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Angela Lewis on pop

How bizarre a concept The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (below) looked at their birth back in 1990. What had made Spencer, formerly leader of New York's notorious punk wastrels, Pussy Galore, want to don a silver shirt and form a blues band? Quite a shift that, but one that has provided four albums of flamboyantly uncivilised, raw and funky albums to date. Pussy Galore's high sleaze factor lives on, but in place of trashy white noise there's punky black blues-manship. All fun and good stuff for Spencer's studenty alternative fan base who wouldn't know the blues if they sat on a Howlin' Wolf vinyl LP and broke it. For blues virgins, Spencer is pretty freaky and clever to boot.

Gut Barging: Britain's bargers extend a friendly paunch to Japan

The gut-barging year reached a thrilling climax at its world championships in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, last weekend when Mad Maurice, "the Belgian from Melksham" retained the title he has held for the past four years.

Television & Radio: On the Box

Telly has gone awards crazy. Next Wednesday sees the second National Television Awards on ITV. Hosted by Trevor McDonald and broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall, this would-be rival to the Baftas features such intriguing nominations as Ross Kemp, right, (that's Grant Mitchell from EastEnders to you and me) for Best Actor, Des O'Connor Tonight for Best Talk Show and The Big Breakfast for Best Factual Entertainment. Then next month the BBC is transmitting its TV60 Awards to mark its 60th year of existence, and in December it's time for the British Comedy Awards again. But perhaps the most unusual awards ceremony of all is on the Disney Channel tomorrow week. On that day, the ubiquitous awards host Jonathan Ross will be presenting the 1996 Teacher of the Year Awards. An overall winner will be selected from 12 Regional Teachers of the Year. What next? The Award Ceremony of the Year Award?

The 24 Seven Guide: Let's hear it for Reg Varney's barmy army

The truth is out there, in Walsall and Stanford-Le-Hope, for followers of Noggin the Nog and David Duchovny. Be it Gerry, Gillian or Pamela, somewhere there's an Anderson Appreciation Society for you. Anthony Clavane enters the obsessive domain of cult TV land

Television & Radio: The fame game

Fame is a drug, an agent of destruction. A Channel 4 season on this 20th-century addiction takes an anti-Hello! approach to celebrity. James Rampton gets a fix

Television & Radio: The fame game

Fame is a drug, an agent of destruction. A Channel 4 season on this 20th-century addiction takes an anti-Hello! approach to celebrity. James Rampton gets a fix

The 24 Seven Guide: Let's hear it for Reg Varney's barmy army

The truth is out there, in Walsall and Stanford-Le-Hope, for followers of Noggin the Nog and David Duchovny. Be it Gerry, Gillian or Pamela, somewhere there's an Anderson Appreciation Society for you. Anthony Clavane enters the obsessive domain of cult TV land

Television & Radio: On the Box

Telly has gone awards crazy. Next Wednesday sees the second National Television Awards on ITV. Hosted by Trevor McDonald and broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall, this would-be rival to the Baftas features such intriguing nominations as Ross Kemp, right, (that's Grant Mitchell from EastEnders to you and me) for Best Actor, Des O'Connor Tonight for Best Talk Show and The Big Breakfast for Best Factual Entertainment. Then next month the BBC is transmitting its TV60 Awards to mark its 60th year of existence, and in December it's time for the British Comedy Awards again. But perhaps the most unusual awards ceremony of all is on the Disney Channel tomorrow week. On that day, the ubiquitous awards host Jonathan Ross will be presenting the 1996 Teacher of the Year Awards. An overall winner will be selected from 12 Regional Teachers of the Year. What next? The Award Ceremony of the Year Award?

Gut Barging: Britain's bargers extend a friendly paunch to Japan

The gut-barging year reached a thrilling climax at its world championships in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, last weekend when Mad Maurice, "the Belgian from Melksham" retained the title he has held for the past four years.

Angela Lewis on pop

How bizarre a concept The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (below) looked at their birth back in 1990. What had made Spencer, formerly leader of New York's notorious punk wastrels, Pussy Galore, want to don a silver shirt and form a blues band? Quite a shift that, but one that has provided four albums of flamboyantly uncivilised, raw and funky albums to date. Pussy Galore's high sleaze factor lives on, but in place of trashy white noise there's punky black blues-manship. All fun and good stuff for Spencer's studenty alternative fan base who wouldn't know the blues if they sat on a Howlin' Wolf vinyl LP and broke it. For blues virgins, Spencer is pretty freaky and clever to boot.

Iain Gale on exhibitions

Gerald Laing is a much maligned man. In their reviews of his retrospective exhibition at Edinburgh Fruit Market Gallery three years ago, the critics seemed united in their disapproval and 30 years work was dismissed out of hand as they condemned his recent stylistic developments towards an increasingly smooth figuration. But a look at the current show of his prints at Whitford Fine Art reveals an artist who does not deserve such summary treatment.

Ryan Gilbey on film

The film festival season is upon us. Cambridge and Edinburgh have both been terrific successes. (Quick update on the latter: 31,000 people attended this year; were they all at Pulp's "Scene By Scene" event? No, it just felt that way.) And before London gets what it deserves in November, it's time for one of the smaller but more interesting digressions from normal programming. The Latin American Film Festival (which began last week and runs until next Thursday) has grown this year, and attracted some prestigious work. You may already have heard of Lone Star, the second film by underdog auteur John Sayles to be released this year (after the more disappointing The Secret of Roan Inish). It's the story of a revelatory murder investigation near the Rio Grande, and features brilliant performances by Frances McDormand and the underused Kris Kristofferson.

David Benedict on theatre

"Good Lord... the man's from Taiwan!" In a collective burst of xenophobia, vast swathes of the British press gasped at the ability of Ang Lee to penetrate the heart of "dear Jane" in his film of Sense and Sensibility.

Angela Lewis on pop

Scud Mountain Boys' music flows with the sort of laid-back, country rock gentleness that lulled America into MOR wonderland in the early 1970s. Which makes it strange that they should be on scruff rock label Sub Pop, or such current faves among indie types usually satisfied by noisier Yank arrivals. Probably it's because Scud Mountain Boys' lyrics are fascinatingly intense, owing more to The Carter Family than Crosby, Stills & Nash. On their album Massachusetts, softly sung lyrics of personal destruction are etched into every song, as if giving stories to the world helps the wounds heal better. "At the time we started the band, I had just come out of a bad relationship that blew up in an ugly fashion," recalls bassist Bruce. "We in the band were all going through a similar thing, and we thought it would be a fun thing to do, sit around and play heartbreak songs. We were definitely indirectly influenced by the Carter Family, old traditional music which had this really bleak and sad streak to it."

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