Arts and Entertainment

The reciprocal half of Gabriel’s I’ll-cover-yours-if-you’ll-cover-mine project Scratch My Back, in which his correspondents respond to his proposition by covering PG songs in return - a round dozen of them, including “Biko”, “Shock the Monkey” and, ill-advisedly, “Don’t Give Up”.

Diary of a rejected sperm donor

When Simon Evans decided to do his bit for infertile couples, he thought it would be easy ...

Pop: Lou Reed Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Lou Reed made me laugh. It was about half-way through his set, during the flippant bar-room blues of "I Love You Suzanne". Relaxed and smiling, he began singing falsetto, alternating it with a parody of his usual deep rumble. It was funny. It was uncomfortable. It was not what you expect from the Dark Prince, the author of "Heroin" and a dozen other hymns to the low life.

the death of the grown-up

In the mixed-up Nineties, teenagers hallucinate to Hawkwind, dance music has its dinosaurs and John Peel is not the only old fogey who enjoys the febrile scratchings of the young. What's going on?

'I'd envisaged Bryan Ferry slaving over a sewing-machine to all hours'

DICKIE FANTASTIC ON THE SCHMOOZE

Anderson ex machina

Rock star appears in Birmingham beneath Mothership-lookalike. Boy, can she summon up hi-tech heaven

POP / Chris Maume on pop

Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, or Frank Black (below) as he prefers to be known, has always been a little strange. Like a character from David Byrne's True Stories, the former Pixie appears to inhabit a world where eccentricity is the modus vivendi, and outer space is just another shopping mall. In the record company biog he wrote for his most recent LP, Teenager of the Year, he laid out his preoccupations for inspection: 'I sang about the days of Martian terraformation, of 2016, and catapults along the Pacific equator. I sang about Telstar and when they put the billboards in orbit. I wondered why the truck drivers wouldn't talk to me, why the sci-fi channel took The Invaders off its latest rotation. And I declare all of you to look up and behold that pie in the sky.'

Computers: Lou Reed on Compuserve

Lou Reed, yes, the Lou Reed, will be accessible to anyone with a modem tonight. He will answer questions live and on-line on the Compuserve information network, between 8pm and 10pm EDT. In UK, that is between 1am and 3am on Saturday.

ROCK / The crowd goes bananas: Here we go again: Giles Smith met the members of the Velvet Underground and watched their first show for 25 years

At the end of the Velvet Underground's show in Edinburgh, after the encores ('Waiting for the Man' and 'Heroin'), the audience thunders its approval and the band, none of whom are wearing shades, gathers stage-centre. John Cale gives Lou Reed an awkward, one-armed hug. Sterling Morrison pats Maureen Tucker on the head. Everybody bows. They did it: an entire show without splitting up.

ROCK / Here's that thing all over again: If the Velvet Underground were not the best rock band of all, they may well have been the most influential. Now, 25 years later, they're back together, and rehearsing for their British debut. This is the story so far

WHEN THEY were around, which wasn't long, being a member of the Velvet Underground didn't exactly amount to a living. Sure, they had famous friends. Andy Warhol was their patron. Brian Epstein thought about managing them. Antonioni tried to get them for the nightclub sequence in Blow-Up. But as far as anyone outside a chunk of Manhattan from Times Square down to the Bowery was concerned, they didn't exist. They couldn't have filled a phone box.

TELEVISION / Studs and rockers

FEARFUL that some of us still hadn't realised that the title of Jilly Cooper's shagging-in-the-shires mini-series Riders (Sunday, ITV) was a double-entendre, the writers had caddish villain Rupert Campbell-Black (Marcus Gilbert) spell it out, by way of a voluptuous dance partner called Melody. 'My first pony was called Melody,' he tells her, 'She was a chestnut - a terrific ride.'

Arts: Under the covers: Hal Willner is neither a musician, nor a composer, but he's an original. He takes the work of his favourite songwriters and remakes it, using any combination of today's musicians, as long as it's unlikely. His new album is 'Weird Nightmare', a tribute to Charles Mingus. Making it was weird, at times nightmarish

A MICROPHONE dangles from the ceiling of the Mastersound recording studio in Queens, just over the East River from Manhattan. Leaning into it, somewhat tentatively, is a hefty figure, enveloped in a dark crumpled suit. As a spectral murmur of gongs, chimes and muted voices drifts from the speakers, he croons in a voice of ragged velvet:
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
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Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

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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
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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
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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

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Jokes on Hollywood

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