Word #54

Issue 54

Auust 2007

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Cover star – Van Morrison

Word shuffle

1) P6 – full page HMV advert for DVDs. £12.95 will buy you a Paul Weller documentary called Into Tomorrow or the BBC comedy series Bruiser from David Mitchell, Robert Webb and Ricky Gervais.

2) P79 – the second page of three about how good The Wire is by James Medd. “The key is – and bear with us here – to think of it as a novel. Co-creator David Simon said that, not us. He’s compared it to Moby Dick (“you don’t meet the whale in the first chapter”) and, more usefully and rather less dangerously, to a crime novel in the spirit of Hammett and Chandler. Like a great crime novel, The Wire is realistic but poetic, more gripping the deeper you get into it and deeply satisfying. It makes other TV dramas look like comic books.”

3) P94 – James Medd again, this time interviewing KT Tunstall. He asks her about her audience.

“Well, the front row is usually lesbians, heckling me, going, ‘You know you are – go on, admit it.’ There’s always a couple of teenagers who’ve sneaked in, always someone’s parents who’ve never been to a gig before, and lots of couples. Before Universe & U, I tell them ‘If you’re on a date, this is probably the one to get your tongue in.’ Gets it over with…”

4) P121 – Jim White reviews Four Eyed Monsters, an independent film by Arin Crumley and Susan Buice. It was released straight onto the internet, streaming at http://www.foureyedmonsters.com; it isn’t there any more, the site has been taken over by a budgeting company. “It’s a fine debut, a piece of deft story-telling and technical precision, a warm, wise and witty comedy about the kind of neurotic, self-obsessed New York love affair that Woody Allen used to make in the days when he still made films in his home town.”

5) P27 – Justin Spear rounds up a few recent DVD releases of ’70s kids’ TV shows. “We open on East London at its grimiest. A hairy three-piece band pace the street terrorising a market community, burning stalls and all that stand in their way. Whether the gang’s Clockwork Orange look is accidental or not, the mixture of comedy and thuggery grabs you immediately. And so begins the opening episode of The Meddlers, a three-part storyline broadcast in 1972, opening the third season of children’s TV series Ace Of Wands.”

Interesting Andrew Marr (“the best ears in the business”) talks about his favourite music .”I think Jarvis Cocker is back to writing really strong, unpredictable stories that feel simplified and cleaned-up after leaving Pulp. I love the music and words of Nick Cave – I’m a real fan. Having said that, not everything on the Grinderman record is great – though No Pussy Blues is very, very funny.” Andrea Corr is reading A Thousand Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the guy who wrote Kite Runner. An Afghan illegitimate girl gets married off to a man much older than her. It’s just really tragic”. Sara Cox is “really looking forward to Prince at the O2, seeing him in front of tens of thousands of his adoring fans. I can still sing every word of Raspberry Beret. I’m always listening to Simon and Garfunkel on my iPod, just the greatest hits. Lily Allen is still on regular rotation along with Jamie T and The Streets.”

Jim Irvin reviews some music DVDs, including Into Tomorrow (as mentioned earlier). He describes it as “a candid documentary. ‘I won’t mention any names but one or two of the band were taking him for granted’ says John Weller, Paul’s Dad – which considering The Jam was a trio, doesn’t leave much room for speculation.”

Rob Fitzpatrick interviews “the planet’s least-fashionable band” Marillion. “In the days before proper browsers, keyboard player Mark Kelly used to interact with fans via message boards. He posted a message apologising to Marillion enthusiasts for the lack of a US tour, but the fans took charge of the situation, opened a bank account and started collecting money to fund one. They raised $60, 000 just for the projected shortfall. And those who donated still had to buy a ticket. ‘That woke us up to two things’, says Steve Hogarth (singer): that our fans were not just nuts about us but were willing to put their money where their mouths were. And that the internet was the future, the perfect medium through which we could communicate with Marillion fans.”

Jude Rodgers catches up on the current exploits of a few ex-musicians: Amelia Fletcher of Tallulah Gosh is Chief Economist at the Office of Fair Trading, Keith Clark, once the drummer with The Circle Jerks, is a tax accountant in Los Angeles and Jon King of Gang Of Four is now “MD of Story Worldwide, a company that ‘delivers multi-channel branded content that is contextually relevant to media-savvy audiences’ (no, we don’t know what it means either).”

Longer article

Barry McIlheney interviews Van Morrison.

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Word #53

Issue 53

July 2007

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Cover star – Leonard Cohen

Word shuffle

1) P4 – second page listing some of the tracks on the free CD. Includes Patrick Cleandenim, Sonnenberg, Asobi Seksu and The Wailin’ Jennies.

2) P19 – the 20 worst singers in pop are listed. Unsurprisingly, given that Smash Hits used to call him ‘foghorn Hadley’, Tony Hadley is right up there (“sounds like an elephant trapped in a shipping container”). Also included are Rod Stewart since 1972 (“approaches his umpteenth covers album with the vim and brio of a man completing Community Service”), Madonna (“the sound of a brittle martinet”) and top spot goes to Mariah (“all technique, gallons of sugary gloop and not an atom of soul anywhere”).

3) P121 – a page of album reviews. Nige Tassell reviews Shady Bard’s ‘From The Ground Up’ (“a compact and bijou Birmingham collective who actually sound rather wonderful – a gentle swell of guitars, piano and strings whose slowness to build should be applauded heartily”). Jamie Bowman writes that ‘Goodbye’ by Ulrich Schnauss “is an album so German it practically wears lederhosen and drives a Merc”. Tiny Dancers’ ‘Free School Milk’ is ‘”curiously confusing” according to Jim Irvin. “one minute the Verve fronted by Neil Diamond, then jaunty tunes like Baby Love and I Will Wait For You summoning up 60’s pop by forgotten acts like Marmalde and Christie.”

4)  P6 –a page of DVD adverts from HMV. You can buy Bowie’s ‘Glass Spider’ DVD/2CD combo for £16.95 (copies on discogs currently going for double that), Iggy & the Stooges ‘Live In Detroit’ for £16 (used copies for £4 on Amazon) and Julien Temple’s ‘Glastonbury’ special edition 2DVD/2CD/book combo for £26.95 (now a tenner on eBay).

5)  P20 – in a neat act of symmetry, the random number generator has chosen the page with the 20 best singers. Lauded warblers include Sandy Denny (“sounded a bit like the Middle Ages’ version of a pop star”), Winston Rodney from Burning Spear (“even if the rooticality doesn’t speak to you, the pipes surely will”) and Russell Mael from Sparks (” the strangle-scrotumed falsettist gave metal vocalists their challenge”). Roy Orbison is proclaimed as the best (“his voice seemed to come from outer space – an unearthly sound that could move in the most unexpected ways”).

Interesting – Sylvia Patterson interviews Paul McCartney and asks him about his Smash Hits nickname.

SP: Were you aware, back in the ’80s, of the full title that Smash Hits used to give you?

PM: Wacky? Thumbs aloft? Macca….Wacky Thumbs Aloft?

SP: “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft.”

PM: Is that the full thing? You learned it! I loved that, Thumbs Aloft. And funnily enough it was coined by the guy at the time who looked a bit like me. Mark, the editor. So I thought there was something deep and psychological going on there.”

Mark E Smith is interviewed about favourite music (“the only thing I listen to at home is Italian house, Italian rave and piano house”), books (“I like Malcom Lowry, ‘Under The Volcano’, that’s alright”) and films/TV (“I’m a big ‘Neighbours’ fan – they’ve only got 12 actors in Australia and you can see in all their face how they want to move to London and make a pop record”) in the Word Of Mouth section.

David Quantick reviews some classic BBC comedy DVDs. “Watching Eric Morecambe work is still a joy, because he clearly loved it. He makes lines up, he laughs, he stares at people, he makes faces – he is enjoying himself. Fearless, we see him mock the dignified and make them like it.”

There’s a 3 page article by Robert Monks on how pirates have come to dominate the collective imagination. “The crossover of the juvenile and adult mind is, it seems, at the centre of the pirate mania. The modern conception of the pirate owes a huge chunk of itself to two of the most enduring childrens’ books there are, Treasure Island and Peter Pan. According to Christine Alhadeff, a child and adolescent psychotherapist, the ‘pirate theme’ reflects preoccupations that are archetypal for children. ‘Piratical values reverse the conventional order of things,’ she says. ‘Instead of longing for love and tenderness, the band of self-sufficient men and boys sail off under a skull and crossbones.”

Longer article

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Word #52

Cover star – Nick Cave

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June 2007

Word shuffle

1) P68 – 4 page feature by Graeme Thomson about the continuing careers of dead musicians in the digital age. “In the decade since the internet began influencing the way we discover and consume music, a number of previously low-lying artists have seen their posthumous profiles enhanced by online activity. The net is, after all, the perfect foil for compulsive fandom: the essential pulse of obsession has always been about unearthing the new before anyone else, and a medium that combines technology and community in the eternal now of cyberspace provides the perfect vehicle for expanding the reach of those who died without a platinum album or a Time magazine cover.”

2) P117 – reviews of new albums by Travis (“a fine, cynic-slaying return to the fray”), Wiley (“he’s already contemplating retirement – in the unlikely event he means it, his valediction is a fitting memorial”) and Wilco (“full of melancholy and world-weariness”).

3) P128 – from the book reviews section. David Quantick summarises ‘London Pub Reviews’ by Paul Ewen. “It’s a voyage through the perpetual dark afternoon of a man’s soul, where each pub visit ends like this: ‘I was scooped out of the cushioned waves and thrust onto the dry, safe streets of Chelsea’ (The Surprise in Chelsea) or this: ‘When I came to a barman from the Three Kings was dabbing my face with an ice-cold cloth’ (The Three Kings of Clerkenwell). Impressionistic and possibly even made up, this tour of drinks and drunkeness gives a much more accurate impression of London pub life than some drab star-ratingy guide to ales and facilities.”

4) P19 – After the Only Ones decide to reform after 26 years apart, Graeme Thomson lists some of the bands who could be tempted to get back together again, such as The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Abba. He concludes that it’s unlikely for The Jam. “Previous comments from Weller suggest a certain reticence – ‘It will never happen. Me and my children would have to be starving and in the gutter before I’d even consider that.’ A couple more albums like Studio 150 should do the trick.”

5) P23 – John Naughton interviews Armando Iannucci for the ‘Facetime’ section.

“JN: You went to Oxford, after which I understand you almost had a career in the Civil Service.

AI:  I was doing my Finals and I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I sat the Civil Service exams. Before I knew it, I was up in front of the final board of the Treasury, but eventually they said, ‘We don’t think you’ll take this seriously’, which was probably correct.”

Interesting – Eamonn Forde wonders if Apple and EMI’s recent deal will mean the end of Digital Rights Management. “In the face of profit warnings and a declining market share, EMI is punch drunk and in need of a fix – quick or otherwise. It’s rumoured EMI got a $5M advance by Apple to go down the DRM-free route, but the other, less vulnerable majors won’t be so easily swayed. Both Warner and Universal are implacably opposed to dropping DRM.”

Simon Day reveals his taste in music (“I love rappers, particularly Biggie Smalls, Grandmaster Flash, Aesop Rock, Dr Octagon and all those who don’t make porn films and eat liqeur chocolates with their pants showing and their shoes undone”), TV (“just watched season one of The Wire again on DVD – its dissection of the Baltimore drugs scene is like looking at one of those ant farms in the National History Museum – it shows you everything from the bottom to the top”) and books (“Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller is impossible to describe, read it now please”).

An interesting letter from Stephen Brown: “Just to let you know that since that article you ran last summer about my old band The Trees being sampled by Gnarls Barkley, our album On The Shore has been reissued and is doing well. Very well considering it was recorded 37 years ago! And to think the ball started rolling because of The Word. Thanks to all at the magazine.”

Sinead O’Connor talks about her place in the music business. “I had the Bono chat; he came round to my flat in north London with an Ella Fitzgerald LP. I just wish I could remember what he had to to say.

In England and Ireland I’m still perceived as this crazy woman. If you’re too honest you just get crucified. Your label tell you it’s your fault. You’re in rehab, they’re on a yacht. Really, no-one gives a flying fuck about you. My advice to a young person going into the music business would be this: don’t. Find something else to do because the price it exacts is too fucking high.”

In the same article, Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit says “I’ve never thought much about the music industry because I don’t feel that I’m part of it. There’s been no career plan and a distinct lack of ambition. It was a happy accident. I’m the last person to give advice, but once it got to a point where I thought I could do this for a living, the less-is-more thing seemed like a good idea. Don’t saturate people.”

