Monday, June 23, 2003

Temporary suspension of service

I appreciate that I run the risk of incurring the wrath of fellow bloggers such as Simon with this announcement, but I still think I should let you know that this will be the last posting on Silent Words Speak Loudest for a week or so. Yes, that's right - I'm off to get off my face on rock 'n' roll and hallucinogenic-strength cider in a field in Somerset, but if it's any consolation I promise not to have too much fun and to remind myself constantly that "it's spending time in mud with trustifarians".

When I return to the blogging fold - short of cash and stinking of piss, joss sticks and burnt plastic - I promise to make it up to you for this temporary abandonment by posting some more substantial entries; it's not escaped my notice that they've been rather underwhelming of late. I might even get around to wrapping up the Music Sounds Better With You series, you never know.

In the meantime, though, behave yourselves. Bye for now.
Blogwatch: hate (and a little bit of love) is all you need

Hard to decide just who's this week's Figure Of Hate in Blogworld. Is it Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, whose embarrassingly awful rap poem commemorating Prince William's 21st birthday has attracted all manner of criticism and mockery from the likes of Popjustice, No Rock 'N' Roll Fun and Wherever You Are.

Or maybe he's just this week's Figure Of Fun. I'd be more inclined to back Invisible Stranger up with his intimation that the true Figure Of Hate is either Harry fucking Potter - or J fucking K fucking Rowling, if you'd prefer. "What I will NOT be doing, and especially today, the Stranger writes, "is reading even one insipid, uninspiring, fifth-rate, derivative, manipulative, over-hyped, word-processed and manufactured sentence by That Woman. Hogwarts? Hogwash, more like." Hurrah!

Elsewhere you can find: Vaughan's considered views on managing and expressing anger; Simon's tragic tales of disasters befalling record collections - fire, theft but sadly no inadvertently amusing reference to (third) parties; and Kevin's gripe about bands who claim the impossible ie that they sound like My Bloody Valentine.

Amidst all the negative emotion, though, you can always rely on Anna to buck the trend and spread the love with her heartwarming Aged And Ace series, encompassing tales of cheeky old men and Eminem-loving grannies. And not a reference to Werther's Originals in sight.

Thanks to Nigel for - via a fascinating post about the continuing importance of place in music - finally encouraging me to read Simon Reynolds's Blissblog. Simon's thoughts on the subject can be read here.

And finally ... What song(s) do you want played at your funeral? That's the question being asked by Birdman. My suggestion: 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' by Wham!.
Quote(s) of the day

It's over to a couple of fellow bloggers today:

"If Orrin Hatch thinks that it is fair to destroy my computer if I MIGHT be indulging in downloading that infringes on copyright property, then exactly what do I get to destroy of his when he violates my civil rights? No fucking way that corporations get the only right to wreck punitive damage on people at their own discretion. If this kind of logic gets put into law, then theft and vandalism belongs to whoever has the most money." - Badger Minor

"People, individually, are lovely things. PEOPLE however, are fuckers." - Little Red Boat
"Idea for programme"

It's almost too Partridge for words. "Lynn, idea for programme. Documentary following hilarious racist Bernard Manning on a tour performing comedy shows around India. Call it 'Bernard's Bombay Dream'. To be screened at 9pm on Thursday, Channel 4." Of course it goes without saying that the concept is only marginally less appealing than 'Monkey Tennis'.
Feel good hits of the 23rd June

1. 'Kids Will Be Skeletons' - Mogwai
2. 'Other Shore' - Canyon
3. 'Black Tongue' - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. 'Love Is Happiness' - The Icarus Line
5. 'Arcarsenal' - At The Drive-In
6. 'Robert De Niro's Waiting' - Bananarama
7. 'Been Caught Stealing' - Jane's Addiction
8. 'I Put A Spell On You' - Nina Simone
9. 'Bandages' - Hot Hot Heat
10. 'I Fought The Law' - The Clash
You WHAT?!!

aguilera fat hoax
secret masonic handshakes and words
text message muppet jokes
waistcoat words
muslim pornstar of the week
s club juniors slash fiction

Not here, my friends, not here.

