Saturday, May 10, 2008

However shall we fill the time?

Steal yourselves, gentle people of Britain: We're unlikely to see a new Sugababes album this year. They're going to avoid being in a confined space with each other for as long as they possibly can ("they're going to take it slowly"):

"We were supposed to release an album this year and we decided against it," Keisha Buchanan told the Daily Star. "With each album we feel we've produced a better one when we have been given time to write about stuff - and we have been through so much this year alone.

"I think sometimes people forget we do write our own material. Even when we have a co-writer, there can be 12 people writing one sentence and we're writing the bulk of the song. We want to feel inspired."

It's an interesting glimpse into the songwriting process - you do find yourself wondering why, if the Babes are able to write 99% of a song, they feel it necessary to draft in a busload of people to help with the odd line. That would seem a little like Michaelangelo calling in someone to do the skirting boards, wouldn't it?

Red Rhino weekend: UV Pop

Another act distributed by Red Rhino, UV Pop. This is an enthusiast-produced video for the track No Songs Tomorrow, from the RR-distributed 1986 album Bendy Baby Man:

[Part of Red Rhino weekend]

Apparently, Jim Callaghan is cooler than My Bloody Valentine

Dave Mustaine is tetchy about what you call him:

On whether it's inappropriate to picture him as a "curator" of heavy metal:

"Not a curator, bud. That sounds like a smoking jacket and a pipe — don't make me have to kill you. How about 'elder statesman' or something like that? That's cool."

Given that My Bloody Valentine are curating All Tomorrow's Parties, and most elder statesmen are people whose political careers have ended in one form of failure or another, that seems a strange ordering of priorities. But then, this is a man who is still ploughing on with Megadeth. In 2008. Which isn't so very far from adopting the title Lord Mustaine Of Weston and pottering about on in the background during BBC Parliament's coverage of the Upper Chamber.

Of course, the Lords is where politicians go to die, and that's something else that is on Mustaine's mind:
"I've certainly embraced my mortality as of lately. Growing up, I never thought I would live this long. Now, I'm at that age where I'm thinking, 'If I live to be 92 — I'm 46 right now — I'm at the halfway point in my life.' I'm not going to be 92. ... (My) insides are already 92."

His intestines are twice as old as his upper dermis? Does he get older as you work your way outward? If you cut him in half, would there be rings to count, like with a tree?

Feeling frit

Dan Gillespie Sells is worried. He's scared to death that, what with The Feeling and Madonna both playing the Radio One Roadshow this weekend, he might run into her:

"I'm a massive fan of Madonna. I've been a fan of hers for years. She's a real artist."

He said: "She scares me. There are some people I'd go talk to and I'd know what to say. But with someone like her I wouldn’t really know what to say."

Don't worry, Dan - it's most likely that careful planning has been put into making sure that Madonna won't accidentally bump into the likes of you backstage. Indeed, her people would be more frightened if you found herself talking to her than you'd be - surely letting that happen would be a sacking offence?

Led Zep to tour, announces, erm, Whitesnake

The inching towards the possibility of a full-blown Led Zeppelin tour continues, with an announcement from David Coverdale that it's going to happen. Or, at least, that he thinks it's going to happen. And how does he know? He's fully expecting to be on the bill:

"I'm expecting a call from Jimmy any day asking my band Whitesnake to support them on their world tour. Am I on board? You bet. Probably worth billions,” he said.

"Unlike rolling out the wheelchairs with the umpteenth Rolling Stones world tour, a Led Zeppelin tour will be incredible."

Perhaps. But if it's going to be that incredible, wouldn't having Whitesnake as an opener be a bit underwhelming?

Something to listen to: Joy and Saints

Radio 4 has been overflowing with things to use your ear/speaker combinations for.

First - available until Tuesday teatime - Robbie Williams and Jon Ronson's Radio 4 programme detailing their visit to a UFO conference. It's hard to dislike Williams in this, it has to be said. Although it might have been a better programme without his presence and his desperate "I want to believe" refrain, it was interesting to hear Williams' conviction that being shunned by all your friends because your mother has told everyone you're an Indigo Child is like being a multi-millionaire who can dictate the winner of the British Comedy Awards.

Also available until Tuesday is Great Lives, Simon Armitage enthusing over the late Ian Curtis. And up until Monday, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow sees Tracy McLeod exploring the Girl Groups of the 1960s.

Permanently, now: T Bone Burnett pops up on the Today programme.

Away from Radio 4, Planet Claire plays host to a St Vincent session. [via Largehearted Boy]

Red Rhino weekend: The Wedding Present

The early Wedding Present releases, on their own Reception label (do you see what they did?), were distributed by Red Rhino - with some success. Last year, the George Best album was celebrating its 20th anniversary with a live tour - here, in Edinburgh, with Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft:

[Buy: George Best]

[Part of the Red Rhino weekend]

Darkness at 3AM: Peaches squeezed

The 3AM Girls continue to try and catch up on the Peaches Geldof drug story, reporting that Ms Geldof has been questioned about her appearance on a memory stick apparently purchasing:

But being a sort of celebrity has it perks when it comes to brushes with the law.

Instead of being hauled in to the local nick, Peaches got the kid-glove treatment.

Officers met her at her lawyer's office in central London on Thursday at 11am to interview her under caution.

Yes, if only Amy Winehouse was famous. Perhaps she could have had some "kid gloves" treatment, too.

Gordon in the morning: Hardly worth the bother

Making wafer-thin ham look like brisket, today's Bizarre is perhaps the weakest yet since Newton disappeared from view.

Gordon's big story is a barked claim that Wayne Rooney is "snubbing" Alex Ferguson before admitting, in the actual piece, there's absolutely no reason why if you're having friends and family you should feel obliged to invite your boss. We wonder if Gordon would - should he decide to renew his vows - send an invite to Rupert Murdoch, or if he'd "snub" him.

That's the big story, too. Further downpage, he's scrabbling to try and make something out of Gwyneth Paltrow "waving like the Queen" - even though she his picture has her with her hand high in the air, when the Queen's wave is never above shoulder-level. Or perhaps Gordon means that waving at your fans is, in itself, to give yourself regal graces, which wouldn't make any sense at all, would it?

Embed and breakfast man: Red Rhino weekend

As a tribute to Tony K, this weekend we'll feature some videos from acts related to Red Rhino - some who started their career on the label; some who were distributed by the company.

Kicking us off, here's Leeds' Rhythm Sisters, with the-closest-they-had-to-a-hit, American Boys:

The Rhythm Sisters released a new album last year - their first in 16 years - Tell Me How Long The Boat's Been Gone.

More videos across the weekend
Wedding Present - Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft live
UV Pop - No Songs Tomorrow homemade video
Red Guitars - Good Technology homemade video

Indieobit: Tony Kostrzewa

Genuinely sad news: Tony Kostrzewa, founder of Red Rhino, has died after losing a battle with cancer.

Born in Bradford to a Polish father and a Yorkshire woman, Tony - known universally as Tony K by people willing to avoid trying their luck with his surname - might have had a very different life, originally applying to join the RAF. The forces, however, wouldn't have him due to his Polish ancestry - this as recently as 1966 - so Tony drifted from job to job.

In 1977, though, he discovered a way of making a living out a passion, opening Red Rhino record shop in York. Two years later came the associated record label and distribution network, a crucial part of the proper independent scene that was starting to form from in the post-punk wilderness. Red Rhino would go on to become a key part of the Cartel in the 1980s. Tony took on the role of managing The Catalogue, the Cartel's attempt to move indie music publications away from the xerox machine and into the newsagent. A luxurious, glossy monthly, the regular free flexi disc often featured the biggest fish in the indie pond: The Breeders, Big Black and so on.

Over a ten year period, the label released 125 records, including Akrylykz's debut - featuring a young Roland Gift; the first Pulp album; and a skeleton army of Goth and Industrial classics including Skeletal Family, Front 242 and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry.

Red Rhino would eventually fall victim to the problems of independence - when times get hard, there's nowhere to cross-subsidise from; the label collapsed in 1989 and the shop closed in 1992. Tony moved to Leeds, working in the Laser Game business, although in 2004 he made a return to music, launching 10 X Better Music promotions company.

His love of music never left him; consultants would chide him for dancing when he should have been receiving treatment. He died on May 1st, and is survived by his wife, Gerri, and their two children. The family have set up a fund in aid of the Yorkshire Cancer Centre in his memory.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Elton John says that's it... for now

He's too busy, you understand, to be bothering with the whole making albums business. Elton John hasn't the time:

"I don't know if I'm ever going to make another record again at the moment. I have no plans to do another album as such.

"I am so busy touring and doing shows and promoting musicals and producing films - I would like to make another record but I don’t know when or where or if I am gonna make one."