Longer article

Jude Rogers interviews Fountains Of Wayne – the most Word band of all Word bands.

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Word #49

Cover star – Amy Winehouse

March 2007


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Word shuffle

1) P23– the first page of short Tracey Thorn interview by Sylvia Patterson to coincide with the release of Out Of The Woods. Tracey describes the album as “bed-sit disco torch songs” and says that she will never sing live again due to stage-fright.

2) P43 – a full page advert for the Good, The Bad & The Queen which The Times calls “tear inducingly beautiful”

3) P72 – part of a 5 page feature on Tinariwen by Andy Gill. “In Gao we purchase our cheches, the turban headgear made from 3 metres of muslin wound around the head, vital protection from both sun and sand. The indigo one I select it, I’m told, the favoured colour of the Tuaregs – the blue dye that stains the face serves as sunblock, imparting the blueish-brown complexion that led to them becoming known as ‘the blue men’. I, on the other hand, just look like Papa Smurf.”

4) P10 – a double page spread on the news that The BRITs is going live again. “Ever since 1989, when that odd couple Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox had their lack of TV experience compounded by the incompetence of whoever was directing traffic backstage, the BRIT Awards have been recorded the night before broadcast. This inevitable surrender to the requirements of telly has had the sad effect of depriving the event of the giddy promise of disaster which makes it interesting.”

5) P29 – John Simm is interviewed by Andrew Harrison. “My main memory of 24 Hour Party People is being wasted all the time. If you weren’t on set, someone would come and sort you out. It was very real, shall we say, especially for the lads who were playing Happy Mondays. I don’t know why they’re not dead.”

Interesting – Sylvia Patterson spends some time with Amy Winehouse. “Amy is not your run-of-the-mill gel alright, more the blueprint for a Catherine Tate character called Pop Star In A Skip. A born caricature, she’s an erratic combination of Mae West, Liam Gallagher, Bez, Tracey Emin, Popeye The Sailor Man, a temperamental teenage goth and a lecherous East End barrow-boy to whom everyone is ‘darlin’.”

Graham Gouldman talk to Paul Du Noyer about 10cc. “If Strawberry Studios hadn’t existed I doubt we would have come together. We did two albums there with Neil Sedaka. Then we did an album with this guy called Ramases. He thought he was the reincarnation of Ramases II, but in fact he was a central heating salesman from Sheffield.”

Harry Hill is “…working on a concept album based on the International Top Trumps Society in the style of The War Of The Worlds. It details this game Top Trumps played by Hitler, Bruce Forsyth, Morrissey and Roland Rat. And watching is Helena Christiansen, for some reason. My voice narrates in the Richard Burton style. When Brucie crashes out (he claims his drinks were spiked) I’m asked to sit in. Then it goes into a song, Let Me Play My Top Recipe Top Trumps Cards. I’ve written it, and I’ve laid down all the narrations and recorded one of the songs, with Steve Brown, my musical director. They’re playing recipe card Top Trumps. So Hitler would play his Devilled Kidneys with Rice. And Forsyth would match with Boiled Egg or something.”

Ricki Lee Jones talks about her respect for Laura Nyro. “I loved and adored her. She had long black hair and pale purple lipstick and she played the piano by herself and would wail and put words together in a strange, poetic and super-feminine way with these Bernstein-Stravinsky intervals. In New York Tendaberry she wrote about characters in the city which made me really want to go there.”

Dorian Lynskey has a strange opening to an interview. “So what exactly is The Word?” inquires Bryan Ferry, sounding a little like a high court judge. “Is it in colour?”

Longer article

Andrew Harrison writes about musical nostalgia and the changes that the iPod has brought.

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Word #48

Cover star – Jim Morrison

Issue 48

February 2007

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Word shuffle

1) P44– the first of two letters pages. Chris Gittner from Deptford writes to complain about Bobby Gillespie. “Please can you not interview Bobby Gillespie ever again? I cannot bear his cooler-than-thou posturing. Of course Bobby; your favourite record of 2006 is a 1970 live album! Of course, after almost 30 years om tour buses you still watch Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia rather than Zoolander. Here is a 42 year-old man for whom every decision is based on the premise, well, what would Iggy Pop do? Would Iggy het his pies from Gregg’s or Somerfields? Would Iggy get SkyPlus? Would Iggy call his son Wolf or Fox?”

2) P43 – the second page of a double-spread about the recently departed. Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records. “…Ahmet himself was not short of production and songwriting skills, writing Mess Around for Ray Charles under his backward pseudonym ‘A. Nugetre’, and producing Bobby Darin’s hits Splish Splash and Mack The Knife.”

3) P75 – part of a 10 page feature on punk. Jo Callis of The Revillos remembers the early days in the provinces. “You’d see guys with denim jackets that said Status Quo and The Clash, in felt tips, which was quite sweet. And you’d play out in the Borders of Scotlands and there’d be these guys apologising because they ‘didnae have the gear’ ; ‘We’re sorry, we cannae buy it in Castle Douglas.”

4) P40 – an anonymous sound engineer spills some secrets about live music. “Some sounds simply can’t be recreated on stage as they can in a studio. It’s rumoured that U2 have had a full studio underneath the stage since the late 80’s for this very reason. Otherwise, who plays the fast sequenced keyboard part and the keyboard pads on With Or Without You?”

5) P23 – Jarvis is interviewed by Craig McLean. “As far as I can make out, quite a few of the things the G8 promised to do they haven’t actually done…It’s that idea that you can change the system from within. They made a big thing of getting people like Bill Gates on board. It was very much saying, “We can make caring capitalism.” Well, like it says in the song (Running The World) ‘Fuck the morals, does it make any money?’ That is the thing with capitalism. If it makes a profit it’s good. If it doesn’t it’s not good. The way to make a profit is to produce things as cheaply as possible. And one way to produce stuff as cheaply as possible is to pay people fuck-all. That’s what used to happen in Great Britain. But now working class people – for want of a better word – are in a weird situation. They’re not the ones doing the dirty work, it’s people over in… Macau. The people who were traditionally called the working classes are now supposed to buy the stuff that’s made in Macau.”

Interesting – Rob Fitzpatrick interviews Adam & Joe and asks what will happen on TV in 2007. Adam answers “I’m thinking of a huge Samoan lesbian from Manchester called Julie who fronts a show called Have You Fucked My Mum? It’ll be the first show ever to have an expletive in the title that Channel 4 insist is printed without stars in the listings.”

