Saturday, October 30, 2004

HOFF TO REHAB AGAIN: Germany's favourite curly-headed actor-popstar David Hasselhoff has been ordered to seek an alcohol treatment programme after being arrested drunk driving. Hasselhoff had previously done a spell at the Betty Ford, which isn't really a great advert for the place when you think about it.

UNDERGARMENTS OFFER SUPPORT: Rather like the Inspiral Carpets making more from tshirts than music, but on a grander scale, it's been suggested that The Darkness have made enough from selling thongs to fund the new album in its entirety, even if they don't sell a single copy. Which does mean, of course, the next album will, officially, be a load of pants, even if it's very good indeed.

SO I MACED HIM AGAIN...: Fun aplenty to be had on the R kelly/Jay-Z tour. The increasingly erratic Kelly (who turned up at a McDonalds earlier this week demanding to be given a go on the drive-thru window - presumably he'd heard the local McDs was a great place to meet teenage girls) thought he saw a pair of people in the Madison Square Garden audience waving guns around. He called a halt to proceedings and insisted the place be searched. No guns were found, but as Kelly attempted to return to the stage, someone from Jay Z's team hit Kelly with pepper spray in the face. It's thought he was pissed off at the buggering about. Jay Z isn't thought to have known what was going to happen, but he wasn't entirely happy with Kelly's antics, either:

"You can't get a gun inside Madison Square Garden," the rapper said. "If people give me love he can't take it."

They should get the Little Angels team in to try and teach Kelly some better behaviour. Or maybe they had, and the pepper spray was their suggestion.

IF HE'S A GENIUS...: We understand that Danny McNamara is floating of a sea of warm feelings towards Chris Martin - Martin wrote Gravity, the song that lifted Embrace out the dumper (a rare case of someone being lifted up by Gravity). But does McNamara really feel that Martin counts as a "genius"? Really? Or just a good mate who writes alright songs?

"I think [Chris Martin] is a genius, but it’s not easy for him," he said. "I speak to him every week, pretty much, and he sets impossibly high standards for himself and then somehow he manages to reach them.

"The thing of giving us ‘Gravity’ – it’s easy to give away any song, but he gave us a really fucking good one, just like an amazing gift. No matter how good a songwriter you are, a song like that only comes along maybe twice a year."

The trouble is, even if Martin was a genius - and we could fill a book with people who are more fitting of the title than he is - telling him he is would be a bad move anyway: if people gather round saying "You're a genius" you start to believe it, and before you know it, you've turned into Bono sipping wine with Warren Buffett. And nobody wants that.

STEP FORWARD HALLIWELL: Sandwiched between Sarah Michelle Gellar telling how she had to call for help in a Japanese toilet and The Killers on last night's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross was Geri Halliwell, trudging round the sofas to push her latest so-so single. Asked how she'd managed to produce two volumes of autobiography, she suggested that the books were "more like Adrian Mole or Bridget Jones" - we think she meant diaries rather than made-up tales about shallow, self-obsessed characters, but perhaps she didn't. It's a bit unfair asking Geri about her two books, though - how can anyone be expected to answer questions about things they're unlikely to have read?

Equally extraordinary, she suggested the period where she was so thin she made Victoria Beckham look like a chubby in a fat suit was while she was "living in LA, eating three meals a day, but working out" - presumably she means working out the three meals with a spoon down the back of the throat? She trotted out her usual guff about how she's so happy with her body image now - although she's been saying that for years, hasn't she? And we note she's still flogging the yoga-your-way-to-a-better-body books she was pushing when she was supposedly not so relaxed about things.

We've not quite understood how she can say she felt under so much pressure to be something she wasn't, and yet flogs the self help DVDs she made at the time. Curious, don't you think?

She told Jonathan that she decided to leave the Spice Girls after reading "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway", which gives us a handy idea of her intellectual level - she based her life on one of those books that Waterstones seems ashamed to sell. Oddly, we'd have thought she would have made her choice when she read the writing on the wall rather than in a book, but there you are.

What is astonishing, of course, is that she's the only Spice Girl to still be on the same label she joined after quitting the band. She deserves some credit for that, although when you think about it a bit longer, all the others have tried to do something a little more stretching than very, very basic pop songs. Even Vicky V has tried - however hilariously - to do something more than pull on a "sexy" nurses uniform and run through a simple preteen pop fodder tune. As the man put it, roughly: if you wanna be rich, keep it as dim as possible.

HARD TIMES AT SONY: Or maybe not - the company just posted an GBP820 million estimated profit for the year, but things really can't be that rosy. Otherwise, why would the press office at Sony Records be telling journalists requesting review copies of the forthcoming Michael Jackson 4 CD box set that it costs too much to send them out? Unless there's another reason they're less than keen to be spending the two quid and the price of a jiffy bag on the King of Pop's big push for the festive market? And to think there was a time when a Jacko best of would see massive statues being floated down the Thames...

Friday, October 29, 2004

DID YOU THREATEN TO OVERRULE HIM?: As if their voicing of support for the Tories wasn't enough to cement Busted's position as the Tim-Nice-But-Dims of the music world, they now want Michael Howard to appear in their next video. Thinking of what his guest appearance in Tracy Ullman's My Guy video did for Neil Kinnock (and Ullman), we think it's a splendid idea. We best Michael Ancram will be pushing him to take up the invite, too.

PLANS FOR TOMORROW NIGHT?: Fancy seeing Franz Ferdinand dj and gigs by the Beatings and The Violets? Pull on a Halloweeny fancy dress (yes, we know its the night before) and get down to Frog at the Mean Fiddler. Then on Sunday, when the hangover clears, tell us what you thought.

OOH, THEY ARE DOGGED: You've got to give the RIAA some credit for determination - they've filed another 750 John Doe lawsuits against American file sharers, despite the increasing evidence that they're not making any difference and just damaging the big label's images in people'e eyes. Sweetly, they're even pursuing people using LimeWire while not touching Bittorrent, which is like ignoring speeding motorists and going after cyclists who don't have lights on their bikes to improve road safety.

DISENDORSING BUSH: Having got himself into a mess playing kidophile Gary Glitter, despite pledging four years ago that he didn't want to be associated with that sort of thing, Bush has now stumbled into further trouble with his campaign tunes. Bush has been popping up to mutter meaningless fibs with the sound of Orleans' Still The One on the Cd changer. Now, he's had a letter from Orleans' John Hall asking him to stop. What makes it worse is Bush never asked for permission to take on board the implied endorsement. What makes it even more awkward is John Hall, far from being a Bushite, sat in a county legislature as a Democrat. He's a bit pissed:

"I'm not just some guy that's stoned out and happened to write a song, and even if I were, it would still be a problem, because you should always ask permission to use the work."

EXTRA BURGESS: If you were thinking that there was something like a hometown date missing from the Charlatans Christmas Tour, wonder no longer: they've added Salford University on December 19th and 20th. Tickets on sale via official website on Monday.

UNFORTUNATELY, THEY WEREN'T FORCED TO STAY THERE CUT OFF FROM HUMAN CONTACT FOR THREE MONTHS: Just when you think bands have run out of "surprising" venues to play gigs, Embrace bundle up their fans and drive them to a gig in the Big Brother house. We'd heard rumours that people were going round London forcing fans of the McNamara brothers into vans with blacked out windows, but we'd just assumed that this was the start of the revolution.

MOZZER ENDORSES KERRY: Okay, it's not totally surprising, although we're not sure how keen Morrissey can be throwing his weight behind John Kerry: after all, Mozzer famously slagged off Christmas turkeys and Kerry goes shooting geese to hoover up a few votes. But then, we guess, nobody's really that thrilled by Kerry - just aware that he's not Bush. Mozzer's endorsement seems to have been swung by the queues at Chicago O'Hare last time he returned from the UK to his LA home:

"With all my heart I urge people to vote against George Bush. Jon Stewart would be ideal, but John Kerry is the logical and sane move. It does not need to be said yet again, but Bush has single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet," he wrote.

