Friday, June 23, 2006

Long Hot Summer

where's summer b?Wednesday was the longest day of the year, which means one thing: It's time for people to trade their Summer Burn CDs. (Okay, so there might be more than one thing, but you get the point).

For those of you are scratching their heads and thinking "Summer what, now?" let me explain. Summer Burn is a groovy project run by the funjunkies website.

Everyone who signs up has to send out a double compilation CD of summer tunes to two, randomly selected, music fans on the summer solstice. In return, they get two CDs from another set of particpants. It's a bit like a pyramid scheme except (a) you actually get something, and (b) it's a very flat pyramid.

Anyway, with all the characteristic traits of a procrastinator I finished and sent out my CDs today, and I am mighty pleased with the results. I'd been planning to put the files on the website, too, but my internet connection is fucked in the ass (that's the technical phrase).

In the meantime, I've uploaded the cover art and the tracklistings so you can recreate the magic for yourself.

In fact, you should definitely try that - as I'm off on holiday and this is the last post I'll be making for a week or so.

Have a good summer!
1) Regina Spektor - Us
2) Brendan Benson - Tiny Spark
3) Eels - Saturday Morning
4) John Lennon - Oh Yoko!
5) Coldplay - Don't Panic
6) Hard-Fi - Middle Eastern Holiday
7) The Like - June Gloom
8) The Cardigans - Don't Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds)
9) Nina Gordon - Straight Outta Compton
10) Ohmega Watts - That Sound
11) Common - Faithful
12) Nelly Furtado - No Hay Igual
13) Camp Lo - Luchini
14) Handsome Boy Modelling School - Breakdown
15) Lily Allen - LDN
16) Girls Aloud - Long Hot Summer
17) Madonna - True Blue
18) Deee-Lite - Good Beat
19) Janet Jackson - Escapade
20) Sugababes - Breath Easy
21) Asira - Everlasting Love

1) Tico Mocotó - Swinga Sambaby
2) Johnny Jones - Purple Haze
3) Evinha - Que Bandeira
4) Quarto Em Cy - Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser
5) Segio Mendes - Mas Que Nada
6) Donal Leace - Today Won't Come Again
7) Stevie Wonder - You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
8) Sly & The Family Stone - If You Want Me To Stay
9) Graham Central Station - Hair
10) Archie Bell & The Drells - Tighten Up
11) Buddy Rich - The Beat Goes On
12) Henry Mancini - Pink Panther Theme
13) Quincy Jones - Soul Bossa Nova
14) Harry Belafonte - Jump In The Line
15) Herbie Hancock - Bring Down The Birds
16) Young Holt Unlimited - Ain't There Somethin Money Can't Buy

  • Front cover
  • Back cover


  • Wednesday, June 21, 2006


    some football, yesterdayLong-time readers of this blog may have realised I'm not much of a sports fan, so the lack of World Cup coverage on these pages won't have come as a big surprise.

    However, I finally managed to watch one of the games last night - at the Odeon Cinema in London's Leicestershire Square, of all places.

    The Odeon is where all the big-budget film premieres are held in the UK, so it's quite likely that I was sitting in a seat previously occupied by Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz. Although, given my decision to purchase an ultra-cheapo ticket for the middle of the auditorium, it was more likely to have been the seat Michael Barrymore or Christopher Biggins sat in during the first screening of the Spice Girls Movie.

    Anyway, the game was excellent - John Cole's first goal, in particular, was a spectacular example of a man kicking a ball in the right direction.

    But England did what they always seem to do when I watch them: play brilliantly in the first 20 minutes, then get a bit clumsy and forgetful before throwing the whole game away in the closing minutes.

    It's like they've modelled themselves on Wile E. Coyote: running at full pelt in pursuit of the Roadrunner, almost catching him, then realising they've run off the edge of the cliff and waving bye-bye before plummeting to inevitable doom at the bottom of a massive canyon.

    Last night's match was being shown in HD, which looked pretty amazing considering it was being projected onto a screen four storeys high. The picture was a little jittery and pixellated, but I think that may have been the fault of the satellite link from Germany as the adverts at half time were stunning - perhaps even better quality than films I've seen at the venue. Still not enough to make me spend two grand on a new TV set, though.