Steve Yates reflects on hip hop’s annus horribilis of 2006. “The most popular rap singles of recent weeks have included such novelty items as Jibb’s Chain Hang Low, a track based on a nursery rhyme, and Webstar’s gimmicky YouTube phenomenon Chicken Noodle Soup. That crunching sound you hear may just be Greg Dyke doing the math on a possible Roland Rat revival.”

Joe Muggs speaks to John Martyn about touring Solid Air. “The wheelchair gets a bit impractical. Thank god my girlfriend is around to help me with all that. There’s no ploughing straight into the most dangerous pub we can find and then on to all-night joints now either – just a drink-up back at the hotel.”

Claudia Brucken writes about her favourite books and music. She likes “I love Patti Smith’s Horses – it’s so influential across so many ages. I first heard it in the early ’80s and was really struck by her punkiness and attitude as a woman. I love Rimbaud too – I think that’s a bit of Patti’s influence. A Season In Hell is really illuminating, it’s something I’ve gone back to over the years and, as my English has got better, I’ve noticed lots of new things in there. It’s just brilliant in the way it questions everything from art and morality to love. Everything conventional is everything odd is challenged and so you are made to really think.”


Longer article

David Hepworth looks back on our 50 year love affair with record shops.

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Word Interview #6 – Andrew Harrison

I meet Andrew in Sheffield, in the crowded bar at the Showroom cinema. There’s a break in proceedings at the Children’s Media Conference which he’d been attending so there are no free tables and the general hubbub makes it virtually impossible for us to hear each other. We retire to a rival coffee house across the road. To get Andrew into the right frame of mind for reminiscing, I produce issue 3 of Word. On page 3, there’s a small picture of him with Morrissey, taken when he interviewed him in LA.

AH and Moz

AH: 2003?! That makes me feel old. I remember that picture – I wish I’d worn a nicer jumper and had a better haircut. Morrissey’s house was disturbingly clean; I don’t think his kitchen had seen cooking of any kind. He had put up his usual set of pictures – West Ham United, Diana Dors, various East End criminals and ne’er-do-wells. It was an interesting visit.

So, where do you want to start?

I thought I’d begin by asking a standard David Hepworth question. What music was playing in your house when you were a kid?

My Dad was a Country & Western fan so that gave me not just a liking of Johnny Cash but also the stuff you’re not supposed to like, like John Denver. It’s seen as corny but it’s actually well put together, well written and very commercial. My Mum was never particularly interested in music although she was from Liverpool. I may have trotted out this anecdote in a Word podcast once.  Mum and her friend had got tickets to see Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor, a folk duo of the time, at the Cavern in ’62 or ’63. It was the era of the folk singer and they were really excited to see this duo. Anyway, it’s a really foggy night and this is Britain before motorways. So, they’re waiting and waiting at the club and somebody pops onto the stage and announces that because of the adverse weather conditions, Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor will not be appearing and it’s going to be The Beatles instead. Everyone went mad! “I’m sick of them, I’ve seen them before, this is a rip-off!” My mum’s mate said “This is a con, I’m going to get my money back!” She was furious at having to watch The Beatles against her will.

There were three brothers in the house. The youngest, our Ian, has been news editor at Mojo for about 15 years and my other brother Stuart is a cartoonist and illustrator who develops licensed characters. He works on things like My Little Pony and works for The Beano.  So, there were three lads with rooms next to each other and the division of labour was that I bought the records, Ian, the youngest, bought 2000 AD and Stuart borrowed everything and never spent any money! I was completely entranced by The Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Slade on Top Of The Pops. I remember seeing Brian Connolly snapping the mike stand over his knee and thinking ‘This is the most outrageous thing I’ve seen in my life. How can it be possible for someone to be allowed to destroy a piece of property on television? It must have cost £100 and he broke it over his knee!’ Then there was Noddy Holder’s mirrored top hat. The first album I got was a cassette of Sladest by Slade. In a terrible Rosebud moment I lost the tape but I found it on CD a few years ago and it still sounds amazing. Your tastes are fixed from early on, they never really change. I don’t like massively introspective, thoughtful music, although I do love the Pet Shop Boys. I just enjoy music that makes you want to jump around and go mad, I like excitement and bright, colourful insanity.

So, with music my first love was Slade and The Sweet. Then I went to secondary school in 1978. I’m no longer a little kid so I need something ‘cos I can’t play football and I can’t fight. I like music so I start picking up on the things that are happening. I always liked things that were dancey and not too ostentatiously deep so I got into bands like The Darts. My next phase began with seeing Madness on Top Of The Pops. I thought it was the biggest load of rubbish I’d seen in my life. ‘This isn’t proper music, just fairground noise while they’re jumping around and acting like idiots from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon’. A week later they were my favourite band and I’ve never looked back. I was all over Two Tone and everything that came after it. There’s this received wisdom that it was Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran that did the groundwork for rave and dance music in Britain. I don’t think that’s true at all, I think it was Madness and The Specials because that was the first time that loads of young men could go mad dancing rather than standing around and glaring while the girls danced. The New Romantic thing was quite elitist; if you didn’t have the right tea-towel round your neck you weren’t going to get into Le Beat Route. Two Tone wasn’t like that, everyone was allowed in.

The first gig I went to was The Beat, supported by The Belle Stars at the Royal Court in Liverpool. They were playing the Wha’appen? album and I was transfixed. The next gig was the second to last Specials concert around the time of Ghost Town.  With hindsight I can tell they were falling apart, they had a fist fight on stage. Terry Hall came to the front of the stage and told the sieg-heiling skinheads that if that was all they could do with their right arms they should go home and saw them off. It was really intense. So, it was Two Tone that really got me going.

I’d always wanted to write and even as a little kid I’d make little magazines. There used to be this fantastic kit you could get with an 8 page blank magazine and a load of Letraset you could peel off for your headlines. A few years ago we actually found the magazine I’d made in 1977 and it was a newspaper for the Galactic Empire in Star Wars with a front page exclusive interview with Darth Vader where he revealed his plans. Basically nothing has changed!

Only the Letraset has changed.

Exactly! I’m still doing I started to do when I was ten…it’s time to pull my finger out and find something better to do with my life at the age of fifty. Oddly it was both music and wanting to write that drove each other. I wanted to write because I had an uncle who was a journalist and I loved newspapers. I used to read the NME and then discovered Smash Hits and I was in awe of the language and the style of it. In my late teens and as a student I would have Smash Hits and Q on the go at the same time, which in some respects are opposite poles of writing about music but in other ways they are exactly the same because they share a private language and they’re driven by enthusiasm. The mockery that Smash Hits used to incur from the NME was completely misplaced because the journalism was rock solid. They would ask the questions that needed to be asked and then deliver the answers with quotation marks around them.  I loved the Wodehousian language that Tom Hibbert, Sylvia Patterson, Mark Ellen and Neil Tennant used. Talking of Neil, here’s a strange connection. The other thing I’ve always really been into is comics and in the mid-70s I used to get the Mighty World Of Marvel, Spider-Man Comics Weekly and all the other British Marvel comics. As you do when you’re a kid, if I spotted a mistake I’d write in and address it to the editor, a Mr. Neil Tennant. “Dear Mr. Tennant, I think you’ll discover that The Thing’s underpants were the wrong colour on the front cover of the Mighty World Of Marvel this week.” Obviously this was before he was at Smash Hits. One of the things he co-created was Captain Britain Weekly written by Chris Claremont and weirdly a few years ago Captain Britain was mentioned on a Pet Shop Boys album. It’s all strangely connected! The guy that was editing the comics that were my favourite thing goes on to form my favourite band then makes references to the comics he produced.

So how and when did you get started in journalism? I found an old interview online you’d done with Paddy MacAloon from 1990.

Bloody hell – that was one of my earliest jobs on Select.  I’d always wanted to write and my distant uncle was a stringer for the Mirror and the Sunday Times and also did a lot of industrial oil journalism. He had an agency in Liverpool and when it became apparent that I was not fit to go and work in the butcher’s shop with my Dad, he said, “You can come and work summers with us if you like”- make cups of tea, type the invoices, that kind of thing. So I started doing summers with my uncle Lew in the press agency, in the Port Of Liverpool building, at the Pier Head. It’s the most beautiful building in the world. It’s got this circular atrium and inlaid in gold around it is ‘For those who go down to sea in ships’.  I’m convinced that Bill Drummond’s been in there because it’s referenced in KLF’s ‘The Fall Of Time’. I worked there and this was at the time of Derek Hatton so I was making the tea and answering the phone while Liverpool was going insane. Lew was covering it all and it could get quite hairy with violence at Labour Party meetings. We did the Port News newspaper for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board which meant I had to go and report on darts and snooker and things I didn’t have a clue about. I started reviewing bands for the Liverpool Echo and the Daily Post. The Royal Court and the Empire were big on the touring circuit and basically no-one wanted to review gigs so I did it for £15 a pop. I’d get a free ticket and have to file my review in a weird stinking phone box, stuffing 2p pieces in. I’m pretty convinced that I was the first journalist to go into print on The La’s. I saw them at the Everyman Bistro in ’85 or ’86 and said they were great (which is possibly the one and only time I’ve been right about something). I wrote something like “It’s been such a long time since we listened to four lads in a cellar with a Beatles’ style of song writing.” Oddly enough I ran into John Power on the no. 73 bus a few weeks ago because he lives near me.

I did a lot of reviews and had a full year of working near the white-hot beating heart of the news. It meant I had a lot of cuttings I could show when I went to Leeds University, which I chose because they had a cracking student paper. I did a little bit for the NME and for Smash Hits when I was there. I had a news splash in the NME in 1988. Do you remember Steve Albini’s band Rapeman and the controversy around their gig in Leeds which ended up being played off campus? I took a chance and rang James Brown at the NME and they took that story. I really wanted to go and see Frankie Goes To Hollywood at GMEX so I rang the Smash Hits office and offered to do it. Barry McIlheney, the editor picked up the phone and agreed to it. He said he wanted about 400 words and I think I filed 3,000! They ran it and it was so exciting. The feedback he gave me was that I clearly liked writing using inverted commas and I understood the Smash Hits lingo.

I then edited the student paper for a year.  There was a weirdly good crop of people when I was there; Andy Pemberton, future editor at Q magazine, Jay Rayner, who was the editor of the paper before me and others who later went on to work for the BBC and The Guardian. I think a lot of people had the same idea as me which was to study politics, not a particularly onerous course, then spend your free time working on a really good paper. I was so lucky really; a few weeks before my finals, an advert appeared in The Guardian’s Media section for a magazine looking for staff to write about pop culture and pop music. It was Tony Stewart launching Select. I applied and a few weeks later, on the Monday after I finished my finals, I was on a plane to San Francisco to do a piece on UB40! I’d always loved them, I’d been in their fan club at one point. When I look back it’s incredible. It’s so hard now for anyone without independent means to make it in journalism. Then it was an open door with people shoving you through.  Select was clearly a ‘post Q’ magazine because Spotlight Publications who had Sounds, Kerrang! and Record Mirror saw how well Q had been doing – and Q was amazing, it had exceeded what anyone thought you could get out of a music magazine.  They wanted their own version but as the journalists were already working on Q, they used Sounds writers and new people, which is why they got me on board.  The story of Select is quite a funny one because it launched against Q and it couldn’t get the big stories. In the CD goldrush, the people that could actually sell shiploads would be in Q and in the early days Select were putting people like Boy George and Matt Johnson on the cover but they weren’t box-office enough to shift the magazine in the quantities that were required. The strange upshot was that whole group of magazines were bought by EMAP and they closed Sounds and Record Mirror. Kerrang! and Select went to EMAP. We’d had a year of rivalry and suddenly they were our new bosses, some people were in tears! The first time I met Mark Ellen was at the Q offices where we’d been taken to meet the management and we were holed up in a room.  I was stamping on a copy of Q in a rage, “These fuckers, these bastards, these are the ones we’ve been fighting!” and in walks Mark (adopts cheerful and enthusiastic voice) “Hello everybody! Oh, you’re stamping on Q – hilarious!” Anybody else would have fired me on the spot but Mark could see the humour in it. He may regret it, perhaps he should have fired me, I don’t know! So, basically, with a few comings and goings, I became features editor and then editor of Select. EMAP’s vision of it was ‘junior Q’ and the writers’ vision was that it should be less like Q and more like Smash Hits for students. It coincided firstly with the arrival of Nirvana and then with the arrival of Brit Pop which was absolute petrol for us, we could run on that forever. There were so many larger than life characters that it didn’t really matter if they were selling many records, you’d get a great read out of an interview with Saint Etienne or Jarvis Cocker.

You were involved from the start of Word. How did you become involved?

I’d been at EMAP for about four years and left to go to America to be music editor at Details. I met my wife there, came back, edited Mixmag, edited Q for a while, various things. EMAP was going through terrible turmoil – they’d got rid of Mark and Dave and got in people who ran radio stations who didn’t care about or know how to run magazines. The two of them and Jerry Perkins were setting this thing up – they approached me and asked if I was interested in coming over. They said “You won’t be the editor, this is going to be a small thing – but here are all the things you won’t have to do.” It was a list all the things I hated doing, like having meetings with people who didn’t read magazines and so on. I went and it was a tiny operation, no picture editor, no sub editors. A PR rang up Mark once and said “Get your PA to sort it out” and he almost fell off the chair laughing! It was the world’s best turned-out fanzine. Obviously we tried to sell as many copies as we could but fundamentally we wrote about the things we were interested in. There were basically three editors in the room, me, Mark and Dave, alongside Jude Rogers who was really, really smart plus Paul Du Noyer, another editor, for the first twenty issues. It meant there was a lot of experience in the room and some high volume conversations about various things but it meant that when something went in, it was something that the writer absolutely cared about. Early on when we were finding our feet, we did try a few nakedly commercial covers like the Travis and Dido covers. They didn’t work.

Oh, the Dido cover – that’s gone down in Word legend!

Yes, nailed to the shelves, shipped gold, came back platinum and all the other favourite clichés. What worked was Nick Cave, Jack White or Tom Waits. The breakthrough was Jeff Buckley because we thought ‘he’s dead, there are no new records out, there isn’t a particular anniversary’ but it was an interesting story and it sold well. It was the oddities and the unusual things that did well, rather than trying to follow what was happening in the album charts. In a weird way it led to lessons from Heat magazine. Heat became successful when it stopped trying to get access to celebrities and with one or two exceptions we stopped too. Jim  Irvin, a great writer, wrote a brilliant review of one of Coldplay’s  albums asking the question ‘Is this genuinely felt emotional music or is it a simulacrum?’ Writers at competing magazines were thinking ‘Ha ha, you’ll never get that Coldplay cover story now because you didn’t give it a 5 star review’. We were thinking that not only did we not want the interview, it wouldn’t have done us any good if we had. What people wanted from our magazine wasn’t Coldplay – they could get that in Q – and Q do a fine job of that. What they wanted was something like the longer piece I did on Morrissey, where you go deeper and don’t just talk about the obvious and superficial things. People liked that level of depth and examination. Also it was a basic mathematical calculation of effort and opportunity for us. A copy of most magazines at that time might have about five hundred things from an eight page feature down to a short review and its efforts would be divided accordingly. We decided to just do 100 things instead and put more concentrated effort and thought into it. It’s as easy to brief an 8000 word feature as it is to brief a 1500 word feature  – and for a Word reader 8000 words is better than 1500 if it’s about the right thing. It was a brilliant culmination of about twenty five years’ worth of magazine craft. It never sold in vast numbers and it wasn’t for everybody but it was influential and people recognised it was good. There were news stories on the BBC when it closed – that didn’t happen to poor old Select.

Do you think it was the last of its kind?

I think the fanzine aspect of it is what’s gone today which isn’t really acknowledged anymore. NME had its own humour as did Smash Hits and then Q, they all had a club aspect. Mojo and Q are both very good magazines and I think Q in particular is doing a great job in onerous circumstances. The thing that everyone in the industry knows is that you could be producing the best writing since Vanity Fair in its heyday or knocking the stuffing out of The New Yorker and it won’t matter because that’s not where things are at the moment, you’re in the wrong place. It’s immensely frustrating for those of us who love doing this.

I really miss writing punning headlines because that was one of my few talents. You can’t do it anymore because they now have to say what they’re about in a few words, like an EPG for the telly. once did a Led Zeppelin story with the tag ‘The Hoarse Foremen Of The Apocalypse’. My favourite one just appeared in my mind to go with a New Order piece – ‘The Hook, The Chief, The Wife and The Drummer’. The readers loved it. We put Morrissey on the cover of Select around 1994 and he insisted on being photographed with a bunch of boxers so we tagged it ‘Hand In Glove’.

The thing about magazines that doesn’t apply to digital is that you are gently led towards things that you didn’t know you were looking for. In digital, if you didn’t already know you were looking for it, it’s very hard to push someone towards something. The good thing about now is that my media diet is to get up, have a cup of tea , have a look at Facebook and see what interesting stories from around the world my well-read friends are sharing – it might be a story from a German pop site, something on NPR, or something from the guy that’s digitised the whole of Select, which is very touching. You don’t have that that kind of editorial voice, holding your hand anymore, tiptoeing through the rock’n’roll tulips.

What are your favourite memories of Word?

It was simultaneously great fun and tremendous effort. I was really proud of doing the first big piece on how the iPod was going to change the way we listen to music. It wasn’t my idea, it was Mark or Dave who said ‘You should do this because you’re the one rattling round with your bloody iPod going on about it all the time.” That went down very well. Quotes from my interview with Morrissey often pop up, particularly:

Interviewer: Did you hear t.A.T.u’s version of ‘How Soon Is Now’?

Morrissey: Yes, it was magnificent. Absolutely. Again, I don’t know much about them.

Interviewer: They’re the teenage Russian lesbians.

Morrissey: Well, aren’t we all?

Reader, I was that interviewer!

I managed to force – by being a pain and being tiresome – to get a lot of comics and science fiction culture into the magazine. It wasn’t really Mark or Dave’s interest but it was kind of the coming thing with the return of Doctor Who and the Marvel movies. Those articles always did well. The nice thing about Word was that the box of what it was interested in was drawn very broadly. No-one ever said ‘Well, that’s very interesting but this is a music magazine so you can’t do it.’ The attitude was that if it was an interesting piece it didn’t matter if it was about sport, or cocaine in the music business or award ceremonies. We did a lot about the Second World War too as our readers were of that age. It was good  to have people like Charles Shaar Murray write about non-rock’n’roll things. I love reading him when he’s talking about Bowie and rock’s rich tapestry but it’s a lovely surprise when he writes about comic books, Buffy or sci-fi. Even if you weren’t interested in the subject matter you’d give it a go because he’s a great journalist. With Word you knew you had very good writers whose names were calling cards and they would get people to read about things they would not ordinarily read about.

What else? The podcasts were always a massive laugh.

That leads us neatly into your podcast, Bigmouth. You’ve been doing for about a year now?

That’s right and I produce another one we’ve recently launched called Remainiacs which is doing really well. The walls came closing in on Word towards the end of the noughties. We’d had the recession, advertising was changing, digital was sucking up all the money and so they had to downsize and I was made redundant. I freelanced for a while then edited Q again for about a year. That was a strange episode. It was good to work with some great writers but it was a very different kettle of fish. I’d been freelancing for The Guardian, Esquire and The New Statesman. I’d stayed in touch with Matt Hall who had produced the Word’s podcasts and we talked about whether there was anything we could do, was there anything missing. We felt there weren’t any particularly interesting podcasts applying the critical and journalistic abilities of a classic magazine to what’s around now.  The idea was to basically make Radio Four’s Front Row but not be boring. With the best will in the world it’s very worthy, and this may be me being a Philistine, but there’s always something about sculpture on it! The kind of stuff that was in Word and is in Bigmouth is disparaged as middlebrow but I prefer to think of it as things that people are more interested in. I love Slate Political Gabfest and we thought ‘what if this wasn’t about American politics but covered films, books and music’? So it’s me and Matt and a rotating group of journalists – not celebrities. It’s people with opinions and nothing to sell. It’s always interesting because it’s a podcast so you don’t need any fake objectivity, you can be entirely subjective. You don’t have to observe any of the niceties of broadcasting, you can swear and you can talk for as long as you like. It’s great fun to do and though the audience is modest, it’s growing. The great thing about the format is that people don’t listen by mistake. The shows are actively listened to and you can repay the listeners by not patronising or short-changing them.

The idea for Remainiacs came when Matt told me about a great podcast launched since Trump came into the White House called Pod Save America with three ex-Obama staffers talking about politics. They don’t have to give the other side of the argument, it’s unfettered. Obviously Brexit has been driving us mad for the last year so Matt suggested we do a similar thing with that. Dorian Lynskey is one of the presenters, I write the scripts and source the guests and Matt does the audio. It’s gone crazy – the election episode has had over 20, 000 listeners, which is what Word used to sell – and we’re in the iTunes Top 10. There’s no brand or anything behind us and we think we may have a business on our hands. The best aspect about podcasts is that they retain the thing that good magazines had, they’re a club. I always thought magazines were the original social media, a shared language and the idea that this is where people like us gather. I don’t think that a lot of magazine publishers get that. They think that if you can just get the right components like an article on whoever’s headlining at Reading or you can get an exclusive interview with Chris Martin about Gwyneth Paltrow, that’s enough. But that’s not what it’s about.

I agree, it should be about the relationship with the reader.

I always used to look forward to getting Smash Hits because I felt like I was part of a universe and it changed who I was. Mixmag was like that too, a universe unto itself. A couple of times I tried to mainstream it a little bit by putting acts on the front that sold records. It didn’t work at all! What did work was choosing the DJs or artists who exemplified that life, who lived for clubbing and nothing else. The world of Mixmag has at one end a gurning idiot with his top off, whose body is 60% chemicals and at the other end is a bald, trainspotter guy, going through the record racks. Everyone is somewhere on that continuum. That understanding of the audience has largely evaporated from magazines – look at the NME now for an example.

The biggest problem that publishing has at the moment is big publishing. It’s large companies. You have to finance a big office building, a load of executives on high salaries and some market analysts. It was the same in the record business in the ‘70s and ‘80s,the running was made by some lucky, creative and inspired people who managed to light upon the right things, made things happen and made the companies a lot of money. Then other companies see the money being made and the business suits and marketing people flood in. They’re always much more skilled at navigating corporate structures than the creative people. The creatives are side-lined so they leave and you end up with a content provider rather than something with a heart and soul like Smash Hits or the old NME. No-one really mentions it anymore but Sounds had some great writers too who were really funny and it had a real esprit de corps.  I’m old enough to have seen it happen to the music business and magazines and I wonder if it will happen to the digital business too. That inspired oddness that produced things like Facebook and Apple. I think it’s already happened to Apple; Steve Jobs is dead and they’ve lost their mojo. There’s a great story about him and the iPhone prototype. They worked for about a year at great cost to build this prototype and present it to him. They hand it over and Jobs says “It’s too big”. They reply “We can’t possibly make it any smaller. We’ve made it as small as we can, there’s no more space.” He tells them to give it to him, he walks over to the fishtank and drops it in. As the bubbles come out, he says “There’s your space, make it smaller!” He drops a multi-million dollar prototype into the water just to make a point. The reason I bring that up is that in big publishing, because it’s full of people who like to make grand statements, you’ll always hear people singing the praises of ‘crazy mavericks’ like Steve Jobs or Malcolm McClaren. Every creative retreat you go to they’ll tell you about these ‘crazy mavericks’ and how brilliant they are. In reality these people wouldn’t go anyway near a fucking maverick! They talk the talk but they don’t take one step of the walk.

What other magazines do you enjoy these days?

I read Private Eye obviously. To be honest I don’t read many magazines now, partly because I’m 50 and a lot of my interests aren’t covered and also because you can get great journalism for free on the internet. I know that makes me a massive hypocrite, I should be paying for it but … I find that the discovery aspect that magazines used to provide, ‘Here’s a 5 star album you need to listen to it’ has gone because ‘try before you buy’ is available to everybody. In fact in most cases people often listen twice on Spotify and then forget about it – which is sad because it means music has become ephemeral.