"For non-Americans, the United States is suddenly not a very nice place to visit because US immigration officers – under the rules of Bush – now conduct themselves with all the charm and unanswerable indignation of Hitler’s SS.

"Please bring sanity and intelligence back to the United States. Don’t forget to vote. Vote for John Kerry and get rid of George Bush!"

Thursday, October 28, 2004

DON'T WORRY, DUNC, WE'RE SURE YOU'LL BE SHOCKING: Duncan from Blue - afraid we might see him just a fairly well-filled pair of speedos and little else - has said that he wants to shock people with his acting. He means by doing something like Shakespeare which we're sure he can more than rise to. What was the one with the stupid, good looking boy in the tight leather pants? Without any lines?

DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND: To encourage people to trot off down to the store and buy the Britney Hits DVD, shrewd marketing types have got two tricks up their sleeves: one is to recut all the videos so they feel frsh and new, the other is to run about shouting "There's a version of toxic where she's stark bollock naked except for diamonds the whole time on this!" Oh, and there's some karaoke stuff too, which will be great if you're simultaneously a thirtysomething bloke who hasn't been laid in a while and a ten year old girl.

Tracklisting ahoy:

* "My Prerogative"
* "Outrageous"
* "Everytime"
* "Toxic"
* "Me Against the Music" featuring Madonna
* "Boys (The Co-Ed Remix)" featuring Pharrell Williams
* "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"
* "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"
* "Overprotected (The Darkchild Remix)"
* "Overprotected" (international version)
* "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know"
* "I'm a Slave 4 U"
* "Stronger"
* "Lucky"
* "Oops! ... I Did It Again"
* "Born to Make You Happy"
* "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart"
* "(You Drive Me) Crazy (The Stop Remix!)"
* "Sometimes"
* "... Baby One More Time"

MIGHT WE SUGGEST BONO DOES THE COVERED IN BLOOD ONE?: Oxfam are lining up a series of posters of stars of a Chris Martin, Bono, Stipe, Thom Yorke and Jamelia covered in milk, blood and feathers to raise awareness of the Make Trade Fair campaign.

The funny thing is, we've been planning on a campaign that will end up having Chris Martin covered in feathers, although we were also thinking of adding tar, and a large pole to carry him out of town upon. Still, first steps.

OOH, NICKY, YOU'RE SHOCKING: Nicky Wire is the latest "star" to grace the Orange Telephone Company's extended advert slot on ITV, which means, of course, Ananova has a shot of him with Lauren Laverne:

Today, we're reading Lauren's eyes as saying "Are they sure this is Nicky Wire? I really don't want to ask in case it is, and that would be rude." If we could see Nicky's eyes we'd read them, but in their absence, we'll just translate his facial expression - we're getting something along the lines of "izzata lay-dee she sure does smell nice..."

In the programme itself, Nicky doesn't do much to counter the impression he's not got very much to say, taking a pop at The White Stripes, for example:

"There are loads of shit bands out there. White Stripes - I just don't get that at all.

"When they say 'We recorded the whole album in 2 days' its like, yeah it sounds like it. It sounds fucking crap because you recorded it in a second."

But Nicky, do you remember when you were still alive and making wonderful, punchy music? EVOL, for example, sounds like it took less long to record than the record actually lasts. Are you really telling us now that it's impossible to make a decent record unless you spend a John Squire's length of time doing so?

And while we agree with him that Jet aren't much cop ("Jet are so bad. Their music has the mental age of a foetus.") we'd disagree that their music has the mental age of a foetus - their problem is that their music is already forty bloody years old, surely?

Once, Nicky and Richey would take the green room booze and sit aloof from the acts of the day backstage. Now, Nicky's hanging out with them:

He does, however, have praise for another chart star, Daniel Bedingfield, who he bumped into on CD:UK: "He is an absolute, brilliant, nutter actually. He's truly warped and mad - in a good way."

In what way is Daniel Bedingfield "warped"? He might just qualify for going "Don't mind me, I'm mad" like the woman in the office who has a nodding Churchill dog on top of her computer monitor, or someone from a Hairbrush Divas compilation advert on the television, but is Nicky really trying to convince us his new chum is the Syd Barrett of the age?

NO WINNERS IN BEAR V SHARK: Financial misdoings and deeds or something are being given as the reason for the pulling of the Bear Vs Shark European tour. Good news for Michigan, though, as they're going to replace their jaunt round capitals by playing gigs in their home state instead.

SOME GOOD NEWS IN A GRIM WEEK: According to a statement issued from his website, Marc Almond is out of intensive care after his motorbike accident.

THIS IS THE NEW AGE: The first-ever equivalents of Platinum, Gold and Silver records for digital music have been handed out by the RIAA, as if to prove how comfortable they are with downloading now, providing of course, it's legal and controlled by them. Outkast have won a multi-platinum award for the numbers of times Hey Ya has been accessed electronically: 400,000 times, and every single one of them was someone looking for a soundtrack for a sports programme highlights package. Other winners were D12, Maroon 5 and Hoobastank (platinum) and Beyonce Knowles, Black Eyed Peas and Usher (gold).

The amusing thing is the trouble the RIAA had in coming up with what would take the place of the record itself. They - seriously - experimented with a golden mouse and a golden keyboard; they abandoned the actually not half bad concept of a golden microchip, and instead went with "a shiny abstract design over the recording's cover art." Although we're not sure what they'll do with download-only tracks which, of course, don't have covers. If they'd asked us, we'd have suggested they got a hologram etching of a cylinder gramophone.

RIGHT, WHICH ONE'S THIS, THEN?: Courtney's been told she has to stand trial on the "assault with a deadly weapon" charges, which we think is the case where she went round off her ex-bloke's house screaming blue murder. It's even alleged she pinched the breasts of his new girl, Kristin King. The attorney says she's been over-charged and that chasing a woman with a huge torch is merely a misdemeanour; Courtney returns to court November 10th for an arraingement hearing.

ROCK ON THE STATE: Normally, we get very nervous the moment government funding (central, European or local) comes anywhere near rock music - at best, it means there's going to be a councillor doing a photo-op with a bunch of skinny sixteen year olds; at worst, it has a tendency to make bands and venues lazy and complacent. Having said which, if we were a Scottish band, we'd be rushing to take up the Scottish Arts Council offer to fund trips to next year's SXSW.

7,500: Well, reaching post number 7,500 probably indicates that I've got way, way too much time on my hands or something - or else that Blogger has reposted the same introductory post over and over again. I just wanted to take a Mike Yarwood moment to step out from behind being mean to Hilary Duff to thank everyone who takes time to read No Rock, whether here or through newsreaders; and to say an even bigger thanks to those of you who take the time and trouble to post comments or email with reactions or suggestions. I love you all - even the Transvision Vamp fans. Yes, even you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

GET INTO BRITNEY'S UNDI... WHAT, WE'VE USED THAT HEADLINE BEFORE?: Huh. Well, this time, it's going on a story about various celebrities designing corsets in aid of a rape-incest charity. Amongst the people who've picked up a pen and done some colouring in are Olivia Newton John (would actually work well for a wedding night); Cyndi Lauper; Tori Amos (turns you into a giant bee with a pinched in waistline; probably best for a bloke to wear so he can do a gag about his stinger); Britney Spears (we're guessing she got some help with hers) and The Scissor Sisters (a big pair of scissors. Went home early, then). The best is designed by Courtney Cox and David Arquette, which at first we thought showed that sexy gear is best designed by people who fool around with each other, but then we realised it was Courtney Cox, who wouldn't need to wear a corset because the whalebone would be clanking together before it even started to bite round her Ryvita-craving body.

HE NEARLY TOOK NME.COM WITH HIM: The sheer weight of people seeking out everything Peelie took down this morning.

AND SISTER CAME TOO...: We wonder if Kylie actually knows that Dannii Minogue is planning for the pair of them to buy a flat together in Paris. It's something we hope someone at MTV gets rights to cover, if so, as we see the whole thing as a cross between Housetrapped in The Sun, Grand Designs Abroad, The Simple Life and elp, My Sister Is Trying To Steal My Life.

Dannii says that she see her future somewhere other than London:

"I definitely see my future in mainland Europe rather than London - I feel at home there. The South of France reminds me of Australia's laid-back vibe."

Yes, yes, we know that the South of France isn't where Paris actually is, but we wonder what it is that makes Dannii feel so at home down in the heartlands of Jean Marie Le Pen, a politician whose appeal she once said she could understand because he "struck a chord" with voters?

IF IT SOUNDS POOR, IT'S YOUR OWN FAULT: There have been a lot of grumbles from people who've lashed out their granny's life savings on the most recent Bowie DVD that the sound quality is poor, all of which have been waved away by Tony Visconti. He says - and he's not wrong - that because there are so many competing systems and possible settings and so on, it's up the purchaser to tweak their menus to make the thing sound decent. But while he's not wrong, it's hardly very encouraging telling people that the chances are, before they can play the thing, they'll have to spend ages fiddling about with settings, is it? Even in the 70s it was check you've got the right needle - stereo or mono - check you've got the right speed, and away you go. Here we are in a brave new age, and you're lumbered with a short session as a computer programmer before the first track. Still, at least there's only one standard of DVD at the moment - how fun will things be when there's the current type as well as two new formats bobbing about?

IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THERE'S A GOD, ISN'T IT?: While everyone who cares about music is already feeling at a pretty low ebb, Robbie Williams pops up to announce a new album for 2005. Almost certainly, it's what Peel would have wanted.

We wonder what Robbie has left to sing about - surely he's even boring himself with the boo-hoo poor me stuff?

TRULY, IT WAS THE PEELENIUM: There was a stock gag in 60s and 70s TV shows where a woman, usually, and elderly, always, would do something odd; in response, the male lead would turn to someone else and say "She's not been the same since Gracie Fields/George Formby/Harry Lauder went..." - the joke being that feeling the resonance of an entertainer's death isn't the sort of thing that should cause a genuine emotional response. The trouble is, at the moment, I can picture my wife thirty years hence explaining away a bout of bad behaviour at a barbecue with the words "He's not been the same since Peelie went..."

There's been a massive outpouring of affection for Peel over the last twenty-four hours - to a degree that would both surprise and embarrass him. There's been talk that the Second Stage at Glastonbury might be renamed after him as a tribute, although something more permanent might be fitting.

Amongst the tributes, I might be getting overly sentimental but Tony Blair actually did sound like he had a catch in his throat. Newsnight took a risk by inviting Mark E Smith on at damn near closing time - he kept doing an odd thing with his tongue and did a George W style "can i talk now?" before asking Gavin Esler if he was "going to be the new dj" and - what with only the illest of winds blowing everyone no good - Fergal Sharkey must have made about a hundred thousand pounds from the number of times Teenage Kicks got played.

Even The Daily Mail and Express have found front page space:

... although, obviously, the red tops couldn't squeeze a mention in, as there were pictures of Tina O'Brien in a push-up bra coming in. The broadsheets made room:

Nothing on the front of The Times, though - surely Murdoch's not so sour about the BBC as to refuse a front page memorial?

Much more stuff to read:
The Scotsman is running the Press Assocation reports of the tributes
New York Times - "possibly the only British DJ known by name" and headlined "John Peel, who played new rock on the BBC, dies [As the NYT puts things behind a glass shutter, you can read the text here - tributes from, amongst others, Supergrass
Rolling Stone - rather brief obit, suggesting that the NYT is better on left-field music these days
London News Review - "living life at the wrong speed"
ACME - wonderful ten reasons why...
The Times - might not have put him on the front page, but they got Caitlin Moran to pen a few words
Roger Waters Online - he was a paid up member of the Pink Floyd fan club ("along with George Best") in 1968, you know
The Guardian invite Peter Hook, Charles Shaar Murray, Kevin Shields, Andy Kershaw and others to contribute
The Independent Radio reviewer Robert Hanks focuses on "what he would have been horrified to think of as his moral influence"
Independent Obituary - Spencer Leigh traces the life, remembering Peel being instructed not to play Bolan because he "sounds like Larry The Lamb"
Independent Appreciation - Andy Kershaw reports on hearing the news ("Jenny Abramsky, the BBC's controller of network radio, called me and said: "I've got some bad news for you, and I think you ought to sit down." As soon as she said that, my mind just raced and in a flash, before she had said it, I thought "Peel's dead".) Kershaw also repeats what he told Channel 4 News last night: "The last time I saw him he looked absolutely worn out. We went to a café near Radio 1 and I said: "John, you look terrible." He said: "They've moved me from 11pm to one at night and the combination of that and Home Truths (his Radio 4 show) is killing me." He felt he had been marginalised."

There's much more around the web, of course; we'll add to this list during the day.

As promised:
This was the pocket cartoon on The Guardian today:

Since we noticed in the logs - almost before they'd finished announcing the news of the death - people searching for 'peel+underage+sex' and other, even less savoury variations, our understanding of what happened was that he married, perfectly legally, a fifteen year old while in the US, but couldn't cross any state boundaries with his new wife as then she would have turned from being a legal spouse into a minor. We also have a recollection that her pa wasn't best pleased. It's also quite important to remember he wasn't sixty-five at the time, either.

More coverage:
Stereo - it's in Dutch, which seems somehow appropriate; back before the days of internet radio, we have fond memories of the number of letters he'd read out from the Benelux nations, gifted a signal thanks to the properties of Medium Wave radio after dark
Our Descent Into Madness - one of the first blogs to remember the man
Momus - "He seemed so secure and so eternal, so institutional and so protected, that it seemed okay to take shots at him, as Julie Burchill did in her 1999 piece Rake's Progress and I did - rather more affectionately - in my essay On Gatekeepers."
Paul Morley - For BBC News: "He became more and more a fixture in British life, someone you heard every day, someone you thought about all the time, because he was the perfect example of how to play the game of life, the game of fame, the game of being the best at whatever it is you do."
Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance Again are marking the occasion by offering up a download of Teenage Kicks (we're sure nobody could complain, the royalties that have already been made off the back of the song this last twenty four hours)
3Hive also have a musical tribute, a Cinerama session track for download. Again, apt, as we were thinking it's kind of fitting that David Gedge did his last Peel session under the Wedding Present banner.
Liverpool Echo - now, if you must have a two minutes silence, Liverpool, now is the time. Although, of course, Peel wasn't from Liverpool, he was born more in the realm of the...
Daily Post - they have a photo of him accepting his OBE, which he says he only said "Yes" to because otherwise he'd have become the sort of bloke who hangs around pubs saying "Yeah, of course, I was offered the OBE... turned it down, though..."
MediaGuardian -records tributes for a man called "the saviour of radio one", as opposed, of course, to the other bloke
MediaGuardian Press & Publishing - asking the all-important question 'Did Peel finish his autobiography'; the publishers say that they don't know - but the listeners do: no, he hadn't; he'd been telling us about his progress. And how heartbreaking is that story he told the other week about how his computer crashed and wiped out an afternoon's work in this new context?
Blogcritics - manages to be factually incorrect (cut his DJing teeth on Caroline, did he? But his pirate boat was Radio London, and he'd already been dj-ing in Texas before that) while being emotionally spot-on
Blogcritics - second post with a range of responses; you can date people by what their memory of him playing is
Drowned In Sound - covers the news that Glastonbury are going to name the second stage after him
New York London Paris Munich has got a wealth of good things, as you'd expect, including a tale of being passed a tape of Peel playing your music, Martin Skidmore calculating how much time he'd spent listening to Peel. He came in at 5000 hours, we reckon we might have clocked around 4,300 - not counting all the stuff we stuck on tape to listen to again - which reminds us of another Peel memory; our friend Sara was talking about having taken a trip with another friend, Seanna, who had been playing a tape of the Festive Fifty: "But she got it wrong... she edited out all the speaking parts..." NYLPM also have Tom: "I sometimes used to worry that they'd sack him. I imagined him looking glumly through records he wouldn't get the chance to play on the radio. It honestly never occurred to me he might die first."
DJ Martian has a very Martian-esque round-up of linkage and commentray
NewsNow have set up a feed for all the latest

