Saturday, January 27, 2007

Send for Duncan-man

You have to wonder what sort of a fight it is that can be broken up by the intervention of Duncan James, don't you?

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Bono fears a "generation of cynics"

Yeah, Bono. Whatever.

Bono has popped up, as expected, hanging out with the other multi-millionaires at Davos - a bit of business here, round of golf there, quick speech and then lunch. He was mainly there, of course, to "put pressure" on the politicians to ensure they kept the already piss-weak promises he and Geldof let them get away with at Gleneagles.

Apparently, Bono thought a matey photo-op and a bit of joking about with Tony Blair would be the best way to draw attention to the failure to follow-through:

GUITAR-loving Mr Blair, set to step down this year, got excited as Bono said: “Let’s start a band when you leave.” The PM, who played in student band Ugly Rumours, said: “I thought great, at last!” But Bono added: “You know, to save Africa — we can be a band.”


Bono is worried that if things don't carry on looking like they're being done, it might breed a "generation of cynics". And you know why he's worried - imagine if a generation of cynics turned up outside Davos demanding real change. That could really put him off his golf-swing.

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Jo: I'm not racist, honest

Unsurprisingly, during her eviction from Big Brother last night, Jo O'Meara insisted that, you know, she's not racist at all:

After being shown TV headlines about the furore and clips of her behaviour, O'Meara admitted: "It does look very bad, it does."

But she told host Davina McCall the edited version of events distorted what really went on.

"Looking at it like that, it looks absolutely terrible and it didn't feel terrible in there," she said.

"I'm not a racist person at all. My cousin is married to an Indian man for one, and my cousins are half-Indian and their family is with me all the time."

We're not entirely sure why your cousin having chosen to marry an Indian bloke would somehow "prove" you're not racist, any more than if you had a cousin who was a Neo-Nazi would mean that you would be a flag-waving fascist. Being able to demonstrate that you spend time with one person of a different background isn't proof of anything. Paul Dacre's Daily Mail managed to run a decent campaign calling for justice for Steven Lawrence, but even Dacre wouldn't try and suggest that this somehow cancels out the newspaper's usual xenophobic stance.

Pushed - as much as Davina McCall can push - over the way she treated Shilpa Shetty, Jo tried to demonstrate how much she loves Indians:

"I'm not going to deny that Shilpa did aggravate me a lot - I don't know why. You can't click with everybody you meet.

"It's not because I'm racist at all. I think she's a very beautiful, very elegant woman."

Davina asked Jo why she sat there cackling during what Channel 4 seem now intent on describing as an "argument" between Shilpa and Jade Goody (Goody's diatribe, more honestly) rather than trying to calm the situation down - O'Meara suggested, somewhat lamely, that she giggles when bad things happen.

Oddly, she wasn't giggling when she was shown the newsreel of global reaction to her behaviour.

There's now a Sham 69, and a sham Sham 69

The glorious resurrection of Sham 69 to peddle that, frankly shoddy, World Cup song last year has come to a bitter end, with the band in pieces.

Two pieces, and, like an earthworm cut in two, both bits have grown into a new Sham 69*. Neither is prepared to accept the other has any legitimacy:

Pursey said [Dave] Parsons had left the group, while Parsons said he and drummer Ian Whitewood had sacked the singer.

Pursey said: "He [Parsons] has walked out of the band. I am Sham 69."

But Parsons and Whitewood said: "Sham 69 have left Jimmy Pursey."

We were unsure the world needed one Sham 69 in 2007. We're certain we don't bloody need two.

* - we know earthworms don't actually do this, but we're not David Attenborough, OK?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Homorevolution calls out all the pretty rappers

What's being billed as the "first ever tour of gay, lesbian and bisexual rappers" is under way in the States. Not that Deadlee would actually say HomoRevolution is the first tour of gay rappers, just the first under that banner.

He knows what he thinks:

"Eminem was called out for his juvenile, hateful approach to homosexuality, especially in his song 'Criminal'

"He was the biggest rapper at the time and if he used the same song as a diss to Blacks or Latinos, he would probably be dead.

"Eminem likes to pick on the 'weak' but gays aint weak and he might be a fag himself. He knew all the subcultures in that song."

Come on, Eminem with his short cropped bleached hair and constant crotch grabbing dance gay? You'll be telling us DMX is gay next... oh...

DMX was next in the firing line. Objecting to the constant references to "faggots" and "homo-thugs" that pepper DMX's lyrics, Deadlee again went for the jugular:

"I find it crazy when his videos are very homoerotic," said Deadlee. "All the guys kicking it with their shirts off!"

But at least you know where you are with 50 Cent, right? Maybe not - less 50 Cent, more Thirteen Bob Note, reckons Deadlee:

He reserved the most hate for unfathomably titanic G 50 Cent, after he revealed last year that he "ain't into faggots":

"Fuck him. I don't like ignorant bitches around me, so he can suck my gun," retorted Deadlee.

"He is a classic man who had Homo-feelings and chooses to lash out because he is afraid he might act out on his true feelings.

"50 Cent has deep rooted homosexual tendencies."

Actually, Deadlee, we do think it's possible that 50 Cent shouts his mouth off not because he's repressing an innate desire to have a naked bubblebath with The Game, but because he's a homophobic mule-child. But we'd be happy to be corrected on that, especially if there were pictures.

Baby Spice

We make it now that we're only a Mel C child away from a second generation Spice Girls, as Emma Bunton announces her pregnancy.

Of course, if it's a boy, then as the male half of the DNA is coming from Jade Jones, it'll be a Kids of Damage instead.

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Melly melee

Some worrying news from Sussex. Last night George Melly collapsed on stage in Hove; he was taken to the Royal Sussex County. His wife says that he was probably hyper-thirsty:

Speaking from their home in Shepherd's Bush, west London, his wife, Diana Melly, 69, said: "I believe he became dehydrated during the performance and just collapsed.

"He has been taking some new medication and I suspect it might have something to do with that."

Trooper that he is, it took his granddaughter to stop him going back on stage and see him of to hospital instead.

Knives at the ready

Union of Knives' wonderful Evil Has Never is getting a second shot at the big time - one of our tunes of 2005 is getting re-released next month. To celebrate, and to draw a bit of attention, they're touring, too:

Friday 16th February Cardiff Barfly
Saturday 17th Bath Moles Club
Sunday 18th Bristol Louisiana
Monday 19th London Barfly
Wednesday 21st Leeds The Faversham
Thursday 22nd Birmingham Barfly
Friday 23rd Manchester Roadhouse
Saturday 24th Nottingham Social
Thursday 1st March Aberdeen Moshulu
Friday 2nd Glasgow King Tuts
Saturday 3rd Glasgow King Tuts

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Did you know there was a "curse on Brits drummers"? No, neither did anyone else, until Victoria Newton tried to work one up, because Johnny Quinn from Snow Patrol and, now, Andy Burrows from Johnny Borrell's backing group The Razorlights have both hurt their arms:

You now have to worry for the safety of the other drummers who will be performing on Brits night — RONNIE VANNUCCI from THE KILLERS, ZAK STARKEY of OASIS, PADDY BOOM from SCISSOR SISTERS and CHAD SMITH from RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS.