Friday, June 20, 2003

"It's going to be proper bo, I tell thee"

I'll confess - I'm positively excited about spending a Friday night in, glued to the TV (well, to Channel 4, to be more precise). Lots of 'Big Brother' (let's hope either John or Federico stays in to keep the atmosphere at boiling point), 'V Graham Norton', a new series of the very fine American hospital comedy 'Scrubs' and 'Bo Selecta', on which the Bear will this week be interviewing Kerry McFadden (you know, left Atomic Kitten because she was pregnant by the fat one out of Westlife).

I really have got to get out more, literally.
Quick return for Bobby's Borstal Boys

Just what we didn't want: a white-hot atmosphere for our first game of the new season. Bowyer will be making his debut alongside fellow former Leeds boot boy Woodgate at Elland Road, where they're guaranteed a "warm" reception. And THEN we have Man Utd in our first home game - a chance to avenge last season's 6-2 mauling, or an opportunity for Fish-Eyed Fergie and his shower of red-shirted bastards to get another one over us? The chances of us picking up maximum points in the first two matches are not great. And to make matters worse, if we're desperate for vital points on the final day of the season, where will we have to get them? Anfield. Where we've won just once since getting promoted in 1993. Oh joy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Quote of the day

"[Wives'] chattel status continues in their loss of name, their obligation to adopt the husband's domicile and the general legal assumption that marriage involves an exchange of the female's domestic service and [sexual] consortium in return for financial support."

Kate Millett in 'Sexual Politics' (1969) - like Andrea Dworkin, she doesn't mince her words, does she? The quote appears in this article about feminist opposition to George W Bush's plans to actively promote marriage as the means for women to avoid the poverty trap - an interesting read if you can put up with the smugly and mockingly superior tone of the article's author.
At last!

Now that Mr Beckham is now finally on his way to Madrid, what to make of it all? Well, he's got the move he wanted, despite being cynically manipulated as a political pawn in Joan Laporta's ultimately successful bid to get elected president of Barcelona. It's debatable whether he wanted the move at all, though - Man Utd, with no good reason to sell him, seem to have decided to do just that.

Much as I think he's a bit of a laughable character off the pitch, he's earned my respect by virtue of proving himself a good leader on it for England time and again, and that's surely what he deserves for his commitment and loyalty towards Man Utd over the years. Sure, it might be said that it's easy to be loyal to a club that's paying you a small fortune every week, but then he could have doubled his earnings by moving to the continent long before now. Anyway, it seems to have been less a matter of choice, and more a case of him being shipped out in a pretty undignified fashion. Let's just hope the decision backfires spectacularly and blows up in Fergie's fish-eyed face.

Quite how he'll fit in at Real Madrid is anyone's guess, though. He just bolsters the ranks of supremely talented footballers available already, and I sincerely hope Newcastle don't get drawn in their group for the Champions' League - assuming we get through the qualifier, that is...

The Beckham transfer could actually frustrate our ambitions rather sooner and rather more directly than that - both Man Utd and Barcelona have money to burn and disgruntled fans to appease, and are consequently threatening to thwart our pursuit of dentists' nightmare Ronaldinho. Still, the deal to bring Feyenoord's Brett Emerton to St James' Park looks to be edging towards completion - that's some consolation.
Congratulations... the Blogworld's Man of the Moment Olav on becoming one of Rupert Murdoch's news gimps at The Times for a year or two. Yes, that's right - his saturation of all forms of mass media is nearly complete. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Incidentally, you can read his assessment of the new Mogwai LP Happy Music For Happy People here. I would say that reading this review is rather like watching through the keyhole while someone wanks over their favourite band, but then that might put you off - it's worth a look. And, anyway, I said much the same about Mogwai in the last installment of my Music Sounds Better With You series, so who am I to mock?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Praise the Lord

Fellow bloggers, please forgive me for publicly and gracelessly prostrating myself at the virtual feet of the Diva - and probably not for the last time. Mike has 'ad a word with He Or She Who Runs The Internet, or with one of his or her minions, and fixed it for me to be added to the Updated UK Weblogs list. So, my advice to you - if you've got a problem, if no-one else can solve it...
Know Your Enemy #20

"I didn't like that peace and love shit."

The Velvet Underground's Maureen Tucker on hippies in 'Please Kill Me'.
Quote of the day

"A painting that doesn't shock isn't worth painting."

Marcel Duchamp.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Know Your Enemy #19

Elizabeth Taylor on George W Bush:

"I'd love to get my hands on him. He wouldn't come out looking real good."
Quote of the day

"It has been said that everyone who listened to the Velvet Underground started a band... I know I did."