    Anyway, Come On England. There's only one Aaron Neville. Etc.


    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Unsurprising news

    It's not Thursday, it's not seven o'clock, and it's definitely not Top of the Pops. The BBC have only gorn and axed the only pop music programme left on the telly (I'm not counting the new Popworld because it is, frankly, a load of old toss).

    Oh well, it's just me and the 47 cable tv music channels from hereon in.

  • The BBC statement 'in full'

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  • Monday, June 19, 2006

    Reasons to be cheerful

    and away we go1) The shouty one out of Mis-Teeq, Alesha Dixon, has enlisted the help of Girls Aloud hitmakers Xenomania and pop genius Richard X for her debut solo album, says the Observer Music Monthly. It will therefore be nothing less than pure pop gold. You can hear a little bit of the magic on Alesha's inevitable Myspace site.

    2) Beyoncé is back with a new album called, ridiculously, B'day. The lead single, Déjà Vu, has leaked and is definitely better than anything on the last Destiny's Child album, although its becoming increasingly clear she'll never top Crazy In Love. Get jiggy by going to Spine and scrolling down til you find a link to the MP3.

    3) I've just about managed to stop laughing at the name of Nintendo's new games console (actually, that's not true - the schoolboy in me will never be able to say Wii without immediately also saying poo, bum and willy). Anyway, the games still look pretty interesting - and unofficial Wiiblog Get Wiid has compiled a list of all the unique ways the console's motion-sensitive controller will be employed. Better start working on those upper arm muscles now.

    4) Think you have lots of records? Think again. Roots drummer ?uestlove has considerably more records than you - Youtube has the evidence.

    5) Prince, who was 48(!!!!) last week, is playing concerts again. Stereogum has a review and setlist from one of his 4-hour(!!!!!!!) gigs last weekend. Please, please, please, please come back to the UK, Mr Purple. Last time you played here I got engaged - god only knows what'll happen next time around (!!!!!!1111!!! - boink).

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    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Video Of The Week: Step Back In Time

    remember the o'jays? they were not featured on this singleHere's a nice one for the summer: Kylie's Step Back In Time - which is now a shocking 16 years old! Boy, am I feeling every one of my 31 years now...

    This was, of course, the first Kylie song that cool kids could admit they liked, even though they had to use regulation heavy irony.

    It came, seemingly, out of nowhere. Kylie's previous single was Better The Devil You Know: a massive hit, but still very much cast in the cheesy Stock Aitken and Waterman mold.

    So this slab of disco funk took everyone a bit by surprise. Not only was it breezy and catchy, but it had guitars in it. Plus, Kylie looked hot.

    This was just around the time she started boffing Michael Hutchence and playing up the sexy side of her image. When she turned up in Smash Hits to promote this single, starkers except for a black feather boa, I distinctly remember getting a funny feeling in my stomach (or, to be more precise, in my pants).

    The video provides another link to Hutchence, as it was directed by Nick Egan - who made several INXS promos, as well creating the iconic montage of the band on the front of their Kick album.

    its based on a painting, you knowHe was also the desinger behind the perv-tastic cover for Bow Wow Wow's See Jungle album (pictured right), so he knew a thing or two about sexing up elfin pop starlets.

    It's not a fantastic concept - Kylie rides around in a car wearing 70s clothes while some men in comedy afros do a dance - but its colourful and ebullient and fun. In other words, like I keep saying in this column, it's great because it captures the mood of the song perfectly.

    If only they'd thought to release it in July, instead of dreary old October, it would have gone to number 1.

  • Get Kylie's greatest hits on DVD from Amazon

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  • Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    The sounds of silence

    cheery, huh?Now, I like Depeche Mode as much as the next man - and the next man says he likes Depeche Mode quite a bit, thank you very much - but they are one of those groups that inspire a very particular kind of creepy fan.

    You know who I mean - the sort of people who name their daughter after the keyboard Martin Gore used on Just Can't Get Enough, or who colour their teeth in black for Dave Gahan's birthday.

    So, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise to find that someone has collected thirty-seven (count-em!) cover versions of their single Enjoy The Silence.