Erm... no, Victoria, no you don't.

Burrows apparently woke up covered in blood - his first thought probably being "come on, Johnny, couldn't you have just sacked the band?" - and discovered somehow he'd slashed his elbow.

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It's the "ma" in the "donna"

A couple of years back, you might remember Madonna's people issuing angry statements when Bon Jovi had a pop at their employer for using her kids as publicity magnets. Jon suggested she dragged her kids to movie premieres. Liz Rosenberg, you'll recall:

"Madonna has never brought her children to a film premiere. I'm delighted to hear what an authority Mr Bon Jovi is on Madonna's talents as a mother."

Madonna celebrated by, erm, dragging Lourdes off to a Harry Potter premiere.

And now, what's this?
Madonna and kids at a premiereLourdes and Rocco dragged off to the premiere of, yes, Mummy's movie, Arthur and the god knows what they're meant to be.

Perhaps Madonna should invite Bon Jovi to join her staff - he seems to know her better than her current team.

Who wrote this?

It's only tangentially on our patch, but it does have Billie Piper in, and so that's good enough for us.
This morning's Sun reports that there's been a mix-up with Doctor Who DVDs:

SICKENING scenes from horror flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have turned up — in a rental DVD of Doctor Who.

So far, so correct.

A manufacturing blunder led to footage of a maniac hacking off limbs appearing midway through an episode seen by hundreds of families.

This is also true - just. The episode has been seen by hundreds of families - although the paper implies that the DVD with the Chainsaw Massacre bit in it has been.

And what's the BBC's reaction?

A BBC spokeswoman blamed a “manufacturing problem” for the “incorrect footage”.

She added: “We apologise for any distress we may have caused. We are doing our best to rectify this problem.”

Which sounds, admittedly, a little lame.

What the Sun neglects to mention is that this error happened in America and only affected Netflix rental DVDs. And rather than offering the implied lame response, TV Shows on DVD points out how quickly and "impressively" the BBC responded.

Still, why spoil a good story with some facts, eh?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When you argue, we see shapes

IdlewildA gentle rustling at the door reveals an email from the lovely people who toil ceaselessly to provide PR services for Idlewild. They bring news of the forthcoming stuff from the band - the previously announced UK tour, an album (Make Another World, due March 5th) and the first single in ages, No Emotion.

And is that any good?

You can judge for yourself: the video is online.

Virgin and Capitol banded together as EMI panics

It's been a bad couple of weeks for Richard Branson's old record labels, at least in the US - first, V2 effectively gave up, turning itself into an archive label. Now, as EMI struggles to find a form which will allow it to carry on, the American Virgin Records and Capitol imprints are being "consolidated" as the Capitol Music Group. They're trying to push it as something other than a penny-pinching measure:

"By bringing Capitol and Virgin into one label group, we will be better equipped than ever to promote and nurture artistic talent," said [new EMI Chief Executive Eric] Nicoli. "We remain strongly committed to developing artists in America in all genres as this is a key repertoire source for the world, and to that end, we will maintain our A&R focus and keep a presence in both Los Angeles and New York."

Rumours that the "presence" in New York will be sleeping on the sofa of its old college mate, Barry, and working as a pizza delivery guy late at night to try and help with the bills couldn't be confirmed.

Roll on 2017, then

Keith Allen's daughter plans to quit music. Sadly, not for ten years. We'd say it'd fly by, but... well, maybe not. Her plan - twice, or maybe three times, as long as anything even Stalin signed off on - is as follows:

"I want to have a really exciting block of ten, 15 years, then marry someone with enough money, get a house in the country and have lots of kids."

Still, at least she's realistic enough to know her music career isn't going to recoup enough to buy a small cottage in Perthshire, even given a decade and a half.

Our lips are sealed

Pete Burns is launching a million pound claim against the Harley Street surgeon who was responsible for his lip job. Burns says the op to remove lip implants was botched:

In an exclusive interview he told the Standard he looked like he had been "mutilated with a Stanley knife" after surgery to correct the original problems left his top lip hanging off.

"It has taken away my life and my career. I saw doctors in London who said the only option was to amputate my lips. I was suicidal.

"Eventually I found a doctor in Italy who knew the product and said he could remove it. I had 17 months of procedures and now I am back again having more."

We're not sure there's much argument that there was something very badly wrong with Burns' lips, and if the surgeon did make a mistake, then, yes, legal action is appropriate. We do, however, raise an eyebrow or two:

Burns' solicitor, Auriana Griffiths, said: "Pete has endured considerable pain and suffering following injection of Outline Original. This product should never have been administered to him.

"As a result of the damage caused by the treatment, Pete has been unable to fully pursue his career in music and in the media.

"Today we have issued court proceedings against Dr Viel."

We're not sure it's possible to prove either way, but it's not as if Pete Burns had an astonishing career in 1999 that had disappeared in 2000, is it?


About a year ago, the music industry started toasting a whole new model - advertising supported free legal downloads. The figurehead for this brave new world was SpiralFrog. Soon, it was predicted, we'd all be filling our mp3 players with SpiralFrogged tunes.

It's been a bit quiet since then, although not so quiet at the SpiralFrog offices: CEO Robin Kent was kicked out over the holidays; three other directors marched out in protest.

The proposed launch late late year obviously didn't happen, but now there are vague mutterings of a launch sometime next month. Our chief metaphorist here at No Rock likened the process to "slowly dismembering a frog's business plan while it's standing in a pot of water where the temperature is gently being raised, or something."

Party video

Popping up through You Tube and via Done Waiting: Bloc Party's I Still Remember video. For watching at and purring over.

Xymox could be Heroes

Clan of XymoxClan of Xymox are preparing a new ep - or, really, some sort of single-cum-remix type thing. Included amongst the stuff, though, will be a cover of David Bowie's Heroes. It all proves, once again, the rule that, given time, every goth band will have a crack at something by the Thin White Dame.

There's also a DVD in the works, somewhere.

The Mills of God grind slowly...

For reasons we can't begin to fathom, Sony-BMG have signed a five album deal with Ben Mills, the bloke with a neck twice the width of his head who didn't make it through to the finals of The X Factor.

Five albums? The first is going to feature the usual sludge of covers he did on the show (covers he did so poorly he didn't make it through to the finals) and stuff he's written himself, using the talents he's honed managing a tent company in Kent. God alone knows what the other four will be, if they ever get made.

Brandy death crash

Brandy ended the old year being caught up in a four-car pile-up which left a woman dead.

According to reports, Brandy's car failed to slow and rear-ended Awatef Aboudihaj's car. Her vehicle was knocked sideways into the path of another car. Aboudihaj died later in hospital.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Leland Tang [told reporters] "We've impounded all four vehicles, and the outcome of the mechanical inspection is coming to us today or tomorrow," he added.

