CHART OF DARKNESS: "We're naughty, we're naughty, we're off our fuckin' heads!" It's possible to admire Take That as people nowadays without actually liking their new work, isn't it? More than Westlife ever managed, at least. Patience and Beautiful World - these are very sub-Nutini titles, aren't they? - make it as obvious a double as you like, their first ever apparently. In singles it's mostly reshuffling of deckchairs as the iceberg of the Christmas battle approaches with Booty Luv and Nelly Furtado climbing into the top ten and the Fratellis (on whatever that thing ITV have replaced Record Of The Year with next Friday is alongside Kasabian, which is going to make for perfect ABC1 viewing) and Muse appear at the bottom end of such. The Killers and Damien Rice are waiting for the final album results to come in to worry about their positions but corks unpopped in the Fish Go Deep camp for 23. They're a pair of influential Irish deep house DJing veterans, apparently. Lostprophets can only manage 35 as the unlikely bedfellows of Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and High School Musical Cast - one of them is getting a high profile BBC1 showing over Christmas, can you guess which one? - creep inside the top 40. Odd doings below, not just the Zutons peaking at 47 but the Pogues at 46 and Slade at 54. The latter is getting its biannual re-release today but the former qualifies on the rule that states downloads still count within a year of release, and as Fairytale Of New York came back out in aid of Justice For Kirsty last Christmas it still qualifies for the next two charts. But not the Christmas one, which'll set a few people aback.
So where does pop-classical stand now? Il Divo at 2, Fron Male Voice Choir curiously up to 9, the highly orchestrated in every sense of the word Andre'n'Price experiment at 20 but G4 only at 21. If you didn't know better you'd say the market had bottomed out. Jay-Z, who's always struggled to convert genre hallelujahs into sales success, debuts at 35 with the single at 70 on downloads, twelve ahead of Snoop. Both last released albums in 2004, it's just one chose not to be so showy about it. Is there really critical reappraisal of Boney M going on? Critical reappraisal of Rasputin as the most nuts pop record ever, fine, but the rest can stay well away. There's a new song on The Magic Of Boney M, of all things, which debuts at 48. There's also an Aled Jones Best Of out, subtitled You Raise Me Up just in case any Westlife casual shoppers get confused. Scarily it includes Walking In The Air with his modern day baritone dubbed over the top. Beat that, George Martin.
FREE MUSIC: Shall we just say it? Our early leader in the Albums Of 2007 list is Field Music's Tones Of Town, released on 22nd January (same date as the The Good The Bad And The Queen and The View albums, complete overshadowing fans). Their second effort takes the eclectically melodic, swooningly twisted, all ages of XTC at once sound of the Top 20 of 2005 debut and takes them that little bit further. Lovely Memphis Industries have put the first two tracks online: Give It Lose It Take It takes 70s harmonic guitar influences places that would make Sean Rowley and The Feeling shit themselves while still sounding completely contemporary before completely changing into twinkling string-aided wistfulness for the last verse, while Sit Tight switches between taut and elegaic without us being able to see the join, well before David Brewis starts beatboxing the coda rhythm over classical piano. They're that sort of band. And what if you don't know Field Music? Well, MI just happen to have left some tracks from the first album lying about, namely Shorter Shorter, You Can Decide and You're So Pretty.
HEY YOU GET OFFA MYSPACE: Maths Class, who like everyone are from Brighton, are Top Friends with Blood Red Shoes and Foals, which should be an in to what they sound like. Suggestions that they could be just days away from co-option into New Rave are alleviated by the Shellac guitars, random interjection keyboards and dancefloor rhythms plus vocals that sound like Eddie Argos doing mathpunk. We suspect they're spectacular live.
VISUAL REPRESENTATION: Well, when we referred to the Sex Pistols' Anarchy Tour being thirty years old perhaps we should have twigged it'd also be thirty years in the week - Friday, to be exact - since Thames Television's Today programme was apparently watched by everyone in the world on the offchance. The other rocker, Eamonn, I'm saying nothing else about him, will be back tomorrow. To this week's business, and Tom Waits was on Letterman last week with the usual disconnected chat, something he does for every occasion now, or at least after appearances to promote Alice/Blood Money and Real Gone. Letterman, of course, has always been given the freedom to book whoever he wants, having devoted an entire show to Warren Zevon during his battle against cancer and invited Captain Beefheart by in 1982. Waits meanwhile has always been his own man with his own agendas and ideas of himself, even if it does mean acting opposite Keira Knightley. Random selections from the back catalogue: In The Neighborhood's lysergic street parade video, Closing Time live in France in 1982, On The Nickel live in London three years earlier, Small Change on the Whistle Test in 1977 and two years ago in Berlin a combination of Misery Is the River of the World, Alice and November. We dearly hope Scarlett puts one of those last three on her album.
FALLING OFF A BLOG: Not that you really need much more after our own Covermount, but Christmas mp3 blogs are creeping in, the best we've seen being Christmas A Go Go. An eclectic selection already, it's fair to say: Captain Beefheart, the Jackson 5, Burt Bacharach, the Four Seasons, Sergio Mendes, the Pizzicato Five, Dora Bryan's All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle...
EVERYBODY GET RANDOM: Or is it too early for festivities just yet? In which case, Dans Mon Cafe offer up more than forty covers of These Boots Are Made For Walkin', from Mrs Miller to Loretta Lynn via Paula Yates with the B.E.F. (Heaven 17 to you) and resolutely not Jessica Simpson. By the way, Queen, does this, made in 1966, not count as a music video?
IN OTHER NEWS: It's the Decemberists vs Stephen Colbert! For the uninitiated or those just not concentrating Colbert is a Daily Show alumnus whose Comedy Central show The Colbert Report rips on the Bill O'Reilly types - he's the bloke that did the Bush-baiting routine in front of Bush at the press dinner that you've seen on YouTube. The Decemberists you know. So anyway, the band launched a competition for artists to make something of a video for O Valencia! from a performance in front of a green screen. Colbert noted on his show that this bore a resemblance to a previous idea of his and suggested retribution. To which Colin Meloy issued a counter-challenge. Unfortunately, two days later they were forced to issue a clarification by the medium of Myspace bulletin: "We are huge fans of Stephen Colbert, and have been since "Strangers With Candy". We understand that he is not a member of the conservative right, calling him that was meant to be a joke just as he dug into us on his show. We are just trying to have some fun." You'd think that Decemberists fans of all people would understand that kind of thing. That's not truthiness.