It's a pity he didn't start filling up his diary a little sooner - had he kept himself occupied twenty years ago we might have been spared Nikita at the very least.

And even the dullest eyed amongst us will have spotted that he's not ruled out ever making a new record, just for now.

Capital of Culture Update: Liverpool celebrates the local boys

The people of Liverpool will be delighted to know the money they've spent underwriting the Paul McCartney celebration of all things Liverpool is going to be well spent promoting local talent, like, erm The Kaiser Chiefs. There are a million bands in Liverpool, and for some reason they've had to ask a Leeds act to be the support. Funny that.

Meanwhile, a bunch of extra tickets are being made available for the gig:

Five hundred of the tickets - dubbed the best seats in the house - are being made available to charities and community groups in the city.

Organisers hope the £75 tickets could be offered as competition prizes to help the groups raise money.

Well, that is a fine gesture - giving a bunch of tickets to charities and communities to help them raise funs.

Sorry, did we say "give"? It turns out the phrasing of "made available" was carefully chosen:
Phil Redmond, creative director of the Liverpool Culture Company, said the tickets could not simply be given away.

"We just have to make sure that the box office numbers stack up," he said.

"We are actually offering the best seats in the house for community groups to buy and then they should be able to sell or raffle them off."

Yes, having screwed up the money so badly that local council tax payers are having to put their hands deeply into their pocket to keep the thing going, now they've decided they need to try and balance the books by taking money off charities for the tickets. Charming.

[Thanks to Jim M for the link]

Ronson hooks up with Mac The Mouth

Mark Ronson's grim determination to work with everyone, ever, takes him to Liverpool tomorrow, where - as part of the Rod Da Bank curated Bandstand event at the old L2 building - he'll hook up with Ian McCulloch.

McCulloch has trotted out some words for the press release:

“I am really looking forward to performing with Mark Ronson - I love the way he works, and he seems a cool dude. It's a pity, with a name like that, we're not doing a cover of ‘Light My Fire’.”

We spent twenty seconds going "eh?" before the enormity of the pun dawned on us. Like the lighter company. Ouch.

Bonuses all round: HMV turns a corner

Although helped more by the diminishing competition than anything else, HMV will today announce a small increase in sales over the last year. They had a 7% rise; although they managed this with only two of their chain having been turned into digital youth clubs, the company has decided to carry on rolling out their new-style stores.

Suicidal mendacities: The Mail gets to grips with emo

It is a story with a horrible and tragic waste of a life at the centre of it: a 13 year-old girl hanging herself. Who can understand the complexities of a mind in so much distress and pain that a person sees death as preferable to living?

The Daily Mail, that's who. It's all My Chemical Romance's fault.

To be fair to the Mail, it's terrible journalism at least has the excuse of a comment from the coroner Roger Sykes to provide some sort of justification for its article:

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Sykes said: "The Emo overtones concerning death and associating it with glamour I find very disturbing."

For the Mail, the clincher is the dead girl had been listening to My Chemical Romance. For all of two weeks.

It explains emo to its readers:
The Emo phenomenon began in the U.S. in the 1980s. It is a largely teenage trend and is characterised by depression, self-injury and suicide.

Followers wear tight jeans with studded belts and wristbands. Their hair is dyed black and worn in long fringes to obscure their faces.

Emo - from the word emotional - is a reference to the angst-filled lyrics and melancholy themes of the rock music central to the culture.

One of the foremost of these "suicide cult" bands is My Chemical Romance, from New Jersey.

Watch out for people in tight jeans, then. They're almost certainly going to kill themselves.

There was, by the way, a very similar piece on this morning's Today programme, where the suggestion that Emo is, in some way, sinister of itself (rather than a teenage affectation). Nobody seemed to think it worth even worth raising the Nick Hornby question ("Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"); nor asking how many of the millions of fans who listen to emo don't, actually, kill themselves or do anything more sinister than misuse eyeshadow.

How many years is it since the Judas Priest case? And we're still getting poorly-conceived kneejerk articles like this. A heartbreaking story, yes, but does anyone really believe that owning a copy of The Black Parade really is the cause, rather than a symptom, of the misery at the heart of it?

[Thanks to Mariam for the tip]

Robbie Williams is not giving a prize to Catherine Tate

Micheal Grade has insisted that none of the shady work done by ITV when fleecing its viewers was done intentionally to simply make money. It was all about making the programmes better - misguided enthusiasm rather than criminal deception.

Oh, really? What about the Robbie Williams incident? Williams said, grandly, that he'd turn up to present a prize at the 2005 British Comedy Awards. Providing, of course, that he was giving a prize to his old chums Ant and Dec.

Now, it's arguable that people at ITV really do believe that Robbie Williams handing a chunk of plastic to his old chums Ant and Dec is the sort of televisual feast that cannot be turned down. They may also think it's appropriate that Robbie Williams should be dictating who wins what at the Comedy Awards, even the people's choice awards. But in what sense would anyone think that having a fake phone-in vote that was going to have no outcome over the eventual winner of the prize would "add" to the programme? Did someone really sit at a production meeting and say "you know what, this show would be even more fun for the audiences if they could dial up and give us money during the course of it?"

In effect, it's actually more comforting to think that ITV really were setting out to defraud its viewers - because it'd be better to think that the network sees its audience as schmucks and marks rather than idiots who need to be given an empty opportunity to press buttons on a telephone to stimulate their short attention spans.

Robbie Williams' old chums Ant and Dec have said they'll give their award back. It might be nice if there was a ceremony in which Robbie Williams takes the prize back. Perhaps it could be on a tumbrel.

Gordon in the morning: Clash of limpbacks

Britney. Whitney. Their names rhyme, their careers have got a little lost recently, and now, according to Gordon Smart, they're going head-to-head:

The clash was set up because Brit has impressed label chiefs so much with her new material.

Gordon reckons that both artists' albums will be released at the same time, but his explanation makes little sense - let's assume that Arista and Zomba are acting in concert; what business sense would it make for them to say "Britney's new album is so good, we'll release it on the same day as Whitney's?"

The odd thing is, Gordon's so convinced this is going to happen, and yet his piece just talks vaguely of "at Christmas" - no mention of any exact release date for this battle of the titans.

Still, that this is all a bit vague doesn't stop Smart picking sides:
Christmas 2008 could be all about Brit though and I’m lumping on a full-scale Britney comeback...

The thought of Gordon lumping on anything is one we don't really want at breakfast. But if you're wondering why Smart favours Spears over Houston, it's apparently down to Whitney's terrible crime:

Gordon also has a bit of tech coverage today, too, with a report on the Girls Aloud trojan circulating:
Emails promising pictures of the girls are circulating widely, but actually contain software that scans your hard drive to get personal information that can be used for identity theft.

Except, of course, the email promises a Girls Aloud mp3, but since this is actually just a weak excuse to run pictures of Girls Aloud in what Smart claims are basques - but actually aren't - why bother about getting the facts straight? He also doesn't bother to mention that the same trojan is disguised as other files as well, which makes the piece of little value as a warning.

Oh, and it's being distributed through file-sharing networks and not through email, too.

Still, he does try to come over all GigaOm:
Boffins at anti-virus firm McAfee tell me the outbreak is the worst threat to PCs for three years.

Boffins? Good god, he really is like a thirteen year-old boy who is frightened of anyone with a degree of competency, isn't he? Maybe, come to think of it, Gordon has just got a thirteen year-old boy to write his stuff for him, waylaying him outside the bike sheds in the time-hnoured "you do my homework for me" style. Only instead of "Do the thirteen questions on page 127", it's "write me 60 words about Keeley Hazell's breasts by lunchtime."

Still, it's interesting that McAfee told "him" it was the "worst" threat to PCs in "three years" - you might have thought that had they actually spoken to him directly, rather than Gordon getting Zammo from Year 11 to read the story on BBC News for him, he'd have reported that it was the most-widespread distribution of a file for three years.

Also this morning, Gordon seems surprised at a young man having sex with various women prior to entering a relationship and settling down. It's Ashton Kutcher, in this case.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Warners: The figures don't look good

There's some good news amongst the gloom in the latest quarter results from Warners - their international revenues have increased by nearly 20%. Unfortunately, what with the way the dollar is, and a massive drop in US revenues, that couldn't help them avoid losing USD28m. Oh, and abandoning their already tiny shareholder dividend altogether.

Edgar Bronfman was bullish about digital sales, although Silicon Valley Insider points out that 30% of digital income comes from mobile phone ringtones - a market which, at best, has peaked; at worst, is on the edge of vanishing altogether.

The gloss on the Madonna album is interesting:

Pushing Madonna's last WMG album with digital deals with Vodafone, Samsung, etc. "Tens of millions" of ad dollars spent by partners to promote album. $13.99 premium CD outsold $11.99 version 8 to 1.