[2.20 pm, 27/10/04 - we'll update this list again later]

Further reading:
TV Cream - "Accidentally accrued over countless years, Peel must have had more ‘catchphrases’ than Everett and Steve Wright combined, though of course they weren’t designed as such. Less enlightened souls might suggest they were the aural ramblings of a bloke who didn’t quite know what he was doing, but we knew better. There were the baroque eulogies to a just-played Fall track, of course. The way he always refused to talk over the endings of records, which often led to a battle of wits with some stop-start new wave effort, invoking the terror of dead air (“For a moment there I thought the BBC emergency backup tape would kick in there, and then the nation would be at war.“) There were anecdotes about John Walters, Peel’s like-minded but rather more extrovert producer, who as the ‘80s progressed took to “producing” Peel’s programme from a deckchair in his front garden." (It's a big quote, but only TV Cream and Mark E Smith in his opinion dividing pissed Newsnight interview seem to have mentioned Walters so far, which is a bit like doing an Eric Morecambe obituary without mentioning Ernie Wise. Also it's a big quote because there's lots and lots more there)
Radio One - Peel picture gallery
Radio One DJs - Chris Moyles manages seven words, although there's no comedy sound effects, for which we must be thankful
BBC News Online - mixture of pictures and audio from "the John Peel hitlist"
Mark Radcliffe - "I worked with John many times during my career, but the last time I saw him was when we were covering this year's Glastonbury Festival for BBC Two. I was brought in in case John got fed up with it all and decided to walk off."
Indymedia - slightly grumbly thread suggesting that Peel was little more than an establishment trick, to make us think that you could be alternative AND live in a house with a wife
Loopy Librarian - another metapost linking to other posts
The Diner At Panda's Realm recalls the rules for the John Peel Sweet Eating game
Mark Maynard - "Fuck, fuck, fuck, not Peel"; links through to some choice Peel parts
Various blogs record the news and their reaction: Shatnerian; Completely Confused; Minta; Miaow The Cat; Dr.Beeper

Probably more to come in the next couple of days - if you think I'm missing anything especially good, send us the URL [2.00, 28/10/04]

Further pieces:
A Head Full of Wishes - tribute paid through a couple of Galaxie 500 and a Luna Peel Session track - a push for a re-release of Teenage Kicks as a tribute to Peel leading to speculation about the Christmas Number One - even before the bread rolls are buttered for the funeral tea, people are swarming asking "so, what will you do with all those records, then?": an American Radio company has apparently bid a million bucks for the collection (what US radio company would be interested in Stump seven inches and a massive slew of late 90s Drum and Bass? Apparently, the British Museum is also interested...
John O'Neill - The Undertones and That Petrol Emotion's O'Neill writes for the Belfast Telegraph: "That's what music does for you and that was exactly what it continually did for John Peel. He recognised the essential ingredient to the best music and in particular to the best rock and roll, is passion. The fact that he felt this from our first record will forever be as incredible a compliment as we could get."
The Australian - strong on his time at the helm of Dandelion records: "At one point he even had the bizarre idea of forming a group called 101Sharons, with the intention of finding that number of female singers with the same name. Legend has it that he abandoned the project when he got to 40."
Malaysia Star - one of the fans of Peel's World Service show, R S Murthi, remembers "for many years, he was the only true sympathetic “friend” I had. The voice may have come floating from an incredible distance, but it spoke a language you could relate to."
Blabbermouth - thoughts from Ginger from The Wildhearts ("He championed so many great bands that we would never have heard (you have your own, mine is BIG BLACK). He didn't give a fuck about acceptance, and because of that everyone not only accepted his lead but embraced it. Now Radio One is officially shit.") and Pitchshifter's J S Clayden ("If you look on your PITCHSHIFTER albums you will see that we always credit John Peel. He was instrumental in getting the band out there and often played our music on the radio when no one else dared.")
Daily Telegraph - Gillian Reynolds, radio reviewer, praised his style on Radio 4's Home Truths but confesses "I couldn't abide Home Truths. I didn't like to hear the old lion tamed; the wizard of hippiedom weaving sentimental spells for the suburbs. John Walters, his late and much-respected producer, didn't care for the show either, nor did Andy Kershaw, who shared their jumbled Radio 1 office." (We're a little surprised that Walters didn't like it - we could have sworn that he presented the thing once, but maybe that's our minds playing tricks)

[Updated at 00.24. 29/10/04]

Trust The DJ - Nick Doherty of Fabric recalls: "He had an immeasurable impact on music and club culture; purely, simply, unquantifiable. It shouldn't ever be understated, that he was one of the greatest broadcasters there has ever been. Thankfully, music got him."

[Updated at 21.25 29/10/04]

The Observer - Simon Garfield retells some of Peel's favourite stories: "I don't tend to mix with bands. I'm too shy or respectful, and I don't think I would know what to say. I don't know very much about their history. Also, there's that thing about not wanting to lower my admiration of them, which I might do if I met them, and I feel they'd certainly have a lower impression of me."
The Heaven & Earth Show on BBC ONE this morning replayed an interview with Peel, which included some talk about dying - he didn't believe in the afterlife, but hoped it would exist, so that he could ask his Dad if he meant him or his brother to inherit the Welsh Dresser.

[Updated at 11.20 31/10/04]

John Peel: What Now? - London News Review propose a Peel replacement service: a rotating, no-playlist programme with a single producer. (We're not sure if they'd still call it The John Peel Show; that might be a little bit too much like Taggart)
Mark Lawson - since the PM stressed how genuinely upset he was about the death of Peel, how could Blair handle the death of Yasser?
The BNP - we'd imagine that Peel would welcome sympathy from the BNP in the same way he'd welcome a hug from DLT. Interesting that both the pygmy-brained thug party and the Daily Mail raced up to try and claim a man so internationalist in his outlook as part of their nasty little world
Belfast Telegraph - Gerry Anderson admits he doesn't have much to add, but just felt he wanted to add his sympathy: "I only spoke to him once, at a BBC staff Christmas party in Broadcasting House in London. I knew I shouldn't have. I had just read one of his articles in a magazine and told him I thought he was just as good a writer as he was a disc jockey. He looked at me for a moment, smiled and said that he wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not. There was a short embarrassed silence and I was saved by someone else tugging at his arm. It's always a mistake to address one's heroes. It never comes out right. It must be slightly puzzling to Peel while Home Truths was so quickly adopted as part of the Radio 4 furniture - and a sofa with a disc jockey sat upon it, to boot - while his substantially similar Anderson Country was chased off the network with a fairly nasty little campaign.
Sunday Herald - BBC Radio Scotland's Vic Galloway insists the best memorial would be more djs like John Peel
The Sunday Times - Robert Sandall tries to assess Peel's influence: "In the late 1980s, Peel became a devoted fan of techno music. The absurdity of his position did not escape him. As a family man who hated hanging around in nightclubs and never knowingly danced in his life, Peel knew that he was hardly cut out to enjoy 180-beats-per-minute dance tracks. But he played them on his show anyway, claiming, if asked, that he found something beguilingly human in the robotic intensity of these machine-made sounds."
Scotland On Sunday - Colin Somerville's appreciation; he points out that Peel's love of Ivor Cutler had nothing to do with Cutler being the only artist to regularly appear on his show older than he was.
This week's pop papers includes more Peel stuff