    Uber-blog My Old Kentucky Blog has made all of them available for download and, surprisingly, they're all pretty damn good. I particularly recommend Pat McDonald's Seattle-esque unplugged performance, and Jazzhole's tabla-enhanced easy listening version.

  • Here is the link

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  • Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Public Service Announcement

    they want to feel you up, or something like thatYou may have heard great things about a new band called The Feeling. Accordingly, you may be wondering if their album, Twelve Stops And Home, is worth one of your tenners.

    As a courtesy to you, the reader, I shall help you to decipher the press hyperbole about this exciting new band:

    What the press say:
    1) The Feeling's lead singer, Dan Gillespie Sells, is a gayer, just like Lord Frederick Mercutio of 70s poodle-haired rock gods Queen.
    2) The band are fans of naff MOR rock acts like Elton John and ELO, and are updating them in an exciting and contemporary manner, just like New York campsters The Scissor Sisters.
    3) Bassist Richard Jones is married to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who is a bit of alright.

    What to believe:
    1) The Feeling are not as good as Queen.
    2) The Feeling are not as good as The Scissor Sisters.
    3) The Feeling are not as good as Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

    However, if you like your guitar music to be overly saccharine and polished to within an inch of its life then The Feeling are almost definitely the band for you! Go directly to Radio 2. Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200.

  • Disclaimer: I am not always 100% right, so you can draw your own conclusions at The Feeling's Myspace site

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  • Monday, June 12, 2006

    She's, like, a bird

    urgh, sweatyFor once I am completely in tune with the nation's taste in music, and Nelly Furtado's Maneater has landed with a plop atop the pop top 40.

    All told, it was a fantastic victory of music over football, with Embrace's piss-poor World Cup "anthem" struggling to get to number 3.

    Nelly's victory was only marred by those self-styled kings of the fuckwits, Radio 1's JK and Joel. Breaking the news of the number one to the singer, who was in Paris, they slavered over her video, informed her she'd "definitely" given one of them the eye in a restaurant one time, and he therefore reckoned he "could have had her".

    I'm afraid I can't remember which one it was, as both of them sound exactly alike to me. That is to say they both sound like a fat-faced, wit-free, humanised form of cat sick. They're the sort of peeople who find amusement in talking about their favourite sandwich filling and phoning up Childline 'for a laugh'. Exactly like local radio DJs, in fact, except they're inexplicably allowed to pollute the national airwarves.

    Anyway, Nelly took it all in her stride, and even managed to plug her new album, Loose - which I have right here in my hands (which makes typing difficult) but haven't quite managed to listen to yet. I'm sure it's ace, though.

    Update: The album is 'alright'

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    Thursday, June 8, 2006


    Cue outraged tone of voice: Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh has done drugs just like Pete Doherty!!!! According to the Sun, she took a puff from a "Cannabis cigarette" at a New Year's Eve Party in a friend's house. Now she is a depraved crack whore selling tricks for hits.

    Or perhaps not.

    The Sun, which has a picture of the shameful moment Kimberley succumed to the dark side of rock and roll, is beside itself. Kimberley needs to remember she's a POP star - not a POT star it says (do you see what they did there?)

    The paper is only thinking about the kids, though.

    Girls Aloud, it says, have thousands of impressionable young fans who will start eating heroin sandwiches out of bins after seeing this photo of their idol on drugs.

    The Sun does not explain, however, why it chose to make the pictue available to those fans in a daily newspaper with a circulation of over 3 million copies.

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    Wednesday, June 7, 2006

    Allofmp3 speaks!

    Just a quick update to last night's post: Allofmp3 have shockingly revealed that, in their opinion, their website is totally above board and tip top, guv'nor. Certainly no illegal music distribution going on here, if that's the sort of thing you're looking for. Don't look behind that radiator. Sorry, I meant "would you like a cup of tea and a bun?"

    They do admit that Russian copyright law is about to change - and hint that prices may go up as a result. Oh well.

  • Read the statement at

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  • Video of the Week: By The Way

    anthony kiedis prepares to accept the melonThis week's video is one of my all-time favourites. The Red Hot Chili Peppers powerful rock-funk has always inspired strong visuals and, as one of the very few globe-straddling stadium acts who don't take themselves too seriously, their videos are often blessed with that rare thing in rock: humour.