Arguably, persuading other people to fund much of the Madonna marketing campaign is a hollow victory - doesn't her profile deliver much more ad-spend equivalent anyway? - but the much, much higher sales of the more expensive album is fascinating. If nothing, proving again, there are customers who will pay for music, and pay a premium for what isn't even very much of a premium product. Of course, it's not clear how much of the USD2 extra sales price is pure profit, and how much was spent creating the extra material for the record - it might be a bit of a Blue Monday style own-goal if you manage to sell eight times as many copies of an album you're making less money on.

And the question is: How many Madonnas does Warners have? It doesn't even have a Madonna after this record, does it?

Custom Festival called off

The organisers of the Custom Rock and Blues festival have withdrawn their licence application amid police fears that the event was going to be targeted by some sort of biker gang looking to avenge the death of Gerard Tobin.

The organisers statement:

"We have a duty to customers, employees and the general public to take very seriously any representations made by the police based on intelligence which they have, no matter how sensationalised we believe it to have been."

Two curious points: Firstly, the organisers seem to have pulled out on the basis that they knew they were unlikely to get a licence in the teeth of police objections - is it possible to simultaneously "take seriously" something you describe as "sensationalised"?

Secondly: Isn't the police's role to protect people going about their lawful business from acts of violence, rather than tell them to stay at home just in case it turns nasty? Isn't this like the cops telling a bank not to open a branch in the High Street in case it persuades people to come and try and rob it?


Much disgruntlement all round at the Radiohead online remix contest, with people complaining to Wired that 'snotfair:

Had Radiohead allowed just enough time (say, one full weekend) for a reasonable amount of mixes (say 100) to come in, without opening the contest for voting... and THEN, once all the mixes were in, allowed people to listen through and vote for the ones they liked, maybe allowing a full week or two for this to take place, then perhaps it would be fair.

As it is, the contest favors those who submitted early (Holy Fuck submitted third, Dreamtrak 1st), and those who have a huge network to rely on (Spor's myspace page has 40,000 friends and over 1,000,000 hits... for Christ's sake even Thomas Dolby couldn't beat his ambition), oh and it also favors people like Naomi Elizabeth who have disgusting vapid remixes, yet show their exposed breasts on their MySpace pages [not really] and post their widgets in as many online crevices as possible. I'm almost positive that some of these folks have random IP address generators. I saw one guy (The Abrasion mix, at number 4) submit very late in the mix and then a day later he had 9000 votes... he hardly has any friends on myspace.. how does one rally 9000 votes in one day?

We'd suggest there's a certain loss of innocence on display here - "you can rig online polls" and "people who are already popular online find it easy to get their friends and fans to vote for them elsewhere" are hardly revelations that are going to have Huw Edwards rejigging the running order of the News At Ten, although there probably is a fair point to be made about allowing voting before everyone submitted - a distortion favouring first movers that, for example, BBC One's I'd Do Anything has fixed for its Nancy Hunt. But even without having got there quickly, it's still likely that Holy Fuck would have got more votes than Joe Q Peppercorn of Boise, Idaho, because Holy Fuck are Holy Fuck and JPQ is but a single man. Even had Radiohead had a pro and an amateur category, there would still have been a problem. This is how bridges nearly get named after Stephen Colbert, after all.

One way round it would have been to invite voters to participate Am I Hot Or Not style, listening to a randomly assigned remix without knowing who made it until after giving a score from 1 to 10. Too late now, though.

Interestingly, Radiohead have extended the deadline for voting. And perhaps, had they not charged people for the remix stems - and thus levied a fee on entering a competition that would never be fair - nobody would be upset at all.

Girls Aloud will eat your hard-drive

We're not surprised fake Girls Aloud mp3s are at the heart of the current spike in trojan software criss-crossing the globe. In fact, we shouldn't be at all surprised if Nadine Coyle herself hasn't created the web nasty as part of some ploy to use botnet voting in next year's Brits best single category. Or maybe the FHM 100 sexiest women poll.

MP Four Tet

As a way of celebrating Four Tet's new mini-album Ringer, his press people have had him knock together a DJ set. A DJ set which, oddly, is longer than the album it's promoting, but there you are.

In fact, here you are, in all its mp3 glory.

This is the set list:

1. Four Tet - Ringer
2. Liquid Liquid - Bell Head (Harvey edit)
3. Avus - Tear
4. Burial - Raver
5. Sam Clarence - Sextant daktari
6. Wookie - Manchu 2
7. Autechre - Play neu!
8. Matt John - Olga dancekowski
9. Kraftwerk - Ruckzuck
10. Plastikman - Helikopter
11. Siobhan Donaghy - Carl Craig remix
12: The Field - Action

Kennedy mopes at Brits ban

Nigel Kennedy - effectively Jamie Oliver with a fiddle - is doing his best to bring some of the made-up turmoil of the rock Brits to the sister classical Brit awards.

He's got the hump because he's been dropped from the running order after inviting Bond (yes, they're still going, too) to play with him:

The Brighton-born violinist said he originally planned to perform Mozart or Beethoven but was told by organisers that his performance must last around the same length as a pop song.

When he suggested playing jazz instead, he said the idea was also rejected.

He eventually settled on a gypsy violin piece Czardas, by Vittorio Monti, but after two days of rehearsals with Bond, he was told they had not been approved as performers by the organisers.

Kennedy claims rival record companies on the Brits committee had made the decision because they were "threatened by me" which could "only be taken as a compliment".

"I was looking forward to this because it had become clear that this was going to be one of my best performances, not just musically but as a visual TV spectacle as well," he said.

Ah, yes, the visual television spectacle. A bloke with a thinning punky haircut and four women in low-cut evening gowns. Whatever has the world been denied?

We're intrigued by the idea that three minutes of Nigel Kennedy is, in some way, a threat to record labels - how, exactly, does that fear manifest itself? Are the classical labels worried that a spot of Nigel on his violin will render all other classical music obsolete? Or has a rumour started that Kennedy has the power to shoot lasers from his eyes?

May to rescue Rock?

The threatened-but-healthy digital radio station Planet Rock might yet have a future - apparently Brian May is pulling together some sort of rescue package to buy the network from GCap:

"I can't tell you who I am 'in league' with, but I am part of a small group of people who have great hopes that we will succeed in taking over the station, and putting it on a firm footing, for the benefit of its growing audience," May wrote on his website,

"I regard Planet Rock as rather more than just a radio station - it is a symbol of free radio ... radio which is not run by large corporate organisations for the purpose of making tons of money, and has a free choice of what it plays."

That's how you see Planet Rock, is it, Brian? Despite it being run by a large corporate organisation and talking openly about its playlist on its website?

Mustaine on fans and art

Dave Mustaine has been thinking about Megadeth's fans capacity for evil:

I also know that we've got some fans that are great people and we've got some fans that aren't such nice guys. There are some people who are fans of ours that love our music and they use it to do bad stuff with.”

Yes. Like playing it to other people. There oughta be a law.

Dave has also decided to share his songwriting insights with a wider world, too:
"I like writing about things that are important for us as people regardless of what nationality we are. I like writing stuff that's intelligent for us as a race regardless of how old we are or what sex we are. MEGADETH music is something that's provocative and stimulating and it's been that way ever since the beginning. I've always tried to write lyrics that were something that would make you sit back and say, ‘Wow, I wonder what he's talking about,' and then do a little research on it. I've never said vote this way, vote that way, I'm this so you better be that, too."


You mean this wasn't an out-and-out endorsement of McCain?

Darkness at 3AM: Snooker loopy

Of course, if Gordon didn't run tits and ass when he's got no actual gossip, he might be reduced to this sort of space filler:

We're not exactly huge snooker fans - and news of Rocket Ronnie O'Sullivan's personal greenhouse gas emission problem backs up our view.

The 32-year-old world champ (left) let out a string of, ahem, silent but deadlies during his big win at Sheffield's Crucible theatre.

It's not just that they're running a story about a snooker player farting, but the Big Win was on Monday evening. Hold the front page - man breaks wind four days ago...

Gordon in the morning: Amy in the cells

Bloody hell - Gordon's wangled himself a co-writer credit on the Sun's story about Amy's arrest ("over our crack video", says the paper, apparently confusing 'our' with 'the video we bought from a drug dealer'). We're not sure which bits of the story Mike Sullivan wrote and what Gordon's contribution was - there's no mention of "Winehouse's banged-up bangers" - but this feels like Gordon's work:

[T]he star, who wore a lime green vest, was said to have sobbed uncontrollably once inside Limehouse nick.

God, yes - wearing lime green? Who wouldn't be sobbing uncontrollably.

Actually, we suspect Gordon's byline is a bit like when the Sugababes get a writing credit on their singles. This, for example, has been written by a proper journalist:
It is notoriously hard to prove possession of drugs unless the substance is found on the person arrested.

The Metropolitan Police previously launched a disastrous probe into the KATE MOSS cocaine video.

Supermodel Kate, 34, did not face any charges.

Under the law, it has to be proved whether a substance being snorted is Class A — such as cocaine — or Class B like speed.

Personally, we wouldn't have called it a "Kate Moss cocaine video" and then admitted that it was virtually impossible to prove that she was taking cocaine in the video.

It's funny, you know, we don't recall anyone on the Bizarre team having mentioned before that the "Amy smokes crack" video was virtually valueless as a piece of evidence every time they've run it before.

Still, it turns out that Amy isn't the target of all this activity:
One source told The Sun: “Those being brought in for questioning this week will be asked to give statements about the people who supplied them with drugs.

“The dealers are the targets of the investigation.”

If the police are trying to find out who was supplying the drugs, let's hope they don't need to talk to the editor of the newspaper section which had come into possession of the memory stick featuring two drug deals, eh?

Elsewhere, Gordon runs yet more naked tits on what has become the grubbiest online showbiz column. Actually:
There’s a new blonde, boob-flashing Z-lister on the scene and this one’s got connections.

NATALIE ROONEY – cousin of Manchester United striker Wayne – is launching a glamour career after having her first boob job.

- even Gordon admits that she's not, by any stretch, a celebrity, or does a job. Effectively, Gordon is running half naked pictures of a random woman off the street.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Daniel Johnston and his chums

The package tour. Besides the over-sugared NME affairs and 80s specials, you don't get many packages any more. Daniel Johnston is doing his best to revive the concept, though, with a UK and European jaunt featuring short sets from Scout Niblett, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, James McNew of Yo La Tengo, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and Jad Fair of Half Japanese. The friends will also provide backing band duties for Daniel during his headline set. You'll want to know the dates, of course:

18th July - berns, stockholm
19th July - sticky fingers, gothenburg
20th July - rockefellar, oslo
23rd July - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
24rd July - New Century House, Manchester
25th July - Indigo2, Millennium Dome, Greenwich
26th July - BBC Maida Vale Session - no fee
27th July - Whelans, Dublin
28th July - Whelans, Dublin

You Got It (Again)

More to be excited about - once you get past the feeling very, very old of hearing that Mudhoney are celebrating their twentieth anniversary, that is. To mark the two-decade point, they're releasing a double-pack special birthday edition of Superfuzz Bigmuff.

1. Touch Me I'm Sick
2. Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More
3. Twenty Four
4. Need
5. Chain That Door
6. Mudride
7. No One Has
8. If I Think
9. In 'n' Out of Grace
10.The Rose
11.Hate the Police
12.You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face)
13.Burn It Clean
15.Need (demo)
16.Mudride (demo)
17.In 'n' Out of Grace (demo)
1. No One Has (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
2. Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
3. Need (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
4. Chain That Door (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
5. If I Think (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
6. Mudride (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
7. Here Comes Sickness (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
8. Touch Me I'm Sick (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
9. In 'n' Out of Grace (live in Berlin 10/10/88)
10.Mudride (live at KCSB 11/16/88)
11.Here Comes Sickness (live at KCSB 11/16/88)
12.No One Has (live at KCSB 11/16/88)
13.By Her Own Hand (live at KCSB 11/16/88)
14.Touch Me I'm Sick (live at KCSB 11/16/88)
15.Dead Love (live at KCSB 11/16/88)

The world, we realise, will fall into those that want every version possible of Touch Me I'm Sick, and those who can happily rub by without any whatsoever. If you're in the latter group, you probably won't be interested in this, from 2006:

This was from the Dour Festival in Belguim.

Tigers tomorrow

Pull Tiger Tail - they're back, back, back. Tomorrow night, in fact, playing Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes in the Tavistock Hotel. Band on stage at 9pm.

For those of us not in London, this is the sort of thing we'll be missing:

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Giving away the store

As people rush to download the new Coldplay record, for free, off the internet, Gennaro Castaldo pins his hopes on album sales:

“Coldplay will not have made a huge loss by giving away their first single because they are very much a group that connects with their fans via their album," HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said. “The industry will be looking very carefully at how the album sells following their decision to allow their fans to downlaod the first single for free.”

Well, yes, it won't have hurt Coldplay to give the single away - indeed, a few years back record labels would frequently give away singles to the stores so they could sell them for 99p in the week of release. But it must have hurt HMV and Zavvi a little, surely?

Winehouse in custody

Amy Winehouse is currently in a police station in East London, explaining those pictures from the Sun of her apparently smoking crack.

The Met Police have released a statement:

"Around 1pm today a 24-year-old woman from the Camden area attended a London police station by arrangement and was arrested in connection with the alleged possession of a controlled drug.

"She remains in custody. This is in connection with an investigation connected to footage passed to the Metropolitan Police on 22 January."

The Winehouse camp have also shared their perspective:
"Amy Winehouse voluntarily attended a London police station today by appointment.

"She was arrested in order to be interviewed and is co-operating fully with inquiries.

"The interview relates to a video handed to police earlier this year."

She's been in the station since one o'clock; seven hours is being very co-operative indeed.

NME Radio starts as it doesn't mean to go on

The long-planned NME radio station has set a launch date of June 2nd. Or, rather, it hasn't, it's set a launch date of June 24th, but will be doing "test transmissions" prior to those dates.

Still, they've got a big name signed up: Ricky Gervais. He's signed up for a two-hour programme. Just the one, mind, although they look set to play it again and again.

Gervais is a slightly odd choice for the show - admittedly, he was a big hit on XFM and then with his podcasts, but even when he was on XFM the music was hardly the key factor in the mix. And is Gervais all that NME? Eddie Izzard - we could understand him being chosen; or the Mighty Boosh. But Ricky look-I'm-having-a-laugh-with-Bono Gervais? Ricky Night-at-the-Museum Gervais? It's not even as if he's at the top of his game any more - indeed, if he was, chances are he'd be too busy to be NME's launch monkey.

And should it be a comedian anyway? If the NME is meant to be IPC's way of owning music, why is it launching with a big splash with a comedy bloke?

Actually, what does it say about the confidence in the team that, effectively, the launch message is 'we don't think any of our regular stuff is strong enough to be of interest, so we've hired in some entertainers to get us going'?

There's a reason that Gervais has been persuaded to take part - it looks like a called-in favour:

Sammy Jacob, NME Radio managing director, has worked with Gervias previously at XFM.

"Hearing Ricky, Steve and Karl in action again will no doubt keep me on my toes," he declared.

"I used to bury myself hearing Ricky and Steve on air in 1997, fearing we would lose our licence each time they went on," he continued. Having Karl on board has only made matters worse. I look forward to some compelling radio."

What better way to launch a brand-new radio show than reviving an eleven year-old programme. We hear Round The Horne is going to be on at lunchtimes.

Paramore ride to Miley's aid

Yesterday, Justin Timberlake was sticking up for Miley Cyrus - a victim of the times, you'll recall.

Today, the defence come from Hayley Williams. Yes, her out of Paramore:

"We grew up around the Cyrus family, and they're amazing people, and I know they wouldn't steer their daughter wrong," Williams said to, "Miley's got a good head on her shoulders, so I think she'll come out of all this strong. She's a great girl."

Well, okay, it's not so much a defence as an opinion-free comment, but what is interesting is the discovery that Paramore are actually chums with Miley Cyrus. Like they're not really a hard rock band at all. What a surprise.

Zunes love company

One of the stronger features of the Zune was the ability to link up wirelessly with other Zunes to share music (under, obviously, strictly controlled rules). The only problem is: what if you can't find anyone else with a Zune in your neighbourhood?

Naturally, you turn to the lonely hearts columns.

Comebacks you actually might want: Vaselines reform?

That 20th anniversary Sub Pop party? There's a strong rumour that The Vaselines will be getting back together to play it.

Of course, it might not happen. But even a false rumour of The Vaselines playing again is better than the grinding reality of the resurrected Boyzone chugging about.

The Costello Stream

Tempted by Elvis Costello's new album Momofuku but not sure if you'd really like it? And, for some reason, feel queasy about downloading a trial edition from peer-to-peer networks to sample before buying?

No worries: Lost Highway Records are streaming the whole thing.

A smaller gang: Allen and Burnhamm quit

The Gang of Four are now a a Gang of Two as bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham decide they've had enough of being post-punk heroes. Official statementing has been made:

Allen says, “At the beginning of April, I decided that I could no longer continue to be a member of Gang of Four. My ability to give 100% to the band is limited and I feel that if I can’t do so, then I shouldn’t continue. As I expand my research and thinking about contemporary music distribution on Pampelmoose (Allen’s popular blog), and as I focus on online technology and social networking at Nemo Design here in Portland, I find myself conflicted about how the band’s new music should be released. To retain any credibility for Pampelmoose about what the future of music distribution will look like, I have to move on and not hold back Jon and Andy’s music plans. I have had a side project for a while now with John Askew of Tracker and Menomena drummer Danny Stein called Faux-Hoax (pronounced Folks), and I look forward to fun times finding ways to get our music into peoples’ hands in unique ways.”

