Voices

Smoking is the hazy fug of a 1930s jazz club, the deadline mist of a 1970s newsroom and the chocolate-wood smell of my granddad’s lounge circa 1988

Caught In The Net - Gremlins beset Russian fairy

Even three years since her breakthrough album 'Begin to Hope' was described as "one of the rare albums where the talent practically sears the speakers" by The Onion's AV club, Regina Spektor's quirky piano pop is still as bizarre as anything indie music has to offer. It's been a busy week for the Russian pop fairy (left), with her new record release beset with artwork problems after the wrong images were distributed, leading Spektor to speculate on the chances of her forthcoming album, "Far", being released with a "t" added to the end of its title. "We had a million comps, ideas, and we posted the wrong ones," the starlet mused on her MySpace blog, adding: "I'm giving up trying to make things perfect, because they never are". Gastric mix-ups aside, though the album doesn't hit the shelves until 23 June, anyone looking for a sneak preview can check out the star's MySpace page for the brand new "Laughing With", described by the Spektor herself as "a new song that I never played for people at shows before". Along with some older hits, it's available at tinyurl.com/nypxo

My Fantasy Band - Ebony Bones

Vocals - Poly Styrene
The X-Ray Spex singer makes an amazing frontwoman. I would definitely put her braces back on so she had a gob full of metal. I'd also have the Pointer Sisters on backing vocals. They even sang on "Sesame Street"!

Paul Carrack, Ronnie Scott's, London

Superlative talents like Paul Carrack. He replaced Jools Holland in Squeeze twice, has had spells with Roxy Music, Nicks Lowe and Cave, played sessions with The Smiths, and written songs for the Eagles. You'll know his beret, grey beard and shades from his time as singer for Mike Rutherford's Genesis off-shoot Mike + the Mechanics. But it's as a reliable professional hand in better bands' later days that Carrack has become a minor part of British rock's fabric.

Close-up: Just Jack

How do you cope with sudden pop fame at 32? A quiet night in with a DVD

Observations: Can we sing it? Yes we can!

It was only a matter of time. In this case, surprisingly little time. Barely a third of the way into his first 100 days in office, Barack Obama is set to appear on the London stage – in a musical. OK, the man himself won't actually tread the boards – nor will an actor have the impossible task of living up to the immensely popular President. Rather, Obama on My Mind, which will play in North London's charming Hen and Chickens pub next month, is a political comedy about the determined individuals behind the campaign to get Obama into the White House, set to 14 pop, gospel, jazz and Motown tunes. Teddy Hayes, a Cleveland-born crime-writer and film-maker who has been living in London for 13 years was inspired to write the piece when he started canvassing overseas Americans in the run-up to the election.

Debbie Purdy & Omar Puente: A matter of love and death

She doesn't want to die. But when she does, she wants to hold her husband's hand, knowing he won't be arrested. On Tuesday, a court will decide if she can. Cole Moreton meets... Debbie Purdy & Omar Puente

The 39 Steps, BBC1 <br>Affinity, ITV

The BBC's remake of John Buchan's 'The 39 Steps' follows a long tradition of being unfaithful to the book

Last Night: Later With Jools Holland, BBC2

Carla and the monsters of rock

Blues brother: Seasick Steve rides the wave of sudden fame

He went from hobo to hero almost overnight, and now he's the toast of the festival circuit. Tim Walker catches up with Seasick Steve and hears the story of his incredible journey

Later with Jools Holland, Metallica...and Carla Bruni

The halls of the Elysée Palace are not famous for reverberating with the thrashing drums and shredded guitar solos of "Kill 'Em All", "Cunning Stunts" or "St Anger". Nevertheless, the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is apparently enthralled to be taking time out from her diplomatic duties to jam alongside the heavy metal band Metallica – and Sir Paul McCartney – in a live appearance on Jools Holland's late-night television music show in two weeks' time.

Terence Blacker: Why we hark back to the old certainties

Between spasms of optimism and self-belief, there have been long periods of hand-wringing

Dawn Kinnard, Bar Academy, London

There's a story behind the whisky-soaked, lived-in voice that belongs to Dawn Kinnard. The daughter of a Baptist preacher in Pennsylvania, Kinnard would take her guitar to her hairdressing job, where she started to write songs; she sold her treasured Harley-Davidson to record her mini-album. That she was discovered singing in a Nashville bar is fitting, given her smoky blues and country sound.

Things the Grandchildren Should Know, By Mark Oliver

A revealing and poignant memoir is marred by bursts of grouchy, rock-star posturing
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine