Lots to be getting on with this week, so let's crack on. So no, nothing in New Rave sounds like it would be played at a rave or is immensely new, and the NME can (again) hang their heads in shame for trying to co-opt The Knife into it this week - come on, Shitdisco barely qualify, let's not run before we can crawl - but even pushing instant genre to one side we stand by our assertions that Klaxons are turning into a band to follow, precision tooled to sound great hurtling down a near-empty motorway long after nightfall, never mind in a mid-sized club venue behind a load of 17 year olds with neon glowsticks. After an opening which suggests a clipping from the Clinic logbook Magick does it again, flat out and working to no youth cult agenda but its own. Corking Simian Mobile Disco remix too. The wiles of even the greatest of independently run labels sometimes defeat us, as here comes the Young Knives' ever ace The Decision again with no noticeable increase in the amount of exposure outside their natural reach. Maybe they wanted to show off their new B-sides. The Gossip created something of a surprising stir on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross a couple of weeks back - unsurprisingly it turns out militant feminist Beth Ditto wasn't entirely comfortable with the Ross patter - doing hard slamming Standing In The Way Of Control. Big pair of lungs etc. Peter Bjorn & John have produced one of the real growers in terms of debut albums this year, although Let's Call It Off isn't the most obvious second single. Apparently the band we're all calling The Good The Bad And The Queen don't officially have a name, that's just the album title, says Albarn, the big cock. Apparently the album's all over the place, which might explain why limited edition Herculean is pitching somewhere between Demon Days and Think Tank. The knowing retro revival continues apace with the first of that little group of out-of-place acts to come to wider attention, the newly signed to EMI and fresh from storming TOTP2 - the studio audience even danced! - Vincent Vincent & The Villains. Johnny Two Bands (hope they update that cover) is unapologetically about Charlie Waller, former second in Villain command who nearly split the band when he went off to concentrate on Rumble Strips, although we hear he and Vincent have since met and patched things up, which is a slight bugger. Sounds a bit like the Housemartins to us, this, which is no bad thing. In actual revival corner come the Slits - no Palmolive or Viv Albertine in this version but Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt are present for Revenge Of The Killer Slits EP along with backing from Marco Pirroni, Paul Cook and, er, Miquita Oliver. Incidentally, like we couldn't guess but can anyone enlighten us as to the actual reason why we've been having occasional Google hits recently through 'miquita oliver paul epworth'? We'll mention Babyshambles and Friends' Janie Jones as it's for charity, Strummerville, and also because among the Friends are a lot of our favourite people, although we can't actually make many, if any, of them out on the gang vocals, and we'll mention Hayseed Dixie's Halloween EP, led by reliable old Monster Mash, even though surely the joke's been done by now. In the 7" racks you'll find Cat Power's Could We, the second single from the unjustly maligned The Greatest, and Bat For Lashes' skewiff romantic intrigue of Trophy.
Shall we get it out the way quickly before anyone clocks it? If they've not George Lucas-style messed with any of it in retrospect as the Sugababes have done, The Sound Of Girls Aloud is mostly a tremendous pop album for the ages. We say 'mostly' because of course the covers that Xenomania reckon they have to do to keep their chart hand in are rubbish because nobody liked I'll Stand By You and See The Day is their lowest charting single to date (and, oh god, does that new track really say What A Feeling?) but Sound Of The Underground, No Good Advice, The Show, Love Machine and especially Biology sound like nothing else that's produced for gyrating girls to appear on kids' shows to. Bands with no affixed personalities who mad genius producers can shape in their own electronic image - that's what pop needs! It's hardly the Clash, but that's not the point. Speaking of whom, here comes an 19-CD box set of their Singles, each one with original B-sides and rarities plus liner notes by a veritable musical alumni: Shane McGowan, Tony Parsons, John Squire, Irvine Welsh, Nick Hornby, Carl Barat, Tim Burgess, Jimi Goodwin, Steve Jones, Damon Albarn, Ian Brown, Sharleen Spiteri (!), Danny Boyle, Bobby Gillespie, Richard Archer, Anthony Roman (Radio 4), Bernard Sumner, Pete Townshend, Bernie Rhodes (Knows Don't Argue) and, as a special treat for America, Stuart Pearce. He's been assigned Complete Control. "They said sign a decent striker/But we didn't want him on the payroll/They said, fly to the JJB/The people laughed as the defence went mad" etc. Luke Haines once slammed his own record label with the epithet "they think the classic pop song is Complete Control." You'll know by now that we consider Haines a cut above most people in Britain so you'll know already about the fuzz-glam-disco cynical heart of Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop. As he recedes fast it's well overdue that he start wearing white suits and mildly disturbing facial hair. Johnny Bramwell of I Am Kloot has no small past deposit in the prickly songwriter bank himself, the BBC Radio 1 John Peel Sessions providing an in on his stripped back in all senses world. Mogwai amuse themselves, after a fashion, with Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait: Original Soundtrack. We mentioned the Decemberists' The Crane Wife, what, three weeks ago, since when Rough Trade have announced a January release date and then stuck it on online stores for Monday regardless, so watch out. Our points from then stand, ie it's great if hard work at first. Someone get us guestlist at the Nottingham gig in February, would they? Our compilations and Other category is led by 50 Minutes, a set benefitting The Medical Foundation For The Victims Of Torture. The concept is simplicity itself - 50 bands, one minute each, all new songs - the personnel a rich crop including Daniel Johnston, Jeremy Warmsley, Emmy The Great, Piney Gir, Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies, the Hot Puppies, Ladyfuzz, the Bobby McGees, MC Lars, Grand Mal, Headland, Roland Shanks, the Playwrights and Pacific Ocean Fire. See the website, join the Myspace. And buy the record, obviously. While Peter Perrett works out what to do with his mobile phone advert income source the Only Ones get an emergency Best Of-ing, inevitably titled Another Girl, Another Planet, while we'd also like to point you towards the reissue of Milwaulkee sarks the Violent Femmes' 2000 live retrospective album Viva Wisconsin, because it's recorded on mikes inside the guitars so sounds great and we've put this album's version of Blister In The Sun on many a CDR.
Videos, interactive bits, rarities, animatics and everything else left on Jamie Hewlett's spare CDRWs gets collated onto Gorillaz: Phase Two - Slow Boat To Hades; extended versions of Channel 4 album-selling documentaries aren't supposed to be worth the effort but when it's The Pet Shop Boys: A Life In Pop you know it's going to be all-inclusive and feature a lot of sense being talked (despite Robbie Williams' presence); on a slightly different musical sphere, Listen With Pain - 20 Years Of Einsturnzende Neubauten; in 1993 Ranking Roger, Neville Staples and Horace Panter formed a 2-Tone supergroup called the Special Beat - do you see what they've done there - and a 1993 Japanese gig is immortalised on Enjoy Yourself. Now Hall and Dammers have been DJing together recently, what did happen to that mooted Specials reunion Simon Jordan was brokering?
Hold up, David Hepworth's been here? We've genuinely just spotted this, and the most odd thing about this is that, as keen observers of retro culture talking heads and especially those covering 80s pop, we usually can tell the difference between Hepworth and Mark Ellen's voices. We'll say we were busy and admit at the same time that we really should have mentioned The Best Of Smash Hits by now. Mark Frith's edited it, which while no Ellen or Hepworth is a wiser choice than his later Heat stewardship would suggest, and if you can't raise a cup of milky tea and a cream horn to a collection of the best of imperial phase Smash Hits, including Tom Hibbert's Mrs Thatcher interview and Morrissey/Pete Burns collaboration, there's precious little hope. It's tremendous fun and something that when we come to power will be available on the NHS.