Burnham writes, “It was a great couple of years of intermittently reminding people old and new, far and wide just how powerful the original four of us were together. Age only increased our power and focus onstage, and it was a rare pleasure to work with the original band once again. Being in a band requires handling the business side of it too, and that became boring and the constant travel became debilitating. I am soon to start my Doctorate, as well as broadening my teaching at more than one college here."

Yes, Burnham has dropped out of a punk band to try his luck with school. Is that the right way round?

Darkness at 3AM: Do they know who they are?

We're bemused. Very bemused. Not only has the cash-strapped Daily Mirror sent someone from 3AM over to what they keep calling "NEW YORK'S TOP CELEB FASHION GALA", and yet the best they can do is a story about Geri Halliwell's nipples.

Even more bemusing, each story is headlined like this:


But isn't VIP the Sunday People's gossip column? Have the 3AM Girls got confused about which paper they're writing for at the moment?

Gordon in the morning: In her hair

Yesterday's big splash on the Bizarre column was, of course, the claim about Blake and a woman plotting to take Amy Winehouse for an expensive divorce ride. So, naturally, Gordon returns to the Winehouse story this morning, with this follow-up: Amy Winehouse wraps hair in towel.

Admittedly, he does mumble some reference to yesterday's story:

The Sun yesterday revealed her love-cheat hubby BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL, 25, plans to run off with her dosh.

Although - and let's be generous and pretend that we can believe everything we read in the Sun - since Gordon has been claiming that Amy has taken a string of lovers while Blake has been inside, is it entirely fair to call Blake the "love-cheat hubby"? It's like Smart has forgotten his own storyline.

What's also notable is, while most of yesterday's stories from Bizarre are still on the front page, there's no link to the Blake Divorce plot story.

What else from Gordon? Well, Kylie Minogue will be delighted that he still makes snorting noises where he looks at her photo:
Sexy star is still Kylie attractive

Kylie wore a dress which Gordon seems to think had a spider on it (not unless spiders have over a dozen legs, it doesn't) and tries to think up some spider puns based on this misidentification:
THERE were no flies on KYLIE MINOGUE when she began her world tour last night
The purple gown will help weave her spell in countries including Germany, Russia, Finland and the UK.

You really have to hope he didn't know it wasn't a spider dress but decided the puns were so good it was worth saying it was.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Doherty doesn't like the BNP

Pete Doherty missed both the Love Music Hate Racism gig last week, and his chance to vote and make a difference in the local elections, so he's trying to catch up a little by calling down the BNP:

Speaking following his release from prison this morning, Doherty said “there will be no passage of evil through these isles without a proper, good struggle.”

“This island has always been a melting pot and personally I am 100% mongrel in the great dog stew of history - Bona fide scouse, London Irish, jew Geordie BiloRussian.”

Well, yes. Your melting-pot credentials are unimpeachable, Pete. Of course, one of the BNP's successful campaign themes was to exploit popular revulsion against drugs, and your behaviour provided them with a lot of ammunition. Rather than banging on about how you've got a great-great grandfather from overseas, you might do more good if you stop playing into the BNP's hands.

Oh, and if you really want to stop evil's passage through these islands, not contributing to the drugs market might be a good to place to start.

Gabriel loses servers

Peter Gabriel has been knocked off the web by the theft of servers from his ISP. Claims that it was the BPI who seized them to inspect suggestions that there were music files on them are, of course, wide of the mark.

Out of print albums come back to life

Sony BMG and EMI are hooking up with Amazon's CreateSpace service to offer a limited number of burn-on-demand albums that have been out of print for a while. The Listening Post are describing this as "like Cafe Press for music", in that each album will be made as a one-off on customer request.

It's a nice move, although why this wasn't being done a decade ago is one of those mysteries that shareholders in the majors might want to ponder.

Haven't The Police split once already?

The good Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg has given The Police the keys to New York to mark their career, which he praised in glowing terms, applauding:

“thirty years of staying at the top of your game” over its “long career.”

Of course, the twenty or so years during which the band weren't functioning wasn't an entirely difficult game to be on top of, but we're sure Bloomberg meant well. (Imagine, eh, a major world city with a bungling, over-promoted half-wit as a mayor. Couldn't happen here.)

At the same time, Sting and his friends took the chance to announce that they're calling a day. Again. They'll be playing their "last ever gig" (until the next one) in New York this summer. Presumably now they've got the keys to the city, they wouldn't be able to stop them.

Contact Music contradicts itself in seconds

We know there's a load of stuff posted to web of variable quality every second of the day, but are the team at Contact Music even reading their stuff in their head as they write it?

Take, for example, their piece on Martha Wainwright's marriage. Here's what Martha said:

"Female needs are no different from male ones. They want to get laid every night... only not by a different person."

Contact starts out by filtering this into the following:
Canadian singer MARTHA WAINWRIGHT only got married so she could enjoy regular sex.

Now, let's set aside the surprise we might feel at the rather loose reinterpretation of her words, as in the very next sentence, the website contradicts itself:
The 32-year-old wed bass player Brad Alberta last year (07), and admits one of the key reasons she went through with the nuptials was so she no longer needed to worry about her love life.

So, in the space of half a sentence, she's gone from only marrying for the sex, to the sex being one of the reasons she got married.

Actually, let's not set aside the reinterpretation of her words - why would it be an "admission" that one of the reasons you get married is to be always close to another person? Isn't that like saying "she admitted she went swimming to keep fit"?

Warners wants to fix the price

In what is clearly yet another attempt to try and force the cost of digital downloads upwards, Warners are trialling variable pricing:

The record label, which is home to Madonna, has signed a deal with Digonex Technologies who specialise in suggesting prices based upon behavioural principles.

The test, which will run for a limited time, will mean that “consumers can actively help set prices for select digital albums”.

Consumers have, of course, been busily setting prices for digital albums since Napster became popular - we're not entirely sure that 'zero' is quite what Warners has in mind.
Jan Eglen, CEO of Digonex Technologies, said the pilot program was “groundbreaking”, adding that the company is “confident that our technology has the potential to have a significant impact on digital album sales for the selected titles.”

Selling less popular stuff for lower prices and more popular stuff for higher prices. We're not sure that's all that groundbreaking, is it?

Where's the Cougar musical, matey?

Those holding their breath for the Stephen King/John Mellencamp musical might need to ask David Blaine for a few lessons, as they're going to need to hold their breath for another year.

Although the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County had been due to open in the forthcoming season at the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta. But now it won't, because, erm, it's not even been written yet.

Given that the pencilled in date was April 2009, and they're already off schedule for that, even the "2009/2010 season" might be looking a little optimistic. Is it really that hard to come up with rhymes for "ghosties"?

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Football crazy

After all the excitement of having opinions on Grand Theft Auto and violence and kids with guns and, ooh, everything, it's down to earth with a bump for HMV voice-holder Gennaro Castaldo, who's reduced to trying to find something interesting to say about the Cardiff City FA Cup single. He doesn't quite rise to the occasion:

Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for HMV, said if the same number of people who turned up for FA Cup semi-final bought the single, it would guarantee it a number one spot.

“It’s going to be very interesting when the hard copy sales take effect from Monday,” he said.

“Pre-sales orders have been in the thousands and there’s a very good chance of it making the top five.”

"Hard copy sales"? Is that what they're calling physical sales these days? Has Gennaro decided that "physical sales" might be too meaningless a term for the average man in the street and so has decided to go with the even more meaningless "hard copy sales" instead of, say, "CDs"?

And, while Gennaro is correct, that if all 82752 who turned up for the semi final bought a copy it would cakewalk to number one, did anyone mention to him that football matches generally have attendees who support either of the teams playing? Unless frustrated Barnsley fans intend to buy the record to smash it to smithereens, or maybe melt the hard copy sale to make something a little softer, the chances of selling one to everyone who went to Wembley seems somewhat unlikely.

Usher misses the point

Who knew that a Noel Gallagher remark could be too complex to understand? Turns out, though, that Usher had difficulty grasping the point of Noel's 'Jay-Z wrong for Glastonbury' thought-leak and has decided that Noel meant Jay-Z wasn't headline material at all:

"It really shocked me that he said that. Jay-Z is an incredible artist and headliner. I saw him perform at the Hollywood Bowl in LA, and you're not getting better than that."

The Hollywood Bowl is a little like Glastonbury, although, of course, the herd of cows that graze on the Bowl site between shows are bred for beef rather than milk like the Worthy Farm beasts.

Still, nice to see that no matter how ill-informed and dunderheaded a quote is, there's always someone happy to lower the bar still further.