Steve Severin, bassist with Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Saturday, June 14, 2003


Hoorah! This will make no sense whatsoever to those who haven't been following one of the Blogworld's most long-drawn-out sagas, but Mike has finally been released from his imprisonment at the callous hands of Care Bears and kittens! Yes, free at last to write less than complimentary reviews of recent Nottingham gigs by the Tindersticks and Yes. Indeed, gig disappointment seems to be this week's mood in Blogworld - Alex and Dead Kenny have been left feeling let down by Cat Power's Chan Marshall and Grandaddy respectively, too.

Congratulations to Nixon for (it seems) losing his job in fairly spectacular style - the joy is mixed with sadness, though, as this presumably means an end to his wonderfully cynical observations about Call Centre Life.

Elsewhere: Vaughan has been writing on the "modern malaise", the Social Quandary; Leon on those incessant TV list programmes; and Anna on words that give pleasure in the saying and sound ever so slightly rude.

And finally... Birdman has been expressing his incredulity at some of the inclusions on the Queen's Honours List, including Jamie Oliver. Are awards now distributed according to width of tongue or something?
Know Your Enemy #18

Captain Sensible, bassist with The Damned, on The Sex Pistols:

"When I first heard 'Anarchy In The UK' I thought it sounded like old man Steptoe wailing over a dodgy Black Sabbath riff."

Friday, June 13, 2003

Quote of the day: a G2 special

"totally flawed"

Election expert Graham Elson on the Daily Mail's National Referendum on Europe.

G2 really is a veritable feast today. There's the cover story by James Meek about the aforementioned "referendum". "Today", the Mail claimed yesterday, " is unique in the democratic history of this country". Shame, then, that the whole process turned out - predictably - to be an utterly shambolic act of pompous self-aggrandisement. Two further choice quotations from the article that I simply couldn't omit:

"[The Daily Mail] is usually described as rightwing, but this does not necessarily tell strangers to Mail-land much about it, in the same way that 'interested in women' would be an accurate but not useful characterisation of Peter Stringfellow. Reading the Mail if you are not used to it is like being an American watching cricket: the rules are hard to understand."

"It's a heartwarming, gladdening sight to see that in its ballot count the Mail - a paper which has often called on the government to impose more restrictive immigration rules - is providing paid employment to people from Africa and Asia who appear to be starting out on a new life in Britain."

Other features of note include Caroline Sullivan's interview with the Devil's own Simon Fuller, and Alexis Petridis's 'state of the nation' music piece which covers (amongst others) The Darkness, Franz Ferdinand and Dizzee Rascal. Note to Alexis, though: if you're going to stress that The Futureheads, from Sunderland, are "determindedly regionalist", it's wise not to suggest that they're Geordies...

Plus, of course, an article by the Blogworld's very own Olav about his appearance on tonight's 'Grand Slam' on Channel 4...
Why I love The Works

It's simple, really: over the course of the past couple of months, I've managed to pick up hardback copies of Salman Rushdie's 'The Ground Beneath Her Feet', Don DeLillo's 'Underworld' and, most recently, Stephen Colegrave and Chris Sullivan's mammoth tome 'Punk' for a combined total of just £16. Going into The Works is very different to going into other bookshops like Waterstone's - you have to be in a certain mindset, or you'll end up frustrated. As long as you're not looking for anything in particular, and remain an open-minded browser, you can't fail to pick up a bargain.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

What's in a name?

Give the Random Bandname Generator a whirl - hours of fun! Probably the best suggestion pitched to me over the course of a few pulls of the lever was The Infinite Chains. Not sure about the weirdest, though, but it has to be between Slamming In The Mustard, Sheryl Crow's Your Toga and Gargoyle In The Buttrocker. Any takers?

(Thanks to Drumfan for the link.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Morrissey: the importance of being a frequently infuriating enigma

In the light of my recent (well, over the past year or so) awakening to the "joys" of The Smiths, I watched Sunday night's Channel 4 interview / documentary 'The Importance Of Being Morrissey' with more than a little interest - and found it a little frustrating and disillusioning.

On the one hand, it conveyed well his status both as an iconoclast (as one friend commented, "If you spend time with Morrissey you always find yourself dissecting and annihilating people's characters") and as an icon in his own right, a position he has come to assume mainly through remaining perpetually elusive and enigmatic. He gave away precious little to the cameras and interviewer.

