Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekend In New York: Halloween Parade

This is quite a radical reworking of the version on the album - and features Laurie Anderson somewhere in it, too. The footage seems to have been shot from a seat somewhere near the back, too:

[Part of Weekend in New York]

Bobby Gillespie: Gary Glitter touched me when I was a kid

Not like that, though. Musically:

"Listen to [Glitter's] songs again and see what you think. 'Do You Wanna Touch Me', 'Rock And Roll (Part 2)', 'I Didn't Know I Loved You (’Til I Saw You Rock ’N’ Roll)' are ecstatic and fantastic.

"Those records are better than The Beatles."

"When I was a little kid, I heard those songs on the radio and I loved them. I still love them.

"What The Beatles were for people in the '60s is what glam rock was for us. We love Glitter, we love Bolan, we love Roxy, we love Suzi Quatro."

And yet, when Gillespie started making music, it sounded more like the Velvets than glam rock. Funny, that.

David Lee Roth can chomp nuts all he likes

Former celebrities denying stories they feature in is nothing new, but having to issue a statement rejecting claims of a peanut allergy might be a first.

Canadian police had basked in the glory of saving Dave Lee Roth's life:

Over a month ago, the rockstar was pulled over for speeding and told the officers he was having a medical emergency.

Roth was suffering an allergic reaction to nuts.

The officers called an ambulance and kept the musician safe until help could arrive.

Now, though, Roth is denying that this ever happened, or at least ever happened to him:
“I was in Canada only from July 1st through the 4th for a performance at the Quebec City Summer Festival,” Roth said in a statement issued Thursday. “I had no encounters or incidents with the police.”

Van Halen’s on-again, off-again lead singer added: “The only thing I’m allergic to is criticism.”

... and, we're given to understand, carries a special pen to help him when he comes into contact with that. It's now being assumed that the man police met was an imposter; it's not clear if he was a peanut-allergic Roth lookalike, or simultaneously embarked on two lies at the same time.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Greenguysglobal visits Glastonbury to look at proceedings with an ecological eye:

Last year there were signs everywhere to tell people not to p*ss in the streams, this year there were less. It may be a coincidence but there were a lot more people relieving themselves that way this year, and even more people not taking them to task about it. I guess the number of dead fish, and reduced water oxygen will eventually give the real picture.

Oxegen of bad publicity

We know that part of the festival experience is meant to be the joy of roughing it, but not to this extent: cleaners for the Oxegen Festival this week were given a stable to sleep in.

Admittedly, it was good enough for the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the 52 cleaners were understandably unhappy. Especially since the floor of the stable was concrete, and apparently there were only about one third as many mattresses as people.

It took a call to the police to persuade the cleaning company to try and sort something better out - inflatable mattresses on kitchen floors.

Of course, Oxegen had outsourced cleaning to a third party, but still, you'd expect there to be some sort of corporate shame; perhaps a sense of apology?

The event's promoter, MCD, said it "worked with contractors in advance to ensure all staff requirements are fully met." Each contractor was responsible for its own staff welfare, it said.

The cleaners sleep like the Holy family; Oxegen's promoters behave like Pilate.

[UPDATE: company boss says conditions 'better than Glastonbury']

Weekend In New York: Beginning Of A Great Adventure

Lou, you're going to be a father. That's great, isn't it? Isn't it...?

[Part of A Weekend In New York]

Darkness at 3AM: Subtle hinting

We know what the 3AM Girls are getting at. You know what they're getting at. They know what they're getting at. So why persist with the laboured heavy hints?

We've always known Amy Winehouse was prone to getting bladdered.

But we never knew she had such a weak one...

How else can we explain the singer's mysterious toilet habit?

During a three-hour stint at the launch of her new club night in north London, Wino went to the ladies... 14 times!

That works out at one visit every 12 minutes and 40 seconds.

The singer took her time too, staying in the bathroom for at least nine minutes at a time.

Does the Mirror really have lawyers who think that this is any legally safer than printing the words "was Amy doing drugs in the toilets or what" in full?

But, of course, he'd have to believe that, wouldn't he?

T in the Park is making noises in Scotland this weekend, and the great headline debate which hung over Glastonbury has turned up there, too. To be more precise, the 'Rage Against The Machine? In 2008? Playing a large beer commercial? Seriously?' question, which organiser Geoff Ellis has attempted to answer:

"For me, getting Rage Against The Machine back to T was a great coup," he said. "They are just as relevant now as they were in 1994 at the first T festival, which was when they last played here."

We did wonder if this was a back-handed complement - perhaps Ellis was suggesting that the band had already compromised itself into being a Sony BMG t-shirt marketing scheme painted as political activists; we suspect, though, he meant it.

Max Mosley won't be taking Lemmy's calls for a while

It's not entirely news that Lemmy has got a bunch of Nazi stuff, or, indeed, for him to be photographed dressed up in Nazi outfits.

Unfortunately, he's been using a photo of himself tricked out like a Nazi to promote a gig in Germany this weekend. Which - in a country which is quite sensitive about these things - is actually illegal.

The Guardian has dug out some thoughts Lemmy has shared about his love of the former Master Race:

"I don't only collect Nazi stuff, I collect objects from all the Axis countries."

Ah. That's alright then.
"Also from countries who aren't even mentioned anymore as former parts of the Axis. Like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Hungary."

We're sure the Latvian people will be delighted that you're ensuring their part in the Second World War gets the full attention it deserves, Lemmy.
"From the beginning of time, the bad guys always had the best uniforms. Napoleon, the Confederates, the Nazis. They all had killer uniforms. I mean, the SS uniform is fucking brilliant! They were the rock stars of that time. What you're gonna do? They just look good."

The echo of Bryan Ferry's "not that I'm a Nazi but, ooh, did you see their building work" is, we're almost certain, unintentional.

There's not a great deal thought going on anywhere here, to be honest:
"It's not a nationalistic kind of thing. Don't tell me I'm a Nazi 'cause I have uniforms. In 1967 I had my first black girlfriend and a lot more ever since then. I just don't understand racism, I never thought it was an option."

Some of your best dates were black, were they, Lemmy? It's interesting to see him treat racism as if it might be a choice - like deciding to try country music or sample a sushi bar. "I might have a go at racism today, then."

German prosecutors are investigating if Lemmy should be prosecuted, but it's unlikely he will be: it'd be like prosecuting a cat for looking a bit like Hitler.

[Thanks to James M for the link]

Mud and money

Last night's Money Programme - with Myleene Klass stepping into Valerie Singleton's shoes - looked at the business of making money out of music festivals; a timely programme just as the industry moves on from its old "taking candy from a baby" business model. has got a bunch of unseen interviews from the programme, including Melvin Benn talking about a time when he failed (not The Phoenix, funnily enough):

You know, I put Sting in Finsbury park in the late 90s and it died a death. It just didn’t sell. One of the greatest artists in the world, but his audience didn’t want to be in Finsbury Park. It’s not just about getting the right artist, it’s about getting the right artist in the right place. Put him in a stadium, put him in Hyde Park, it’ll be great, but put him in the wrong park or the wrong environment it wouldn’t work really.

It must be really dispiriting for Sting to know that his fans' devotion is such that they won't take a twenty minute tube journey to see him.

There's also some early anecdotes from research into the motivation for people to go and spend time at festivals, which throws the fuss about Jay-Z as a headliner into some interesting relief:
It wasn’t just people’s life landscapes that seemed to be providing motivations for attending festivals though, and the chance to bond with friends – or to build ‘social capital’, as Bourdieu’s terms it – was another big pull, as was the chance for some to boast about the festival to others afterwards. It wasn’t just tales about seeing the ‘big names’ that these punters were keen to impress others with, though. What was perhaps more important to many of them was to see something fresh and new. The opera festival goers wanted to be able to add another different opera to their compendium, the indie-pop fans wanted to be the first to see the next big star, and the folkies were keen to discover that previously unknown acoustic singer-songwriter playing in a corner of a field to an ever-expanding impromptu audience.

This would suggest that Eavis would be better off worrying about the downcard and throw any old bod onto the top of the bill. Oh, hang about: Kings Of Leon. He already has, hasn't he?

The programme itself is on the iPlayer until next Friday teatime.

Weekend in New York: Romeo Had Juliette

The perfume burned his eyes
Holding tightly to her thighs
And something flickered for a minute
And then vanished, and was gone

Possibly - and I'm happy to be corrected on this - the only rock song to use the word "lithesome" in its lyric. The use of Romeo and Juliette as names for the song's star-crossed lovers is, of course, somewhat hackneyed, but that's exactly the point - what better way to title a song about the ever-repeating story of love, and loss, and faltering connections than with the biggest cliche of them all?

[Part of Weekend In New York]

Gordon in the morning: Young girls

Gordon is thrilled this morning, as you can, if you have the inclination and a high quality zoom, spot the outline of Pixie Geldof's nipples:

PIXIE GELDOF’s quirky clothes and customised rollerskates were not the only things standing out from the crowd at a roller disco.

The cheeky but cheerful madam must have got dressed in a hurry and forgot to put on a bra.

There's nothing at all creepy about a man running pictures of a girl who isn't yet 18 so that people can look at her nipples. Nothing creepy at all.

But it might explain why Ron Wood is getting such a gentle ride on the Bizarre pages.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Weekend In New York: Dirty Blvd

Twenty years ago - between May and October 1988 - Lou Reed was tucked away in studio B of Media Sound, recording New York. The songs would eventually be released early the following year on Sire records in, as Lou observed on the sleeve notes, pretty much the order they were recorded.

Coming at a time when it was almost illegal to not bow down before the Velvet Underground - who would have gone a blind date without wearing a Velvets banana tshirt and expected to cop off in the late 80s? - it was a refreshing surprise for Reed to turn out an album that didn't sound like contemporary (in the sense of not sounding like his greatest work). It even pulled off the trick of memorialising Andy Warhol in terms that suggested that, actually, he might have wasted his talents in the pursuit of the popular.

In Halloween Parade, there was an AIDS song - this was 1980s New York, after all - which sits alongside Loudon Wainwright's Sometimes I Forget in capturing not loss, but the confusion of emptiness that follows. The need to put "AIDS" in brackets after the song title on the lyric sheet perhaps shows how Reed can underestimate his audience, as does the instruction that you listen to the album in order, like a book, on the back of the sleeve. But for all his grumpy cussedness - this is Lou Reed, after all - the album is an outpouring of love. Love that has been tried; love that is disgusted with what its heart's desire has had done to it, allowed itself to become. But love, nevertheless.

I can remember the first time I heard any of it - in a Halls of Residence room, on a Sunday afternoon, listening to On The Wire on BBC Radio Lancashire. Fenny introduced a track - this one, I'm pretty sure - by reading a slice of lyrics from the song. My ears pricked up: This is good. What is this? Then he just finished with "I am Lou Reed" before cueing the track.

Lou Reed?


Could it be?

It was.

The purchase was more or less essential from that moment.

One of the great albums of the 80s. One of the great albums by a legend not coasting on being a legend. And, sort-of-two-decades on from the mid-point of the making of the record, this weekend No Rock celebrates some of the tracks through the majesty of YouTube.

It's funny listening to it now how a lot of the names which were only vaguely familiar to a English teenager have become more fixed in my consciousness. Rudy Giuliani, for example, has had a profile much, much higher since that decade; Jesse Jackson wasn't exactly unknown in the UK but you wouldn't have got much money on him still causing upset in American Presidential elections in 2008.

I think I was only half sure what a TV whore might be, come to that - I knew what it sounded like, but couldn't be certain it wouldn't turn out to be something else entirely in the US.

On the other hand, I was certain what Moron Downey Junior was; at the time, his show was a regular subject of columns in British media supplements. But he vanished almost as soon as he earned his Lou Reed namecheck, helped along his route to obscurity by a false claim about being attacked by Nazis; an attack he'd staged in a bid to try and keep his shock-yak show on its syndicated stations. He's dead now - as is Kurt Waldheim and the specific Pontiff of Good Evening Mr Waldheim.

So, then: This isn't the sound of New York, but it is the sound of Lou Reed's New York. And it isn't in the order of recording, either.

This is where I started: On the Dirty Blvd.

New York on Wikipedia
New York to buy
New York on Last FM
Rolling Stone review

More tracks over the weekend
Romeo Had Juliette
Beginning Of A Great Adventure
Halloween Parade
There Is No Time

Someone Still Loves You book tickets

This is pleasing news, too - if you've got your iCal open, you might want to plug in the European tour dates from Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin:

Sep 10 - Brighton, United Kingdom

Sep 11 - London, United Kingdom
The Borderline

Sep 12 - North Dorset, United Kingdom
End of the Road Festival (w/ Mercury Rev, The Mountain Goats)

Sep 13 - Leeds, United Kingdom
The Faversham

Sep 14 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Captains Rest

Sep 15 - Belfast, Ireland
Auntie Annies

Sep 16 - Dublin, Ireland
The Hub

Sep 17 - Coventry, United Kingdom
Tin Angel

Sep 19 - Paris, France
La Maroquinerie (w/ Constantines)

Sep 20 - Kaiserslautern, Germany

Sep 22 - Munich, Germany

Sep 23 - Vienna, Austria

Sep 29 - Stuttgart, Germany

Oct 1 - Cologne, Germany

Oct 2 - Groningen, Netherlands

Oct 4 - Berlin, Germany
Magnet Club

Oct 5 - Dresden, Germany

Oct 7 - Hamburg, Germany

Oct 9 - Oslo, Norway

Oct 10 - Stockholm, Sweden
Debaser Slussen

Oct 11 - Malmo, Sweden

Attention, Londoners

If you're from London, or in London, or just know where London is, some good news: The Hold Steady are playing a free set in HMV on Monday, at 6pm, to mark the release of Stay Positive.

Grin for Rin

Here's good news: Manda Rin has got a date on her kitchen calendar for her debut solo album. My DNA is out on This Is Fake DIY records on September 8th. And she'll be playing The Fly in London on that night to mark the occasion.

Who wants to buy a ticket in our 'how many articles marking this release will use the phrase "unsigned band to play Top of the Pops"' sweepstake?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Martin Belam is embarking on a new series over on Currybetdotnet, attempting to fill the gaps left by pre-digital music's inexplicable failure to count most played tracks:

More than anything though, having that detailed play count for everything I'd listened to in the last two years showed up the lack of information I have about the previous 30-odd years of my listening history.

I really wish there was an XML file that detailed my listening habits from 'the year dot'.

And what a complex set of data it would be.

The way that I have assembled what we now call 'playlists', and the way I have organised my music listening has radically changed in my lifetime. This is not only due to me growing up and becoming more aware as a consumer, but also due to the different formats and different types of metadata that have been associated with music in the thirty-plus years that I have had an interest in it.

I use the Daily Star

There had been quite a bit of excitement at the idea that John Lydon had been due to guest-edit the Daily Star today (a role which would be less about deciding between credit-cruch and environment and choosing which photo of Sylvia from Big Brother should be used, of course). Turns out, though, that his guest-editing duties extend only to the Playlist page.

And he's not edited so much as just written some things about what a visionary he was.

Like this bit:

I ALWAYS wanted the music business institution to fall apart – and now it is. Gloriously.

My advice to young musicians is: You can do it for yourself, you really can.

The Sex Pistols, of course, were signed to record labels and never did it themselves; Public Image Limited did their duty for Warners, Elektra and Virgin. Since when did Lydon press up his own seven inch singles and flog them round the streets?

Despite the shaping of his career break by Malcolm McClaren, Lydon warms to his theme of being your own man:
During the whole of my career I’ve never orchestrated a record with a tour and a publicity campaign. It’s never happened and yet I’m here today doing this page.

Part of the reason why the Pistols never had a record label led campaign was because they were being marketed to, not by labels. Even so, you have to wonder what that big signing outside Buckingham Palace was, and the Jubilee boat trip up the Thames if the idea wasn't to promote records.

More amusingly is the way that Lydon positions 'writing some stuff for the Daily Star' as if it is one of those honours, like a laureateship or an ITV 'An Audience With' programmes which are granted to our culture's elder statesfolk, rather than, erm, part of a promotional blitz to try and push a Sex Pistols DVD.

Wentz: harassaled by the fuzz

Hey, The Man - if that's really your name - why do you keep hassling Pete Wentz?

Oh, it turns out that it's because he draws attention to himself:

"I think I get profiled... because I drive a car that has black windows on it and it must look like I'm just doing bad things.

"My assistant got pulled over and they decided to make us roll down all the windows and we asked if we could drive to the studio and go behind a gated area because there's no law to stop the paparazzi from taking pictures as close as they want."

Really, Wentz? You think that driving around in a big car that, effectively, has the words "I'm probably up to no good" painted all over it.

It's amusing to see that Wenzt feels he's being "profiled" - we're sure the Muslims who get pulled over for extra security screening at the TSA will share your pain, Pete. It's not being profiled. It's being thought of as acting suspiciously because you're doing something which looks suspicious.

What a pity nobody thought to record the reaction of the cops when Wentz asked if they could drive somewhere else to investigate what he was up to. "Why, yes, sir, since we think you might be indulging in criminal or possibly even terrorist activities, we'll be more than happy to allow you to drive off on the promise that we can rendezvous elsewhere..."

It's a splendid view of where Wentz holds himself that he believes he should be allowed special treatment on account of the possibility of photographers behaving in a way that he admits isn't breaking any laws. "If you're not going to change the law, I must be given extra rights to compensate." Does anyone else think he might find himself getting pulled over a lot more frequently in the future?

Gordon in the morning: Middle-aged man puts on weight; old man chase youth

We're at a loss to understand why Gordon is so excited about a photo of Boy George with a bit of a belly, so much so he put it in the newspaper.

A 47 year-old man is not as slim as he was when he was 22? I'm surprised Newsnight isn't organising some sort of debate.

Perhaps it was just Gordon felt his jokes were so great, it was worth the effort of running them:

BOY GEORGE looks like he’s turned into a Karma Cha-MEAL-eon as he lumbers along a city street.

No, not that then.

Elsewhere, with journalists covering the supposed Ron Wood making a fool of himself story - he's fallen for a teenager and off the wagon - Gordon is left to deliver a think piece about it:
WHEN RONNIE WOOD falls off the wagon, it’s time to get a hard-hat on.

He is famous for his boozing and when he hits the bottle, it isn’t in half measures.

The last time Ron was back on his favourite tipple, vodka — and lots of it — he ended up under a table in a posh restaurant biting KATE MOSS' ankles.

Ha ha! Alcoholism is funny, isn't it?

Gordon remembers that he's meant to be being responsible:
It’s sad, though, to see a man who had a happy family risk it all with his desire to go on month-long benders.

Gordon's attitude to heavy drinking is bemusing. Is heavy drinking sad? Then why do you give a prize for heavy drinking, Gordon? Can you simultaneously celebrate and berate people for drinking too much?
When he finally sobers up, as he has done before, he will realise the blunder he has made by upsetting his stunning, loyal wife Jo.

If he doesn’t, he can forget the planned Faces comeback and winning his family back.

It's not clear here if Gordon is suggesting he might not sober up, or realise his mistake. Because not patching things up with his wife would threaten the family, but not the reunion, surely?

Sony BMG merger probably won't be settled for years

It's an indication of how bloody slowly these things move that we're probably going to see Sony complete a purchase of Betrtelsman's half of Sony BMG before the EU finally decides if the merger was legal or not. The European Court of Justice has rejected the Court Of First Instance's decision that the European Commission had been wrong to allow the merger in the first place. Yes, we know, it's a bit like those long stretches of Star Wars movies where they go on and on about intergalactic taxation. The crux is that the Lower Court only heard two of the five objections to the merger that had been raised by Impala, an indie producer trade group.

The lower court has now been directed to think again about what it's done:

"Since the Court of First Instance examined only two of the five pleas relied on by Impala, the Court of Justice considers that it is not in a position to give a ruling itself on the dispute. It is accordingly referring the case back to the Court of First Instance," the court said in a statement.

It should be noted that the higher court hasn't based its decision on the rights or wrongs of two major labels merging - this is purely procedural.

God alone knows what will happen if Sony is forced to demerge its wholly-owned subsidiary some point down the line. That would be more like the Spiderman reset.

Glastonbury battles on

You can never be sure if it's just bravado or not, but early indications from Pilton is that the ticket registration system will remain in place for next year, reports Kerrang:

Glastonbury bosses say they're going to stick with their controversial ticket registration process

This was designed to beat the touts and stop the fans being fleeced - and has worked.

Well, to be fair, it did - by putting so many barriers in the way of purchasing a ticket, it drove down demand to a point where tickets were left unsold on the eve of the festival, thereby removing any need to use a tout.

The procedure didn't stop tickets turning up on eBay - it just tanked the value of the tickets being sold there.

The other point that might lead Glastonbury to reconsider is that everyone knows they had to abandon the registration system for the last thousands of tickets - which is surely going to discourage people from bothering with the sign-up hoops in 2009? Why go to all the bother when they'll just remove the barriers closer to the weekend?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bon Jovi hates the touts... but not very much

Bon Jovi, out of The Bon Jovis, discovered that tickets to the forthcoming free gig in Central Park were changing hands on eBay, like common shoes or unwanted kidneys. Someone talking with the authoritative voice of the band blogged about their disappointment:

“There are reports in the media about tickets being scalped for... the free concert. I for one am not surprised, but our organisation is sorely disappointed.”

The strange twist, though? the post disappeared from the site as quickly as it appeared. Did BJ suddenly remember he loved ticket scalpers after all?

Amy Winehouse: Nobody is safe

Look, you stand near Amy Winehouse, you're at risk of being hit. Or punched. Or slapped.

Mostly slapped.

Latest victim? Erm... the bloke being paid to stop other people slapping her.

At The Gates of a new dawn

Bands you'd forgotten existed reuniting, part 37,893: At The Gates have got back together, but this is but a pilot fish for something bigger.

This autumn? Carcass are back.

Like having your heartbroken AND being ill off school

Pretty much what YouTube was invented for, we suspect, as Scotland's bright young things travel to the BBC in Birmingham to play sweet indie guitar pop for pensioners in the studio and truants around the nation. Aztec Camera, doing Walk Out To Winter, on Pebble Mill At One:

[Via I'm Not Always So Stupid, where there's also Oblivious]

Gordon in the morning: Bandages and wheelchairs

It's not clear if the Department of Homeland Security has yet devised a scale to reflect the current desperation level in an artist's career, but if so, we're guessing that they're currently trying to find something more red than the deepest crimson for the Madonna and Britney backdrop tour video thingy.

Gordon, of course, laps it all up:

An on-set source revealed: “It’s absolutely classic Madonna. Probably the raunchiest stuff she has ever done. It leaves nothing to the imagination and will be very controversial.

