Saturday, April 03, 2010

Cruel headlines: Peter Andre

ContactMusic with a headline that's all punchline:

Peter Andre Planning Picture Book

The rest writes itself.

The illustrated Hello: Little Nell

Little Nell, those of you who had to Dickens at school will remember, was a character in The Old Curiosity Shop. There is another Little Nell, though. Little Nell Campbell.

Her Dad wrote a column about family life in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and dubbed her Little Nell in that, a nickname which would stick with her through her adult life as an actress and singer. She was in the Rocky Horror Picture Show - which as far as I can tell is a device men use to wear skirts and stockings in public without having to ask themselves questions about why they enjoy doing so - but also released a series of records of her own.

This is I Wanna Be A Beauty Queen, which appeared on the opening titles of a documentary about the 1978 Alternative Miss World:

[Part of the illustrated Hello]

If it wasn't for Bob Geldof, people would still be living in poverty

More4 is showing a documentary on Monday which includes a segment that takes a hard look at celebrity anti-poverty campaigns:

The film that appears to have angered Geldof is Starsuckers, a polemic against media and celebrity that will be broadcast on More 4 on Tuesday. A section of the documentary makes a string of allegations about singer-turned-campaigner.

They include the suggestion money raised from the 1985 Live Aid concerts to tackle famine in Ethiopia was mis-spent, leading to deaths, and criticism that the successor concerts two decades later, Live 8, overshadowed a mass movement of campaigners in the Make Poverty History coalition.

Now, you know how much Bob Geldof likes being challenged on his views."Fair point" he chuckled, "but we do our best..."

Did he buggery. Oh, no, it's all angry letters and complaints to Ofcom:
In the letter, seen by the Guardian, Geldof claimed to have had significant influence over world leaders, including Tony Blair, in the run-up to the 2005 G8 summit, and contrasted the achievements of his Live 8 campaign with the global coalition of anti-poverty campaigners, which he characterised as "a bit lame" and almost entirely ineffectual.

If it is true that Geldof had enormous influence over world leaders in 2005, you'd have to ask why. At the time of Live Aid, arguably Geldof could claim he had some sort of mandate to speak for everyone. By 2005, though, there were quite enough media industry millionaires pumping their unelected viewpoints into the ears of world leaders; having another one isn't the unquestionable good thing that Geldof seems to think. Surely he wasn't claiming Make Poverty History as his mandate?

Still: if Geldof does want to take the credit for Gleneagles, maybe we should let him?

Then Geldof turns to how GRATE it is to have FAMOUS PEOPLES involved with campaigns:
Claiming that "all that the combined lobbying might of the total NGO community" failed to ignite public opinion over global poverty, Geldof drew attention to the powerful impact of the Live 8 concerts, which were televised simultaneously to audiences around the world. "They are the vast billions watching," he said. "Brought together around the electric hearth of the TV or computer screen by the Pied Pipers of Rock 'n Roll."

Nobody would deny that putting Coldplay and U2 on the television gets lots of people to watch. But that's putting on a show, it's not actually making poverty history, is it Bob? That's the difficult bit.

I haven't seen the programme myself - obviously, it's not been on yet - but from the sypnosis, part of it's contention seems to be that it's incredibly easy to get lots of people looking at celebrities, but much more difficult to actually turn those crowds from passive lookers into agents of change. Simply going "we got lots of people to watch TV" actually supports the arguments, not destroys them.

And holymotherofallthatisholy, did you really think what a knob you'd look like saying "brought together around the electric hearth of the TV or computer screen by the Pied Pipers of Rock 'n Roll"?

His stupid boat stunt - you'll recall Geldof calling for a second Dunkirk, with people paddling from the continent to Scotland - turns out not have been a toe-curling embarrassment, but instead a stunt:
Fearing that Make Poverty History, a global coalition of development agencies, was failing to galvanise public opinion, he said he embarked on a publicity drive. It included "pretending" that millions of activists were headed to Edinburgh from the continent to "re-enact a sort of Dunkirk", he said.

There's two problems here. First is that MPH wasn't "failing to galvanise" anything - it was doing really well, until it suddenly found its focus shifted away to a lot of fluff about if it was going to lead not to a new deal for the developing world, but whether Status Quo would open a London pop concert.

More importantly, Geldof didn't "pretend" there was a flotilla - he called for it. It just didn't show up. The Age was just one of the papers which carried his original calls:
Speaking at a boatyard, Geldof appealed for English boat owners and even rowers to sail across the Channel for "Sail 8" and pick up thousands of European protesters trying to get to Edinburgh for the demonstration on the opening day of the summit on July 6.

