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
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried