Cover star – Robert Plant
1) P101 – Two half page adverts for the re-release of Robyn Hitchcock’s back catalogue and Bob Dylan’s The Other Side of the Mirror, finally released on DVD. Possibly the most Word-friendly advert pairing in the magazine’s history.
2) P115– a page of DVD reviews which includes: Steptoe and Son: Complete Series 1:8 (“Find this in your stocking and you might be able to get through Christmas”), House: Season 3 (“It doesn’t take forensic investigation to work out that Hugh Laurie’s Dr Gregory House character is a warped latterday Sherlock Holmes”) and Chinatown: Special Edition (“Chinatown – the place – is deployed as a metaphor for the futility of good intentions: Chinatown – the film – is a peerless monument to what’s possible when those intentions come right”).
3) P116– a complete page is given over to Andrew Harrison’s review of Doctor Who: The Complete Series 3 Box Set. “John Simm’s grinning, hyperactive, moustache-free version of the Master is insane (two thumbs up!) and driven by a possibly homoerotic need to make the Doctor notice him. He’s the perfect anti-Tennant, a fun loving intergalactic criminal who tortures the Doctor while playing songs from the Scissor Sisters’ second album (the fiend!).”
4) P12 -part of a four page spread about defunct music magazines. This page includes Trax (a London music paper which ran for eight issues in ’81) and New Music News (“hilarious and off-beam NME and Melody Maker rival in 1980: lasted twelve issues”).
5) P109 – a page of reviews of reissues includes: Mick Jagger’s The Very Best Of (“a real curio is Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup), a funksome thing produced by John Lennon during his 1973 lost weekend”), Can’s Anthology (“the collection presents plenty of evidence for why their muse is greater than the sum of its esoteric parts”) and Songbird by Emmylou Harris (“in the early 1970s, when Nashville was commercialising such potent simplicity out of existence, she was a rare breath of pure country air, and so she has remained”).
Jim Irvin reviews Amy Winehouse’s live DVD (I Told You I Was Trouble) and says “I like Amy and I’d hate to see her turn into a 21st-century Billie Holliday. She’s too good to need tragedy to make us love her. I hope she doesn’t need it to love herself.”
From a page of terrible songs by great bands: I Have a Dream by Abba (“the children’s choir bit would have Mother Teresa reaching for the gin”), Radiohead’s We Suck Young Blood (“vocals like a cat trying to get back in the house”) and top of the pile is Maxwell’s Silver Hammer by the HJHM (“group take their eye off the ball and allow Macca’s deathless love of oom-pah on to Abbey Road“).
On the next page we have the best songs by terrible artists: Crazy Horses by the Osmonds (where did this blast of equine thunder come from?”), Who Do You Think You Are? by the Spice Girls (“still Madonna-grade ultrasleek ultrapop”) and Yes win it with Owner of a Lonely Heart (“lumpy prog rockers teleport into the future to spectacular effect”).
Jarvis Cocker is interviewed about the art of live performance. He says “I like to talk onstage. A band isn’t on some kind of exalted level – you’re all in it together. A concert is about communication. You want to feel like you’ve made some sort of contact with the audience and directly addressing them is a way of doing that. I’ve been to see other performers where they use the same spiel night after night and I find it really dispiriting. It reeks of a kind of rehearsed professionalism, which is a word I baulk at. ”
Roisin Murphy “idolised Will Self growing up. My Idea of Fun was important to me in its disturbing brilliance, even though I didn’t know what half the words he used meant. I remember seeing him on that Ruby Wax dinner-party show with her and Marianne Faithfull – most men wouldn’t get a word in but he had them eating out of his hand.”
Rob Fitzpatrick spends an evening with Steve Lamacq and writes “It turns out this man has seen ¡Forward, Russia! – an indie band from Leeds famous for only naming their songs with numbers and having two people in the band whose job it is to shout – 18 times in the last three years. I doubt I’ve even seen my own mother 18 times in the last three years. Roy Castle knew nothing about dedication when compared to Steve Lamacq.”
Andrew Collins on In Rainbows by Radiohead and Charles Shaar Murray on Blade Runner: The Final Cut.