“Britney and Madonna are unwrapped like mummies, to appear together almost naked apart from tiny leather bondage pants and knee-high boots.

“They then dance closely together, pressing their hands and bodies together.

“There will be big rows over whether it is sexy, shocking or both.”

The possibility - that it's neither, and sounds like someone who has not only run out of ideas but has also lost the telephone number of anyone she might have once known who might have a new idea - doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone. Madonna pawing Britney again? Who would get excited by that?
sexy shenanigans

sexy shenanigans

... apart from...
sexy shenanigans

... Gordon, of course.

Meanwhile, Gordon - in common with everyone else in the entire world - runs the photos of Michael Jackson being pushed about in a wheelchair. Smart and US editor Emily Smith continue to reflect the Sun's sensitivity on disability - the page is titled "Michael Jackson is reduced to using a wheelchair." "Reduced to", eh?

Last FM pays out - but not everyone's happy

Last.FM has started to pay artists directly for music listened to through its website.

Good news, huh?

Perhaps. But not everyone is thrilled. Merlin, one of the independent label umbrella groups, has issued a grumpy statement:

“The Program announced today does not appear to offer any compensation for any past illegal use of repertoire. It is unclear to us whether or not the terms and conditions of the Program are intended to prevent master owners pursuing such compensation.

· “As you will be aware, we have for the last few months been negotiating with regarding a non exclusive blanket licence and a settlement agreement on behalf of Merlin members. Unfortunately, these negotiations have stalled
- in particular due to’s unwillingness to properly address its illegal infringing activity.

· “Several provisions of the licence terms and conditions of the Program appear ambiguous and open to legal interpretation. We note that this would tend to lead to uncertainty as to the “true” meaning of the licence. The licence points
out that if you are unsure about any of it “YOU ARE ADVISED TO OBTAIN INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADVICE” - we would endorse that view.”

So, erm, Merlin is suggesting that if you're a label, you should, um, do exactly as Last.FM suggests you do. We'd love to see Merlin point to a legal document that isn't "open to legal interpretation", by the way.

Merlin attempts to bring major-style cartel power to the indie sector; by suggesting that you spurn jam today in the hope of jam yesterday, it's certainly showing an RIAA-like attitude to the digital market.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Harris applies for work

Calvin Harris - stung, or something, by the NME giving him good reviews and then suggesting he might not be all that good after all - applied for a role on the paper:

"Despite a decent album review, they use my name for something that's synonymous with rubbish," he said.

"Like 'Well, this is bad, but at least it's not as bad as that lanky cretin Calvin Harris and his shitty music'. That's not a direct quote, but you get the idea."

After seeing an ad for staff writers, Calvin decided to apply. "When I got home after a few shandies, I decided to try to even out the balance of opinion on my music," he said.

Calvin was delighted to get a reply from news editor Paul Stokes. It read: "Thank you for your application. We're processing the applications but due to festival commitments there may be a delay. We hope to be in touch in due course."

We're a little puzzled - if he got a good review for the album, but sometimes is used as a synonym for bad, doesn't that mean the balance of opinion is pretty even already? Wouldn't Calvin working for the NME skew it in the opposite direction?

After all, NME history is littered with people whose bands get softer treatment because they're popping in to the offices for the day job. Fabulous, anybody? Campag Velocet?

Now, you and I would spot that the email which Harris has been waving suggesting that he's in with a chance is little more than a standard 'we have seen an email from you, keep treading water' flip-off. It would have been nice if the NME had said so, but instead, they're trying to pretend they were continuing the joke:
Yesterday Paul admitted he had wondered if the email was a hoax.

"If it was real, I thought it would be funny to keep Calvin in the running for the job." he said. "He didn't submit the ideas we asked for so he might want to send in ideas for news stories.

"But if he's successful, he won't be allowed to review his own records."

Ha ha! Yes, we knew it was him all along so we were stringing him along! Ha! Ha ha ha!

Critics? They're dead.

An eye-catching piece of spurious research reveals that music critics are totally valueless, more or less:

Professional opinion is being ignored by eight out of ten consumers who are favouring online reviews from music stores and social networking sites for the latest reviews of albums and gigs.

E-commerce firm Avail Intelligence conducted this latest Trust Index research which showed 40 per cent of respondents preferred information sources such as the iTunes Music Store and the iLike Facebook application.

The opinion of family and like minded mates came in at the top though with 41% of the vote.

This sort of misses the point, though: theatres don't rely on every potential customer reading the Daily Telegraph's review of a new play, but that doesn't mean that the review doesn't play a role in shaping the public response to the play.

I'd imagine most journalists would be delighted that as much as 20% of the audience explicitly listen to their opinions in the first place, before the effect of word-of-mouth and background buzz plays its part.

So, what we have is a piece that says "hardly anybody buys music on the direct recommendation of a critic", which isn't news - hardly anybody reads music criticism in the first place, judging by the total circulation of the various music magazines and their online figures. And if people's tastes were shaped by reviews, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion would be selling perfume over a counter somewhere in the Americas. Probably Campag Velocet branded toilet water, at that.

And what was the company that brought us these results again? Avail Intelligence, huh? A copmpany whose business is effectively harvesting word-of-mouth and person-to-person recommendations. So, no vested interest there then, at all.

But then, don't take my word for it. I'm a critic.

Mobile hang-up: The market is currently unavailable. Please try again later.

Mobile phone music figures are disappointing two, possibly three, industries at once with the announcement of how tiny a portion of the total download market they hold is:

According to Forrester Research, U.S. music fans purchased $1.7 billion worth of music downloads in 2007 (singles and albums combined) but spent only $249 million on subscription services. While the firm projects download revenue to surge 65 percent this year to $2.8 billion, it expects subscription revenue to climb a far more modest 15 percent to $287 million.

There's a lot of humming and hawing and heads being scratched with industrial-sized consultant nails trying to figure out this surprising conundrum. Yes, yes, we know that the answer - people aren't that keen on the subscription model and want to use the tracks they already own on their PC on their phone, and aren't so dumb as to buy the same file twice - is as obvious as a punchline on My Family, but this is the music industry we're talking about.

Don't make James Blunt angry. You'd like him even less when he's angry.

James Blunt is hopping mad. He'd been due to play a gig on Lykavittos Hill, in Athens. A few short hours before the first, the authorities stepped in to ban the events on public safety grounds.

Trouble is, both Nick Cave and Mark Knopfler had been allowed to play. And a letter saying that it was okay had disappeared.

James is very angry indeed:

“In the best case it’s carelessness and in the worst case corruption,” an angry Blunt told Ta Nea, the Athens daily paper, sensing a conspiracy.

A conspiracy of whom? Music lovers?

There's a vague hint that because Blunt was in the army, there might be some Balkan-related sleight of hand going on, but really, we suspect it comes down to an old-fashioned filing error. Surely, if any corruption was involved, it would be more likely trying to persuade someone to take an interest in putting Blunt on the top of a hill than from stopping him marching up there?

Sandie Shaw say 'John, no more'

Sandie Shaw has delivered the sort of eye-rolling, withering put-down of John Lydon that he desperately wishes he was able to dish out to others:

"The biggest gaffe of the [Mojo Awards] evening was by Johnny Rotten. He has turned into a very odd caricature of his former Sex Pistols self.

"When given his award he insulted and swore at everyone present. While this may have gone down well during the punk era, it is out of step with these pragmatic times.

"Some things just don't age well."

There's the wider question, of course, of why he turned up to pick up the prize anyway - after all, didn't he refuse to accept the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gong because it was putting him in a museum? Then again, if you want the attention, there's no press coverage in sending a sarky note to the Mojo organisers in quite the same way.

Not that Elton John has no sense of humour, or anything

The over-touchy Elton John is sending solicitor's letters to The Guardian, because he was unamused by a humorous piece in the Weekend Magazine. The Independent reruns the offending passage:

"Naturally, everyone could afford just to hand over the money if they gave that much of a toss about Aids research – as could the sponsors," it read. "But we like to give guests a preposterously lavish evening, because they're the kind of people who wouldn't turn up for anything less... Once we've subtracted all these costs, the leftovers go to my foundation. I call this care-o-nomics."

The Indie reckons that "sources close to the singer" found this "unpleasant", bristling at the idea that such an event could be spoken of in such terms.

Mind you, if Elton was really that upset by the suggestion that this was the super-rich burning through cash in the name of charity, he might want to take a look gushing press release issued by sponsors Chopard:
Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele

The Chopard Co-President chose for the occasion a stunning High Jewellery necklace of her own creation consisting of a large sapphire set in a pave diamond collar. [...]

A true lover of white diamonds, Elizabeth Hurley picked a unique fancy shaped diamond Tiara totalling an impressive 192.2ct. She set off this one of a kind piece with diamond drop line earrings and a diamond cuff bracelet. [...]

Upon arrival guests followed an enchanting Chopard walkway through a tree-lined avenue where they were surrounded by hundreds of carats of diamonds dramatically displayed en route to the Italian Terrace and gardens where a truly magical evening began. [...]

he “Woodside Beach Club” also boasted its own “muscle beach” of bodybuilders pumping iron, a courtyard of incredible Chopard ice sculptures, a surfside hippy camp, a customised VW campervan-come-psychedelic DJ booth, and a lavish bar serving four exotic Grey Goose martinis created by David Furnish especially for the occasion. Dinner was served in a spectacular marquee featuring an aquarium bar and an incredible sunset backdrop which gradually developed in real-time throughout the evening on a 40 Metre wide panoramic screen before eventually progressing into a stunning star-lit night. Guests dined amidst lavender and sand filled storm candles and enjoyed a lavish menu of:

Oscietra caviar, camomile tea smoked fish and duck egg tart with avocado and parsley purees

Stone black bass with a warm salad of new potatoes, raw artichokes, fava beans shaved shallots, red and yellow tomatoes, liliput capers and pea veloute

“Californian Gold Rush” chocolate blackout cake with smooth milk chocolate mousse masked in rich dark chocolate, wrapped in gold leaf with golden nugetts and malted milk cream quarters...

Both The Guardian and the press release represent very rich people enjoying a lavish event with the balance going to charity; the Guardian seems to have got a solicitors letter not on the detail, but for failing to fawn.

Gordon in the morning: How close we came to losing an national icon

Terror At Zero Feet meets Spiceworld: The Movie, as Victoria Beckham's plane sucks a bird into the engines at take-off. It's the sort of light non-story which Gordon actually does quite well:

It was then that the horrifying scale of the disaster really hit home for Victoria — she realised she was wearing standard-issue aircraft pyjamas and no make-up.

Thus, the drama is not about the pilot reacting quickly to a potential threat, but Victoria refusing to get off the plane until she's done her make-up.

Surely, though, it's too late - everyone now knows she gets into the free pjs in first class. And they let this woman judge Project Runway.

Meanwhile, the increasing number of people allegedly slapped by Amy Winehouse means there's every chance that the bloke who claims he was hit by her in a pub may be telling the truth, or perhaps just judged that there's every chance that he'll be believed.

In the interests of balance to the story, Gordon runs an unsourced quote from a pal:
But a pal of Amy’s insisted: "Someone behind her pinched her bottom and she reacted."

And yet there's no name to verify that statement, presumably because it's possible someone is explaining the plausible reason for a reaction that might never have happened.

Elsewhere, Smart runs what he claims are
Abbey & Peter's holiday snaps

Unlike many couples, they seem to have taken their photos from the other side of the beach with a very long lens.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


The organisers of the Zoo8 festival have issued an apology:

Responding to media reports, event co-director Danny Blanche said the mistakes were due to inexperience among the organisers.

He told the BBC: "Our biggest problem was one of miscalculation over cash flow. This required us to make the pragmatic decision to cancel a few acts.

"Obviously, none of this was ideal or planned - and not the quality of experience that we had aimed to deliver - and for that we unreservedly apologise to all those affected by the situation."

Blanche added: "We want to stress that this was our first festival and that we have dealt with all problems directly and will continue to do so in preparation for next year."

Next year? Next year? If the 2008 cash flow was based more on hope, then we wonder what the 2009 one is going to be based upon...

Trying not to Reckitt

New EMI Music chief executive Elio Leoni-Sceti is profiled in today's Guardian; James M emails with this succinct summary:

I don't know which is the most risible of the two statements EMI's new chief executive comes out with in this kid-glove Guardian blurb:

1. That he views Norah Jones & Coldplay as "eclectic" acts, remembering, also, to mention the Beatles, still EMI's main cash cow, or

2.Stressing the importance of "branding" & then remarking that emotion is more important than flogging merchandise in the music business.

Kanye West refuses to calm down

Someone the other day suggested that Kanye West was going to some sort of anger management class or other.

Kanye has fired up his blog to protest:

Do yall remember when people said my fiance was pregnant???? What happened to that rumor????? I guess after we broke up it was just forgot about???? I'm just using that as an example of how people make up stuff and everybody runs with it. I had my own family asking me about that. Now the media is saying I'm going to anger management something or 'nother. I have never had any conversations about anger management. If anything, I need anger enhancement!! lol! I get off the plane in Hawaii today and the world is saying my management team said blah blah blah... SIIIIIIGGGHHHH!

For a man who doesn't need anger management lessons, he's a bit touchy, isn't he?
I told the media you can't make up lies about me because I have a media outlet myself.

We're not quite sure why having a blog would prevent people from telling made-up stories about you - look:

Kanye West has a blog, and his bed is made of cheese, with mozzarella pillows.

Oh and sidebar I don't know if everyone has realized this yet but I don't do interviews if there's anything I wanna say I'll say right here on my own blog.

This is similar, of course, to the day when Bing Crosby refused to talk to the Record Mirror because he'd just bought his own printing set "and a quire and a half of white legal paper".
Check this out...I took a quote from my rant and used it as my headline.. just like a real media outlet would... hahaha

... so, at least Kanye understands that blogging isn't quite the same thing as being a publisher.

After the festival moves on

Surely this can't be true of UK festivals too - can it? a nurse in Colorado claims that Grand Rapids' festival leaves behind much more than churned mud and empty cider cans:

Nurse-Family Partnership supervisor Wanda Scott says referrals to her agency from the Mesa County Health Department quadruple every year after the music festival Country Jam. Scott told commissioners about the phenomena Monday during a presentation called, "How are the Children?"

Scott says on average the health clinic sees between 25 and 30 pregnancies a month. She says five weeks after the festival that number jumps to almost 80 a month.

At long last, then, there's the answer to stopping unwanted pregnancies: just hide the country musicians' guitars.

Think again, and again, and again, and again

Shudder To Think have already done a one-off reunion date; now, here comes the tour. Or a re-reunion, actually, as they got back together ten years ago as well.

Craig Werden explains why:

"Our music is continuing to seep out, like syrup from a tree or the remains of a sweet, sticky picnic. Every day, new people-- many too young to have caught us during the first go-round-- are contacting us after 'discovering' our music. I'm constantly meeting people who feel the same way about our music that we do, and it makes me feel indescribably good. This tour is our way of saying 'thank you.'"

- which is almost heartbreakingly sweet, and sounds genuinely heartfelt.

Those young 'uns would be probably too wee to remember video tape as well, so here's a special treat: a decaying video tape of a 1993 Toronto appearance by the band:

Bjork croaking

Bjork - who seems to have terrible problems with her voice - has pulled this week's Helsinki gig. This is the same throat ailment which persuaded her to avoid Sheffield. Or at least she's trying to make that look plausible.