"Barring any mechanical difficulties on Brandy's part there's the very high probability that she is the party most at fault or the contributing party."

Brandy's publicist has requested that the media "respect the privacy" of all involved, presumably by not reporting how the California Highway Patrol spokesperson had suggested it looks likely that she caused an accident in which a woman died.

I Ain't Got Nobody Else

It's long since gone past the point where Van Halen moved from having a tongue in cheek to the sort of national joke status that gets State protection, so it's perhaps inevitable that they've finally brought back Dave Lee Roth for some sort of money-making tour.

This should be interesting - the last time they were all in the same place there was more bad blood than at Michael Winner's last transfusion. Let's hope they can put it all to one side in the interests of earning money. Oh, and art.

Don't ask, don't tell, don't bother

Seemingly in a bid to keep his career options in the US, Mika is being tiresome about "keeping his sexuality private":

"I never talk about anything to do with my sexuality. I just don't think I need to. People ask me all the time. But I just don't see the point," he said, according to

"In order to survive I've kind of shut up different parts of my life, and that's one of them, especially this early in my career.

"I don't really feel that it's necessary to know in terms of my music. Some people make records that are defined by their sexuality but mine really are not. It does play a lot with campness. It has a theatricality to it. Why not? It's pop music!"

Of course, the decision to come out or not is entirely up to the person involved, and, unless they're indulging in, say, queer-bashing from the warmth of their closet, there's no compulsion to lay your cards on the table.

But at the same time, there's something dispiriting about this attempt to play it both ways. If you really feel your sexuality isn't such a big deal, why blush like a Victorian maiden and hide behind your hands when the subject comes up? Apart from anything, we've never come across an example of a straight person doing the "well... you know, that's between me and partner" giggling non-reply yet.

[With the possible exception of Norm from Cheers in the episode where he was doing interior design, but that doesn't count.]

It's not exactly encouraging for young gays and bisexuals to see someone in 2007 still behaving as if liking people like you is a deadly secret to be ashamed of.

ShowBizSpy has clearly made up its own mind:

He was clasically trained at the Royal College of Music and has been favourably compared to Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Scissor Sisters, Rufus Wainwright, and Sir Elton John.

All they missed off that nudge-wink list was "Daffyd from Little Britain, and Big Gay Frank from the Gay Centre in Gaytown."

Ride James Blunt

As a thank-you for choosing to move to their Alpine retreat, the people of Verbier have named a chairlift after James Blunt.

There's something apt about that - a chairlift doesn't really take you anywhere you want to go, as as soon as you get off you head back where you started as fast as you can; you sit down all the while it's making a groaning noise; half the year it's pointless and shunned, left hanging in the air. Oh, yes, we can see why calling it James Blunt makes sense.

What's that, Victoria Newton? You have a joke, do you?

Maybe he should record a yodelled version of You’re Beautiful to show his thanks.

Er... yes. Thanks for that.

Savoy grilling

Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum and chums rolled out of the South Bank Show Awards and straight into the American Bar at the Savoy ("a renowned haunt since the late 1890s" explains Victoria Newton, meaninglessly) and found a piano.

Naturally, they decided to sit around it hollering.

The paying customers didn't like it, and had them asked to leave.

Newton, of course, is making large eyes at the thought of "snooty old boys" and "crusty types" not jumping at the chance of a "free concert." But perhaps - since they don't rely on them to fill a gossip column - the "snooty old boys" were just music lovers who didn't have to pretend to like Winehouse and Cullum's look-at-me-mum denatured hint-of-jazz middle-of-the-road motorway service station stylings.

Venuewatch: Competition Commission tuts at merger

The Competition Commission has published its findings into the proposed takeover of The Academy Group by LiveNation (the former Clear Channel concert hall business). It's not sure it's such good news for promoters or gig-goers:

The Competition Commission (CC) has formally decided that the proposed acquisition of a controlling interest in Academy Music Holdings Limited (Academy) by Hamsard 2786 Limited (Hamsard) would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in relation to certain live music venues in London, resulting, in particular, in rentals at the venues concerned being higher than would otherwise be the case.

So... it should be stopped, then?

Erm... no.

Or, at least, there should be firm action to make sure that a group owning Wembley Arena, the Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo and many others doesn't dominate the live music scene in London?

Erm... no:

If the acquisition of the controlling interest is to proceed, the merging companies will first be required to sell one of either the Brixton Academy or the Hammersmith Apollo and one of either the Shepherd's Bush Empire or the Forum. These venues represent the closest alternatives to each other in London for artists, agents and promoters of popular live music events and would come under common ownership following the acquisition.

So, that's it, then - a nod, providing a token two halls are sold off. And that's just in London. Not a word about the distortion of the situation outside London. We know the CC had their work cut out trying to make an equally lame report about the domination of Tesco seem like it was being harsh, but this does seem to be governance by the "well, it's only pop music, isn't it" guiding light.

The best we can hope for after this capitulation is that the spun-off venues remain open as venues - but the happy slamming of doors at the Hammersmith Palais by the local council suggests that, just maybe, there's not much will to find ways to prevent developers ripping out stages and putting in en-suite bathrooms.

Venuewatch: No men in Hammersmith Palais

The celebrated Hammersmith Palais (well, celebrated by the Clash, anyway) is to be sold to property developers, as the local council have decided that its days as a venue are over.

The police have been complaining about the trouble at the Palais for years - which is a bit like a cleaner complaining about dust in a house, when you think about it, and the council have reassured themselves that allowing somewhere to be bulldozed despite its ninety-odd years of history isn't a problem:

Councillor Lucy Ivimy, the council's planning committee chairman, said: "Having given permission to demolish the Palais in 2001, the current planning committee had no justifiable grounds for refusing permission on this occasion.

"English Heritage has inspected the site and has confirmed that there is insufficient architectural merit in the building to justify listing it.

"Sadly none of the original 1930s interior features remain and in recent years residents have complained more and more about antisocial behaviour at the venue," she said.

She added: "We recognise that some people will have fond memories of the golden era at The Hammersmith Palais and it is true to say it played a huge part in west London's music scene. Sadly the golden era for the Palais is long gone."

It's true that there is little to be said in favour of the building as a piece of architecture, but there's more of historical value to a building than merely the structure. And for a council to just shrug and say "it's full of anti-social behaviour" is something of a dereliction of duty.

Still, let's not stand in the way of knocking down buildings and putting ugly little flats on them, eh? If the criteria is "it's glory days are over", there's whole swathes of Hammersmith that should go. They could start with the council chambers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Federline: Staff who work in Burger King will be spitting in his onion rings

The only time Joss Whedon found the network insisting on changes in Buffy was during the season when his hero was working in the Doublemeat Palace. A certain evil large corporation made "we're going to pull our adverts" type noises, and suddenly Buffy was out of work again.

You annoy the fryers and grillers of America at your peril.

