Author Archives: Steve Miller

Dare we say ‘niche’?

Hot on the footsteps of her appearance at ATP, Yoko Ono is one of the acts scheduled to appear at this year’s Meltdown Festival, curated by Patti Smith.

“The festival will be held in June at the South Bank Centre in central London.

There are big ideas on show, glimpses of her mind. Smith will introduce a homage to Bertolt Brecht as well as using the poetry of William Blake as a theme. Her interpretation of his Songs of Innocence will showcase protest songs – with Sinead O’Connor performing – while Songs of Experience, which will draw on the work of Hendrix and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will end the festival. Smith will mark the 30th anniversary of her debut album Horses by performing it in its entirety.”

From The Guardian.

Better The Devil You Know

Is it a good thing when a US media behemoth strengthens its footholds in the UK entertainment industry? I’m tending towards no.

“Mean Fiddler, the music festival and concert organiser behind the Reading and Leeds festivals, is being taken over in a ?38m deal by a group of investors that includes the UK division of the world’s largest concert promoter.

The company, which has a 39% interest in the Glastonbury festival, said last night it was backing an offer from a privately owned outfit controlled by the US entertainment group Clear Channel and the Irish music promoter Denis Desmond.”

Full story at the Guardian.

Wilco Redux

The BBC World Service has a piece with Jeff Tweedy where he talks about releasing artefacts, how home taping was going to kill music, and that the internet is “Just new technology, and it’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Now that’s just crazy talk.

Full story here.

Running Down Corridors

Fans of the whole ‘sounds a lot like Coldplay’ genre will be heartened by the news that, in the absence of any new Snow Patrol material at the start of next year, Athlete are releasing a new UK single in January. I suspect it’s going to be ubiquitous, and it will probably end up with a US release about a year later.

As part of the whole ‘giving’ thing that Chip instigated below, I’ve found the video here – its rather dull, but believe me, this track sounds fantastic on the radio.

Who Said This Was The End?

I don’t think it’s going to be frontpage news anywhere else on the internet, but Gene confirmed last night that they’re going to call it a day following a few gigs in December, and, as anybody who reads my sporadic column on this very site knows, they’re a band that have been very important to me for the last ten years, and although I’m not going to repeat the reasons why, I wanted to mark the occasion.

“I was having the time of my life / So why did you have to die? / I’m lost again.” – London, Can You Wait?

Something And Nothing

A friend sent me the news a couple of minutes after it was announced. I guess that he’d been listening to the radio. I sent him a four-letter word in reply and logged onto to read the story. The news was obviously still breaking, there were only a couple of paragraphs and a link so that readers could send in their memories.

As the afternoon progressed, that list of tributes grew and grew. I called my sister to tell her and stumbled over the words.

We played ‘Teenage Kicks’ in the office.

I switched on the car radio when I left work at 5. It’s tuned to a news and speech channel. They’re talking to Jarvis Cocker on the main bulletin. I flick over to the highbrow talk channel and they’re doing much the same.

I don’t know where Radio 1 is on the dial. It used to be 1053 / 1089 when I was a kid but it’s long since moved to AM. I try and remember a station ident and decide its somewhere near 98, switch to FM, and press the up button. The digits flick through until they stop at 98.2, and Underworld starts booming out of the car stereo, followed by Pulp and followed by the Smiths, and that’s when I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut and I start to cry.

In its own unique way, Radio 1 is trying to pay a tribute to John Peel by dropping the playlist and playing the sort of thing they think he plays, but they’re only playing the safest tunes, the ones that did cross over, the ones that he’d probably stopped playing anyway. They’re reaching out, but they’re falling so far short that it serves to remind you just how unique he really was and how much of a gap he’s left behind.

I’m reminded of those knackered tapes that I’d make of Peel Sessions, of those early Strange Fruit releases with the identikit sleeves. I remember the night he played ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’ by The Wedding Present and I went out to buy it after school the following day. I remember how upset I used to get with the Festive Fifty rundown, and how he and John Waters used to talk cack for five minutes at a time, an obvious precursor to the witterings of Mark and Lard.

When I get back to Northampton, its the lead item on the 6 o’clock news. They cut over to Andy Kershaw, a close friend and former Radio 1 colleague. The presenter asks him what his favourite memory is of John and he’s close to tears when he says that there’s no way he could possibly narrow it down to one.