On the other hand, though, his grudges and bitterness at times seemed vain and ugly - when asked about the Mike Joyce court case, for instance, he referred to it as a "gross miscarriage of justice" and said he "wished the very worst on Joyce". No doubt Morrissey has good reason to bear grudges and to be bitter, particularly due to his treatment by the English media. What was most disillusioning, though, was the fact that this acerbic, fiercely intelligent, principled and quintessentially English figure has responded to victimisation by moving to Los Angeles and immersing himself in all the shallow, plastic and spineless superficiality and conspicuous consumption of Hollywood, things he set himself against in the 1980s. We saw him driving his open-top Jag, wandering around his swanky villa (just off Sunset Boulevard, and once owned by F Scott Fitzgerald) and taking tea with Nancy Sinatra. As Will Self said, "He's fully embraced his destiny as an eccentric", but I was hoping he might come across as rather more likeable than he did.

Saddening to read that at Sunderland's Stadium of Light last night, our very own Shola Ameobi was subjected to racist abuse and monkey noises from Mackem onlookers who were - in theory, at least - there to cheer him and his England Under 21 colleagues on to victory. Morons, pure and simple. Anyone who thinks racism in football has been effectively eradicated in this country, and that it's only now a problem abroad (such as Anne Widdecombe, who expressed this very view on 'Question Time' last year) needs to wake up and smell the shit on our own doorstep.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Quote of the day

"Academia is just one huge circle jerk."

Brenda in last night's particularly brilliant episode of 'Six Feet Under', just one of several Channel 4 programmes that made for compulsive viewing over the weekend - the others being 'The Importance Of Being Morrissey' (more later), the triumphant return of 'Bo Selecta' and, of course, 'Big Brother'.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Music Sounds Better With You #7

'Angels Vs Aliens' - Mogwai

The most important band to emerge from the British underground for years, and probably the most influential band in Britain bar Radiohead right now, Mogwai entered my life at just the right time. University had opened me up to new people, new experiences - and new music. Ten Rapid was my first contact with them, and 'Angels Vs Aliens' was the first song to take a real grip of my imagination - I think it was all the clattering percussion.

So, what's so special about them? Well, they opened my ears to a whole new type of music. Call it post-rock if you will, but the band themselves famously hate the term. They sounded like they took Sonic Youth's most abstract arty soundscapes as a starting point, not an endpoint. I was enthralled - "You can go FURTHER than that?!". They eschewed all lyrics - that meant no trivial platitudes or self-absorbed cliches foisted upon the listener, no need to explain yourself endlessly in interviews, no fans obsessing over and overanalysing words printed in sleeve notes. And they went to the absolute extremes of the sonic spectrum.

It was when I first saw them live that my love for them was set in stone: October 1999, in the Nottingham Ballroom. I didn't know much of the material, but that didn't matter. What I remember most is the extraordinary volume, which constantly threatened to pin me against the wall. The finale, a 25-minute long version of 'Mogwai Fear Satan' accompanied by psychotic strobing effects, was so ferociously loud that the Ballroom's wooden floor was positively shaking under my feet. It was like being caught in the middle of an earthquake, or being struck down by the god of thunder.

The difference between Mogwai and some of their contemporaries is that they're not snobbishly aloof. They want to make an emotional connection with their audiences, and they want to rock, whereas a band like Sigur Ros can seem like they're divorced from reality all together, content to exist in a self-enclosed bubble even when performing onstage.

Of course, things have changed over time. The songs have generally grown quieter, lyrics have crept in, the fanbase has swollen massively despite a conspicuous lack of hype. But they remain unwilling to compromise their musical vision. A case in point is their last album, Rock Action. They might have been expected to play the corporate game, and release a single which might be used as a tool to lever the album up the sales charts and garner a new audience ('Dial: Revenge', perhaps?). But no - what they did put out as a single was their previously-unreleased Albini-recorded version of the Jewish hymn 'My Father My King', ineligible for the charts at over 20 minutes long. Fuck the curfew.

Punk is a state of mind and not a musical genre. The term is not applicable to the spiky-haired scatalogical singalongs of Sum 41, or the self-obsessed teenage temper tantrum pop of Busted and Avril. But it is to Mogwai.

Inspired a love of: Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Low, Sigur Ros, A Silver Mt Zion, Codeine, Lift To Experience, Slint, Billy Mahonie, Mew, Hood, Ganger, Laeto, Do Make Say Think
The camera always lies

Last night, proof positive that amidst the dreck ('How Clean Is Your House?', 'Dinner Party Inspectors' ad infinitum ad nauseam) there are still programmes of real substance on Channel 4. I'd not seen any of their 'The War We Never Saw' series before catching 'The True Face Of War', and I'm now regretting it. The programme was a fascinating, brutally frank and frequently horrific insight into the realities of the Iraq war denied to the ordinary viewer and the manipulation of events by government, military and media.

Some of the so-called 'embedded reporters', including ITN's Romilly Weeks, revealed the extent to which their coverage was shaped by the 'media minders' assigned the task of watching over them, and dependence upon the military for food and supplies made dissent from the official line much more difficult. Yes, Blair's spin doctors were at work even in the field, and sometimes engaged not in superficial gloss or even fabrication but in wholescale censorship: Weeks had a report showing Iraqi dissatisfaction at their "liberation" by British and American forces embargoed, and then found herself excluded from official briefings like some kind of naughty schoolgirl. Independent reporters (or 'unilaterals') were distrusted and physically assaulted, and ITN's Terry Lloyd was killed, caught up in the crossfire.

Western news networks consistently condemned Aljazeera for showing images of the injured and dead, while lapping up the British and American government's "fluffy" news items about Private Jessica Lynch and the bomb-finding dog. The grotesque reality went unrepresented on our screens, most broadcasters churning out patrician platitudes about owing a moral responsibility to their viewers not to show anything that might offend or distress - but, as Jon Snow put it, if we go to war our children should be able to see what exactly it involves. Warfare is never precise, mathematical, neat, efficient, bloodless. BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson spoke of the "friendly fire" incident that left 10 people dead, one man dying clutching his own intestines in his arms. Some of the footage shown last night was appalling - exploded heads, charred bodies, hands and feet strewn across roads. This grim reality was denied to us by government and media. The hysterical outcry over the treatment of Allied prisoners-of-war, paraded on Iraqi TV, was nothing short of disgusting in its hypocrisy: the Ministry of Defence were perfectly happy for footage of similar treatment of Iraqis by British and American troops to be shown on our screens - although these prisoners were only filmed with hoods over their heads, supposedly "to preserve their dignity".

What really hit home was the way in which corporate language has bled into other forms of discourse - 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' became a crusading slogan which the American government and news broadcasters used to "sell" a particular idea of the war (as a "liberation") to the American people, the same tactic that Nike uses to sell trainers or McDonalds to sell fast food, or any other corporation for that matter. And the sad fact is that, on the whole, the American people were buying.

Then there were suggestions that the whole toppling of Saddam's statue was carefully stage-managed. I hadn't realised that the Americans had claimed the stars-and-stripes flag initially placed on the statue's head was symbolic as it had been salvaged from the Pentagon on September 11th. This, of course, begs two questions. Firstly, do they seriously expect people to believe that this flag just happened to be in the tank at the scene? Credit us with some intelligence, you morons. And secondly, what, exactly, has Iraq got to do with the September 11th attacks? Precisely nothing. Of course, the idea of the statue being toppled as marking the climactic conclusion of the war was pure Hollywood - the international community and the world's media may very well have lost interest, but street skirmishes are still ongoing

Amidst all the horror and hypocrisy, perhaps the only most positive observation was that, thanks to satellite, cable and digital TV and the internet, ordinary people now have easier and less constrained access to a range of alternative perspectives, and so the public perception of events is much harder to manipulate and control. Freedom of information and expression survived the conflict, even though it was often only evident on the web.

This programme was essential viewing.

Vaughan's back! Well, in truth he never actually went away - it was just naive young souls like myself who thought he'd abandoned us, when in fact his domain name had expired and was promptly gobbled up by someone else. Thankfully he just stuck a '.uk' on the end of the old address, and hey presto, he's still out there, and as thoroughly readable as ever.

Following the news that Avril Lasagne's 'Sk8er Boi' is to be turned into a film, Nigel has proposed a selection of possible scriptwriting and directorial approaches, as well as some suitable actors. I think my favourite is the riot-grrrrl version, though the 'Virgin Suicides' version starring Hilary Swank also holds definite appeal.

This week's most intriguing, witty and perceptive postings have, for me, been on Invisible Stranger and Vodkabird: the former writing about being ginger-haired in 21st century Britain and the purchase of his first Ben Sherman shirt (and all the significances / consequences that go with it), and the latter about the delights of the lunchtime salad bar.