[Updated 1/11/04 08.40]

Coventry Evening Telegraph - Two Tone stars pay thanks to Peel
WRR, Texas - a tribute from the station in the US where Peel started his career
BBC World Service - a recording of the show from the World Service this weekend, hosted by Mark Coles, and a tracklisting of the music played on Peel's final WS programme
Home Truths - listen again to the weekend's programme and read a Peel webchat transcript

[Updated 1/11/04 19.30]

Slate - "It's no surprise that the Brits who grew up listening to Peel's twice- or thrice-weekly shows have been filling message boards with their fond memories of him. What is surprising is that Americans are doing the same—far more than for the Californian garage-rock standard-bearer and rock historian Greg Shaw, who passed away Oct. 19. There could hardly be a lower-profile job in America than British radio announcer; most of those mourning Peel in the United States probably can't name two other BBC hosts."
Tony Parsons - sniffy about the mourning for Peel, which would be fair enough (if you don't like music, I guess much of the last week would have left you cold) but its based on some very woolly thinking. First, Parsons complains that Peel "lost interest" in Rod Stewart when he "started banging out the hits". Well, yes, oddly Peel did find less to love in Stewart when he cranked out rubbish like Sailing. I wonder why? Then, Parsons says "But where were The Clash? Or Bruce Springsteen? Or Bob Marley? Or any of the greats of soul music? You'd search for them in vain on the Peel show.[...]But, of course, you would never have heard The Clash, Elvis or the Ronettes on Peel's show. Just not obscure enough." People who have spent time sifting the playlists available to Parsons online, had he wanted to actually research his piece, report that he's spot-on about how you'd never hear Elvis on the Peel show - he hadn't played Presley since 2003. In his last week of broadcasting, he included Whatever You Want by Status Quo in his choices. And I don't know if he ever did play the Ronettes, but I can certainly remember Sam Cooke and Fontella Bass on the Peel Show.

[updated 02/11/04 19.15]

PR Week - trying not to sound too delighted, PR Week remember Peelie as the dj who you couldn't plug too
Job in the bank? - according to The Times today, Rob DaBank has been told that the Peel slot is his "for the forseeable future" - though to be honest, we don't know if that simply means for the period up until Christmas, as our understanding was that Radio One planned to review its evening programmes early in the new year
Spiked - Andrew Calcutt claims that Peel died in 1998 when he started presenting Home Truths. Oddly, Peel had apparently managed to survive for the few years prior to Home Truths he'd been presenting exactly the same programme under a slightly different name (was it Family Album? Family values?) in the early evening slot on Saturdays.
NewsLetter - Home Truths colleague Liz Kennedy points out that Peel didn't feel entirely at ease with the concept of Home Truths, either
Steve Midlesbrough - remembers sharing a stage with the John Peel Wingding: "We got there and the room was full of 100 people in dinner jackets, who didn't look like they would be into Peelie's kind of music. So he accidentally on purpose bashed his head on the lighting rig so he didn't have to do the gig. He told me to take over and pretend I was his fellow Radio One DJ, Gary Davies. Somehow we got away with it."
Blog of Death - the American answer to PoppedClogs catches up with John
Wibbly - "[Julie Burchill's] disgust at John's sexual predilections reminds me of the one time I saw John in the flesh, as it were, judging a Schoolperson of the Year contest at an AC/DC gig in the 70s. My mate Skip was up on stage in a white schoolboy uniform, but a young girl won, of course."
What's That Smell - perhaps the worries over Home Truths expressed elsewhere were right; this blog, which links to the likes of Biased BBC and people who spend most of their time Fisking Fisk loved it.

[updated 06/11/04 21.45]

Paul Morley's 1979 NME interview with Peel, of course. Wonder if anyone plans to do anything with The Shend's "A Meal With Peel" features from Offbeat? (Thanks to Simon Tyers for poking this one at us)

Last night BBC Two did its tribute show - a group of people offering their memories of the man, linked together by Jo Whiley, who was also one of the talking heads: a slightly odd dual role. Also turning up, amongst others, were John Humphries, Clare Grogan, Johnny Marr, various Undertones and Mark Radcliffe. Radders was accompanied by an archive clip of him with Peel in which Radcliffe looked like a Mark Gatiss creation. It was followed by a re-run of Turn That Noise Down, the BBC Two documentary from Peel Night. It struck us midway through that we'd taped this when it went out, but had never quite got round to watching it, which means it's probably laying, unlabelled, amongst a pile of Buffy VHSes. Doubly poignant programme, of course, as it also features John Walters (returning for the first time since retirement to the office they shared and remarking with surprise that they'd put some sort of planning whiteboard up since his departure) and expressing his regret that he passed over booking the Sex Pistols for a session because - seeing them play live - he'd spotted the look in Rotten's eyes that awoke the slumbering arts teacher in him: "That is a boy I wouldn't trust to hand out the scissors." Channel Four pick up the tribute baton on Tuesday night at 11.40pm, when they're showing again John Peel's Sounds of the Suburbs.

[updated 7/11/04 15.40]

Roy Greenslade: "...all four serious national newspaper titles and the London Evening Standard reported increased sales on the day John Peel's death was announced."

[updated 8/11/04 23.10]

The Economist - obituary: "Yet selection is creating, after a fashion. A sculptor picks which bits of marble to include and which to chisel away. Mr Peel's medium was larger than that of any of the bands he championed: the whole of popular music, which was shaped, at least to some degree, according to his taste."
Phil Gyford - "For many people, Julie Burchill aside, he was someone you’d love to just go to the pub and have a chat with. There aren’t many famous strangers I can say that about, let alone radio DJs."

Sheila to finish autobiography? - The Observer reports that Transworld are hoping Mrs. Ravenscroft will fill in the unfinished bits in Peel's story
The Guardian Peel minisite
BBC News coverage of mourners arriving for Peel's funeral - including Jarvis, Jo and the White Stripes

Dallas Observer - always helps to have a local angle or two: "Though raised in Liverpool, Peel moved to Big D in the early '60s and sold crop insurance, a job that would surely prompt any sane man to look for a new gig. So in 1961--before the influential Peel Sessions, before Radio 1 and Top of the Pops--Peel cut his teeth co-hosting a little local program called Kat's Karavan, which ran from 1953 to 1967 on WRR 1310 AM."

[updated 12/11/04 13.18]

Funeral Reports: - possibly the first time 1 Corinthians 13 has got a mention in the NME ("Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal"; read by Chris Lycett)
BBC News at the funeral - it's hard not to have a lump in your throat reading Paul Gambaccini's eulogy: "Gambaccini started his tribute by talking about Peel's producer and friend, John Walters, who died in 2001. "Sheila told me that just half an hour before you passed away, you said, I miss John Walters, I wish I'd spent more time with him when he was alive. And now you are with him, probably talking about us, talking about the time I got up off the table at Ronnie Scott's, taking the tablecloth with me."
The Scotsman - "One of the most moving tributes came from Peel’s children, William, 28, "Dandra", 26, Thomas, 24, and Flossie, 22. Filled with the sort of humour for which their father was famous, it recalled life chez-Peel, the shambolic domestic bliss they shared and how much he meant to them. Read by Charlie Bell, a family friend, it began with an apology that they could not read it themselves as they suffered from a trait inherited from their father which made them "weep uncontrollably" at such occasions."
Jonathon Brown in The Independent - "But it was his passion for music which first brought him to the attention of the public and earned for this unlikely public school rebel an extraordinary place in the affections of so many people. His coffin was decorated with red gerberas, the colour of his favourite football team, Liverpool. It arrived to Mozart's "Ave Verum" sung by the Stowmarket Choral Society, of which Sheila is a member."
Daily Telegraph - "Joan Armatrading recalled her early years as singer. "Like a lot of others right at the beginning of their careers, he played my music. He would turn up at recording sessions, sit in a corner, and I kind of took that as what he did. I didn't realise he didn't turn up at everybody's sessions. I felt so honoured.""
- although they're PA photos, so they'll be the same as other papers have
The Times - looks ahead to final unplayed Peel show (next Friday, World Service 9.30am). Apparently Ella Guru are on the playlist and, fittingly, The Fall.
Glasgow Evening Times - plans for a Peel memorial gig next Thursday (18th) featuring possibly up to fifty bands
We know that Peel's funeral was a little overshadowed by that other slightly tubby bearded figure's burial in Egypt happening on the same day, but we were surprised that ITV News didn't mention it at all on it's 10.30 bulletin yesterday evening - even with the Elton John flowers, which we would have thought would have been a perfect hook for the network, which exists these days purely to fill the gaps between adverts for DFS sofas. Peel's funeral was left to the local news teams to deal with, if they could be arsed. Granada did a pretty good hand, even although it decided the takeover nonesense at manchester united to be more significant (we love the way Man U fans hold aloft banners proclaiming the team "isn't for sale", as if it was their football club rather than an International Leisurewear Business, but we digress)

[update 13/11/04 13.30]

Other No Rock Peel Posts
Unseemly scuffle of the biographies
Peel funeral plans
More Peel acres - WTPPS covering the NME Peel special
World Service to run unbroadcast programmes
Snow Patrol make free Teenage Kicks available
What the pop papers say Peel special
He nearly took with him
The news is confirmed
December 2003: Peel induced into Hall of Fame
December 2003: Festive Fifty
March 2003: Bidding war for Peel's memoirs

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

BUY OUR ALBUM FOUR TIMES, REQUEST BONO: Interesting that Bono is happy to release the new U2 album in four variants - CD, CD and DVD, DVD and Vinyl, all slightly different, encouraging the diehard U2 fan to shell out for lots of basically similar versions of the same thing. Does he have trouble linking the levels of debt in Africa and rampant consumerism in the West, do you suppose, or does he just not really care that much?

MORE ON PEEL: As you'll have gathered from various other sources, it is true; the only presenter to have survived from the first days of Radio One had a heart attack after dinner last night in Peru; the 65 year old didn't survive.

I never quite met him, although I did once watch a Marine Research gig over his shoulder; more importantly, my listening experience is run through with bands he introduced me to, or supported, or mentioned in passing. I've been listening to him a bloody long time; from back when I had a mono radio and he started at the classic time of ten o'clock; through hearing the Pixies for the first time while mucking about with Short Wave and catching him on the World Service; to the sweet delight of being able to timeshift the show with the Radio Player and catch up on a Saturday morning. The phrase "like nothing else on radio" is chucked about with abandon, but there are very few broadcasters who managed to do what he did - present a series of records so that you, genuinely, couldn't predict what sort of tune you'd hear next. In a playlisted world, he was genuinely, buggerdly, impossible to call.

And then there are the tales - of how he'd recounted the anecdote about covering the assasination of Kennedy so many times he'd started to doubt he was there himself, until he caught a glimpse of his younger self in the corner of a shot while watching a Kennedy documentary at Andy Kershaw's place; playing mandolin with Rod Stewart; whistling on the Altered Images album.

It's like part of the culture going - like a library burning.

Jenny Abramsky, Head of BBC Radio, has issued a statement:

I am very sorry to have to tell you that John Peel, one of BBC Radio's favourite presenters, died suddenly last night while on holiday in Peru.

John was a Radio 1 presenter since its beginning in 1967. In all the years since then, his unique gifts, his enthusiasm and interest in new music never waned, and many bands acknowledge their debt to him in their early days.

He's also been presenting Home Truths, a staple of Radio 4's Saturday morning schedule, for six years. It owes its success to John's unique ability to draw his interviewees out, to be interested but never intrusive, even when talking about the most private and personal topics.

His rare gifts as a presenter have been marked by several Sony Gold Awards, but more importantly than that, by the real affection of his audience on both networks, and of the production teams who worked with him.

John is simply irreplaceable. Our hearts go out to Sheila and his children.

OH, GOOD GOD NO: It's one thing when someone with a limited
talent in one area attempts to get a shoe into the pop scene - grating, but at least you can see why think they should. But when someone famous for absolutely nothing then decides to release a single... well, it makes you almost wish the music industry would curl up like a slug coated in salt. Abi Titmuss is thinking she might stick out a single. Titmuss is famous for, um, standing by John Leslie's side as a good, sweet nurse during the nasty Ulrika business, only to then turn round and waggle 'em as soon as it was over. Sky News describe her as a "TV presenter", although most of the people who have seen her present herself have done so via the internet.

RIP: JOHN PEEL I've just had a newsalert telling me that John Peel has died from a heart attack while on holiday in Peru. It's come from the BBC, so I fear it is almost certainly true.

SCANT REGARDS: The story seems straightforward enough: Justin Timberlake buying sexy lady pants in a store; he's recognised, asked if he's buying them for Cameron Diaz. He spurts out "You bet!" Now, we're kind of betting that's in a "Uh... yeah, yeah, sure... for Cameron. Yes, that's it. You bet. These are definitely for Cameron Diaz. Yes."

Justin, here's a hint: you're best off saying "I only hope I've got her size right" as you put them down on the counter, until you're confident enough to say "Do you think these will fit me? I'm usually a size larger, but I've been exercising a lot..."

PETE DOHERTY - A ONE MAN MOMART FIRE: The Groucho were probably surprised and delighted when Pete Doherty actually showed up to play a babyshambles gig there (and doesn't it say a lot that they'd take a booking at the Groucho now?) - they were less pleased when Pete managed to trash a GBP100,000 statue during the set.

Incidently, the Groucho really seems to have moved past its glory days - the reports say that the crowd "included Jamie Theakston", which is hardly the pulsing heart of mediaceleb we had been lead to believe it represented.

FIRST STEP TO MAKING FOUR INTO THREE?: It might be a little over-cyncial, but you can't help wondering if the co-operation of Universal and Warners on a USD30 million royalties system is the first step towards a full merger?

NO, NO... IT WAS THE STOMACH ACID'S FAULT: Oddly, while Ashlee seemed to think it was all the fault of her band for playing the "wrong" song, her Dad and manager Joe has fingered, uh, acid reflux disease as being the culprit for the great Saturday Night Live foul-up:

"Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don't have to hear her croak through a song on national television," Joe Simpson told Ryan Seacrest on Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM. "No one wants to hear that."

"A backing track she pushes" means, we think, "her part recorded on a tape for her to open and close her mouth to"; Joe suggests that Ashlee was using the tape because her queasy stomach had made her hoarse - although we're a little bit confused about what the "just like any artist in America" bit means in such a context.

Meanwhile, Ashlee's been suggesting that, you know, everyone was lost:

She told "TRL" that she and her band didn't know what to do. "I think all of us went into a state of shock," she said.

Erm... no, Ashley, your band didn't "go into a state of shock", they just moved into a holding pattern waiting for you to lead them in the next direction. There was only one bunny in the headlights, and that was the one doing the strange hopping before wandering off the stage leaving them to it.

Oddly, Joe claims this is the only time ever Ashlee has used tapes - and yet, if you re-read his quote above, it sounds like it's a regular thing.

LIKE IN THE SONG: Tony Bennett, displaying a pleasing love of literal interpretations, has left his heart in San Francsico; he's unveiled a big sculpture of a heart by the side of the Golden Gate bridge.

BLAME THE BAND: So, having just wandered off the stage and left them on live TV without a safety net, Ashlee Simpson is repaying her band's loyalty by blaming them for the cock-up:

"My band started playing the wrong song" she simpered.

Except, of course, the band were playing the right song - it was her vocals which were playing wrong, a problem which wouldn't have happened if, you know, she'd been singing. Wandering off stage and leaving the band blinking in front of however many millions is rubbish; trying to blame them for your own inability to cope with an unexpected glitch is unforgivable.