Switching the digital radio on, I instinctively press the button for Radio 6. As we move to a multi-channel age a lot of the post-Peel DJs have been shunted over here. You feel it’s probably his natural stomping ground but of course there’s no way that the controller of Radio 1 would try and shift him.

They’re playing ‘My Favourite Dress’ by The Wedding Present.

Kershaw, both on that news bulletin and later on on Radio 4 makes the claim that John Peel has probably been the most important figure in British rock over the last 40 years, more influential than John or Paul. Nobody challenges him. The controller of Radio 1 says on the news, ‘John really is irreplacable. I have no idea what we’re going to do.’

I can’t think of another person in this country whose passing would trigger such a wave of affection. I can’t think of another cultural figure that would lead the country’s national pop station to dump the playlist. The newsreader on Radio 4 said the response from listeners had been unprecedented. Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you’ve lost it.

Six years ago, in Simon Garfield’s book, ‘The Nation’s Favourite’, John said “I’m a great believer in getting your priorities wrong, setting your sights low so that you don’t go through your whole life frustrated that you never became prime minister. Really, it’s playing and listening to records that I like.”

That’s how I’m going to remember him.

Thanks John.

RIP John Peel : 1939-2004

John Peel was one of those people that you took for granted. You didn’t always listen to him but he’d always been there and so you assumed that would always be the case.

He was a reminder of a time before playlists, and a time when independent meant independent and although he didn’t really fit into Radio 1 any more, it would have been a brave controller who would have suggested moving him.

I don’t listen to him as much as I did fifteen years ago but his radio show was the first place I got to hear bands like the Pixies and the Wedding Present, and I’m going to miss him an awful lot.

Read about him here, here, here and here. Talk about him here.

Next Year Is Not A Leap Year

Not a rumour. Not an imaginary story. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for… Slint!

“All Tomorrow’s Parties are very proud to announce that legendary Louisville, KY musical pioneers Slint will surprise and delight fans by reuniting to perform at and curate the first weekend of All Tomorrow’s Parties of 2005, on February 25th, 26th and 27th at Camber Sands Holiday Centre, East Sussex, UK.

Core Slint members Brian McMahan, David Pajo and Britt Walford will be selecting an eclectic line-up for the weekend and will themselves be playing music from their albums “Tweez” and “Spiderland” as well as the posthumous untitled ten-inch single. Soon after the 1991 release of the acclaimed “Spiderland,” Slint disbanded but their remarkable music went on to inspire and influence an ever-widening legion of fans. Now, for the first time since their separation, Slint returns for this very special edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Bloody hell !

Swing State Gubbins

Oh look, it’s official –

From Springsteen (courtesy of Backstreets) – “The stakes in this one are just too high. I felt like, given what I’ve written about, the things that I’ve wanted our band to stand for over the years, it’s just too big a battle to lay out of.”

From Mikey Mills (courtesy of REMHQ) – “It feels right to use some of the freedoms granted to us in a democracy to try and effect that change.?

And from Stone Gossard (courtesy of – “The upcoming election provides everyone an opportunity to change the direction our country is headed and to elect a government that is just, rational and respectful of the views and rights of the people it serves.”

As of writing, there’s been no comment from Tom Ridge.

UPDATE ONE: REM/Bruce Springsteen/Bright Eyes dates:

October 1 Philadelphia
October 2 Cleveland
October 3 Ann Arbor
October 5 Minneapolis
October 8 Orlando

For more information about the tour, ticket information, and the cause, please visit as well as the websites of the two organizations instrumental in bringing these concerts to life–ACT ( and MoveOn Pac (

UPDATE TWO: Schedule for all the bands found here.

The Raveonettes return, still wearing black

After barely a week away, Danish noisemongers, The Raveonettes are back with a whole albums worth of new material. They’re very proud of their new single, That Great Love Sound, and reckon that you can view the video here.

The new album, Chain Gang Of Love, is due near August 25th, and the band will be touring for the rest of the year to celebrate. As well as the single and the title track, the new album features the live faves Let’s Rave On, New York Was Great and Boston Wasn’t So Bad Either.

Sharin Foo is really tall.