So it's either stupid or... no, it's just stupid of Kevin Federline to mock the grease jockeys in his forthcoming attempt to rehabilitate himself by embracing the fact he's a national joke. In his Superbowl ad, he plays himself as a fast food employee. The fast food world isn't laughing:

The ad amounts to a "strong and direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry," wrote National Restaurant Association President and Chief Executive Steven Anderson in a letter to Nationwide CEO Jerry Jurgensen.

The commercial "would give the impression that working in a restaurant is demeaning and unpleasant," Anderson wrote.

To be fair, the thought that it's a job that Kevin Federline could hold down would seem to be quite demeaning.

Nationwide - the insurance company whose wares Fed is pushing - are now being gently threatened by a boycott. They're putting a brave face on, though:

A Nationwide executive shrugged off the criticism, saying that where humor is involved, there always will be somebody who doesn't get it.

The company doesn't mean to offend restaurant employees, said Steven Schreibman, vice president of advertising and brand management.

"We're not making fun of anybody, except maybe Kevin Federline."

Of course, if McDonalds really knew what it was doing, it would make an advert where someone dreams of frying chips, only to pull back and reveal its a daydreaming insurance salesman.


We hope the Californian medical system is in a position to cope: The Jesus and Mary Chain are reuniting for Coachella.

Yeah, that really does make "Bjork and the Arctic Monkeys" suddenly seem even weaker, doesn't it?

Arctic, Icelandic Glasto

The first two headliners have been confirmed for this year's Glastonbury: the Arctic Monkeys and Bjork.

Our straw-poll returned a "meh". Bjork has really become the sort of artist that bookers tend to assume is a top-drawer top draw, but really isn't so much well-loved as well-known; the Arctic Monkeys might be better suited to a second- or third-from-top positioning, surely?

Meanwhile, more details are coming out about the way this curious pre-registration is going to work: you'll be able to register online, through the post or - curiously - at Millets stores. Millets will donate 10p to WaterAid for each form that they deal with, which is good news - but we're not sure if Millets have quite though through the wisdom of getting people into their stores before they know if they'll need tents and whatnot this summer.

Glastonbury organisers have made a privacy pledge:

(Please note that no information collected by registration will be offered for sale or use by any third party organisation. Unsuccessful ticket applicants will have their data destroyed and all ticket holders’ registration details and photos will be destroyed within one month of the event.)

Not exactly environmentally friendly, but at least they've got the policy thought out.

Not sure if you can trust the official site, though. It firmly states:

Anything you read about confirmed performances at Glastonbury 2007 is speculation and rumour. Many, many exciting discussions are underway which should give Glastonbury 2007 the best line-up anywhere in the world. No announcement about the line up will be made by the Festival before tickets go on sale.

Tickets go on sale April 1st. Emily Eavis, however, has told the BBC:

"We're absolutely thrilled to be able to put Bjork and the Arctic Monkeys on because both are firm favourites in our household.

"The Arctic Monkeys have never done it so this will be their first year and Bjork has done the festival a few times now and is absolutely fantastic."

They can't both be telling the truth.

Snow Patrol drummer breaks own arm

We're sure that Jonny Quinn has snapped his arm in an unexpected snowboarding accident and hasn't deliberately been slamming it in the door to try and avoid having to go on the upcoming international Snow Patrol tour.

Just because we'd rather chew off our own leg than have to spend night after night sat on a stool listening to Chasing Cars over and over again doesn't mean Quinn would take such action.

Graham Hopkins, who used to drum with Therapy?, apparently answered the question "are you free for a couple of months and fancy working" with the words "yes" than "why... who with?"

Snow Patrol drummer breaks own arm

We're sure that Jonny Quinn has snapped his arm in an unexpected snowboarding accident and hasn't deliberately been slamming it in the door to try and avoid having to go on the upcoming international Snow Patrol tour.

Just because we'd rather chew off our own leg than have to spend night after night sat on a stool listening to Chasing Cars over and over again doesn't mean Quinn would take such action.

Graham Hopkins, who used to drum with Therapy?, apparently answered the question "are you free for a couple of months and fancy working" with the words "yes" than "why... who with?"

Europe takes on Apple

The Nordic lobby has been badgering Apple for a while, trying to force them to unlock iTunes Music Store purchases to work on any media player the purchaser might choose. Now, they're being joined by Germany and France:

Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjoern Erik Thon said French consumer lobby UFC-Que Choisir and its German counterpart, Ferbraucherzentralen, joined the effort late last year, and other European countries are considering it. Finland's Kuluttajavirasto consumer group is also part of the effort.

"This is important because Germany and France are European giants," Thon said. "Germany, in particular, is a big market for digital music."

Apple have replied with what might be termed a controlled statement read through a fixed grin:

"Apple is aware of the concerns we've heard from several agencies in Europe and we're looking forward to resolving these issues as quickly as possible," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said Monday.

"Apple hopes that European governments will encourage a competitive environment that lets innovation thrive, protects intellectual property and allows consumers to decide which products are successful."

After that, Neumayr went off to have his teeth fixed - apparently they'd started to grind somewhat.

The bands who mock God's holy ordinances

... or, at least, those ordinances as interpreted by Love God's Way, a bunch of Christians who, rather than concentrating on loving their neighbours, are instead stirring up a spot of hatred by providing a list of Gay Bands:

One of the most dangerous ways homosexuality invades family life is through popular music. Parents should keep careful watch over their children's listening habits, especially in this Internet Age of MP3 piracy.

Yes, this Internet Age of MP3 piracy is, effectively, enforcing homosexuality into children's faces through their iPods. So, who should we be watching out for?

The list is a curious grab bag, where Tegan and Sara rub shoulders with Erasure and Queen. Elton John appears twice, once with the words "really gay" in brackets. Boy George merits an unexplained asterisk - perhaps that's some sort of prize for being good at it? - while there's an entry "Morrissey(?questionable?)" - it's not clear if they believe the man to be questionable, or his sexuality.

They're seeking further suggestions:

In Our effort to keep this list up to date we'd appreciate your help. If you know of a band that is Gay or propogating a Gay message please email us so we can update. Donnie is handling this his email is:

The response is overwhelming. You guys know of a lot more Gay Bands than I do. I can't keep up. Hopefully soon we'll have it so you can add them by yourself.

Let's hope they are researching this properly and not merely throwing up any and every name they get - after all, since they clearly think there's something wrong with having sex with people of the same or similar genders, they wouldn't want to wind up libelling anyone, would they?

Koreanpopobit: U-nee

U-neeKorean actress and pop singer U-nee has been found hanged, in what is believed to have been a suicide.

Originally making a name for herself as an actress in Korean TV's Grown Ups Just Don't Understand, U-nee (born Lee Hye-ryeon) had started making the shift to pop in 2003. She had been scheduled to release her third album, Honey, on February 1st.

