Arts and Entertainment Charlotte Church: 'James Murphy would be handy to have around...'

'James Murphy would be handy to have around...'

Rock: They are young, they are Brats, wear white jeans, act like prats

There Are three easy ways to impress your friends with your rock'n'roll punditry and precognition. The first is to listen to the Radio 1 breakfast show. If you hear any band names you don't recognise, feel free to quote them whenever someone asks you to predict the next big thing. The second is to watch the ITV Chart Show and repeat the above instructions. The third way is to go to the NME's Brat shows at the London Astoria, or to their touring counterpart, the Bratbus. There are four upcoming bands on each bill, mind, so you have to be selective in your endorsements. Last year's travelling line-up included Heavy Stereo (who have just been dropped by their record company) and Fluffy (we can but hope). But each gig is an early chapter in at least as many success stories.

The fourth tenor

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan annoys purists, but he is also dragging qawwali into the 21st century.

ROCK: Ex-Blondies have more fun

FIRST THERE was Debbie Harry. Then there was Deborah Harry. Now, as Deborah Harry and the Jazz Passengers, the original rock babe has become ... the Baroness von Swimmingbag.

Picture this

Next month Deborah Harry is singing at a small London club. To celebrate, Nicholas Barber gave the original Blondie a ring

And scoff not at the Stylistics

The castrato may be dead, if temporarily exhumed in the film Farinelli, but men singing like women remains a pop phenomenon. Barney Hoskyns reaches for the high notes, while (below) two of our finest falsettos talk (like a man)

how to write songs

Frank Zappa wrote songs about things that grow fur at the back of the fridge, and from the beginning of time people have made songs which reflect the fabric of their everyday lives. So what's gone wrong with our song tradition in Britain? Time was, if you wanted to express what you felt you might make up your own song. These days you buy a CD and hope to experience the feelings second hand.

Growing up in a purple haze; Flower power may have wilted, but the movement's grown-up children are taking over the music business.

There was a time when almost all pop musicians had the same childhood. It went: working-class roots; disruptive at school; start smoking at 13; hear Elvis / Jerry Lee Lewis / Chuck Berry on the radio; form raucous R&B combo with friends in an effort to rebel against stifling establishment. In biographies of 1960s pop stars, the first 40 pages usually write themselves.
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