    Shot by long-time collaborator Jonathan Dayton on the streets of LA, the video is inspired by a car chase scene in Mexican film Amores Perros.

    The film shows singer Anthony Kiedis getting into a taxi driven by a fervent Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, played by David Sheridan. He kidnaps the singer, displaying increasingly bizarre behaviour - including a vaguely disturbing bare-chested dance in a tunnel.

    The other band members attempt to rescue Kiedis - giving bassist Flea the opportunity to try out some death-defying stunts. "I do a headstand on the hood of the car," he told MTV at the time. "And I have ropes tied to my toes that I steer the car with. It's incredible!"

    It's a great video, capturing both the energy of the song and the goofy personalities of the band. Sheridan's taxi-driver character was so poopular with viewers that he got to reprise the role in the inferior video for Universally Speaking.

    Oh, and be sure to watch right to the bitter end, otherwise you'll miss the punchline.

  • Buy the Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits on DVD at

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  • Tuesday, June 6, 2006

    Is allofmp3 illegal?

    When Russian downloading website went offline for a couple of days last month, I speculated that it might be because of pressure from the recording industry in the West. Now, the record companies have come out and launched a full-scale attack on the site - which accounts for 14% of all downloads in the UK. Here's BPI spokesman Matt Phillips:
    "There is no doubt it is totally illegal... Because it is a professionally put together site it does look legitimate, although it should be obvious from the price that it isn't."

    The argument here appears to be that allofmp3 is wrong because it's cheap - a legal argument that wouldn't last long in court, but can be bandied about freely in a press release.

    Indeed, the argument holds even less water if you consider the exchange rate. The average cost of a single on allofmp3 is 4p - amazingly cheap for those of us in the West, but not such a bargain in Russia, where the average monthly salary for a teacher is around £55.

    To provide a direct comparison: A UK worker earning the average salary of £2850pm could download 3607 tracks from itunes, if they were taken by the urge. A Russian worker on the average salary could download around 1375 songs from allofmp3. In other words, the site is more expensive than it's Western counterparts.

    The music industry's big concern seems to be that they can't control where people are getting their music from. They want price protection - like they've always had on physical imports. This is completely understandable: low prices mean low profits and the record companies would end up with much less money to spend on coke and whores finding new acts.

    But this opening salvo in the campaign against allofmp3 is disengenuous. As I mentioned last month, no-one really knows whether the site is illegal or not (read my previous article for more detail). To suggest that people are breaking the law is a scare tactic -- notice that the BPI have stated they won't be suing users of the site.

    Furthermore, the BBC reported last month that Russian authorities have cleared allofmp3 against allegations of copyright infringement. For their part, allofmp3 have declined to speak to the media, even when the New York Times tracked down the site's owners.

    This is clearly going to rumble on for quite some time - and it would be nice to see a little more honesty from all the concerned parties. In the meantime, I'd say it's safe to keep using the site without having your pants sued off.

  • BBC report on the BPI's claims
  • Earlier BBBC report, which says allofmp3 is legal
  • The New York Times gives the US side of the story
  • No Rock & Roll Fun employ humour more successfully than me

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  • No way!

    Have you seen that advert where thousands of coloured balls bounce down the hills of San Francisco? You know, the one that looks like this:

    loads of balls

    When I first came across it, I was impressed but not overwhelmed. "Wouldn't it have been better," I thought, "if they'd really done it, instead of making it all up with CGI?"

    Well, guess what? They did do it for real!

    Apparently, more than 170,000 balls were fired into the air - and the film-makers only had one chance to film it. Sony have even produced a making-of video, the best moment of which comes when the production team at the bottom of the hill belatedly realises that standing in the path of several thousand speeding plastic globes might cause some serious hurting!

    As I'm so good to you, I've reproduced the video here for instructional purposes:

    I wonder if little bouncy balls will keep turning up in San Franciscans' shoes and spaghetti sauces for years to come?

  • Read more about the film at the Bravia Advert website

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  • Buy this record!


