be free to burn to CD. Oh, and it only works if you're using a Windows PC. Confusingly, there's some sort of claim that "the more tracks people buy the cheaper the unit price becomes", but we're not sure how that works - does it count total downloads by everyone? Or does your own personal price drop on everything as you buy more and more? Or is it the most popular tracks will be cheaper? And can you download so much you get all your music free? We're just not sure.

Meanwhile, Napster - the disappointingly dried-out, cleaned-up, straightened-off husk of the former outlaw service - has issued a press release with the exciting news that it's signed some sort of deal with ntl, the company that probably wishes it had stuck to its original mission of looking after ITV's transmitter network. This will be of no interest to anyone without ntl broadband, which is nearly everybody.

BUMPING AND GRINDS AS HE REPEATS 'BANGKOK': The whole 'flying Pete Doherty to Thailand' plan turns out to have a serious flaw, as Doherty quits the monastery, hails cab to take him to Bangkok. The monks have issued a statement:

Having entered into the free treatment program at Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand on Thursday June 10, and having vowed to senior Monks "never to take drugs ever again" upon registration, Peter refused to take even his third dose of medication, and has finally today rejected the sensitive and compassionate care offered by the Nuns and the Monks there.

"Despite insistent and concerned appeals from the Monastery’s officials and even his own mother, he demanded his passport and personal belongings and has fled to a hotel in Bangkok.

"Upon leaving the Monastery, Pete signed a declaration stating that: "Thamkrabok Monastery have done everything they could to help me, but I am just not strong enough for this treatment."

In this increasingly saddening and surreal story, June Brown, off Eastenders, has also issued a statement:

"This is a deeply concerning state of affairs. It’s tragic that he has clearly taken the choice to continue using drugs. I am truly concerned for his mother who must be devastated."

And, of course, Thamkrabok has also got a statement on the go, too:

"Thamkrabok can only help those who truly want to help themselves. The Monastery’s success has been built from treating those who want to stop. If they don’t want to stop, nobody can help them. Without a 100% clear intention of wanting to give up, an addict will always continue to use. We hope people learn from this that Thamkrabok is not an easy route – however for people with clear intention Thamkrabok have the tools they need."

ARE THESE FACTS, IN ANY WAY, CONNECTED?: i love fucked up noise buys an ipod; within a fortnight everything sounds uninspiring, lost, distant. I always wondered, to be honest, about the nursery rhyme about the woman with "rings on her fingers and bells on her toes/ she shall have music wherever she goes" - it's one of those things that sounds like a really cool idea but, when you think about it more closely, could actually turn out to be a curse. Like an aural midas touch. Maybe the iPod - all that music, always with you - could be a similar curse. Plus, you lose that age-old stand-by to exit dull pub conversations: "Sorry, but I have to run home as I have an overwhelming urge to hear the Sea Urchins right now."

BEASTIES IN BOXES: More news about EMI, who have, according to the splendid Boing Boing, been forced to include copy protection on the new album, except in the UK and the US. Apparently, Mike D claims the band didn't want the album to have the DRM cuffs on it anywhere, but it's EMI policy and the band "weren't allowed" to deviate from this. It's not clear how hard they tried.

WE CAN DRINK SOME JERRY WINE: A second batch of Jerry Garcia wine has hit the stores, after the first 22,000 cases sold out in thirty days. The Jerry Garcia wine isn't quite as tenuous as the Elvis Presley wine, as at least its sourced from Sonoma County, the place where, um, Garcia dropped out of high school. So it's not just some wine with a label stuck on it at random, okay.

MANUFACTURERS OF SMOKEY SAUCE SAID TO BE WATCHING CASE WITH INTEREST: Smokey Robinson is facing legal action over the slogan he chose for his range of Louisiana foods (no, we didn't know he'd turned himself into a Lloyd Grossman brand, either). Johnnty 'Jambalaya' Percle claims Robinson's The Soul is in the Bowl slogan is to close to the Soul in Yo Bowl trademark he uses for his gumbo. Lawyers for SFGL foods, who make Robinson's frozen gumbo (you haven't eaten yet, have you?), are dismissive, as lawyers tend to be:

"I have not personally had an opportunity to review the complaint yet. It doesn't sound like something that has merit."

But then, you'd hardly expect the lawyers to say "Haven't heard of this one, but, bloody hell, he's got a point, hasn't he."

No Rock advises all its patrons to be very careful when purchasing gumbo until this confusion is cleared up.

THE RELICS OF THE SAINTS: The Saints, one of the touchstone bands of punk, are about to be recorded through a box set collecting everything they ever recorded in their 18 month career.

The band only stuck around for eighteen months, before it was killed off by what mainman Chris Bailey sees as a chain reaction kicked off by a lack of interest by EMI (some things never change):

"It all came down to producing an image to go with the product; what I think happened, EMI lost interest because they thought they were buying one thing and of course they got another; management lost interest because EMI lost interest; the group was very young in a lot of respects, and quite green; there were internal squabbles which there always are amongst children; and Ed Kuepper and I didn't like London very much."

All three studio albums, the live set 'Live in London' and rarities make up the collection, titled 'All Things Through Paradise.' Of course, it's coming out on EMI.