Geldof alluded to events during World War II in 1940 when hundreds of thousands of troops were rescued from the German advance in France by a fleet of privately owned craft sailing across the Channel.

"What we are asking people to do is not re-create D-Day but re-create Dunkirk, which is one of the great national legends of our country where normal people got in their boats to rescue our soldiers, 380,000 of them, who were surrounded and came back to fight another day," Geldof said.

It would be the biggest collection of little boats seen since Dunkirk, he said. "This time we are asking that people take to their boats in their thousands and pick up the people of France for a friendlier invasion. It will be beautiful and amazing . . . I think if you have a little rowing boat that would get across, then jump in it and get as far as you can."

If he had been "pretending" they were coming, that would have been dubious enough - sure, there is much bluff-calling at international summits, but using your poker face to claim that dozens of pedalos and sunbeds are about to arrive on the beach seems to be designed to do nothing other than make yourself and the cause you're fighting for look ridiculous.

Geldof, though, appears to believe that he's so much better than the masses he claims to have been mobilising:
He contrasted the success of the Live 8 initiative with the efforts of anti-poverty demonstrators who "were never mentioned" at the summit, where they wielded "not a single shred of influence".

"The G8 has become a pointless ritual where the marchers and the wankers dressed as clowns (wow! Radical) get to throw stones at cops miles from the decision makers, who can't even hear them, and the cops get to crack some heads," he said, adding that he suspected other campaigners knew that his methods were simply more effective. "I can do rock n roll, they can do marching."

It's true. Dressing up as a clown and standing half a mile from a hotel might do bugger all. Is getting Pete Doherty to sing a duet with Elton John in a totally different country really a better strategy, Bob?

The illustrated Hello: Little Richard

I guess the oddest thing about Little Richard announcing his plans to retire this year is the discovering that he's not yet 70. I suppose because it feels like he's been around forever, if you'd asked me when I didn't have Google to hand I'd have put him at at least half a decade over that.

Little Richard, then. You don't need me to tell you about him, do you?

He's kept himself busy recently - he even had a job helping the former President get his message across:

[From The Daily Show, of course.]

But this is him doing what he does best - no, not losing members of his backing band to James Brown:

[Part of the Illustrated Hello]

Gordon in the morning: Fails mainly on the plain

Gordon passes a large chunk of his space over to the awfully-named Eliza Doolittle this morning, mainly because her management team have sent over a photo of her in shorts.

NEW face ELIZA DOOLITTLE certainly is one Fair Lady.

Well, to be fair, at least Gordon's gone for a gentle joke and is flattering his readers by assuming they'd be familiar with... oh, hang on:
The singer-songwriter - named after the lead character of hit musical and film My Fair Lady - is all set to release debut single Skinny Genes on April 12.

Gordon, if you have to explain the joke you just made quite so clunkingly in the next paragraph, you might want to think about coming up with something a bit more in tune with your key audience:
With LILY ALLEN-style lyrics and a love for very short shorts, she's definitely one to watch.

That'll do it.

So how did "Eliza" come up with her kerrr-azzzzy name?
Eliza says: "I love my real surname but it isn't very pop-starry. So I became Eliza Doolittle and now everyone calls me it."

Righto. That really explains it.

Still, nice to see someone getting massive record company investment despite not having any industry connections, isn't it?
Her dad is theatre director JOHN CAIRD and her mum Tony Award-winning actress FRANCES RUFFELLE.


Friday, April 02, 2010

The illustrated Hello: Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball

In the last couple of years, Cannon and Ball have started to get the sort of relocation in the nation's affections that - simply by not dying - stars sometimes do as those who were kids when they were famous get old enough to book television and radio programmes.

And although they might be popping up on Sport Relief and not-too-bad on Simon Mayo's Radio 4 comedy quiz, it's worth remembering that their double glazing advert is closer to the true spirit of what they were like.

Very much of the second string of double acts - somewhere between Little And Large and Lennie and Jerry in the pecking order - their awfulness was pretty much summed up in their first LWT programme, where an early sketch required the knowledge that Rock On Tommy was Bobby Ball's catchphrase for the punchline to work. Maybe at the end of the series. Maybe in the middle. But first programme?

Still, they were popular enough for a while, and even managed somehow to get a film made. The Boys In Blue, which was effectively a remake of a Will Hay movie about the police. Wisely, they updated the plot to the present day. Somewhat foolishly, they forgot to add in any jokes.

Somehow, The Boys In Blue managed to generate a spin-off ITV sit-com. But just as substandard policemen tend to drift into the private security business, a police comedy that didn't quite make the grade got reinvented as a sit com about security guards.

However, while The Boys In Blue is a footnote in C&B's career (a staging post on the route to losing all their money and getting born again), it also marks the point where they tried to launch a career making comedy records too. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cannon And Ball - the single:

They should have just got Tommy to sing a song, and have Bobby in the background going 'rat-ta-tat-ta-tat'. That got them through most of their Saturday night shows.

[Part of the Illustrated Hello]

Downloadable: Hot Chip & Bonnie Prince Billy

Yes, it's a bit like that Sherry that Harveys made for making mixed drinks with - it doesn't feel like it should work.

The difference is that Hot Chip and Bonnie Prince Billy does work, unlike the mixing sherry which even the guys under the bridge wouldn't touch.

RCRD LBL are offering Billy-doing-vocals for Chip I Feel Bonnie. Enjoy, but don't put lemonade in your sherry.

Bearded Festival: Face the facts

Last year's Bearded Festival was the one that got hit by a tornado. Which means, what with lightning never striking twice and everything, that it's probably going to be the safest festival of all this year.

If you need more encouragement, Dreadzone are playing. So are Banco De Gaia. And, in increasing order of "oh... are they still going, then", so are The Wonder Stuff, Dodgy, New Model Army and The Cheeky Girls.

There's also going to be a world record attempt for the most false beards in one place at a time - i think the current record is held by the backstage area at the last Smash Hits Poll Winners Party.

It's 14th-16th May, in Hulland Ward near Derby. No screens playing international football at all - guaranteed.

The illustrated Hello: Saints and sinners

Yes, yes, The Beloved mean they're welcoming you whatever your track record of morality is like. But Saints And Sinners are also a not-quite-glam, not-quite-hard rock band from Canada.

"The band released one album, Saints & Sinners in 1992, but the grunge movement in the early 1990s ruined the bands chance of having a big breakthrough" complains Saints And Sinners' Wikipedia entry, happily overlooking their not being much cop as a greater liability.

[Part of the Illustrated Hello

The illustrated Hello: Peter and Paul

Oh. The first one is a bit of a challenge. Peter and Paul.

The general assumption is these are the Saints of the same name - how apt for today.

You could throw in a Mary and then you'd get this:

Saint Peter was the first Pope - and probably the only one who didn't preside over a Catholic Church that was full of financial and sexual irregularities; Saint Paul was a large city in Minnesota, birthplace of Charles Schultz - who crops up later on in the song via one of his more famous creations. And, across the river in the twin city, there's this chap:

And, erm, they're all saints, aren't they?

Hmm. Two names in and I'm already stretching it a little.

[Part of The illustrated Hello]

The illustrated Hello

It's a Bank Holiday weekend, and how better to mark the *checks Wikipedia* crucifixion and resurrection of a chap than a slightly strained special feature?

Hello by The Beloved is one of the truly great list songs. Clearly, Jon Marsh is of an age where he would have spent much of his youth listening to the Annie Nightingale Request show on Radio One, and as such would have been more than familiar with The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's Intro And The Outro, to which Hello owes a Joe McIntyre-sized debt:

[The Bonzos doing The Intro And The Outro on Do Not Adjust Your Set]

It's something of a surprise to discover that Hello only made it to Number 19, although that was still quite a lot of money in those days - January 1990. It's also a bit of a surprise to discover that it wasn't the Beloved's biggest hit - that would be Sweet Harmony, which came three years later.

Still, their finest hour, even so:

The question, though, is who were all these people and - more to the point - how tenuously can they be linked back to pop?

so welcome to the world, yeah...
all you late-comers, just step onboard
i'm happy, glad you came
so welcome home again!
sometimes i feel we must be going mad
hello peter, hello paul
saints and sinners, welcome all
tommy cannon and bobby ball
hello, hello, hello, hello
consider, if you will
this great big question, unanswered still
oh, can you spot the difference that lies between
the colour blue and the colour green?
sometimes i feel we must be going mad
little richard, little nell
willy wonka and william tell
salman rushdie and kym mazelle
hello, hello, hello, hello...
so welcome to the team
oh, have you worked it out yet?
yeah - the riddle, i mean
what's the answer?
it's plain to see - blue is blue and it always will be
sometimes i feel that the whole world's going mad
mork and mindy, brian hayes
barry humphries and paris grey
little neepsie, chris and do
hello, hello, hello, hello...
billy corkhill, vince hilaire
freddie flintstone, fred astaire
desmond tutu, steve and claire
hello, hello, hello, hello...
charlie parker, charlie brown
leslie crowther, come on down
mary wilson, di and flo
hello, hello, hello, hello...
sir bufton tufton, jean paul sartre
zippy, bungle, jeffrey archer
andre previn and the lso
hello, hello, hello, hello...

Over the weekend, we'll be obsessively finding out.