There were so many magazines in the ‘90s that they felt they had to give 4 star reviews in case they didn’t get the interview and that destroys the whole idea. I don’t think people have properly understood that when you are selling reviews of records, you’re not just selling that, you’re also selling something that was entertainment in itself. I can remember bits of reviews I’ve read far better than the records they were writing about. Like David Quantick writing in Q, reviewing a B*Witched album and wondering what the asterisk stood for. Is it a rude word? Is the real name of the band B-Fuck-Witched? I also remember him describing someone like Jim Kerr as ‘the destitute man’s Bono’. Michele Kirsch wrote an old-school music press kicking which began ‘What’s going through Sinead O’Connor’s head as she has her morning shave?’ The final line was ‘We do not want what we have not got to listen to.’ The great, mad, genius Tom Hibbert had to review the Phil Collins Hip-Hop tribute album. It was supposed to be a 400 word page lead but after 150 words he wrote ‘At this point I realised that I have nothing further to say about a record that contains the following songs…’ and then gave the tracklist! That’s what I mean about album reviews being entertainment in themselves. I’ll never forgive Mark and Dave for inventing star-ratings, the rotters! That wrecked everything. We never had them in Word because they knew what would happen. It turned everything into thumbs up, thumbs down, computer says no. How many utterly forgettable albums are given 4 out of 5 these days? It’s meaningless, it’s like school sports day, everyone has to have a prize. I used to scan Q for the 1 star reviews because I knew they’d be funny. When I was at Q there were certain prominent records that had respectable reviews of 3 stars meaning they were perfectly good. There were ructions, complaints and anger that they’d not had 4 stars and not been described as amazing. I once thought we should suggest ‘A fair price for this record would be…’ 27p or £100! Or they should pay you – which seems fair if somewhat Thatcherite and mercantile. I like what Entertainment Weekly do, they give school grades, from A+ to E.

And with that final scholarly flourish, Andrew departs for London.

AH with mags


If you were a fan of Word magazine and don’t already subscribe and listen to Bigmouth then you really should. Remainiacs is equally excellent and acts as a treehouse of respite for those on the Remain side of the Brexit fence. You can follow Andrew on Twitter here @Nndroid 

Finally, if you enjoy this blog and want to give a little something back, on the 24th September 2017, I’m running my first (and probably last) marathon for charity. If you can spare a few pounds for a deserving local charity it would be much appreciated. Thank you.   https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gavin-hogg4


Previous Word interviews: Jude Rogers , Mark Ellen , John Naughton , Paul Du Noyer , David Hepworth


Word #47

Cover star – various 2006 types

Issue 47

January 2007

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Word shuffle

1) P77– the actor Ashley Jensen is interviewed about her last 12 months. “It was funny, everyone was like, ‘Ooh! It’s her first job (‘Extras’)! She’s come from nowhere!’ I’ve been a jobbing actress since about 1990. I’ve done lots of little bits of BBC telly, this police series, ‘City Central’, two series of ‘Roughnecks’, ‘Twenty Thousand Acres Of Sky’. Because I’m Scottish, I’m a bit ‘Ooh, this is just one job, I’m not sure if I’ll get another job, if I get another episode of ‘Casualty’ that’d be quite nice’, and when you do, it is nice but our heads don’t blow up or anything.”

2) P91 – part of a double-spread by readers and writers on the best live experiences of 2006.Paul Du Noyer chooses Deaf School at The Picket, Liverpool (“Uproarious reunion of the Great Lost 70’s Band plus special guest Suggs”), David Quantick enjoyed New Order at Wembley (“45 minutes of Joy Division, 45 minutes of New Order and an epic encore, all hammered out at deafening volume in the world’s biggest sauna – stadium music so good that U2 should be crying into their solid gold wallets”) and Andrew Moorhouse selects Thad Cockerill and Caitlin Cary in Newcastle (“Couldn’t have seen Gram and Emmylou but I guess this was pretty close”).

3) P115 – a page of adverts for Josh Ritter’s ‘Girl In The War’, Keith James tour of ‘The songs of Nick Drake’ and for the “Album Of The Winter”, ‘Sologne’ by Loney Dear (“Eccentric wall-of-pop sound – The Sun” and “Sort of really fantastic – Billboard”).

4) P15 – second page of David Hepworth’s ‘Facetime’ piece with Neil Finn.

DH: “Interesting that the branch of the entertainment industry which should be the most ephemeral (playing live) actually tuns out to have the greatest longevity.

NF: I think most people have to figure some stuff in their mid-life. Having been very famous when they were young, they have a bit of sorting out to do. It’s not very pretty for a while but, if they can get through that unscathed, the talent is still there, I think. Live music is really popular still, far more trustworthy and reliable than any other form of communication to me. If people turn up to see you live than you’re totally worthy, it’s not just nostalgia. Live music is bigger than it’s ever been. Record sales are the ephemeral thing now.”

5) P85 – Word’s writers round up some of their favourite albums of the year. Andrew Collins chooses Plan B’s ‘Who Needs Actions When You Got Words’ (“Plan B was too intense to break the charts”), Paul Du Noyer selects ‘Back To Basics’ by Christina Aguilera (“one CD of brutally produced American pop and one CD of whimsical retro-sexual pastiche. I only like the latter”), Steve Yates goes with ‘Silent Shout’ by The Knife (“If you buy just one Swedish brother-sister electro goth duo…”) and Joe Muggs picks Burial’s eponymous debut (“All the elegance, delicacy and melancholy of Massive Attack, Leftfield or Aphex Twin, but with 21st-century pirate radio crackle”).

Interesting – Peter Robinson writes about MySpace and its effect on the music business. “It’s also worth noting that there is no proved correlation between the volume of an act’s MySpace friends and any resulting chart success. Take singer Imogen Heap who, at the time of writing, has just shy of a quarter of a million MySpace friends, but who couldn’t get her single into the Top 40 earlier this year. And there are another internet phenomena, like those which spring from YouTube. OK Go’s infamous ‘treadmill video’ was a huge word of mouth hit for example. The single got to no. 36.”

Andrew Collins defends Emo. “Save us from a generation who say, ‘I like a bit of everything really’. Eclecticism, of both taste and trouser, comes with age. Let’s live a little first. Worry a few cinema commissionaires.”

Dorian Lynskey reviews Flavour Flav’s eponymous album. “It is disheartening to see the hypeman of a band once as life-changingly great as Public Enemy hosting a VH1 relaity show in which he vets potential suitors while sporting a viking helmet. But you can’t really blame Flav. While Chuck D has matured into hip hop’s sombre elder statesman, there can’t be many employment opportunities for a 47-year-old which require wearing a big clock and shouting ‘Yeah boyee!'”

From the Word of Mouth section we learn that Belinda Carlisle admires David Icke. (“People knock him, but I think his stuff on the New World Order and Big Brother is great, though he loses people with the reptilian shape-shifters stuff.”) and that in the ’70s, Christopher Lee was invited by Bowie to record a song with him (“we tried and tried but we could not find a song that was suitable”).

Longer article

Rob Fitzpatrick takes stock of YouTube, the relatively new internet video site.

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