Monday, October 25, 2004

NEVER TALKING TO YOU AGAIN?: Anderson & Butler, Morrissey & NME - it's been something of a year for unexpected reunions. Now, Hart and Mould have got back together, reuniting under the Husker Du banner as part of a hugely successful fundraiser for Karl Mueller. Mueller - bassist with Soul Asylum - has been taking on throat cancer; the benefit in Minneapolis pulled in fifty thousand dollars, a healthy slice of cash in a country with no socialised medical care, and where being ill costs a lot.

The gig also featured a reunion of Gear Daddies (anyone?), Soul Asylum and Paul Westerberg.

IS SHE ANNOUNCING HER RETIREMENT?: We never thought we'd be agreeing with Avril Lavigne, but her call for a ban of chart froth is something we're happy to get behind. Avril says that "sad and stupid celebs should not make records" although we guess we'd differ on which side of the "sad and stupid celeb" venn diagram we'd put Maxim cover hottie Lavigne herself on.

She says, 'The music scene is at a weird spot right now, where it kind of seems like anybody can be a star.

'I think it's really sad and stupid, that people who have certain hookups, who are already rich and famous, can just go, 'I want a music career,' and get one.

'I'm not saying names, but there are people out there who can't even sing, popular artists who have other people singing on their records. It's lame, and it's not supposed to be that way.

'I always think it would be so much easier if I didn't have to write my own music.

If I could just go through a bunch of songs that my record company thinks are hits, it would take me like a week! But it's important for me to be a part of it - I have things that I want to talk about.'"

But Avril, sweetness, you don't write your own stuff, do you? Isn't it that woman who does all the work?

We're equally puzzled by her insistence that music "isn't supposed to be that way", like there's some rules or something you can appeal to.

WHAT'S ALMOST KILLED THE ZUTONS: One from the rock sick list: The Zutons have pulled the rest of their tour following Sean Payne's collapse from a severe viral infection. Apparently he took his seat behind the drums for the Sheffield date on Saturday despite feeling splodgy, but it took it out of him and he's now under doctor's orders. And with no drummer, the band have had no choice but to throw in the towel.

THE EFFECT OF THE RIAA LAWSUITS: "And what became of it at last?" quoth little Peterkin... It turns out that after the hundreds of thousands pumped by the major labels into legal action hasn't dented the use of peer to peer networks at all. The University of California at Riverside and the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis carried out a study of internet traffic:

"We wanted to examine the truthfulness of reports claiming declining P2P traffic and help the community make reliable assumptions concerning P2P traffic estimates and trends," wrote Thomas Karagiannis, a doctoral candidate in computer science at UC-Riverside, in an e-mail. "The assertion of declining P2P traffic was in direct contrast to the constant increase of P2P activity over the last year and counterintuitive to the fact that P2P applications are still the top most downloaded applications (on) the internet."

So, money well spent, then, RIAA. Assuming the idea was just to sully your public image to no good effect. Nice to see the BPI preparing to not bother learning the lessons of history.

WE CAN'T DECIDE BETWEEN ALTERED IMAGES AND THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN: It's perhaps inevitable that a magazine which calls itself The List will end up trying to, um, make a list. In this case, they've drawn up a list of the fifty best scottish bands ever - or 48, Deacon Blue and Wet Wet Wet, and they're now seeking your votes to crown the greatest band from Scotland since it was invented. Oddly, they don't seem to be displaying the shortlist of fifty online, but luckily, Talent In a previous Life has a full rundown of all 50.

VICTORIA BECKHAM: THE NEW VICTORIA WOOD: Apparently, we've been missing out on a major part of Victoria Beckham's personality - David insists she's got a cracking sense of humour. Like when he goes off to play football, right, she tells him to take Preparation H because he spends so much time on the bench. Haw haw haw. Of course, it's possible that we've got Victoria right, and David has missed that she's just a bit vicious - it's not entirely very supportive to say, even in jest, "Ha, you're so shit you'll be sat on the bench all match", is it?

Meanwhile, Jude Law claims that he based his Alfie on David, because Beckham is a bit of dandy. The surprise that he based it on anyone other than merely recycling Michael Caine mug-for-mug, eyebrow-for-eyebrow passing, we wonder if the announcement that he used Beckham as his model for the amoral, womanising vacuum is going to bring forward a flurry of threatened lawsuits from the Beckhams?

MOST UNLIKELY ADVERT: O2 are currently running a campaign to encourage people to sign up to some sort of Friends scheme, and it's based around groups of mates - Olive, Butler, Blakey; Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub and so on. Oddly, though, they include Keisha, Mutya and Heidi - yeah, because the Sugababes barely acknowledge one another onstage; they'd so be signing each other up as best friends on their text packages.

BRAVER THAN US, THEN: We really wouldn't want to ask the Donnas if they shower together and if their menstrual cycles and in sync, but a Portland DJ did. The band say they're really pissed off about it and only put up with the questions because they wanted to get their record paid, although Maya said a bad word so the station have dropped them anyway. Trouble is, the DJ won't get why they were so angry - he'll probably put it down to time of the month.

Incidently, are we the only people upset that they've reverted to their proper names? We had had a dream a couple of years ago of each of the Donnas marrying a Ramone, so they'd all be called Donna Ramone, but that's never going to happen for so many reasons now.

BUT RONAN, YOU'RE ALREADY A SELF-ADORING, IRITATING SINGER: We did misread the headline at first, and thought that Ronan Keating wanted to be Bond, which was bad enough, but it turns out that given the choice, Ronan Keating would want to be Bono. It's not believed that Bono would want to be Ronan, although a couple of extra inches wouldn't go amiss.

HANGING ON THE TELEPHONE: BT - in what is either a bit of a stunt or else a glorious, doomed gesture - is planning to allow music to be downloaded directly from phoneboxes to portable players. The first wave of this innovation is going to be at the information kiosk sort of box, but the company has made some sort of vague suggestion that it could be rolled out to other phoneboxes at some point, if it all works, and so on.

We're not quite sure who this is aimed at: people who suddenly get seized wiith the urge to download Catherine Zeta-Jones and David Essex's single, and can't wait until they get home, and don't have a mobile service which will let them do it, who happen to have all the correct cables with them for hooking up their machine...

HANGING ON THE TELEPHONE: BT - in what is either a bit of a stunt or else a glorious, doomed gesture - is planning to allow music to be downloaded directly from phoneboxes to portable players. The first wave of this innovation is going to be at the information kiosk sort of box, but the company has made some sort of vague suggestion that it could be rolled out to other phoneboxes at some point, if it all works, and so on.

We're not quite sure who this is aimed at: people who suddenly get seized wiith the urge to download Catherine Zeta-Jones and David Essex's single, and can't wait until they get home, and don't have a mobile service which will let them do it, who happen to have all the correct cables with them for hooking up their machine...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

I WONDER IF SHE HAS TO CALL HIM G8: We actually think its quite sweet that Paul Gascoigne and Sara Dallin from Bananrama are dating. Actually we don't, of course, but only because it reduces the number of Banaramas in play...

IT'S ALMOST AS IF THESE ARE BEING SERVED UP ON A SILVER PLATTER: The news that Geri Halliwell wasn't allowed to take her pet into the Top of the Pops studio is clearly little more than a set-up for one of the oldest jokes in the world:

BBC Security Guard: Hoi, hold on, you can't bring that old dog in here
Geri: But he's my little shih-tzu Harry
BBC Security Guard: I was talking to the shih-tzu

ARE YOU GONNA WEIGH MY GOINGS?: Ah, sometimes news reports suggest to us there might be a God, and an impish one at that: Lenny Kravitz is being sued for a third of a million bucks after his commode backed up - "became blocked, clogged and congested with various materials" in the insirance company's words - and caused damage to a neighbour's flat. The sort of claim that hangs round a man for his entire career, that.

IT'S NOT QUITE JANET JACKSON'S NIPPLE: Ashlee Simpson was a guest on Saturday Night Live in the US last night, and suffered a small fuck-up when the backing tapes went to shit. The problem, of course, isn't that she fluffed and flustered and the network was forced to bolt to a commercial break (you can watch the carnage here [Windows Media, I'm afraid]) but that she didn't know how to cope - the difference between someone who knows showbiz, and someone in the wrong career. Commendations to the Life Is Killing Me blog, by the way, for finding the following quote from Simpson:

"I’m going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I’d never lip-synch. It’s just not me."

Yep, you showed us the extent of your talent last night.

CALMED DOWN STREET PREACHERS: There's an interesting, if hugely depressing, interview with Nicky Wire in Scotland on Sunday, which suggests that the Manics are pretty much a spent force as an intellectual unit today. Talking about the Love of Richard Nixon, Wire attempts to suggest he wasn't all that bad, you know:

"I’ve always been fascinated by him anyway because of his indiscriminate hatred of people," says Wire. "He was paranoid about everyone. It’s purely a love song. Bill Clinton presided over genocide in Rwanda far worse than anything Nixon did, and yet he can have dinner with U2 and everyone thinks he’s great. Some of the things Nixon did, like breaking down barriers with China... He’s going to be tainted forever with Watergate but he did some decent things. I suppose I just feel an empathy with paranoid megalomaniacs."

We'd nod and say that it's about time some perspective came in judging Clinton's record, but it's a little unfair to suggest that Bill "presided" over genocide in Rwanda, as if it was his idea, especially while recording a love song to the American President who carpet-bombed Cambodia because it was next door to Vietnam. It's also unlikely that the Manics of old would have thought that "having dinner with U2" was some sort of mark of acceptance from the moral world anyway.

And if we're talking about supping with a long spoon, what Welsh band visited a country and played a gig for the head of state in a nation which - according to Amnesty International - has several hundred political prisoners, has codified repression of dissent, applies the death penalty "for a large number of offences" and has prisons described - again by AI - "poor and in some cases constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." Or is there some reason why having tea with Castro isn't as bad as having dinner with Clinton, Nicky?

It's something he does address:

"But I don’t feel compromised [by shaking hands with Castro]. I was totally aware of the propaganda angle, but I don’t think we’re important enough to be used for real propaganda. And I think it did us a lot more harm than good, we were ridiculed for shaking hands with Castro. You can shake hands with Bill Clinton while Rwanda went on, but you can’t shake hands with Castro. That’s what I can never reconcile."

I'm not entirely sure Nicky could find a single person who approves of Bono's hanging out with Clinton who objected to the Manics in Havana exercise; he's also sidestepping the whole point that these things are a bi-directional shoring up - the Manics went to see Castro as much to promote themselves as to throw their weight behind the regime (in the same way Bono hangs out at the White House to catch glory for himself in much the same way). And shaking hands with a chap who's throwing people with objections to his politics into jail in the interests of selling a few more records is just totally dubious behaviour, no matter how "aware" you are of the situation.

Of course, there's a plausible reason for the flabby thinking - apparently it's a reaction to "what everyone else is doing":

"I think it’s probably down to Know Your Enemy being so criticised, so ridiculed. For all its faults it was ahead of its time, I guess, but perhaps it was a natural reaction to that. There’s just a lot of love on this album, which is very strange for me. It’s also the Manics thing of doing the opposite to everyone else. I mean, when Chris Martin of Coldplay starts talking politics you just think, ‘Fuck it, why bother?’"

So, let's get this straight - for years the Manics tried to force an agenda and make people think, struggled to get music fans to think about something further than getting drunk, and just as an - albeit fairly weak - sense of a world view starts to reintroduce itself in the entertainment industry, it's become passe? Sure, Chris Martin has barely a proper-formed thought in his head, but if we had a choice between Gallagher's empty drug boasts and Martin's poorly biroed slogans, at least the Coldplay guy has got signs of something to engage with. Wire tries to take it back, though:

"I couldn’t sit there and pretend that by doing a Fair Trade gig that the world is going to be a hugely better place. Everything I say about those people is in jest, because I know they are genuinely trying to do good, they are not doing it to sell records. But I couldn’t go and have a conversation about the philosophy of Antonio Gramsci with any of them, could I?"

... because, of course, talking about Gramsci will reconstruct society, won't it, Nicky? Wire then goes on to admit that he is an intellectual snob, and it suddenly becomes clear - whereas he used to delight in being outrageous, now he's become like one of those terrible old ladies who still use words like "sambo" and then titter and say "Oh, my dear, I'm so terrible, aren't I? You can't say things like that anymore, can you?" There used to at least be a pause between his "outrages" and the "but it was all a joke" defence; now, it's all packaged together. He's turned into a Danny LaRue; a Dick Emery. Only his material isn't quite as good as theirs.

WELL, THAT'S NOT HOW I RECALL IT: There seems to be a slight variance in the recollections of Robbie Williams and Eveline Savara: in his book, Feel, he reports they used a banana as part of three hours of oral sex; Savara claims that there might have been some cuddling, but there was no sex. Savara says Williams invited her to his room for a chat, and she got there to find him working on his laptop (this works best if you read it in Kenneth William's voice); she's most insistent there was no sex, and now is muttering about legal action.

This prompts us to wonder: if you buy an autobiography believing you're being told the whole, unvarnished truth, and it subsequently turns out to include fibs, can you sure to get your money back? And if so, on what grounds?

IT'S TONY SOPRANO'S FIELD, OF COURSE: Despite being surprised and puzzled by the action, Wide Hive Records have settled a case brought by a garbage firm. Sunset Scavenger - a rubbish hauling firm from California - suggested that their business was being harmed by DJ Zeph's album which shared their name. Wide Hive CEO Gregory Howe didn't believe for a moment that the garbage company had a case, but not relishing pumping cash into defending the action elected to settle instead.

JOURNOBIT: Sad news from LA, where Greg Shaw has died at the age of 55. Shaw was a force for good in the music industry, working tirelessly as a record label boss and journalist to promote music on the margins of pop: garage, girl-group, psych and punk.

In 1974, he founded Bomp Records - named after his Who Put The Bomp zine - as a means of giving the Flamin' Groovies a single release. The Groovies - who he managed - would end up signed to Sire. Shaw attempted to dub the Groovies' style "punk", but when that term was lost to the other punks, he settled on garage - a label which was the genre's own until the offspin of a different garage from house was again to cause confusion. The surge in interest in the "other" punk was partly his own doing; he'd become friends with Malcolm McClaren while in London with the Groovies, and had set up meeting between US labels and the Sex Pistols.

In a long writing career he worked for nearly all the big names in the US music press, including a stint as editor of the Phonograph Record Magazine (or PRM, as it attempted to stylise itself). During Sire's adventures in book publishing, he edited books on artists including Carole King, The Kinks and Paul Simon; he penned the Elton John one himself. He also found time to write a third of the first edition of the International Encyclopedia of Rock.

Bomp would also provide a home to the likes of the Spaceman 3, the Modern Lovers, The Sonics, Iggy and others. Recently, Shaw had been a championing the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Shaw's death was unexpected; a rise in blood sugar saw him hospitalised early last week. On Tuesday, he suffered a fatal heart attack. He leaves a wife, Phoebe.

NO NOEL FOR NOEL SONG: Well, it was a lovely idea: after everyone was convinced that Band Aid III would be like that rubbish episode of Corrie where Ken and Mike made up after being locked in the supermarket, with Damon and Noel coming together, kissing and making up, ending the Britpop wars, and probably having sex under a tree or something. Only problem is, Noel's going to be out the country when the single is recorded and so the under-tree-sex tussle of Damon and Noel is never going to happen.