Doherty: Drugs, me? Never

Pete Doherty has celebrated his release from jail by giving an interview to denying stories he was on drucks inside the jail:

"I managed to stay clean. I got my certificate. I was going to Sellotape it to the wall, but they wouldn't give me any Sellotape," he said. "Did I take heroin inside? Complete rubbish. The prison didn't release statements – it's their policy to ignore it rather than acknowledge it [media reports].

"I was in segregation for the last three weeks. They call it the block. Supposedly I was in debt to loads of big time drug dealers. All I'll say to that is: chance would be a fine thing."

Now, you wouldn't expect someone whose freedom relies on being clean to emerge from jail and start trilling about his drugs intake inside, would you?

Somewhat oddly, the NME report also highlights the word sellotape in the report. Twice, so it's not a mistake or anything. Equally oddly, Doherty doesn't explain why he was put into segregation.

Pete claims that his time inside was hell:
"I got trouble from the start, from the inmates and the guards, mainly shouting at night really," he explained. "Some people were saying 'Keep your head down', the other half were saying 'Keep your chin up'. So I was a bit like a nodding dog – I didn't know whether to keep my chin up or keep my head down. It was 18-day early release – I can't complain really."

Is it just us, or is being advised to keep your head down or chin up not quite the same thing as "getting trouble"? If that's hassle, then we're now viewing Jiminy Cricket as some sort of insect-like Reggie Kray figure.

Now Cliff takes on General Franco

Cliff Richard is not a man to let things go quietly. Not on Radio 1? You'll hear about it. Having to give up copyright on recordings he made half a century ago? There will be letters.

He's even now insisting that he is retrospectively awarded the first prize in the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest after some film-makers have claimed that General Franco had the vote rigged so that Spain would win:

Although he conceded that opening an official investigation into the rigged vote "might not be worth the trouble", the belated verdict would mean a lot to him.

"I'd be quite happy to be able to say I won Eurovision '68. It's an impressive date in the calendar these days."

Yes, he does appear to be saying that 'Congratulations winning the Eurovision song contest' should take its place alongside Les Evenements, the assassination of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and the sit-in at Columbia University as part of world history.

The film, 1968: I lived the Spanish May, claims that Franco sent out ambassadors to bribe corrupt TV executives across Europe to ensure a Spanish winner for the song contest. Which he might have done, but since it's equally possible that, even unbribed, people can take against Cliff Richard, who's to say that it would have altered the outcome at all?

Cliff, let it go now.
"It's never good to lose, never good to feel a loser. When I went on that night I said to the band: 'Look guys, there will be 400 million people watching, it will be a massive plug for our song.' And it was. I think we sold a million singles. But we really wanted to win."

Cliff, Cliff: isn't it enough that Frankie and Bennys play the song every time someone is celebrating a birthday? Although when they do so, it does make us come over a little General Franco-esque ourselves.

Doherty back on the streets

They probably only decided to do it when they heard it would annoy Anne Widdecombe: Pete Doherty's been released from prison after 29 days of his 14 week sentence.

Mandela birthday bash acts named

It's like this year's Diana Concert, or something: Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday party, which will be marked with a big concert in Hyde Park. Oddly, Queen are on the bill, despite having done their best to keep Mandela in prison by supporting the homelands policy of the apartheid regime when they played Sun City. Obviously, Mandela is a man with boundless powers of forgiveness, but you'd think that Brian May might have some sense of shame and would have turned down the invitation.

Razorlight are also due to play, and Annie Lennox, of course. They're promising "more" stars to be added (some stars to be added?) as the date gets closer, but Johnny Clegg and some children's choirs are definitely going to be there. At least they've actually invited some African acts this time, which somehow Bob Geldof failed to do for Live Aid and Live 8.

Darkness at 3AM: Pea on Cheryl Cole

Will I Am was asked a stupid question, to which he gave a polite answer, in an exchange along the lines of 'do you think Cheryl Cole is pretty'/'yes I do'. In fact, he said:

"If Cheryl was single, hell yeah! She'd just have to holler. I saw her a few days ago.

"She's doing good - she was looking hot."

This, clearly, is the same way that you tell a bride she looks radiant, or the bloke in the shop that, were you ten years younger, you'd be asking for his mobile number. Trouble is, he said it to the 3AM Girls, who tend to scale politeness up:
She's a Heartbreaker - so who can blame for having a crush on Girls Aloud's Cheryl Cole?

The producer and Black Eyed Peas star was bowled over by Chez, 24, when she flew to LA to record Heartbreaker with him.

Still, we're delighted to discover that William talks a bit like Danny Kelly:
"Hats off to her for holding it together during shooting the video and still being strong while she was working through everything."

Yes. Hats off, indeed. Although Mr. Am then babbles something meaningless:
"She managed it by being creative through adversity."

Or, perhaps, like the rest of us, she had to get on and do her job despite having the hump.

Kanye promises not to be "Michael Jacksoned"

Kanye's been blogging again. He appears to have been caught swearing on stage because his plasma screens were broken:

Don't believe the hype! When I started the show the other night we were having a lot of technical issues due 2 the heat. The 2 huge screens on both sides of the stage were glaring bright blue like when your DVD player acts up at home. I asked for them 2 turn the screens off 3 times because it was distracting 2 the show. The fans were not getting what they paid for. I admit, in my frustration, I did use profanity on the 4th time I asked. I stopped the show 2 go over and check it out myself. After the screens were turned off I started the same song from the beginning. The screens were eventually fixed 5 songs in but it was definitely better 2 have them blacked out rather than bright blue.

It's arguable if people who pay to see Kanye West actually think they're paying to watch the television instead, but never mind. It's the "don't believe the hype" that should detain us here - because Kanye is worried about how he's being portrayed in the media. Again.
Unfortunately for certain media outlets, you will never be able 2 'Michael Jackson' me. That means 2 make it seem like everything I do is so weird or out of place... they always try 2 make it seem like everything is about my ego! That joke is getting old. At a certain point you have 2 respect that I'm one of the last artist that still cares about the fans having the best time of there lives!

Yes. All the other pop stars - they don't care like Kanye. All the lad was doing was trying to stage-manage from centre stage - for the fans, whose little, empty lives could only form into some sort of meaningfulness for a moment or two if there was a big screen with a Kanye-mandated animated teddy bear or something on it.

We're not sure that Kanye is right using Michael Jackson as a verb in this case - one of us has clearly terribly misunderstood the Jacko story, which we thought was about Jesus juice and sharing bedrooms with young friends in a totally non-sexual way rather than swearing at television screens.

Kanye then goes on to crawl a little to the blogosphere, or at least the self-appointed kings of it:
Thanks 2 Bossip and Perez for taking it easy on me on the EW spaz... I did go in a little 2 much on that one. I'm sure there are some cool people who work over there and had nothing 2 do with that review. With all that said.... "I'm still the greatest!!!" lol!! Oh and I was in the studio with T.I. last night.... so get ready!!!

LOL indeed, Mr. West. LOL indeed.

Gordon in the morning: Blake, blondes and the new Mr Mills

With the McCartney-Mills divorce having run its course, more or less, the Sun clearly needs a new Heather Mills figure. But where will it find someone married to a celebrity to graft its 'money-grubbing gold-digger' story onto?

Languishing in Pentonville, it appears:

Blake and blonde plot to fleece Amy

The paper reckons that Blake has promised to marry the woman, and the pair have plotted to take Amy down in the divorce. Because, of course, there would have to be a divorce:
Blake has been bragging to pals that Amy, 24, will have to pay him a seven-figure sum to get him off her back.

He is set to demand at least £3million as a divorce settlement, telling his lawyers he wants £250,000 for each month of their year-long marriage — despite being in jail for part of it.

Apparently, this plan came into being after Blake found out - by reading in The Sun, of course, which is the only place that appears to believe its own story - that Amy was "having an affair". Since that story only ran a week ago, you'd have to admire Blake's ability to woo a replacement woman, propose marriage and start to issue demands for a seven-figure divorce settlement.

The paper's story is only nearly totally undermined by it failing to even offer a vague source for the claims - a "friend" offers some commentary, but not even a vague "pal" is credited with the meat and veg of the story. Oh, and for a newspaper which claims to know what the divorce demands will be down to the nearest quid, it's surprising they can't identify the supposed new love of Blake's life beyond her being "a mystery blonde". Funny, that.

Perhaps the story is true - stranger things have happened - but you can't help feeling that the paper is getting confused. It confuses many, many things. The same article suggests:
Amy spent yesterday lounging around with pals in Henley, Oxfordshire. Wearing just a bra and shorts to show off her tattoos and skinny body, she smoked and chatted on her mobile while soaking up the sun.

Was she wearing a bra and shorts "to show off" her body? Or was it because the South of England had temperatures in the 20s yesterday afternoon and it would be cooler to wear less?