Korea's Daily Chosun reports that U-nee had been upset by malicious internet postings "for some time" - something which continued following the announcement of her death. Several Korean websites carried postings from users celebrating her demise.

U-nee's body was found hanging from a doorframe by her grandmother.

This is a Low

Low are about to release a whole new album, Drums and Guns, this spring, and to try and bump it up the charts a little, they're going to do a tour. Yes, in the UK. And Ireland:

15th February London The Spitz
25th April Nottingham Rescue Rooms
26th April Glasgow Oran Mor
27th April Manchester Academy
28th April Minehead All Tommorows Parties
8th May London Shepherds Bush Empire
9th May Dublin Village
10th May Belfast Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Mike Skinner almost dies. Apparently.

It's not quite staring into the eyes of the Big D, but Mike Skinner reckons he's caught a glimpse of Death's flowing cape. On a big dipper:

“I swear I almost died. We were on a pirate ship-style thing and as the bar came down into my lap I stopped it going too far to avoid it hurting.

“When we swung upside down I started slipping out of my seat. I was hundreds of feet up in the air, like in an action film. I was bricking it.

No, Mike... not "like in action film" - there's yet to be a Die Hard film in which Bruce Willis goes to the fairground. This is akin to the time I nearly got eaten by a lion at a safari park, and it was only because the car didn't break down and a door fly open that saved my life.

Keane's private parts exposed by thieves

There's been a break-in at Keane's offices in London, and now the boys are worried as a computer that was taken apparently contains "sensitive information".

Although rather than juicy revelations about what Keane get up to in private - nothing to see there - it's just addresses and phone numbers. Which hardly constitutes secret. After all, even before the internet was in every school, teenagers were able to find out where Morrissey lived, and people could find not just Adam Ant's house, but the way to live in there undetected for months. It's not as if the information is that secret, is it?

Playboy tells Kelly "Keep 'em on, love"

Where can you find to lay your sympathy when there's an outbreak of hostility between Kelly Osbourne and Hugh Hefner?

Kelly had expressed a desire to appear in Playboy; Hefner retorted:

"I can't see it happening somehow - we don't airbrush to that extent."

Perhaps we should leave them both to it - Kelly Osbourne literally offering to bend over backwards for attention and Hugh Hefner being unable to conceive of a woman shaped like a woman being sexy hardly constitute surprises, after all.

Are there any more at home like you, Heather... oh, there are...

Confusing times if you visit Heather Mills' official website, where they've got a little bit of Flash-empowered ranting going on - "Enough Is Enough" bounces across the screen (nothing says "I'm angry" like a spot of low-effort animation). Then, confusingly, the word "continue" appears, meaning you've got the words "Enough is enough - continue" in front of you, like Mark and Lard's "stop... carry on".

Then you get an open letter signed ("written") by Fiona Mills, the sister of the woman who married the man who wrote Pipes Of Peace. Since cooler heads will doubtless prevail and the thing will disappear, this is what she has to say in full:

After eight months of reading disgusting, untrue and hurtful stories about my sister Heather I feel enough is enough and I would like to try and set the record straight. It's impossible to answer every single lie that has been written about her, there are just too many, but over the next few weeks I will try to answer some of them.

The main reason that I am responding is that I am deeply concerned for the safety of my sister and her daughter. They are receiving death threats, not because she is getting a divorce, but because some of the British tabloids decided from day one that they wish to destroy her, create hatred towards her and profit out of doing so. The vicious agenda of these tabloids has resulted in death threats to my family and I want to try to do something. Heather and Beatrice no longer receive the protection that would be afforded to any other member of the McCartney family facing such threats. It is extremely stressful to be informed by the police of a serious risk to your life and then to be followed by strange cars and people that may or may not be paparazzi.

We have been accused of creating publicity stunts and leaking information to get publicity. This is not true and is a ridiculous accusation considering all the publicity is negative. It is not hard to work out where the inaccurate information is coming from. It's impossible to leave the house and do anything without being followed by paparazzi who want a picture of anything Heather does. They have followed her practically everyday for 253 days making it impossible for her to have privacy in her life with her daughter. We have even resorted to having to continuously film this harassment since Heather was assaulted by a member of the paparazzi in early July, in order to have proof in court. None of this would be happening if the newspapers weren't prepared to pay for the photographs. It's pointless trying to set the record straight with the newspapers, they are not interested, it's against their agenda, so this seems to be the only forum for the truth. It's impossible to sue newspapers for every lie they print, we already have three libel cases going on at the moment and there are more to follow.

I don't believe the public are massively interested in reading about this divorce, which is the excuse the tabloids give for their harassment. The public have no choice over what is printed in the newspapers everyday. The tabloids paint a picture that the public hate my sister and yet it is the tabloids themselves that spin the lies in order to influence public opinion.

Heather does not deserve the hatred that the tabloid press have thrown at her. She is just one of many women getting a divorce. She has committed no crime and has been silent throughout but what good has it done? When journalists have an agenda against you and people you don't even know are paid to lie as 'sources' there is very little you can do. Heather's not a gold digger, liar or self-publicist for people to tear apart - she's a human being and a mother who has feelings and cares what her daughter will read in the future and it is deeply hurtful to hear and read all the spiteful things that are said about her.

I guess people can believe what they want, but just give her a break, please, it's not fair that one person should be the subject of so much abuse...I love her and I love my niece, give them a bit of peace..

Fiona Mills
22 January 2007

Well, it's certainly impassioned. And there's something savvy about appealing to the public over the heads of the paparazzi - although having drawn the tabloid's ire for trying to pass herself off as Diana Windsor, it's probably not that wise to try and repackage yourself as being in the same boat as Kate Middleton.

And while Heather may or may not be a gold-digger (although, as we've mentioned before, she could quite easily prove that by saying "I don't want any of your money, Paul") and she may not be a liar - but is anyone going to believe that the woman who kept popping up on Larry King Live isn't a self-publicist? She's a model, after all - it's their job to self--publicise.

So, has this call for the tabloids to stop spinning the story worked?

Erm... no, unsurprisingly. In the Sun this morning, this bit of Fiona's letter:

Heather and Beatrice no longer receive the protection that would be afforded to any other member of the McCartney family facing such threats.

... has turned into:

THE sister of Heather Mills McCartney has accused Sir Paul of risking the safety of daughter Beatrice — claiming he is refusing to pay for a security guard.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sit down... again

Latest band on the reunion trail (although in their case, it might just have been a long hiatus): James.

Time to dig out the old flower t-shirts. But can any of their original fans do the sit down dance now they're past middle youth?

Celebrity Big Brother: Twisting in the wind

Today's Sun is, as the Sun often is, outraged:

The C4 board REFUSED to sack any executives and INSISTED the controversial show would stay on air.

There was no response to calls that the station has a duty of care to Jade Goody, who has been driven to the brink of suicide by the row.

Yes, Jade "poor me" Goody is attempting to salvage the situation by telling everyone how suicidal she feels whenever she pictures all that perfume being relabelled Whoa Nelly By Furtado. What's interesting is that The Sun is now worrying about poor Jade's state of mind.

