Travel: When it comes to love you can't beat a four-poster bed

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and it's time to book that passionate weekend away. Carol Wright suggests some romantic venues

Interview: Iain Banks: Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, the Stones... Iain Banks? The monster of rock that never was

After BBC2's hit adaptation of `The Crow Road', another Iain Banks novel, `Espedair Street', is being dramatised by Radio 4. As Banks tells Jasper Rees, the saga of a Seventies rock group - complete with original songs - was once nearer truth than fiction.

The Critics: Rock: Scary Prodigy, Weak Prodigy and Temp Prodigy

Offering a defence of the Prodigy may seem like offering Chris Evans a payrise. After all, it hasn't been a bad year for the band, what with releasing an album that's topped the charts in countries most people haven't heard of, and, more importantly, in one country most people have heard of - America. None the less, the Prodigy's annus hasn't been quite as mirabilis as expected. In January, they were pegged as untouchable pop divinities, but The Fat of the Land (XL) had nothing on it that matched "Breathe" and "Firestarter", the tracks which had already been released. At this end of the year, the Prodigy's song-titles and videos are clogging up a lot more column inches than their music.

Obituary: Glen Buxton

Glen Buxton, guitarist: born Akron, Ohio 17 June 1947; died Clarion, Iowa 18 October 1997.

POP: live review: Alice Cooper Astoria, London

Alice Cooper's songs only appeal to minority groups. For example, "School's Out" will have no meaning for people who've never attended an educational institution. In the same way, "Only Women Bleed" merely addresses the problems of half the earth's population. Despite these limitations, all his early compositions seem to have survived very well since 1972, when Alice Cooper's name first began to appear scrawled on classroom desks. In that historic year the British school-leaving age was raised from 15 to 16. Such are the ramifications of pop music. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, President Richard Nixon was beginning to become seriously unstuck, thus providing Cooper with material for his second hit "Elected". All that may seem a long time ago now, but in the intervening decades Alice Cooper has become a national treasure, even though he's American.

Interview: John Walsh meets Alice Cooper - Alice in Nice Guy land

"Take the electric chair," said Alice Cooper's genial, owlish manager Toby, indicating a floral monstrosity in the corner of the sixth- floor suite at the Conrad Hotel. It was not, in fact, wired up, or plugged into the mains, but I could see his point: the armchair was at right angles to, and as close as possible to the sofa where a 49-year-old apparition lay, watching CNN. Alice Cooper at first sight is merely disconcerting. At second and third sights he is downright worrying. His hair is long and black like a bedraggled raven's. His dark skin is full of shadows, as if covered in cobwebs from some particularly neglected dungeon. His nose is hooked, his mouth tight as a fob pocket, his jaw sullenly unshaven. His handshake is like a claw extended by a momentarily sociable turkey. Most alarming, though, are his eyes, which are a weirdly pure Virgin Mary- blue with a phosphorescent tinge. You can see some light switching on and off inside them, like the eyes of Mysterons. You can imagine, with a shudder, sitting in that inoffensive chair and having this corpse-chewing wraith suddenly leap upon you, fangs bared, eyes flashing. Frankly, electrocution might be preferable.

Formerly known as ...

What's in a name? Quite a lot if you're a six-foot gunslinger christened Marion. John Wayne wasn't the first or last to opt for a change, writes Ann Treneman

Album Reviews: Counting Crows Recovering the Satellites

Even among an unusually self-absorbed generation of American singers, Counting Crows' Adam Duritz operates at a peculiarly strident pitch of self-pity, investing the most innocuous of lyrics with excessive emotional drama. A classic solipsistic soul-barer, he just won't shut up about himself: there are more first-person-singulars in the lyric booklet to this album than even Morrissey would countenance. And when he runs out of words, there's still no respite, Duritz apparently regarding every instrumental coda as an opportunity to wail wordlessly along, in some misguided attempt to persuade us of the depth of his feelings.

PETER YORK ON ADS: No 108: MILLER PILSNER

PETER YORK ON ADS: ADVERTISING constantly pretends to be other things, particularly the editorial that surrounds it (thus those ambiguous pages in glossy mags which bear a modest disclaimer saying "promotion"). But it is a quite exceptional mark of the modern world when advertising actually becomes programming.

FILM / Beware the enemy in a smart suit

RELUCTANT hero Jack Ryan is back, unexpectedly promoted to take over from his ailing chief as Acting Deputy Director of the CIA. This means a lovely office - to complement his lovely wife and two near-invisible children - and the opportunity to be photographed with the President. So why does he look so sour? In Patriot Games, Harrison Ford wore the expression of a man with an early case of piles - but in Clear and Present Danger (12), it has intensified to a twisted glare of entrenched disgruntlement.

TELEVISION / Mary, Mary, quite contrary

ALL NAKED posteriors looked the same to Mary Whitehouse. Whether pumping with a dramatic purpose (The Singing Detective) or crudely stuck in to waylay the passing viewer (anything by Andrea Newman), bottoms up always got the thumbs down. Of course, not knowing your arse from your elbow has never been a barrier to entering British public life, but an inability to distinguish between your arse and your arts could be seen as a weakness in the moral guardian of the nation's television.

FILM / Nerd from the 'burbs: 'We are nor worthy.' 'Not]' Waynes World gave expression to a whole new generation of desperately unhip suburban youths. Mike Myers, its creator, tells Jim White why Wayne and Garth had to party on

In Adelaide over the weekend, Australian cricket fans could be seen bowing, scraping and chanting 'We are not worthy' whenever the leg-spinner Shane Warne headed in their direction. In Norwich on Sunday, followers of Manchester United did the same in close proximity to Ryan Giggs. During the US elections in 1992, the Democrats handed out lapel badges saying 'Vote Republican. Not'. The language of Wayne's World, it seems, is now global, the Esperanto of the nerd. But no one is more surprised at its growing ubiquity than Mike Myers, the Canadian comedian who invented Wayne and his universe.

Riffs: Fruitbat, of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, on Alice Cooper's 'School's Out'

THE first time I heard this was on the Christmas Top of the Pops in about 1972. This was my greatest period of being a fan. I was only 14 at the time so it felt really rebellious. It has one of the greatest riffs in rock and roll - on a Les Paul, I think - which was the first thing I ever learnt to play. The band had a brilliant bass player too, who has this bass line which is like a little lead line, it doesn't go with the rhythm at all. It sounds like it's overdriven on the amp.

ROCK / Ever-increasing circles: Julian Cope, new antiquarian, talks to Kevin Jackson about setting stones in rock

DEVOTEES of Wayne's World - a body which, judging by the latest box-office returns, appears to be made up of about half the population of the Western hemisphere - may recall the scene when our young friends Wayne and Garth go backstage after an Alice Cooper gig. Part timid, part gleeful, they expect to witness the standard-issue debauchery of cocaine, groupies and the lash, but are greeted by something less predictable: a scholarly lecture from Mr Cooper on the political history of Milwaukee and the derivation of the town's name from a Native American term. 'Boy]' breathes Wayne, 'You guys really know how to party]'
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