The whole deal, by the way, is handled by Richard White, Showbiz reporter. It's unclear why Gordon Smart still even has his name and face on the column since the big stuff is always written by other people.

Gordon's big piece? Lily Allen is writing comedy sketches. No, no, it's not just your toes that are curling.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Justin Timberlake points the finger: The times are to blame

The Miley Cyrus post-coital picture that did so much to help sales of Vanity Fair, clearly, needs to be blamed on someone. Thankfully, Justin Timberlake knows who to point the finger at.

Not Annie Leibowitz for taking the photo; or Miley's management for approving it; or the magazine for running it; nor any of the people who try to justify the picture because it's not actually, definitively a sexual image of a minor so that should be alright, then; oh, no, it's the "times":

"Of course they're going to pick [on] a wholesome, American, young female [for] the first sign of anything," Timberlake said. "Unfortunately, there's a picture of her that's published with her in just a blanket. ... And that's the photo, that's the catalyst. But that's also the age we live in. People want to take a photo, and that's who you are for a year's time. We've all become victims of that."

We're not sure that Timberlake has even thought about if he has an opinion, much less if it is in any way coherent - it's not like this is a long-lens snap through a window; this is a stylised, organised photo-shoot, with artistic sign-off. The furore has been created, but not by people who wanted to attack Cyrus, but by the people who wanted to feed off her. Liebowitz, the Cyrus organisation, the magazine - they're the ones who decided to run this photo and since none of them are stupid, they must have known exactly what the reaction would be. To try and blame that on the "times we live in" is like feeding seagulls alka-seltzer and then blaming the seagulls' constitutions when they explode.

And what are the times, anyway, Justin? Isn't the nasty, over-sexualised public culture we have partly due to, ooh, songs about bringing sexy back, and pop stars dry-humping each other on stage like in New York last week? When you've helped made a culture, you can't start tutting over the culture you've made, can you?

Foals unimpressed with Boris

Edwin Congreave of Foals isn't happy with the people of London:

"We're flying back to London from New York," he they wrote. "The jet lag is one thing, but the fear that we'll be flying into a city that isn't so much a newly fascist city-state than one big gilded joke of a newspaper column made rotten flesh [is another].

"Boris 'Picaninny' Johnson, we salute you – sort of like we'd salute any smug, self-satisfied old Etonian holding a statute-book to our heads. Congratulations and good luck with the Olympics.

"At least when California elected a clown as governor they elected one who'd made his name as a muscle-man [Arnold Schwarzenegger]. Boris appears to have been elected simply because he has blond hair."

Actually, it turns out that most Boris voters thought that he'd only be mayor for one week, followed by the bloke from the Pimms advert the next, and then Brian Blessed.

Kanye had proof-read rant

You'd have thought the only justification for Kanye's grumpy reaction to a bad review was that it was written in haste.

It turns out that this is the cool-headed version: before he calmed down, Kanye had originally instructed the reviewer to commit suicide. Charming.

Lily Allen's new material

At some point, Lily Allen has uploaded two Kate Nash songs - sorry, demo versions of two new tracks - to her MySpace. One of them, I Could Say, is actually quite a nice song although by the time it's been produced and had some cod reggae slapped over the top of it it'll be unrecognizable and as clunky as the stuff on the first record. The other, I Don't Know, is less charming - oh-life-is-terrible-poor-me second-album stuff - and seems to have been a bit more polished before being uploaded. Certainly, her voice seems to have been helped a little, which isn't the case with the ropey performance on I Could Say.

[via The Times track of the day]

Ronson loves the Kaisers

With what seems to be a straight face, Mark Ronson suggests the Kaiser Chiefs are the Beatles of our age:

Speaking about each band member, Ronson said that “each one of them in any other band would be the funniest member of that band”.

“It’s that classic... almost like the Beatles when you see those early press conferences and they had that razor-sharp wit.”

Well, at least he's not comparing them musically, which is something. But if the band have the wit of The Beatles, isn't that only on the basis of being a band of Ringos?

Gordon in the morning: When is an exclusive not an exclusive?

The crowing with which Gordon has thrown an "exclusive" tag all over the video of Peaches buying drugs can't disguise the hollowness of his victory - it took the hated sister paper the News of the World to point out to the Sun that they had a potentially more interesting story than the 'Winehouse does drugs' one they went with. Where is the pride in running an exclusive you had to read about in another newspaper?

Gordon's copy even reads like it was lifted from yesterday's poorly-written Screws piece:

Peaches has previously denied using cocaine like mum PAULA YATES, who died of a heroin overdose in 2000.

And he even tacitly acknowledges that the Sun could have been running this story months ago, but somehow missed it:
But cops found the clip of her on a computer memory stick also containing scenes of Amy, 24, smoking crack cocaine.

Stills of Amy were published in The Sun four months ago.

Meanwhile - despite the threat of legal action from Ashley Cole - Gordon takes the opportunity of the first night of the Girls Aloud tour to mention the Coles' problems, but in a slightly less gruesome way:
CHERYL last night told of her agony over her hubby Ashley’s cheating.

The Girls Aloud singer admitted: “I felt like cracking up at times.

“But it’s made me realise there are people a million times worse off than me.”

The Sun revealed in January how Chelsea ace Ashley romped with blonde Aimee Walton, 22.

We're a little puzzled as to how discovering your husband may or may not have bitten off more than he should chew would lead you to realise that there are people worse off than yourself, but if it's working for Cheryl, that's probably what counts.

Darkness at 3AM: Where's Norris McWhirter when you need him

Excitement at the Daily Mirror as Madonna goes to number one with her new album. 3AM breathlessly informs its readers:

Madonna breaks record in this week's charts

Wow. Really? Which record?
The 49-year-old held off Portishead's comeback album, to record her 10th UK chart-topper.

And so ten number one albums is a record, is it?
Only The Beatles and Elvis have done better, with 15 No. 1 albums and 11 respectively.

So, then, that's the sort of record where it's the third-best performance, then?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

No big names interested in joining a Canadian Virgin

Last year's extension of the V Festival brand to include Vancouver looks like being a one-off: plans for a 2008 event have been dropped because the organisers couldn't find any big names interested in playing. Even Jack Johnson said no, although if he'd said yes, they'd have had to try and sell an event where he was the highlight which would have been a working definition of 'a hiding to nothing'.

Love rushes to hospital

Laryngitis is a terrible thing. We've not heard of it causing throat and chest pains, though, nor needing you to rush to a hospital. Neither, it seems, had the staff at Cedars Sinai hosptial, for when Courtney Love turned up with those symptoms and self-diagnosis they started to ask her about drugs and if she'd like to see the psychiatrist. Even so, the official diagnosis turns out to be "strep throat."

When bands fall out

Sometimes, band splits can come as a relief for everyone involved - the band has run its course, and striking out in separate ways is the best way for the individuals to continue to build a career and develop as artists.

Not always, though. Ervey Ruiz decided it was time for him to leave Denver band Toros de la Sierra, and told band leader Alvaro Alvarado-Amarias. Alvaro didn't take it well. In fact, he tried to persuade Ruiz to remain. By holding him hostage at gunpoint for five hours. Alvaro has pleaded guilty to menacing behaviour in return for the District Attorney dropping false imprisonment charges.

Avril croaks

Avril Lavigne has, reluctantly, oh-so-reluctantly, pulled a series of six dates due to flu, or a cold, or laryngitis, or some sort of illness:

"My sincerest apologies to all of my fans."

"My intention was to complete the rest of the tour but tonight at sound check in Anaheim I realised this wasn't possible. Even though I have been resting my voice for days, when I tried to sing nothing came out."

"I have never cancelled a show in my whole career and just had to for the first time ever. This sux."

It must have been terrible - imagine trying to sing and nothing coming out. The upside, though, is that apparently the ticket sales for the pulled gigs were quite poor. What a happy coincidence.

Ting Tings playing unplugged

We're heavily fond of the Ting Tings, and so we're delighted to bring you - via the Music Slut - a performance for Indie 103.1:

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Tegan and Sara share their favourite tunes with the New York Times:

I’m in a snowshoe club in Montreal. “Welcome to the Night Sky” (Labwork Music/EMI) became the soundtrack to my snowshoeing. It’s very melancholy, very sad; the whole sentiment is disastrous with heart-wrenching lyrics. I interpreted it as a breakup record, as I was going through a breakup at the time. I would think about life and big-picture things and listen to this. I hate people who say you have to listen to upbeat music when you’re sad.

Clive James considers Amy Winehouse and Snoop Dogg:
We happened to be staying in the same hotel, and I passed her in the foyer. She looked so frail that my heart hurt again, but in a different way. When that young woman sings, it's the revelation of a divine gift. But when she behaves as if the gift were hers to destroy if she feels like it, you can't help thinking of divine wrath.