[Buy: Single File: The Best Of The Beloved
Cornology - The collected Bonzos]

Gordon in the morning: Perhaps you should have taken the day off

Always difficult to fill a newspaper on a Bank Holiday - even if you usually just make stuff up and copy out press releases - but Gordon's really scraping around today, splashing with a N-Dubz story that combines Frazer having some of his stupid jewelery robbed:

A source said: "He's gutted it was robbed in the scuffle. It cost him a lot of money and he wants it back.

"He's too embarrassed to go to the police. It's not the way he does things."

and this side-splitting story:
Although Fazer's dispossessing episode is no laughing matter, DAPPY being "nicked" yesterday is.

As the band were about to begin a book signing for Against All Odds at Lakeside in Essex, two officers led him away saying they needed to quiz him.

Once they'd got a horrified and confused Dappy into a private room, they announced: "April Fool!"

Dispossessing episode? Had Gordon briefly forgotten which paper he was typing for?

The idea of the joke is alright - clearly a 'you had to be there' moment rather than something you'd want to tell people about. Gordon, though, can barely contain his mirth:
Brilliant. That's something I would have loved to have seen. Can the comical bobbies reveal themselves please?

Oh, yes, please do. Maybe we could stage some sort of reconstruction.

The only thing that could improve on this is a long description of an even less funny joke.
TULISA was also stitched up yesterday.

Oh. Go on, then.
On the way to the signing their tour manager rang ahead to see how many fans were there. When he relayed "only about three," Tulisa wanted to cancel the event and go home.

She didn't realise it was a prank until they saw the 500-strong crowd waiting.

Oh, how they must have laughed.

Elsewhere in The Sun today - seemingly ignoring the idea that my enemy's enemy is my friend - the paper has a go at the nanny currently suing Heather Mills for constructive dismissal. The Sun perked up when the court case mentioned some photos the woman did as part of a modeling portfolio:
Mucca Nanny in mucky pics

Mucky pics, you say, The Sun? What would they be?
Sara Trumble, 26 - seen proudly posing in undies but who also had TOPLESS snaps taken for a portfolio.

Ah, so pictures of models with their breasts out are "mucky", are they? I don't really need to finish this thought, do I?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Gordon in the morning: Curse him, he's right

Credit where it's due: this morning, Gordon Smart gets The Libertines story right while the NME comes across all print the legend.

Smart boils yesterday's press conference to the big idea behind the reunion:

PETE DOHERTY admitted yesterday he has been persuaded to reform THE LIBERTINES because the £1.2million fee will pay off his tax bill.
Pete said at the press conference: "What's appealing about the money is what's left after tax obviously. Which turns out is just enough to pay last year's bill."

The NME seems to have left that bit out in its extensive coverage of the reunion. But then if their reunion special edition had gone 'why get back together?' 'it's the cash' it might have taken a bit of the shine off the event.

Sarah Palin meets LL Cool J in the past

This had the air of something that might have been an April Fool, but it appears to be genuine - rather than actually interview people for her Fox News Show, Sarah Palin is merely lobbing in old versions of other people's interviews.

Not in a Wogan Now And Then way. Simply using old stuff, and pretending it's new.

Toby Keith's in it, for example:

Elaine Schock, his publicist, said a radio reporter contacted her seeking details about the programme.

"I said, 'You're wrong. There is no Sarah Palin special with Toby Keith on it on Fox,"' she said.

She said the reporter then e-mailed her the press release issued by Fox News, which said Keith would "explain the inspiration behind his song 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."' Ms Schock said she believed the interview was conducted in January 2009 in Las Vegas but she had received no e-mail or phone call from Fox News informing her it would air on Mrs Palin's show this week.

LL Cool J is also suprised to find himself in it:
The LL Cool J interview was from 2008, his spokesman said.

"Contrary to what was reported, LL Cool J was never scheduled to be a guest on 'Real American Stories' with Sarah Palin this week," spokesman Rhett Usry said.. "The show had planned to use an interview from 2008 that was being repurposed without LL's permission.

"This statement is not a reflection of any feelings LL has toward Fox News or Ms. Palin, whom he has never met, rather a clarification of what we have seen published in the media."

There's no problem with making a programme up out of old interviews. Trying to pass old stuff as if it was all-new and specially made, though: that's dodgy.

Could there be a final irony?

Oh, yes. The programme is called Real American Stories.

[via @culturalsnow]

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Downloadable: Ladytron

Ladytron want your email address. They're going to abuse it, you know, and won't be satisfied until they've had your PIN number. And your mother.

In return, though, they're dishing out a free download of the Grey Ghost remix of Predict The Day.

Worth sharing your email for. Possibly even worth sharing your mother for.

80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster tour dates

What's especially exciting about this line-up of dates is that they're playing the Krazy House in Liverpool. Blimey.

Tue 27 Cambridge Haymakers £8.50
Wed 28 Guildford Boileroom £8.00
Fri 30 Bedford Esquires £8.00

Sat 01 Harlow Square £9.00
Sun 02 London Camden Crawl, Koko, 1234 records stage
Mon 10 Leicester Sumo £8.00
Tue 11 Cardiff Barfly £9.00
Wed 12 Southampton Joiners £9.00
Thu 13 Brighton The Great Escape, Gaymers Stage, Hectors House
Sat 15 Poole Chords £8.00
Sun 16 Oxford Bullingdon £8.00
Mon 17 Reading Sub89 £9.00
Wed 19 Liverpool Krazy House £8.00
Thu 20 Leeds Cockpit £9.00
Fri 21 Stoke The Sugarmill £8.00
Sat 22 Sheffield Corporation £9.00
Mon 24 Newcastle Cluny £9.00
Tue 25 Glasgow Stereo £9.00
Wed 26 Aberdeen The Tunnels £9.00
Thu 27 Edinburgh caberet Voltaire £9.00
Fri 28 York The Duchess £8.00
Sat 29 Bristol Dot to Dot, Academy 2 £25.00
Sun 30 Nottingham Dot to Dot, Rock City Basement £25.00
Mon 31 Manchester Dot to Dot, Academy 3 £25.00

Wed 02 Birmingham Hare & Hounds £9.00
Thu 03 London Garage £11

The Libertines hold a press conference

The best place to keep an eye on the still-unfolding Libertines comeback press conference is the @Libertines stream:

Carl - it's something I've been dreaming about six years that I can go onstage and say we're the Libertines

Hmm. Really?

I wish I could be more excited about the idea of the Libertines reuniting, but have a nasty feeling it's going to be more like the revival of Monster Munch. Actually, scratch that - the Pickled Onion ones are as good as ever - so it's more like the bringing back of Arctic Roll; the only thing really going for it was that it was of its time, and has become surrounded in a slanket of nostalgia.

Had Dirty Pretty Things had the breakthrough they deserved, and/or Babyshambles been a bit more baby, a lot less shambles, maybe this would look a little more like a reunion driven by affection. Instead, there's a feeling that this might not be happening if petrol hadn't got so expensive recently.

Michael Jackson fans: They don't have more money than sense, oh no

Some people would characterise Michael Jackson super-fans as being a bit dippy.

A group of fans have raised $1,250 to fly an airplane banner over the L.A. County Superior Courthouse between 1-2pm on April 5 ... when Dr. Murray is next scheduled to show his face.

The sign will read "We demand justice for Michael Jackson" -- and the group is so fired up about it, they've already sent out a press release with a Photoshopped image of what they think the scene will look like (see above).

TMZ reveals they're much, much dippier than that.

You can picture the scene in the court, can't you? "Well, I had been going to come up with an arbitrary judgement on this one, but given that a plane that could otherwise have been advertising a roller derby flew overhead, I think I might actually try and be just."

Gordon in the morning: Because Gordon is an oil painting

The idea that Georgia May is going to be hanging around being written about, simply because three decades ago her dad was making interesting music isn't one that brings any pleasure. She doesn't deserve the way Smart's writing about her this morning, though:

Georgia's a bit Mick and teef

I just wonder if Austin Powersslipped round to JERRY HALL's when ROLLING STONES star Mick was on tour, because her gnashers have a hint of the international man of mystery about them.

Apart from being just a gratuitous and cruel attack on someone's looks for no other reason than to fill an aching gap in the newspaper, it doesn't even make any sense. I mean... he does know that Austin Powers was a made-up person? And that the teeth were plastic?

It's the second time in a fortnight that Smart has written about Jagger - last time, apparently he managed to not notice the teeth. That time he was obsessed by how 'short' she is:
T'S unusual for a 5ft 7in girl to make it big in the model world.

Kate Moss is five foot six and a half.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EMI's plan B (or was it d?) flops

The last desperate push to keep EMI sort-of-independent seems like another fumble by the Terra Firma team: the Wall Street Journal reckons that Sony is about to walk away from negotiations to licence the EMI library in the US; Universal have already pulled out and Warners weren't talking to begin with.

EMI needs a lot of money in a hurry to service the stupidly large debt used to buy it. It doesn't seem to have any options left.

Liam Gallagher: Watch out, he's got his Twitter loaded

Pat Benatar begged us to not use sex as weapon. Understandably so, because that can get quite messy.

