Arts and Entertainment

The Week in Radio: Williams was quick on his feet, and willing to cover mishaps with self-deprecating humour

ARTS / Lives of the Great Songs: But it's lasted so very long: You Send Me: Some songs are born great. And some have greatness thrust upon them. Nick Hornby continues our series

SAM COOKE may or may not have been the first soul singer, just as Iggy Pop may or may not have been the first punk, and Joe Turner the first rock'n'roll singer, and 'Mouldy Old Dough' by Lieutenant Pigeon the first ambient house record. It doesn't really matter much either way. But Cooke is certainly the first and most uncomplicated example of a gospel singer who went secular to make hits.

GOING OUT / Deborah unveils this year's Blondie

THERE'S a great moment on Deborah Harry's recent album Debravation (Chrysalis). It's in the middle of a dodgy cod-techno number called 'Lip Service'. Suddenly the music stops and Deborah speaks; as cool and imperious as ever she was, she reads from Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'. Fittingly for such a devoted Warholian, Harry's best moments since the demise of Blondie - her exploding wigged showbiz mother from hell in John Waters's kitsch movie, Hairspray, and her great 'Well Did You Evah]' with Iggy Pop on the Red Hot & Blue charity album - have had a large element of self-parody about them. But when she sings on stage, as in the semi-legendary residency at the Borderline in London with which she restarted her rock'n'roll career a few years back, it's all for real. Her band for this tour will feature Chris Stein, the former partner and Blondie guitarist with whom she wrote many of those perfect pop songs, now happily recovered from the long illness through which she nursed him. Deborah Harry plays Cambridge Corn Exchange, 0223 357851, tonight; Bournemouth Pavilion, 0202 297297, Mon; Manchester Apollo, 061-236 9222, Wed; Sunderland Empire, 091-514 2517, Thurs; Glasgow Concert Hall, 041-227 5511, Fri; Liverpool Royal Court, 051-709 4321, Sat; and then tours for another two weeks (071-221 2213 for further details).

MUSIC / Still crazy after all . . .: Iggy Pop - The Forum, London

The first change was that Iggy made it on stage. In his Seventies low-days, when he expended most of his energy on his pharmaceutical hobby, this would have been rare; on one typical occasion he stumbled out into the lights, straight past the microphone and fell 12 feet into the orchestra pit. He woke up in hospital, where, the story went, the blood taken for testing had a street value of dollars 50,000 a pint.

Opera & concerts

Edinburgh Festival (031-225 5756, from today). The assault begins, with Janacek and Schubert tonight at the Usher Hall, Scottish Opera's new I Due Foscari at the King's Theatre tomorrow, and a crash course in James MacMillan, Tues.

ROCK / Going to the bad: Nick Cave - Town & Country

Kentish Town just wasn't big enough for the both of them. Camden's country-tinged rockers The Rockingbirds pulled out rather than support born-again country fans Moose, as it was obvious that one band in love with Gram Parsons was quite enough.

THEATRE / Sweet Temptations - Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank

The disappearance of any genuine British theatrical avant- garde over the last 10 years has made European exponents look immensely glamorous from this side of the Channel. No-one more so than Belgium wunderkind Jean Fabre, whose epics such as This Is Theatre Like It Was To Be Expected And Foreseen (eight hours of running on the spot) and The Power Of Theatrical Madness (four and a half hours of squashed live frogs, naked princes and Wagner) have more than justified the wondrous grandeur of their titles. Not so, with Sweet Temptations - a tawdry performance in which Fabre appears to have got his just desserts.
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