Anecdote of the week most definitely goes to Anna for her tale of a mouse funeral, the understandably solemn occasion disrupted by a particularly insensitive cat.

And finally... Mike has been arguing that the practice of drawing doodles is on the wane, a creative form that is being gradually eroded away and obliterated by blogging. So, if you fancy doing your bit to save it, post or send him your doodles.
Justice is done

The greatness of the web phenomenon that is Rathergood has been acknowledged with the award of a Webby to creator, animator, writer and all-round surrealist genius Joel Veitch. This calls for an extra special performance from the punk kittens - a choral rendition of 'My Way' perhaps?
Quote of the day

"I have immensely absorbed the negative aspect of my time - a time which is very close to me and which I have no right to challenge, but only as it were to represent." - Franz Kafka

After fitful bouts of reading over the course of several months, I've at last finished Kafka's 'The Trial' (in translation, though - memories of A-level German don't stretch very far). The whole disjointed nature of the reading process seems to have impeded my enjoyment of the book - had I sat down and really focused on it for a few days I'm sure it would have been a much more rewarding experience. Still, I did find it a powerful and profoundly unsettling work of fiction, for several reasons: the nightmarish arbitrariness and inexorability of the plot from the very beginning (that famous opening line, "Someone must have been spreading lies about Josef K for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one morning"); the generality and utter absence of specific details, which ensures the book's malleability in terms of its interpretation as a parable or allegory but which also leaves the reader feeling that there is precious little of substance to cling onto; the flat, methodical, arid prose which has a strange and disconcerting deadness to it. Overall, bleak, harsh, disturbing - and recommended.
Bo! Judge Lewison in da house!

A great story on the BBC website about a High Court judge's research into the "street" lyrics of the Heartless Crew in order to preside over a copyright case. "This", Judge Lewison claimed, "led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs examining the meaning of such phrases as 'mish mish man' and 'shizzle my nizzle'." I'm reminded about Alan Partridge's comments along the same lines: "What IS all that? 'Yo, wassup G, some homie's been dissing ma bitch.' What's wrong with 'Good morning' and a firm handshake?"

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Quote of the day

"Music is the most important thing in the world. Songs rule people's lives. People are just waiting for a voice, someone to say something. I've purchased records that are biblical: you think, 'This person understands me, nobody else does.' It's like having an immovable friend." - Morrissey
Know Your Enemy #17

Morrissey on the Princess of Wales:

"To me there's something dramatically ugly about a person who can wear a dress for £6000 when at the same time there are people who can't afford to eat. When she puts on that dress for £6000 the statement she is making to the nation is: 'I am the fantastically gifted royalty, and you are the snivelling peasants.' The very idea that people would be interested in facts about this dress is massively insulting to the human race."

OK, OK, so I admit it: I devoured with relish the Smiths supplement that came with NME this week. I was too young for them to make an impact first time around, but for the last couple of years I've felt it's about time I gave them a real chance. I'm sure to those who were there at the time, waving their gladioli and Morrissey quiffs down at the front, the supplement might have seemed superficial and trivialising (that's assuming any of them actually read it, and let's face it - NME is pretty much kiddy fodder these days) - but, for me, relatively ignorant of their mystique and cultural impact, it was wonderful stuff. It affected me the same way as seeing the Joy Division half of '24 Hour Party People' - I just wanted to listen to all the music, right there, right then. I feel myself teetering on the brink of fandom, adoration and obsession. Just gimme some albums to hear...

Incidentally, what's with the whole concept of a supplement like this? Apart from the fact that they feel the need to cover Radiohead extensively around the release of Hail To The Thief, why did NME choose not to devote an issue of its Specials offshoot series to The Smiths? Not that I'm complaining, though, you understand. For the first time in quite a while, I was thoroughly enraptured with what I was reading, and it's perhaps indicative of a tacit acknowledgement by the editorial staff that what is great is not always what is 'now'. The Smiths are a truly legendary group, a fitting benchmark against which to measure the entertaining but ultimately shallow and disposable bands which are featured week in week out.
Tears on the Tyne