    My reasons are threefold:
    1) It is finally in the shops, and it is still 'dope'
    2) You can make sure Embrace's dreary World Cup dirge doesn't get to number one
    3) Because I said so

    If you have itunes, then click here for Nelly's Maneater page.
    If you still like to have real CDs (you philistine!) you can buy it HMV

    Thank you for your valuable time.


    Sunday, June 4, 2006

    Storyfix update


    I mentioned last week that I'd written the music for the BBC's Storyfix programme [see this post]. Well, I finally tracked the show down, even though it's been craftily hidden in a damp and smelly corner of the corporation's seven trillion (approx.) webpages.

    Click here to see a list of all the available episodes, then sit back and enjoy a summary of the week's news while tapping your feet to four minutes of generic house music.

    I thank you.


    Friday, June 2, 2006

    Cute couple alert!

    How adorable is this? Jake Gyllenhall and Natalie Portman heading out on a date in America's Los Angeles. He's even bought her some pink tulips - the correct choice of flowers at the beginning of a relationship, unless you're deliberately planning to be creepy in which case red roses it is.

    And what's in that plastic bag? A microwave meal for two or Jake's pyjamas? Maybe even his cowboy outift from Brokeback Mountain (all the ladies love a false mustache, after all). Send your answers and unfounded speculation on the back of a postcard to the usual address.

  • A bigger version of this picture, and plenty more besides, are available from The superficial

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  • Dream on

    Any day now, Michel Gondry will be releasing his new movie, The Science of Sleep - which is a follow-up to 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    Judging by the press release, it has echoes of Gondry's previous movie, which explored the nature of memory (albeit Jim Carrey's memory - a very scary prospect indeed). Here's what the handout says:
    Life seems to be looking up for shy and withdrawn Stephane when he returns to his childhood home with the promise of a great job. Wildly creative, his fanciful and sometimes disturbing dream life constantly threatens to usurp his waking world. While the job fails to meet expectations, he does strike up a relationship with his neighbor, Stephanie. As their connection blossoms, the confidence he exudes in his fanciful dream life begins bleeding into his real life.

    Visually, it's bound to be stunning. Gondry has explored this territory before in the video for the Foo Fighter's Everlong - in which a man saves his girlfriend from a nightmare.

    I'm not so sure about the film's story, though. Gondry has written this film by himself - and, although he worked on the script for Eternal Sunshine, it seems likely that the accessibility of that (admittedly weird) screenplay was mainly due to co-writer Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It’s quite possible that without his steady hand the new film will be a little too fanciful and/or complex. The problem is that any film containing a scene where "An electric shaver becomes huge and shaves everything in sight" can only be explosively brilliant or eye-gougingly awful. There is no middle ground here.

    Well, now you have a chance to make an early decision: some kind soul has posted a clip of the film on Youtube. Have a look before the evil copyright lawyers take it down…


    Thursday, June 1, 2006

    Pop Wars 1999: The winner!

    Back in 1999, when Pokémon were all the rage and people still thought Robbie Williams was quite good, there was a MAJOR POP SHOWDOWN that rocked the very foundations of the industry. Except, unlike the Blur/Oasis Britpop battle (the last time that music really matteredTM - Q Magazine) no-one really noticed.

    So, who were these musical behemoths poised to bring down pop music?

    Why, they were pint-sized pop strumpets Britney Spears and Christina 'Xtina' Aguilera.

    The reason that no-one really gave this much thought was that, at the time, Britney clearly had the upper hand. Baby One More Time was one of the best songs ever written, what with its insistent piano hook and Britney's unique phrasing on the opening line Oh Bayeb-uh bayeb-uh. It also had a pervy video.

    But, argued musicologists, Christina had a better voice. Psfft, we said, what use is that when you don't have the tunes, man?

    Well, seven years later the dust has settled. Which strumpet did win? Let me explain with this handy comparison:

    So Christina is the overall victor - and her new single really is brilliant. Its called Ain't No Other Man and sounds like a 1920's jazz number sung by Aretha Franklin then filtered through an old skool hip-hop ghettoblaster.

    And, like a lovely present from the lord, it has leaked onto the internet so you can illegally download it learn to love it before it hits the shops, when you will buy it and make it a number one single.

    You will find it on this fansite (but beware, it's full of horrible pop-up adverts). Failing that, try Rock Candy

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