The same Sun which, last Friday, was running editorials calling for head:

That is why The Sun urges every reader who loves Britain to pick up a phone and make sure the ghastly Jade Goody is kicked out tonight.

The argument will continue to rage over whether Jade and her moronic mates are guilty of racism.

We're still trying to get our heads to understand how a call to patriotic nationalism is the right thing in the face of racism, but we can just about see how a paper might call for a TV company to protect someone from the angry mob the paper itself has helped whip up.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bookmarks: Some other stuff on the web

A letter to the Evening Argus disputes the theory that Mods v Rockers fights on Brighton seafront were stagemanaged: A policeman at this time and on duty throughout that Bank Holiday weekend, I was coming up the steps leading to that part of the Sun Terrace while this fight was taking place.

The Associated Press spends some quality time with George Jones: It happened in east Texas when I was married to my boy's mother, Shirley (his second of four wives, the former Shirley Ann Corlea). I had been on about a two-week binge. I came home and naturally nobody was there. All my vehicles were gone and the big tractor was gone. I couldn't find a thing that looked like wheels. It was a Sunday morning and I'm dying, you know. I am hurtin' and I need a drink bad. Finally, after I half-a-day suffered, I finally looked out my bedroom window and I saw this little Cub Cadet sitting there, a little 10 horsepower. I said, "There ain't no key in there. Surely they took that out." I went out there and sure enough the key was in it and it kicked right on. I headed to town as far as I could go on it.

NPR meet Dresden Dolls, and explore their finances: At bigger shows, the Dresden Dolls can take in more than $1,000 a night selling merchandise, which makes the "merch table" a major source of income whey they're on the road. Of course, venues try to take as big a cut of that as they can. Palmer says that leads to regular screaming matches between bands and venue managers. "The reason the shirts are sold for $25 and $35 is that the venue takes a giant, whopping percentage," she says. "Sometimes, they'll try to take a larger percentage than what's in the contract, and you have to whip out the contract and get into these arguments."

Michigan Live gets an idea of what's in store for the next Rufus Wainwright album: "The theme is just about releasing your love or your brilliance, or acting on your impulses and basically laying it all down on the line. I think so much of life is spent hoarding and saving and protecting, and very few of us really live our full potential.''

Slayer loves... Sexyback?

Apparently, it's true: Tom Araya of Slayer loves Justin Timberlake:

"Like that [Timberlake] song 'Sexyback'. I get exposed to those songs through my kids and through my wife. When I heard that song I thought it wasn't really that bad a song, then I saw the video and listened to the words and realized that he's poking fun at all the other guys that haven't done shit, so now he's got to bring sexy back because nobody else can do it! [Laughing] The song is good, even if he didn't have anything to do with writing it."

Unsurprisingly, he's less keen on Kid Rock.

Midem: Universal start to think what the future holds

Ah, the lure of Cannes, out of season: the music industry gathers, free from the prying eyes of the public, to run up expense accounts bills they'll spend the rest of the year pretending they can no longer afford, what with all those pirates. Yes, it's Midem time again - suits on yachts, pulling their clothes closer round their necks as they sniff the changing winds of their industries.

At the curtain-raising Midemnet event, Universal Record's eLabs head Larry Kenswil suggested that the old ways of the music industry should be considered part of the past:

"We can't think of it as counting unit sales anymore," said Kenswil. "We have to license ... and think like the publishers."

Of course, the eLabs isn't the whole of Universal, which is unlikely to be abandoning its part in the RIAA lawsuits-and-DRM subindustry any time soon. Talking of which, earlier, Mitch Bainwol of the RIAA, and his celluloid-stinking chum Fritz Attaway of the equally litigious MPAA squared up to the Consumer Electronics Association's Gary Shapiro.

Amusingly, Bainwol tried to suggest that DRM does us all a favour - "served a legitimate pro-consumer role", he said by "creating new models." In other words, by giving consumers the chance to buy the same music again and again and again in non-interoperable formats. Yes, that's really lucky for us. It's in the same way a car crash is a wonderful pro-consumer event, allowing the purchase of a new, shiny automobile.

Meanwhile, further evidence of just how DRM will make all of our lives better comes from Pete Guttman at the University of Auckland: the new version of Windows will degrade video playback if the "owner" of the content (you might think that if you've bought a blu-ray DVD, you own it... but, no, you don't) so decides. In effect, it could mean that legitimate content will play as poorly as a pirated copy because you're not using the cables the studios feel you should.

Back at MIDEM, there are signs that the record industry is starting to realise too late that its DRM fetish cannot hold: John Kennedy of the IFPI even acknowledged as much, while making it clear that the majors aren't actually going to turn their ship around yet:

"Each of the majors is wrestling with the advantages and the disadvantages of going with MP3s without any restrictions at all," said John Kennedy, head of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, at a press briefing on Sunday. "But I think this is an experimental year."

Yes, do some more experimenting. Don't take any decisions too quickly; it's not like you've already wasted the best past of a decade in starting to think about these things.

EMI, then, is trying some un-DRMed stuff. But only in China. Virgin Megastores and FNAC are going to sell mp3s - but only in France, and only then from indies. Yahoo Music is going to experiment with limited open downloads - but it experimented all last year, too.

Of course, as soon as someone draws the conclusions from these experiments which our panel (of children the age of four) could already deliver - people like to be able to move the music they've paid for around the devices they have paid for - Amazon are ready to roll with their download store, promising non-DRM files for everyone, for a small fee.

What that means for iTunes is anyone's guess. For now, Steve Jobs must be hoping that the record industry decide to keep extending their experiments the way they love to extend copyright terms.

It's also unlikely that Universal will continue to be taking a dollar off the price of every Zune sold in a DRM free future - if there's a world of interoperability, why would Microsoft care about threats by one label to not make its catalogue available through the Zunestore?

Talking of the unloved Zune player, Microsoft have chosen Midem to hint that it's about to launch more varieties of its player - and apparently there are plans to offer "filling stations" in store to allow people who've bought a Zune to slap on some tracks at the same time. When we were in the US over Christmas, most stores seemed reluctant to provide shelf space for Zunes at all (they could have been using that space for stuff that sells, like novelty iPod covers, or iPod adapters, or iPod-enabled monkeys with speakers in - no, honestly) so which stores are going to want to find even more space to offer a service like that isn't clear.

Further loosening the Zune's chances, it's also been revealed that the people of Europe won't have a chance to shun them until just before Christmas this year. We imagine they're lining up a "have last year's disapponting thing" campaign. Or at least an advert featuring Woolie and Worth, the Woolworth puppets, trying to persuade Westlife to buy one.