THE RESULTS JUST IN: France beat England in the last minutes due to a final surge of homoeroticism.

HOWEVER SPIRITUAL YOU CLAIM IT IS, SHOWBIZ TAT IS STILL SHOWBIZ TAT: Britney may be coming late to the perfume market (we can expect the stink of her in a bottle later this year, called 'Curious by Britney Spears'), but at least it's a fairly obvious product fit. For the really queasy celeb product tie-in, we give you: Madonna Kabbalah Candles. The Jessica Simpson range of communion wafers is expected Fall 2005.

DON'T BUY FROM EMI: Morrissey has kicked off his Meltdown Fest in trad style - grumbling from the stage. The man whose quiff has growed and growed told acolytes from the stage not to buy the "atrocious quality" DVDs EMI have just released. He also took his shirt off twice - Drowned In Sound is positively man-on-man curious about young Mr. Stephen Patrick's "tanned and toned body." Mmm. Buff.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

JAZZOBIT: The death has been announced of John R. T. Davies. Davies, 77, was a member of 60s Jazz band the Temperance Seven and had latterly become recognised as the foremost expert in restoring old jazz recordings. He'd been approached to provide scores for the 'Temps', but took the role of trombonist and alto-saxophonist under the comedy pseudonym Sheikh Wadi El Yadounia. Inevitably, he wore a fez. The band's You're Driving Me Crazy enjoyed a sixteen week run on the charts in 1961, including a spell at what in those days was still called "the top of the shop." The Village Voice's rock critic claimed that the band proved beyond doubt the existence of God.

His career in jazz restoration was aided by an incredible ear for re-using pristine notes from recordings to replace poorly recorded or rendered notes elsewhere on the tapes. He performed this service for some of the biggest names in jazz - including Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong - but also for more obscure artists on his own Ristick label - the name came from his childhood nickname.

John R. T. Davies (the intials were for Ross Twiston) died on May 25th; he is survived by his wife Sue a daughter and a step-daughter.

THESE THINGS ARE ONLY POSSIBLE THANKS TO THE RIAA COMPANIES INVESTING IN YOUNG TALENT: This week's American charts demonstrate just how keenly the US Music Industry has been taking its supernormal profits, garnered through overcharging for CDs, and investing in new, upcoming acts. The highest new entry on the album chart this week is young Dean Martin, at 28, heading off cheeky whippersnapper Kenny Roger's second highest 39. If it wasn't for the RIAA, youngsters like this just wouldn't get the chance, you know.

DADDY FEELS QUEASY: The Father of all that is Puffery, Sean Combs, quit yesterday's matinee performance of A Raisin In The Sun because the bad boy of rap had a tummy-ache. It's not yet known if he will be feeling well enough to return to the stage today, although his mum has been quoted as saying "if you're well enough to go doing drive-by shootings, you're well enough to go to school, young Sean."

SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD: Janet is still fuming with Justin Timberlake over that whole Superbowl thing, apparently (maybe she should have pointed out that she didn't like it during rehearsal?) and doesn't seem totally happy that JuJu has tried to make things better by saying she's "absolutely beautiful" - we can picture Janet's response: "Well, duh, I've spent two million on tucks and pokes and prods, of course I am." Indeed, she seems to be very snippy with Justin now:

"Justin's changed. He's gotten cocky. In a contest between Justin and Usher, Usher would win. Some people can handle success and some people can't. I'm wondering if the latter is the case with Justin."

We're sure this has nothing to do, oh no no, with Justin playing the Bart Simpson "I didn't do it" line and getting away with the stunt while Janet has spent the last half-year trying to persuade the FCC not to carve a letter of shame into her breast, apologising to everybody, trying to act like it was all a surprise and fielding opportunist lawsuits from people claiming the viewed the Superbowl and found their eyes burned out. But we're intrigued by what sort of competition she has in mind between Justin and Usher - naked wrestling in front of a fire? Two rounds of Garden Bird Lotto? Trying to find their own assholes without an assistant to give them hints? We're hoping that Endemol explore the idea for a Justin-Usher olympics. We'd certainly tune in.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON. OH, HANG ON, THERE'S A SOCCER MATCH. LET'S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF: David Bowie, in an incredible piece of selfish disregard for the people who've paid enormous sums of money to see him, has said he won't go on stage until England v France is over. To be honest, we'd tell him not to bother at all - if he thinks watching some football is more important than playing live, what does that say about how connected he is to the set he's planning to play?

YOU CAN BLOCK THE SOURCE, BUT YOU CAN'T STEM THE FLOW: Eminem has managed to get a judgement against The Source magazine; District Judge Gerard Lynch held the magazine to be in contempt of his earlier ruling banning publication of Marshall's racist rap, and The Source will have to pay Em's legal fees. We're not quite sure why Eminem's going to these extremes - obviously, the lyrics are now pretty easy to find elsewhere on the net (On talk boards, for example) and there's never been any attempt to pretend the lyrics weren't genuine. Eminem has offered an explanation/excuse for them, and thrown himself on the mercy of the wider world. It's up to individuals to decide if "I'd just been dumped by a black girl and it was a long time ago" is enough of get-out; trying to suppress the words from appearing in public makes it look like Em doesn't quite have the confidence that it is.