Can't the same force that made her so brilliant give her strength?

Which brings us to the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, who has all the strength in the world. Whether he is brilliant is another question, which I don't presume to answer. As a lyricist who has made no more than a few hundred pounds over the course of a whole career, I try not to speak ill of any lyricist who makes thousands of pounds a week, even when I can't understand what he is talking about.

And they're my bloody umlauts, too

James P also reports on the latest copyright clash, too. Meat Loaf is demanding return of a font:

Satan-incarnate rock-monster Meatloaf is engaged in a furious battle over a font. Which might sound exciting until you realise he isn't fighting over some sort of religious item for use in a demonic ritual. He's cross that a Meatloaf tribute act from Lancashire has got a tourbus with lettering which looks a bit like Meatloaf's own lettering.

To be fair, Meatloaf also claims the act is encroaching on the real Meatloaf's domain, which presumably means he's throwing his weight around in the pits of Hell.

*checks story*

Oh. He wants him to stop using '' too.

The story is actually quite sinister. Dean Torkington appears to have been singled out at a Liverpool Loaf gig:
He said the problem first surfaced last year when he was sat in the front row of a Meat Loaf concert in Liverpool when a man dressed in black handed him a note saying that the American singer wanted to meet him backstage.

"I had met him on two previous occasions, which were absolutely fantastic, but when I went backstage his manager ushered me into a room," he said.

"He said that he had seen our motorhome, that we use as a tour bus, parked on the car park, and Meat Loaf wasn't happy that we had used his lettering to decorate the side of the van and he told me that we had to remove it."

Since Torkington does look like Meat Loaf - albeit in a Jon Culshaw sort of way - it's probably unsurprising that they were able to spot him in the front row at the gig. Torkington has agreed to change the lettering on the side of the bus, but refuses to drop the domain name.

You can't appreciate a master of the craft

Kanye West, you might imagine, is the sort of man who knows how to cope with hardship. A "if life gives you lemons, you have your lemon clean-up guy paged to get the fuck over and take care of these lemons" type of bloke.

A lukewarm review? It would be water off an expensive waterproof jacket with diamond buttons for him.

Not so. Entertainment Weekly could only find it in its heart to give him a B+ for his gig. Kanye wasn't happy. So much so, he blogged about it:

Yo, anybody that's not a fan; don't come to my show. For what?! To try and throw ya'll two cents in? Ya'll rated my album shitty and now ya'll come to the show and give it a B+. What's a B+ mean? I'm an extremist. It's either pass or fail! A+ or F-! You know what, fuck you and the whole fucking staff!!! I know I shouldn't dignify this with a comment, but the reviewer threw a jab at all the artists. I just wanna know when was the last time you enjoyed yourself. If you can't have fun and lose yourself at this tour it's a good chance you're a very miserable person. I actually feel sorry for you guys. Your job forces you to not have fun anymore. Grab a drink, holla at some nice girls, and party bitch!! You don't know shit about passion and art. You'll never gain credibility at this rate. You're fucking trash! I make art. You can't rate this. I'm a real person. I'm not a pop star. I don't care about anything but making great art. Never come 2 one of my shows ever again, you're not invited and if you see me...BOW!! This is not pop, it's pop art!

We love the way he worries about "dignifying" the review by reacting to it, although by that point he was already fucking the entire staff of the magazine.

There's also something curious about his insistence that you can only come to watch him if you're going to like it - how would you know before it starts? Would you have to leave halfway through if you think Kanye's starting to flag?

Still, Kanye's right - he's not a pop star. We're not quite sure what he is, but he's no pop star.

[Thanks to James P for the link]

Almost indistinguishable

Geri Halliwell is excited by the forthcoming Sex And The City movie. Because, you know, it could be about here:

"I LOVE Carrie. I'm really like her in the way I analyse, and I have the hair and the prom dresses."

Having hair really does make you exactly alike her. Brian Blessed has hair, too, and we think you're quite like him, too.

Although there is much to make of this self-aggrandising honking, the Sunday Mirror's Showbiz with Zoe columnist Zoe Zoe Showbiz fumbles her putdown:
Earth to Geri - Carrie is a fictional character, love.

Except, of course, Sex In The City is a roman a clef and Bradshaw is, effectively, Candace Bushnell, who is all-too-real; and even if Carrie had been totally imagined up out of thin air, why would that make it impossible for Geri to be like her? If someone said "my boyfriend's a bit like Marcus from Coronation Street", presumably Zoe wouldn't start pulling faces and going "you idiot! Marcus is a construct of scriptwriters. How could someone be 'like' him?"

Actually, she probably would, wouldn't she?

Rav Singh reports from the end of Empires

Poor old Rav Singh, forever shunted to the corners of the News of the World, is today trying to make something exciting out of Boyzone splitting.

Actually, he doesn't even have that to work with. He's actually got a "we're so happy to be back, we all get on" interview, and - in a desperate bid to try and make it interesting - focuses on the smallest fleck of grit in the band's comments:

Shane Lynch admitted things were so bad, he ended up hitting the bottle.

Shane said: "I found myself drinking through the day just to find some sort of happiness—but I couldn't find it. That's not a good place to be in.

"We hated it, we hated each other and we were overworked."

The trouble is, if things were that bad how plausible would it be that they have got back together so quickly and so happily? Rav doesn't seem to be able to knit this together in any sense; nor does he ask Lynch to expound on his claims about hitting the bottle. (Nobody ever does - he told the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald that he was "almost an alcoholic" and the paper doesn't think to ask what that actually means - or, indeed, if "I was nearly addicted" makes any sense at all.)

Instead, Rav happily hands over the page to the Boyzone PR machine:
Shane said: "There's going to be a really different vibe to the show.

"There will be five outfit changes for the JACKSON 5 medley. The crowd are going to love it. But we're all dead nervous." Mikey added: "We've got more creative control over the way the shows are going to go this time round.

Are you sure that's entirely wise, Mikey from Boyzone?

Collapsing Winehouse brings down Geldof

The most surprising thing about the News of the World's report this morning that the memory stick which held the Winehouse crack footage also had film of Peaches Geldof (allegedly) buying drugs is that The Sun had, apparently, somehow managed to miss that bit when they ran the original story.

The story seems to have been knocked together in something of a hurry - it's got this paragraph which bizarrely changes direction half-way through, like it forgets who it's talking about:

The tattooed beauty is also a regular at the capital’s indie clubs, enjoying close friendships with bands like The Horrors and Towers Of London. She is now dating Horrors frontman Faris Badwan. Yates started dating Live Aid creator Geldof when she was 17.

There's also this clunking piece in the introduction:
Peaches, —who has always denied using cocaine like her tragic mum Paula Yates—was found by cops on the SAME video in which Winehouse, 24, was caught snorting crack.

It wasn't the same video, it was just the same memory stick as the same story says; and do they mean that Paula denied using cocaine in a tragic way? Or that Peaches denies using cocaine in the same way that her mother did? We know that they mean Peaches has always denied using the drug; her mother was a heavy user, but then as they can't even punctuate the sentence properly, it's probably no surprise they don't manage to write it coherently, either.

NME brand extension - or fire sale

We spotted these in WH Smiths the other week: A range of NME greetings cards - complete with fold-out posters of Kate Nash and the Razorlights. Can the sticker collection book be far away?

This week just gone

The ten-most searched phrases bringing people into No Rock this month were:

1. No Rock And Roll Fun
2. Lily Allen naked
3. Lilly Allen naked
4. Darkobit
5. Heather Mills naked
6. Miley Cyrus bra
7. McFly naked
8. R Kelly sex video
9. Beth Ditto
10. Amy Winehouse sex

Bubbling under was Robbie Williams fat; Klaus Dinger; Frosty Freeze; "george lamb" and Rex Bob Lowenstein. Down in the longtail: Blur naked; "breaking up" + "live in girlfriend"; "free cd" overcoming homosexuality and - chillingly - "if I had a hammer" handy andy mp3.

This was what we flogged:

Fosca - The Painted Side Of The Rocket

Half Man Half Biscuit - CSI Ambleside Bad Losers On Yahoo Chess, Took Problem Chimp To The Ideal Home Show and many, many more...

The Fall - Imperial Wax Solvent This week's like one big Peel show

Deus - Vantage Point A "special edition" of Belgian hippery

Portishead - Third Once as important to young people's dinner parties as hiding the empty Ragu sauce jars - can Portishead still matter?

Tindersticks - The Hungry Saw Brand new Tindersticks stuff, bringing miserable joy

Robert Forster - The Evangelist

ABC - Traffic Brave stab at an all-new album for a band with a 'just the hits' audience

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

The Owl Service Spooky avian plate haunty goings-on in Wales

Teenage Kicks John Peel goes in search of The Undertones story. Luckily, he finds it.