[Thanks to Michael Moran for the Register link]

Clinical excellence

The people of America are getting a local release of Clinic's lovely new album, Visitations. To celebrate, bounty falls from the skies for you to scoop onto your external hard drive:

The If I Could Read Your Mind on YouTube

Free MP3 downloads: Harvest Within You and Jigsaw Man

American tour dates:
3/2 - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA
3/3 - Noise Pop Festival / The Independent - San Francisco, CA
3/5 - Apple In-Store - Chicago, IL
3/6 - Black Cat - Washington, DC
3/7 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA
3/9 - The Gramercy Theatre - NYC, NY
3/10 - Middle East - Boston, MA
3/11 - La Sala Rossa - Montreal, QC
3/12 - Lee's Palace - Toronto, ON

We presume that these dates are given in the UK format rather than American, but playing on the third of every month for the rest of the year isn't the sort thing we'd be surprised by them doing, to be honest.

Fall Out Boy hurt by album falling out online

Pete WentzWe could just about muster some sympathy for Pete Wentz if he said "it's probably going to cost me a few bob, this leaking of the new album onto the internet" - but no, he has to go and claim he's only upset by what it means for his artistic vision:

"This isn't the end of the world, (but) it certainly feels pretty terrible."

Wentz pointed the finger of blame at "vultures" who ruined their artistic vision. He added: "As an artist we have a vision for how we want out record to be presented and this isn't it. It is unfortunate that a couple of vultures in a plant somewhere can ruin this vision so easily."

Don't vultures fall onto dead stuff and rip it to pieces? Is he sure he wanted to compare his new record to a corpse?

Of course, we're sure Wentz had visions of young girls running home with copies of the CD on launch day, turning down the lights, lighting some candles, loosening their clothes a little and sitting, rapt, upon the floor, every last note hung upon.

But it's not going to happen, Pete - regardless of if they get it off the torrents or iTunes, they'll whack it into their iPods and skip through half the tracks and play the others with one earpiece out and most of their attention fixed on their phones.

Wentz is forgiving of his people, though:

"We appreciate those of you who are still waiting but like I said, we understand those who have to sneak a peek at the presents under the tree the night before.

Please remember that as the music industry changes more and more, we only put out record so we can keep touring and travelling. We want to keep this going for as long as possible.

"Obviously your support helps that. Please take this into consideration with whatever decision you make when it comes to downloading the record and buying it when it is released."

Yes, not buying the album might mean Fall Out Boy never play another gig. The good news, of course, is that you don't even have to illegally download a copy - you can help keep Fall Out Boy at home simply by doing nothing at all. Happy endings all round.

High Up Your Tree

The Delamere forest is one of our favourite places in the country - we once spent a happy afternoon (and then a slightly panicky evening) getting lost within its leafy remit.

Our delight in all things Tim Burgess is well noted here, of course.

So what could be nicer than bringing the two together? The Charlatans are playing a gig in the forest on June 15th, as part of a Forestry Commission initiative to promote concerts in woodlands. (No, we're not quite sure of the link, either, but it's a lovely idea.)

We do suggest you leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way back out once its over, though.

James Morrison: The horror of being caught with the common folk

Poor old James Morrison - as if having to use the hand-me-down name of someone famous wasn't bad enough, he's seen barely a penny from his album. He's been told that the royalties "take two years to come through" - we imagine that Paul McCartney isn't told that - and the poor lamb is having to suffer so in the meanwhile:

"I went on holiday at Christmas but flew economy. I had a nightmare because the woman behind me was claustrophobic and wouldn't let me recline my seat! I can't wait to go first class."

Not economy... oh, the ignominy of travelling with the rest of us up the back. Just a quick note, though, James: only the very selfish recline their seats in coach. There just isn't the room with the way the chairs are packed up in the back now. Putting your seat back marks you out as being of a piece with Homer Simpson in hospital: "bed goes down... bed goes up... bed goes down..."

And mother makes three... or is it four?

Lembit Opik's plans to appear on Wogan Now and Then (But Mostly Then) have been spiked by senior Liberal Democrats desperate to try and retain some of their party's dignity - doubtless they wouldn't have minded if Tel had been planning to ask Lembit about the abandonment of the income tax rise commitment, or the idea about making supermarkets include housing on their developments. But UK TV was more interested in asking Lembit about his girlfriend, Gabriela Irimia, and wanted the pair of them.

If the Libs had their wits about them, they'd find the Cheeky Girl a seat in the House of Lords and make her spokesperson on something, but instead, they said no.

The Cheeky Girls' manager, and mother, Margit, was not pleased, either.

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Honey to the bee

Chris Moyle's droll little stunt - pushing Billie's Honey To The Bee back up to 17 as a "test" of the download rules - has the papers demanding the perspective of HMV's Gennaro Castaldo on this strange new world:

Gennaro Castaldo at HMV said that Piper's performance showed how it is now "so easy" for fan groups or the media to propel a song up the charts.

He said: "In the past the record companies were very jealous of making sure that the releases were implemented in a very clear and transparent way.

"It's further evidence of how bit by bit the charts are going to broaden out."

HMV have recently dropped the singles charts from their store, so it's not surprising that he's sniffy about how it's "easy" now to just mock the chart, but it is interesting to see him almost admit that the charts used to be little more than the promotional playthings of the record companies.

But "transparent"? Only if Louis Walsh's boot was transparent. Only if the singles used to have little labels saying "provided free by the record company" stuck on them, surely?

Meanwhile, we're worried that Chris Moyles is able to drift a single up to the top twenty on his say-so alone. That's too much power in one set of hands. When it's his hands, of course - he thinks Honey To The Bee is a "hilarious" choice of single to download, which probably says it all.

The key question: if Top of the Pops had still been going, would Billie have done the right thing and turned up to perform?

Tom Jones fights for the check

Plans to move Burberry's production from Wales to somewhere else entirely - China, probably - is continuing to disquiet the Welsh: Tom Jones has written an impassioned letter to the Welsh Assembly calling for them to do all they can to make sure the unpleasant, overpriced brown-checked cloth continues to be manufactured in Treochy:

"As a local boy, I know how important this factory has been to the community in the Rhondda.

"I therefore urge the Burberry management to withdraw their plans to close their Treorchy factory."

It's heartfelt, of course, but some might wonder if Tom is so keen to keep Welsh treasures in the land of his fathers, he was so happy to troop off to California the moment his bank balance hit three figures.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Big Day Out says no to flags

Last year's Big Day Out saw some unpleasant undertones - coming shortly after the Cronulla riots, some festival goers draped themselves in the Australian flag and sent out some nasty vibes, as Popmatters reported at the time:

It's about this time that the guys from politically conscious hip-hop outfit Herd focused attention on an issue that had troubled me throughout the day. A considerable portion of the attendees had worn the Australian flag draped on them like a cape. Since the event is traditionally held in Sydney on Australia Day, this might not have been such an issue, but in the wake of the xenophobic Cronulla riots, where many participants were similarly attired, the gesture raises some questions. Ever politically aware, Herd weren't afraid to risk unpopularity with this segment of the audience.