But if she thought sex was a terrible weapon, she's lucky she hasn't seen Liam Gallagher using Twitter:

"I only use my twitter as a weapon or to say thanks to people or if people are gettin’ a bit fresh if you know what I mean," Gallagher said. "Instead of waiting 6 months to do an interview to put them in to place do it on Twitter."

So Twitter is the delivery method, then. With Liam using it deploy his wit, it's a bit like having Luger making a spud gun.

Then, just to rub home the 'not really understanding Twitter' factor, Gallagher concludes:
"All that - I went for a poo the other day or I just had a beer or I’m scratching my ass watching Neighbours or... this is ridiculous. Who wants to know all the ins and outs of everything?"

Liam Gallagher has always relied on Noel Gallagher writing stuff for him to sing. It's like he's now fallen back on getting Michael McIntyre to write everything else for him.

Lib Dems say no to Digital Economy Bill

Making some amends for their Lord sticking a BPI clause in during its passage through the upper house, the Liberal Democrats have told the government they won't support the Digital Economy Bill:

On Tuesday afternoon, the party's chief whip Paul Burstow tweeted that he had told the government the Liberal Democrats will not support the bill as it is drafted because there is "not enough time for MPs to examine it in detail".

The bill is expected to be become part of 'wash-up', a brief period at the end of a sitting parliament when outstanding legislation becomes the subject of back-room deals between the main two parties, the Conservatives and Labour.

It probably won't be enough to kill it, but maybe it will be enough to persuade the Labour Party that this might not be the way to behave seconds before asking everybody to vote for them.

Polka News Network: It's big in Cleveland

Remember the Grammys declaring they had no room for polka? You must do, we've been going on about it all year.

The Grammys are so far out of it, it ain't true. Polka is KING, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The idea was to host a Sunday polka brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hire the cutting-edge Chardon Polka Band headed up by 20-year-old Jake Kouwe. (More on him later.) Charge a reasonable $12 a person. Get the Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame to co-sponsor the event. Bring in professional dance teacher Valerie Salstrom from Get Hep Swing for the slow folks and newbies. Teach them how to polka. And do the Slovenian Slide and the Polish Hop. And, of course, throw in the requisite Bloody Marys, eggs, bacon, home fries and French toast.

See what happens.

Advance sales weren't so great. Maybe 25 tickets, tops, sold in advance. OK, not such a great idea after all. Back to the drawing board. Don't get your hopes up.

But at 11 a.m. on Jan. 17, there was a line of people all the way down the street waiting to get into the polka brunch. More than 200 people turned out. More staff was called in. Extra food had to be made. The kitchen went crazy. People of all ages ate and danced. Punks, grandparents and school kids all cut the rug. The music was great. An event was born.

The one in February sold out, too. Same thing happened in March. It seems that lately in Cleveland, Polka rocks.

Is there any other music which works better accompanied by French Toast? It seems unlikely.

[Thanks to Laura B, who suggested the story via No Rock on Facebook]

Downloadable: Evelyn Evelyn

You're on the internet at the moment, so you'll already have heard of Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley's Evelyn Evelyn side-sorta-main project. Stereogum have got a free sample, MySpace, which is a bit like a We Are The World everyoneathon. Only not for charity. And with Andrew WK.

Oh, also in there is Frances Bean Cobain. Somewhere.

Downloadable: Thieves Like Us

Also from RCRDLBL: The Codebreaker Remix of Headlong Into Night by Thieves Like Us.

Not enough? How about if we throw Never Known Love into the pot as well?

Somewhat scandalously, Wikipedia have attempted to delete the Swedish-NooYorkers from the very world - suggesting they have less cultural relevance that Garfield On The Town. That seems a little rough.

[Buy: Play Music]

Downloadable: Teenage Fanclub

A treat from RCRDLBL today: Baby Lee, a track which will be well-known to Marc Riley fans as it's been floating about on his 6Music show for about a year. Yes, it's early fruits of the new Teenage Fanclub album.

[Buy: A Catholic Education]

Ricky Martin comes out... apparently

Ten years after Barbara Walters asked, Ricky Martin has finally answered:

According to the Associated Press, Ricky Martin, who's 38, decided he didn't want to keep any secrets in the closet. But what closet? Frankly this blogger was surprised to learn Ricky Martin was straight.

If Martin's coming out was late in timing, it was dull as hell in form. It was almost as if he hoped he could bore people away from the announcement before he got to the announcement:
A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life. From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And thisis something worth celebrating.

For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that's the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It's my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don't ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I'm at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I'm feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share.

Many people told me: "Ricky it's not important", "it's not worth it", "all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse", "many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature". Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.

If someone asked me today, "Ricky, what are you afraid of?" I would answer "the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war...child slavery, terrorism...the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith." But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.

These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed.

What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.

"Righto, Mr. Martin. So I'm putting down as 'man looking for men', then."

It's great that Martin has decided to come out, but there's always something a little queasy about a man pushing his was to the front of the Gay Pride floats after he's spent the last two decades firmly at the head of the "Heh! That's a personal question - let's just say I'm sexual and mention that I have so many female fans" Pride march.

Gordon in the morning: Rage Against... what were you raging against, dears?

Gordon's got a really weird interview with Rage Against The Machine this morning. Reading it - if you didn't know any better - you might assume that RATM had somehow come up with last year's Christmas number one campaign rather than just having been the recipients of other people's hard work.

Rather queasily, the band are now building on what happened last year as part of their promotional framework, thereby validating the idea that Simon Cowell is central to the music industry. You know, the idea that other people were supposedly buying their record to disprove:

Zack told The Sun: "I really hope there are no hard feelings with Simon.

"He seemed to think that it was a bullying campaign but the truth is the British people wanted a change.

"I don't think anybody has heard anything of that Joe guy since Christmas, but we have nothing against him.

It does get worse, though.
"The truth is Simon's shows occasionally produce talent.

"We love Susan Boyle, she is hot.

"To show there are no hard feelings we would like her to perform with us on stage this summer.

"She is a great vocalist and we would love to perform Killing In The Name with her. Everybody knows her in the US and she can add her vocals to anything. It would be an honour for us."

"... and Steve Brookstein's free, so there's that option."

I don't think anyone's ever really believed that RATM really were a counter-cultural force, but who knew they'd be pitifully trying to leverage a few ticket sales by jumping the Britain's Got Talent train?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cory Doctrow asks the BPI a question

It's a fair question: if the Digital Economy Bill is to be passed before parliament is prorogued, it's only going to happen if it isn't debated properly. Cory Doctrow wonders if the BPI would be relaxed about the bad, poorly debated law that would result. The BPI are reluctant to answer:

I emailed Mr Liversage the next morning and asked whether Mr Mollet, or the BPI, believed that the digital economy bill had received sufficient scrutiny by the peoples' elected representatives, or whether the bill should go to a full debate. I got a terse note back referring me to the earlier statement, which didn't answer my question.

So I asked again. And again. And again. I left messages on Mr Liversage's mobile and landline phones. Sent more email. Silence.

Let me take you through that again: the BPI really wants you to know that its representative didn't say that there was no need for debate on the digital economy bill. But they won't say whether there's a need for debate on the bill.

It's a really simple question: are the BPI cool with that? The more complicated question is why won't they answer a really simple question.

Streaming now: Tokyo Police Club

There's a new Tokyo Police Club album due in June; They're streaming a sample track, Breakneck Speed.

Listen with No Rock: Tegan And Sara

With thanks to the ever-delightful Minnesota Public Radio, here's Tegan And Sara in session from last week:

Erykah Badu puts grassy knoll in a video

In what is almost certainly a serious political statement and not a naked attempt to outstrip GaGa & Beyonce's YouTube hits, Erykah Badu has shot a video which sees her taking her pants off as she walks towards the Grassy Knoll in Dallas.

The video ends with a Erykah Badu naked, lying on the ground, with the words, erm "groupthink" bleeding from her head. While actual tourists stare at her in a "should we call an ambulance or the cops" fashion.

There was only one man there with a camera, although some people claim there was a second guy shooting from the grassy knoll.

Gordon in the morning: Don't look back into the sun

There are many things you could say about the ill-advised Libertines reunion. Possibly only Gordon would go with this:

Smells like 'tines spirit

Because, effectively, The Libertines and Nirvana are the same thing.

Not that Gordon isn't over-excited:
If they'd managed to keep going, they were on course to become the biggest rock band in the country.

Really? You can't picture them playing the game quite like Kasabian, flogging football shirts and turning up to feed the tabloids. And if you try to picture it, all you can see is the band splitting apart.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dubstar weekend: Self Same Thing

From the until-now-last-album, Self Same Thing:

[Buy: the Self-Same Thing]

[Part of Dubstar weekend]

Dave Mustaine is a social phobic

You know what's great about metal? It's just so wild and in your face. Even if you only have a small face, it's all up in it. They just don't care. They sup with the devil. They rock, in short.

Take Dave Mustaine. He's hard as nails. Nothing spooks him.

Oh, except a couple of stage divers getting on stage.

Oh, it's not that Mustaine is a baby or anything. But, right, someone shot Dimebag, right?