Ronson accepts criticism with good grace

Quite wonderfully, Mark Ronson inadvertently picks a headline for his 'bad review' blog entry which could come from Half Man half Biscuit's song:


And, of course, he only reads the gig guide any way.

Ronson then runs an email which he claims is from whoever reviewed his Glasto set in the paper denying they actually wrote the review as they were "sitting on a bus" at the time - we're nowhere near our copy of this week's paper at the moment but the 'disguised' identity of the emailer is going to be fairly easy to crack, as Ronson must know. It's wrong of the NME to assign a review to someone else's byline, but it's certainly not fair of Ronson to effectively out a writer criticising their employer by publishing a private email.

Especially as Ronson has no idea what went into the review:
i got the following email from a journalist at the NME in reference to what i imagine was a scathing review of my glasto performance (if only i read the mag, i might know what it said....oh well)

And is there to be a petulant gesture at the end?

Oh, yes:
my nme award for 2008's best international solo artist will be on ebay as soon as the morons send it to me. i doubt the bidding will go that high and it makes an excellent doorstop.

Aww, so one of the writers doesn't like you and you throw your toys onto eBay. Ronson might want to think about growing a thicker skin - or at least sticking to the sort of shallow group who'll give you a thumbs-up whatever they actually think.

[UPDATE: The review sits under a group of "Next year's headliners" with the byline of New Music editor Alex Miller.]

Nickelback... back... back

As James points out in the comments on the Shakira piece, LiveNation have also signed a 360 deal with Nickelback.

Which is enough excuse to mention the hilarious - but not in the way they think - sofa store advert currently churning out on ITV right now, which isn't even a parody of the Rock Star video; it just is the Rock Star video - people miming to Chad Kroeger's vocals, albeit this time with sofas behind them. The idea being, you see, you don't have to be a rock star to buy a sofa at this sofa store. (On this occasion, I'm not being cussed by not mentioning the company - I really can't tell remember what company it is, which probably is best for them.)

You wonder why Kroeger - a man who apparently made £34million from touring in 06/07 - happily allowed the advert to be made, almost as much as the company who chose to make the advert. It's like seeing the word "misbegotten" mimed out for you by the 2006 Charades World Championship winner. Are they that hard up for a few quid?

Duffy not 'Boyo's girl

Duffy has, for some reason, felt the need to clarify that she's not Tom Jones' daughter, as some Americans have apparently started thinking there's a connection.

(In other words, hearing she's Welsh, they've assumed she's related to the only other Welsh person they can think of.)

Oddly, Duffy has yet to react in any way to the equally fallacious belief that she's in some way a spiritual heir of Dusty Springfield.

Dell break laptops to please the RIAA, claims blog

Interesting post over on Ripten, where Chad Lakkis was surprised to discover his audio malfunctioning on his Dell laptop - only to discover that Dell had disabled the "stereo mix function", apparently at the behest of the RIAA.

Even more surpisingly: although this was a functionality Dell disabled lest it fall into the wrong hands, some of their customers were told they could have it restored for $99.

So: Dell breaks your laptop because it's too powerful for anyone to have the audio function working, but will then charge you to return it to the sort of usable state you'd expect to have had it when you bought it. Presumably they pocket the hundred dollar bill, look round shiftily and say 'I ain't been 'ere, right...'

There is also a free fix, it should be said, available through the Dell website; a "Dell Community Ambassador" posted a link in the comments section of the Ripten piece. A direct link. To an .exe file. Who wouldn't click that, eh?

Cop in hospital

Victor Willis, who was the policeman in the Village People (and also "the one who wasn't) has put his tour on hold as his vocal cords are suffering from nodules:

He developed hoarsness after several 2007 performances, forcing him to cancel European and Canadian concert dates this year.

That would be police hoarsness, then.


Same old Faces

It's all Led Zeppelin's fault, isn't it? We're now staring a Faces reunion in the, erm, face.

And, yes, it's a full one - which means a new album, with new songs.

Gordon in the morning: Suddenly, baseball players are interesting

Does Gordon believe that Madonna is going to get divorced or not? Surely, what with his position as the the Prime Minister of Showbiz, we should expect him to at least know what he believes - but one minute he's running denials of divorce, the next copying the details of the Alex Rodriguez denupitalising from the New York Post as some sort of evidence to the contrary.

It's fine if you don't have a clue, Gordon, but at least be honest about it.

Instead, we get lumbered with Smart trying to sound like he understands baseball and kabbalah:

She strongly denies an affair with A-Rod, America’s highest-paid baseball idol.

Madonna, 49, said in a statement: “I know Alex Rodriguez through Guy Oseary, who manages both of us.

“I am not romantically involved in any way with Alex Rodriguez. I have nothing to do with the state of his marriage or what spiritual path he may choose to study.”

And, to be fair to Madonna, she wasn't named in court papers - her name has been floated by one of the soon-to-be-Mrs-Rod's lawyers:
Earle Lilly, another of Cynthia’s lawyers, claimed A-Rod and Madonna “are still together” – although last night the singer was with husband GUY RITCHIE in New York.

Mr Lilly said A-Rod was smitten with Madonna, but added: “The correct analysis is a relationship.

“Some people categorise an affair as sexual infidelity. We’re not claiming that – it’s an affair of the heart.”

So Madonna not named in divorce proceedings and accused of not having sex with a man not her husband. Hold the, um... well, Bizarre page.

If trying to unpick a baseball kabbalahic divorce is tricky for Gordon, his team are also having to struggle with science, as well, with the claims that Amy Winehouse is using tanning tables to an extent that "pals" are worried. Pete Samson is left to deal with the... well, lets call it a story to be kind, shall we?:
Pals are worried because the pasty star spends more than an hour a day absorbing its rays in a desperate attempt to get back to brown

And the problem with that, Pete?
Rehab singer Amy, 24, even dozes off under the ultraviolet lamps, which release the same type of harmful radiation found in sunlight.

Let's just look at that again, shall we?
the same type of harmful radiation found in sunlight.

Yes, it's bad for you and, yes, nobody should fall asleep on a sunbed. But given her lifestyle, this risk from "the same type of harmful radiation found in sunlight" seems an odd thing to be worrying about right now. Even if it's true.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Or, this time, some stuff to look at: Passive Agressive Notes collates the top five notes in record stores. Including the one seen in the door of a shuttered Fopp.

Lucky that my demands are small and humble, so you don't mistake them for Madonna's

The second slightly-less-high-profile 360 degree tours-and-records deal for LiveNation: Shakira has thrown her lot in with them for the next ten years.

Indieobit: Noel Sayre

Noel Sayre, the violinist with The Black Swans and Pretty Mighty Mighty has died in a swimming accident.

The 37 year-old also had an impressive classical cv, having played with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, but it was in the folkier end of indie where he really made his presence felt. Pretty Mighty Mighty toured extensively during the early 90s; in 1994, he and Jerry DeCicca formed The Black Swans, debuting just as the year ended, as DeCicca remembers:

Noel and I began playing music together on New Years Eve of 1995, opening a show for the Yips and the Bassholes at Bernies Bagels in Columbus, Ohio. We split $100 for that gig, and so began a partnership that quickly became a strong and lasting friendship that the Black Swans based themselves upon.

We were always more Heckle & Jeckle and Penn & Teller than Simon & Garfunkel, as we shared an idea about music as art, posing as entertainment, that we explored over hundreds of gigs and several recordings. Musically, I always stood in Noel’s shadow and Noel always felt he was my shadow. We spoke in code, a short-hand, that sometimes alienated others and sometimes amused them. We were kindred spirits in many way and couldn’t be more different in others. He was quiet and articulate, rowdy and beyond shy, hyper intelligent and incredibly dense.