In December 2005, Cronulla, Sydney, had been the scene of several racially-motivated incidents after trouble was stirred up by neo-nazis and white supremacists using SMS messages to pull crowds onto the streets.

Last week, the Australian Open Tennis matches were the scene of further racial clashes as Serbians, Greeks and Croats fought a pitched battle which the police helpfully described as "no incident."

Against this background, organisers of the Big Day Out have decided it might be better to ask festival-goers to tone down the rampant nationalism this time round.

Predictably, politicians are jumping all over the "ban":

[Parliamentary secretary for immigration Andrew Robb] said the flag was not the problem and should not be banned.

"If they have got a security problem, they need to deal with that, not with the flag. The flag is a symbol of unity," he told the Nine Network.

"To compare the flag to a gang colour I think is just outrageous, and totally unacceptable."

He said the flag ban needed to be overturned.

"It is critical as soon as possible that the organisers remove this condition or otherwise I think the concert should be cancelled," he said.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said the organisers should allow the Australian flag.

"Our flag ought not to be used to be making political points like this. It is a still an outrageous decision and one that needs to be reversed and reversed immediately," Mr Iemma told Macquarie Radio.

"The flag is a symbol of national unity and pride."

Of course, as is so often the case, the story has been puffed-up by politicians looking to gain some purchase on the national stage. The flag hasn't actually been banned at all:

BDO organisers issued a statement early Monday saying the flag was not banned, but said they did not want concert-goers taking it into the event.

"We are not banning the Australian flag but are simply discouraging its use for anti-social purposes at the Big Day Out," the statement said.

Surely, of course, the politicos ought to have noticed that they're, essentially, on the same side as the BDO team - nobody wants to see the flag being used as symbol of harted and division. But there's more votes in pretending to be fighting an easy, if made-up, battle ("They have banned the flag because they hate Australia") than to actual confront some unpleasant truths and difficult challenges (those who wave the flag because they hate non-Australians).

Bling them before the court

"Celebrity jeweller" Jacob Arabov is threatening to call his glittering clients to testify about his wonderful character. Which could be amusing. Arabov is accused of having taken cash from a Detroit drug ring and then failed to declare it on his tax forms for some reason.

Amongst the clients who could be getting a call in are Puff Daddy Diddy, Mariah Carey, and David Beckham. That'll thrill Victoria - they've not been in the US a dogwatch and are already getting their names into celebrity drug trials.

Simon Cowell really knows his stuff

Further evidence that Simon Cowell's field of expertise is selling music to people who don't buy records, rather than actually knowing about music: he knocked back Mika:

"I managed to get a demo to him before he became a household name. He hadn't done any of the POP IDOL stuff.

When I walked in and played my song, he said, 'You've got a good voice but your songwriting... you may as well not bother.'"

Cowell, of course, tends to need his acts to have had six or seven hours of solid TV time before he can flog any of their records.

Robbie Williams is not afraid of Vampires any more

Spotted out on the streets of LA: Robbie Williams going shopping with Michelle Trachtenberg, Dawn in the later series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of course:

My source added: "As we all know, Robbie doesn't have a high celebrity profile in the States despite many attempts to launch his career over there.

"So as far as Michelle is concerned, she's just spending time with a normal bloke from a place called Stoke. That's just how Rob likes it."

Yes, we bet it's exactly how Williams likes it, what with him not having an ego the size of the hellmouth or anything.

Trachtenberg will also be familiar to many of from the movie Mysterious Skin, where she played the best friend/faghag Wendy.

Cross-promtional opportunities

Rupert Murdoch will be delighted with this morning's News of the World "breaking news" piece on Lily Allen, which is actually a piece about how great MySpace is:

"(But) the core of the whole digital campaign has been Lily's blog," Parlophone digital media manager Dan Duncombe said. "That's what's created the interest and brought people back."

"I spend two to three hours a day on MySpace and in my Web site forums chatting," Allen said. "Fans need to have some emotional connection with an artist. All you have to do is look at the (flop) All Saints album to see that if they aren't connecting with you as a friend then it just doesn't work."

This is all set against the next big Allen push: to take Keith Allen's daughter to the US. Capitol are, apparently, very excited:

The policy paid instant dividends, with "Smile" hitting No. 1 on the Official UK Charts Co.'s singles rundown, and Andy Slater, president/CEO of Capitol Records -- which will release the album January 30 in the United States. The label has a strong recent track record for breaking UK artists.

"If pop music was just about a catchy melody and good musicianship, then Toto would have been the biggest band in the world," Slater said. "But it's not. It's about sex, rebellion and fashion, and all of those things crystallize in Lily Allen's music."

That probably tells you more about the CEO of Capitol than anything - that, faced with a need to choose the best band ever, he'd lean towards Toto. And people wonder why EMI is in trouble.

It's like we don't need planning at all

The attempt of Rother District Council to uphold its remit to oversee the built environment within its boundaries has been defeated, as it caves in and lets McCartney keep his illegally-constructed buildings.

McCartney has cut a deal with the council which will see him pull down one of the buildings he had no right to construct, in order to keep the other building he'd not been given permission to put up.

That's the firm hand of Rother District Council at work, then. It's akin to stealing two pies from a windowsill, and agreeing to return one if you can keep the other.

This week just gone

The week on No Rock and Roll Fun:

The ten most-read individual stories have been:

1. Kylie walks off halfway through Manchester gig
2. KT Tunstall's "lesbianism" continues to beguile
3. Celeb Big Brother: Jo suggests Indians thin due to poor cooking
4. Lily Allen's undersea clothes swap
5. CBB: Jo's fans insist she's not racist when she thinks about it
6. McFly onstage naked
7. Heather Mills constant nudity
8. CBB: Jo, Jade and the woman from Zoo blow their careers
9. Beth Ditto is better than Scissor Sister fans
10. Brits shortlist in full: the horror, the horror

Also this week: Doherty died unexpectedly; Coldplay closed the circle and brought back Travis; and Kevin Federline offered to drop his pants for food.

You can read the whole week on a single page,
or skim the previous week in a single post.

Five years ago:
The BBC were gearing up to launch Five Live Sports Extra, but we worried with an urban station and archive network on the cards for digital music channels, where would guitarry music go? Luckily, Station Y turned into 6Music. Meanwhile, Aaliyah gave way to George Harrison at the top of the charts, the first time one corpse had made way for another.

Back to this week, and we suggested you try and buy these:

2006 festival compilation - Pipettes, Camera Obscura, Narcotic Syntax

A birthday-timed resurrection of the Bowie Pye era singles

Neko Case, live in Austin, from 2003

Thomas Newman's Little Children soundtrack - how can you not want a track called It's Wrong And It's Weird?

It had to happen sooner or later: a (vaguely) indie Valentine's Day album

Pretty much the same compilation as usual from Rick James' attempt to be the funk Phil Spector, the Mary Jane Girls

UK release for 80 year old child voiced Jess Klein's City Garden

Oddly, this compilation of Belgian avant-garde from the post WWI period misses the Christmas market