Alas, it was not to be. The joint Newcastle-Gateshead bid to be 2008 European Capital of Culture has failed, it was announced yesterday, despite having been the bookie's favourite. Instead, the honour (and the consequent prospect of lots of cash and jobs) has gone to Liverpool. There has to be a post-mortem of some kind, and I must confess to feeling that all the development was just too centred on the Quayside. Admittedly, what has been done to regenerate the area, particularly with the Baltic art gallery (now exhibiting Anthony Gormley's spectacular new work 'Domain Field') and the "blinking" Millenium Bridge, is tremendous - and a huge armadillo-shaped centre for music is currently under construction on the Gateshead bank of the Tyne. The planning and investment might, I think, have just been too focused.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Quote of the day

"Life is very, very complicated, and so films should be allowed to be, too." - David Lynch

(Thanks to Last Bus Anywhere.)
It's been a long time coming

July 21st sees the release of Strays, the first full record of new material from Jane's Addiction for 13 years. Will it be worth the wait? I can only hope so, but given their last was 1990's awesome Ritual De Lo Habitual, Strays has got an awful lot to live up to. There's one thing we can be certain of, though - if past albums are anything to go by, the cover is likely to feature a naked woman or two...

Hmm, 13 years. Maybe this'll be the kick up the backside Axl Rose needs to finish Chinese Democracy, you never know.
Dictionary corner

Q. What have the following words got in common?

feminist, experience, excitement, psyche, appreciating, across, especially, thoroughly, possess, identifiable, privileged, stereotypical, ultimately, deliberately, emphasising, speaks, aligns, arise, acquaintances, benevolence, perceived, parallels, critique, separate, interpreted, extremely, assess, transfers, correspondence, irreverence, interaction, vagabond, devastation, appalled, successful, omniscient, gauge, occasional, predecessors, vengeance, defecation, preferences, language, supposed, bowels, habits, pigeon, fourth, noises, inferences, porous, friendship, atheist, condemning, definitely, received, device, breaks, complement, consumed, already, chooses, subservient, immediately, sadness, technique, revolutionary, androgyny, humorous, eagerness, personification, argument, despises, sinful, minutiae, decipher, concentric, indicative, existence, sanctuary, consistently, absence, explicitly, coherence, incorporating, consummated, overriding, transcendence, submissiveness, wherein, discover, pastiche, ignore, acquitted, phallic, colleague, idyllic, grotesque, aspirations, detrimental, tragedy, desperate, unbearable, metaphorically, independently, vows, stork, crucially, endeavours, dying, symbolic, whether, dramatically, illustrated, forfeits, mimicking, negociator, characteristic, linguistically, suggesting, consciousness, tendency, anonymously, camaraderie, blurs, truly, staccato, monsyllabic, achieves, dysfunctional, approaches, precedes, hallucinogenic, inconsistency, appearance, patriotism, related, dissolves, testament, flippancy, repertoire, misogynistic, deteriorate, compulsory, writing

A. They were all spelt incorrectly at least once by first year English students in the exam scripts I have just finished marking. Bear in mind, too, that I only saw a quarter of the total - my share being 62 scripts...

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Happy birthday to ya!

Many happy returns to all at Stylus on the very fine music webzine's first birthday.
You gotta go away and never come back

Anyone else find last weekend's Sunday Times advert mildly amusing in its offer of a free CD charting "the ever-changing sound of the Stereophonics"? I would have thought it was a joke if I hadn't known better - to the average Times reader I'm sure the Stereophonics sound cutting-edge and a bit dangerous, and they probably secretly like them even though outwardly they're concerned about the corrupting and subversive effect that such tracks as 'Step On My Old Size Nines' might have on the nation's morals.
The dark is rising

Welcome to the emporium of evil: Villain Supply, for all your dastardly deeds. All together now: "I'll be needing a large globe that lights up, some of those small electric cars for ferrying henchmen about and a white cat, please. No, no nuclear warheads thanks - who wants to pay for them when you can just hijack a Russian submarine?" As yet, I've not checked if they've got sharks with frickin' laser beams attached in stock, though.
Feel good hits of the 3rd June

1. 'Sleepwalker' - Canyon
2. 'There There' - Radiohead
3. 'Man' - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. 'Woke From Dreaming' - The Delgados
5. 'Wuthering Heights' - Kate Bush
6. 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself' - The White Stripes
7. 'Hard Row' - The Black Keys
8. 'Echodyne Harmonic' - Sparta
9. 'I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend' - The Ramones
10. 'When I Argue I See Shapes' - Idlewild