A memorial service has been organised for July 12th.

Back-projecting Britney

Who would dare suggest that Madonna has started to hit the bottom of barrel for ideas? Not us, that's for sure, as she films a bit of video featuring Britney Spears to plug some of the creative gaps in the forthcoming world tour. Maybe she might go real crazy and pretend to be a lesbian with her or something - can you imagine?

10 - 9 - 8 - 7 oh, bugger it, 1

So, at the end of the countdown, at the end of the Zane Lowe show, it boils down to this:

That's Mercury, the new single from Bloc Party. Official video and everything.

Zoo shambles

Another festival disaster: Zoo8 seems to have been something of a nightmare with half the bands not showing, and the venue (a zoo, of course) having to dig deep into their own pockets to see that Ash would play when the promoters didn't look able to guarantee the payment.

Which means, in effect, that the penguins and tigers of Port Lympne were subsidising a music festival.

Even with Ash secured, no-shows and overflows left fans less-than-thrilled:

Fan David Haskoll said there were four toilets and no taps in the campsite, while the toilets in the main arena were "full to overflowing".

Julia Bray, whose daughter was at the event, wrote on a Facebook page: "Hours of queuing, campsite dreadful, bands didn't show up or moved stages, staff very rude or unhelpful."

Another fan, Rachel Collings, wrote: "Badly organised, badly informed. Worst fest ever!"

Hey - Woodstock II would take issue with that.

Funnily enough, though - presumably following the Eavis playbook - those charged with overseeing the event report a wonderful time had by all:
A spokeswoman for the park said: "As with all music festivals, there were some hiccups.

"This being the first Zoo8 at the park, there were bound to be some problems but they were all resolved quickly and efficiently, mainly by our own staff who stepped in to sort things out.

"According to St John Ambulance, Health and Safety, the licensing office, environmental health and the police, they were all happy."

Then again, none of those fine organisations would be expected to factor in the non-appearance of Dizzee Rascal, Athlete, The Rascals or Wiley.

Andre and on it goes...

Last week, Peter Andre and Jordan won a payment from the News of the World after the paper ran stories sourced from their former nanny Rebecca Gauld which were untrue.

Today, Ofcom has upheld a complaint from Rebecca Gauld that Peter and Jordan's Katie and Peter: The Baby Diaries, on ITV2, unfairly invaded her privacy - in ways which included broadcasting a piece of paper with Gauld's phone number visible upon it.

And round, and round, and round, we dance...

More Gcap blundering

Hot on the heels of the corrupt quiz phone-in, this week Ofcom has ruled on another breach of its code, this time by Jason Donovan.

Yes, Jason Donovan, who told listeners to 37 radio stations during his networked programme that:

“It’s time for a change. It’s definitely time for a change. Boris Johnson. I have to say it. That’s my political message…”

Before even considering the political message, surely it's worth taking a moment to see, once again, the idiocy of networking local radio programmes. Apart from listeners to the London stations - and maybe some bordering the M25 - who else tunes in to their local service to hear an Australian talking about an election they can't vote in?

Ofcom have let the network off with a stiff telling off - James Whale, canned from TalkSport for exactly the same offence, might view that as a somewhat slight consequence.

What's puzzling us, though, is surely this sort of thing falls under the Representation of the People Act as well? Is Jason doubly lucky that he's not heard from the police on this one?

And why does it seem only Boris supporters feel the need to hijack the airwaves for unofficial party election messages?

Zapped: Another festival falls

Zapfest, planned for Oxford this coming weekend, has been cancelled:

"Due to unforeseen circumstances Zapfest has had to be cancelled. Over much deliberation we have come to this decision. This is a decision that has not come lightly as we have spent over a year organising the event and have invested a lot of time and money into it. Most of all it is something that we really believed in and wanted it to work. There are a few factors that have forced us to cancel which we can't go into detail about. We can only apologies for any inconvenience that has been caused to you all. Please return your ticket ticket to the place of purchase for all full refund."

It's a little odd to cancel with just some vague words about 'things we can't tell you about' - shouldn't they have at least made up a beautiful lie about gravity being broken in Oxford that weekend?

Noel Gallagher: You couldn't give away an Oasis album

Radiohead, eh? Giving their albums away for nothing? You wouldn't catch Noel Gallagher doing that:

“I wouldn’t have thought so. That’s not our bag,” he told the BBC.

“I didn’t spend a year in the most expensive studio in England, with the most expensive producer in America, and the most expensive graphic designer in London to then give it away. Fuck that.”

You'll note he sees the input into his album as an expensive producer, an expensive studio and an expensive designer, rather than, say, the best musicians or months and months of careful crafting of music and diligent rehearsing.

You might also note that he views creativity as something that can be measured by price rather than quality.

And, given that he has more money than he could possibly have a clue how to spend, why does he need to squeeze every red cent from those who have supported him in a retrograde march down the blind alley he has chosen?

What, exactly, is your "bag", Mr. Noel? Bag... bag... bag...

That would have annoyed Noel Gallagher

The lukewarm headline line-up at this year's Glastonbury is now partly explained: they'd nearly landed a Blur reunion, an event which would have pushed any of the top-card names down the league ladder a slot.

Alex James say so:

"Blur very nearly played Glastonbury this year. There was a pang of regret when I heard Damon [Albarn]'s mum had nixed it at the 11th hour.

"I was looking forward to showing off to [his wife] Claire and the kids, but I suppose the important thing was to have been asked, and listening to all that screaming I felt pleased about how things had turned out.”

This, we suspect, explains the Kings Of Leon if nothing else.

Projects that almost certainly will never see the light of day, number 479

Are Alice Cooper and the Mighty Boosh writing a musical together?

The NME says yes, they might be:

"I absolutely love Alice Cooper," Fielding is quoted as saying. "I wonder is he has ever considered writing an acid rock gothic musical. If we did one, would he co-star?"

And then Cooper delivers a "yes, that would be fun, wouldn't it?" style non-committal quote, which seems to be enough to convince everyone it's going to happen. Although who will be underwriting the costs isn't, exactly, clear.

Mind you, we'd love to see John Barrowman and Andrew Lloyd Webber judging the castings on Saturday night TV.


So, that big countdown on the Bloc Party website was leading up to... the announcement of an appearance on tonight's Zane Lowe show.

The NME reports that people are upset:

Fans have e-mailed NME.COM to voice their displeasure at the stunt. It was speculated that Bloc Party may give away new music when the countdown reached zero.

And where might they have got this idea? Stories like's "Bloc Party to release new music tomorrow?", by any chance?

Darkness at 3AM: The 180-turnaround-headline

Our eye was caught by the 3AM headline on a story about Adele:

I wanted to be a sex symbol

Really? Isn't that the total opposite of what Adele has always said?

Well, yes. It's actually the total opposite of what Adele was saying in the quote underneath:
"I didn't do this because I wanted to be a sex symbol," she says. "I want to be a role model and I want to be an artist for people to refer to in 60 years for making a great album. I'll never sell out."

Still, even if you won't sell out, the Mirror will helpfully twist it sound like you have.

Can someone give Kelly Osbourne Hans Moretti's phone number?

For reasons we can't quite fathom - and we've tried, believe me - Fox is preparing a variety show hosted by The Osbournes.

Yes, the whole gang is on board:

Mr. Osbourne, wife Sharon and offspring Jack and Kelly all will participate in the show, which will resemble modern-day European variety shows that mix elements of competition, stunts and performances. One person familiar with the pitch compared it to a combination of the popular Spanish-language series "Sabado Gigante," "Saturday Night Takeaway" and the German game-show format "Wetten, dass?" (Wanna Bet?).

[Fox's Mike] Darnell said he had been trying to find a way to revive the variety format for several years. He even developed a U.S. version of "Saturday Night Takeaway."

"But I always veered away from it because it was missing something, which turned out to be the right front people," he said. "I realized that with the right hosts, you can make it work."

We're guessing that Darnell somehow missed Sharon's chat shows on both sides of the Atlantic and what happened when Team Osbourne attempted to present the Brits; either that, or his faith in Ozzy being the sort of "right host" that can "make it work" is so touching as to veer into the downright religious.

It all smacks a little of that segment on the Simpsons' pilot show where the family turn up in dungarees doing a song-and-dance show, with a replacement Lisa. Or a cruel parody of Hear'Say It's Saturday.

Gordon in the morning: And this is your Blake on drugs

Interesting photos of Mr Winehouse doing heroin in Pentonville on Gordon's pages this morning. Ironic that, as David Blakey prepares his report on drugs in UK prisons, Amy's Blakey proves his point.

The wider question, though, is where Gordon is getting his photos from - are they coming from a prisoner with a mobile phone? Is Gordon paying for these snaps? And what would a prisoner be doing with a mobile phone in the first place? If the pictures aren't from a prisoner, then they'd have to be from staff. Either way, Smart is encouraging rule-breaking himself by running the photos - and, since there's no real public interest in seeing photos of Blake Fielder-Civil on his prison toilet - it's not clear why he thinks we should be encouraging people to be running round inside prisons with mobiles.

More at his level, there's an alarming photo of Smart looming out of a frame with Lionel Blair, illustrating a story suggesting that Smart couldn't actually think of a reason for printing it:

Lionel Blair hadn’t a clue

Really? The story is that Blair turned up for a wedding at the Dorchester while the Kaisers and Oasis were being drunk. Not clear that means he "didn't have a clue", unless it's now incumbent upon us all to know the whereabouts of Gallagher and Wilson at all times.
As I frogmarch him into The Dorchester, Noel and Ricky chant: “Lionel, give us a clue! Lionel, Lionel give us a clue!”

Yes, for some reason, Gordon felt the need to "frogmarch" a man into an event he'd been invited to. It doesn't strike us that Lionel is the one lacking a clue.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Can't we all be a little more like Abba?

In an age when the only reason bands don't reunite is either because they're all dead, or haven't yet split up, let's salute Abba for staying down:

Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson told The Sunday Telegraph there was "simply no motivation to regroup".

"We would like people to remember us as we were, young, exuberant and full of ambition," Ulvaeus told the newspaper.

Of course, there's always the Lydon option, of pretending to still be young, exuberant and full of ambition.

Counting backwards

Bloc Party are counting backwards on their website, heading back to 11am tomorrow morning.

Could it be a surprise performance? A cunning announcement? Or has Kele just found a great way to remember a dental appointment?

That's going to hurt

ContactMusic pick up on Jay-Z's meeting with Gordon Smart - or, probably, Smart brought it to their attention - but, oh, at a cost:

Showbiz reporter Gordon Smart agreed with Noel Gallagher about Jay-Z not being "right" as a Glastonbury headliner in the paper.

Showbiz reporter? Are the not aware that Gordon Smart isn't some tuppenny ha'penny reporter, but an editor and the Prime Minister of Showbiz, actually. Where's the respect?

Mike Read returns

An email from James Page, which deserves to be shared in full:

I'm at a loss to describe what I've just seen... I was channel-hopping this evening when I stumbled across 'Red TV' (Sky 186), one of those channels whose main purpose seems to be to rebroadcast the 'Psychic Interactive' feed and 'Crown Court' repeats. But it gets better. At around 6pm every Saturday on Red TV, you can enjoy 'Mike Read's Pop Quiz'.

Sadly, this is not a genius bit of nostalgia scheduling, repeating old episodes of a classic show in its original timeslot, like 'Vault TV' did with The Chart Show. Oh no. Mike Read has actually come back and remade 'Mike Read's Pop Quiz'. And it's genuinely jaw-dropping TV.

Gone are the celebrity guests like Meatloaf and One Of Kane Gang. Gone are the big sets and funky production techniques. In comes a quaint little pub quiz with two teams of ordinary people (complete with comedy pub-quiz team-names), staged in an all-purpose studio which looks like how I imagine those karaoke booths which let you record your own CD, only with the sound quality of a dictaphone. Read himself sits in front of a small flat-screen TV which displays a Powerpoint demonstration of each question, and both teams of three perch behind tiny desks just about big enough for one. Awkward witty banter abounds.

Really, you have to see it to believe it. Please set yourself a reminder to watch next Saturday's episode. You will not be disappointed (by which I mean you *will* be disappointed, but won't be disappointed by failing to be disappointed). It's so completely strange to see a once-huge TV show brought back in such Tesco-Value style. It's startlingly reminiscent of the time Alan Partridge tried to recreate his chat-show in the travel tavern.

Sadly the set isn't constructed by Read himself from assorted chocolate products.

Presumably they'd use the old Mike Read Pop Quiz board game, only he was made promises about storage that he was let down by...

Talking of Pop Quiz - and bless you, James, for giving us an excuse to bring this to the table - OddBob0 has posted this to YouTube: footage of him playing, well, Mike Read's Pop Quiz - the ZX Spectrum version [Possibly more fun to listen to with the sound off, to be honest]:

We're trying to work out who the faces you can choose for your team are - Marilyn, certainly; is that Hank Marvin or Pete Waterman with the glasses?

Oh, no: it's Lowe

Daisy Spam - daughter of Pearl from Powder and im out of Supergrass - is plotting to record a song with her boyfriend Mark Ronson, which comes as something of a surprise. Wasn't modeling meant to be the job you went into precisely because you didn't have the skills to do something creative?

Still, I suppose it's lucky she's dating a producer. If she was going out with a biologist, she'd probably get it into her head to create her own range of viruses.

Girls Aloud solo story shocking

The Sunday 'Yes, it is still going, actually' People splashes an eye-catching headline:

Girls Aloud star's shock decision

But it's as hollow as a Tennant regeneration - she's going solo as in, erm, going away on holiday.

Sunday People readers would feel cheated, were they not Sunday People readers and presumably having low expectations in the first place.

Rav Singh moves on from Madonna marriage

You can't keep a failed marriage going once it's broken, and, as Rav Singh knows only too well, it's equally true that you can't keep a failed marriage story going once it's broken elsewhere.

So, after weeks of banging away at Madonna break-up tales, he's reluctantly moving on - Find <Madonna> - replace <Mariah Carey>.
Although this bit is unique:

Nick, 27, even had ‘Mariah' tattooed across his shoulders. My source added: "That's a problem."

He could perhaps try dating a woman called Maria and see if they can turn the final 'H' into a kitten or something?

This week just gone

Over the last month, these people have been the most-searched for by users hoping to find naked photos:

1. Lily Allen
2. McFly
3. Avril Lavigne
4. Heather Mills
5. Beth Ditto
6. Nelly Furtardo
7. James Blunt
8. Lauren Laverne
9. Wayne Rooney (really)
10. Brody Dalle

At the far end, there's just been one search each for Kate Jackson, The Datsuns and Kirstie Allsopp.

These were new releases and such:

My Bloody Valentine - Box Set

Dirty Pretty Things - Romance At Short Notice

Tuung - This Is Tuung

The Ascent Of Everest - How Lonely Sits The City

Tricky - Knowle West Boy

Seth Lakeman - Poor Man's Heaven

David Bowie - Live In Santa Monica 72

Toyah - Good Morning Universe

Paul Heaton - Mermaids And Slaves

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit My father liked to watch the wrestling, my mother liked to wrestle...