"I really don't say a lot from the stage, but those two little fucking assholes that just came up here on stage... We lost a very dear friend of all of ours in the state of Texas, we lost Darrell because some fucking piece of shit came up on the stage behind him and shot him," Mustaine said. "You know what I'm talking about, right?" He continued, "Listen, if you're gonna come up on the stage tonight, just know you're fair game. And if you're gonna stay out there, you're my friends, and if someone comes up on the stage and tries to fuck with me, I want you to help me. We'll take him outside and we'll give him a good old-fashioned Texas fucking beatin' . . . One thing is for sure — those little fuckers got thrown out before I could get hold of them."

Let's leave aside the obvious point that, if you wanted to shoot someone on stage during a show, you don't really need to get on the stage to do it - unless you're a really, really poor shot - is it really appropriate to use the name of a man killed in an act of violence to call for a crowd to drag people out into the street and beat the shit out of them?

But he wasn't done. Oh, no. He saw someone flipping him off in the crowd. Having already decided that today was a 'no dignity at work' day, Mustaine decided to behave like he was thirteen:
"Oh, you're flipping me off. Oh, you big bad-ass. Oh, you're so tough, aren't you? Look at you, aren't you a cocksucker. Yeah. You're flipping me off." He continued, "Hey, I wonder what his mother is doing, but I don't think sucking dick is really important." He added, "This is what happens when your cousins fuck you, you stupid fuck. You don't even have hair on your pussy. Put your fingers up in the air and stuff them up your ass, OK, you cunt? This is definitely dedicated to you. You are not a Texan, you pussy. You're not a Texan. You weren't even born in this fucking country, you pussy.

Mustaine really has something against vaginas, doesn't he? I mean, only metaphorically, but clearly some sort of deep problem there.

Dubstar weekend: Not So Manic Now & Anywhere

Off German TV in 1996:

[Buy: Not So Manic Now]

[Part of Dubstar weekend]

6Music protests

Lots of coverage this morning of the 6Music protests in London.

It's probably the first time there's been a popular protest to save a BBC service since the march on Broadcasting House to keep Radio 4 on Long Wave. That march - mainly representing the voice of expats alarmed at a Radio 4 only on FM, and thus beyond the reach of their North European transistors - was a success. The upshot was that the planned rolling news and current affairs station was scrapped, and the original Radio Five was dumped to create a hybrid news and sports service instead.

The last march, then, killed the original Radio 6, and wiped out a bunch of interesting late-night music shows. Let's hope this march sort-of-reverses the effect.

Digital Economy Bill: Jeremy Hunt thinks of the copyright industry

I'm sure Jeremy Hunt really does understand his shadow brief as the Tory's man for Culture, Media and Sport. So, presumably, when he writes stuff like this he's just hoping nobody is actually going to think about:

We also want a structure that encourages people who create digital content to innovate with new business models (like Spotify does for the music industry) rather than look to legislation to protect their current business models. It is a delicate balance: if the law is too heavy-handed, it will stifle innovation; but if it does nothing at all to protect copyright people will simply not be prepared to invest in the creation of new digital content – something that would be very damaging for the UK’s creative industries.

Yes, without tight new legislation, people simply will not invest in the creation of digital content (Hunt means 'art and music', by the way). We really need to get that law changed quick - without it, people simply will not be making stuff. Because look at what's happening now, under the current legislation - when did you last hear a new song? Or see a video which someone had shot? Nobody has taken a photograph since 1997 - according to Wikipedia.

Without this new legislation, we will continue to live in a world where people don't make things, don't write things, don't sing things. Thank god Jeremy Hunt is fighting to make us create once more.

Dubstar weekend: No More Talk

Although their chart career probably wasn't quite as stellar as EMI would have liked, Dubstar did manage to notch up an agreeable number of Top Of The Pops performances. Look! Look! Here's them doing No More Talk:

(When I watched this, it was offering me Julie Andrews tickets to buy; I can't decide if this was a genius piece of targeted marketing or totally broken.)

[Buy No More Talk]

[Part of the Dubstar weekend]

This week just gone

The most-read stories from this month have been:

1. RIP: John Sicolo of TJs, Newport
2. Mark Linkous' death treated as suicide
3. Music Matters: Downloading music is like drink-driving
4. The Economist gets its 6Music numbers muddled
5. RIP: Carol Clerk
6. Graham Coxon sets his fans on a blogger
7. Willie Nelson confirms Glastonbury 2010
8. Gene Simmons wishes there were more bands like Oasis
9. RIP: Charlie Gillett
10. SXSW 2010: Muse

This week was the week of these interesting things:

Goldfrapp - Head First

Download Head First

Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can

Download I Speak Because I Can

Autechre - Oversteps

Download Oversteps

Galaxie 500 - Today

Download Today

Colourfield - Virgins & Philistines

Download Virgins & Philistines

Pocorn: Fifty Years Of Rock & Roll Movies - Garry Mulholland