We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk

Manic Street Preachers

Album: Manic Street Preachers, Postcards From a Young Man, Columbia

According to the rock-band cliché: "We just make music to please ourselves and if anyone else likes it, it's a bonus." For the Manic Street Preachers, that sort of talk has always been an unforgivable, bourgeois conceit. If you've got something worth saying, you want it to be heard by the maximum number of people. That, at least, is half the story.

John Walsh: Geishas might not do what you think

The niche eroticism of the Japanese never ceases to amaze, does it? Given the historic vulgarity of the professional British horizontale, the weirdness of Nipponese sexuality has always intrigued us. The 17th-century shoguns set up "pleasure quarters" where gentlemen could visit prostitutes (and wives were OK about it) but Japanese girls kept dragging the arts into the basic eroto-financial transaction, until male visitors could hardly find a genuine harlot anywhere among the dancers, singers, lute-fingerers and exponents of calligraphic skill.

The Beatles for sale once more

The news this week that Terra Firma, the troubled equity company and current owners of EMI Records, is trying to sell Abbey Road Studios, in St John's Wood, London, has music fans around the world justly concerned about the fate awaiting the recording facility. When John, Paul, George and Ringo named their last album after the EMI studio facility in 1969, they turned the zebra crossing into the most famous rock landmark in London and a tourist magnet. But, even before the Fab Four, the grand Georgian house that EMI bought for £100,000 in 1929, had seen its fair share of historical moments in its three studios. In November 1931, Sir Edward Elgar conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of "Land of Hope and Glory" to mark the opening of Studio One. The following year, the composer invited a 16-year-old Yehudi Menuhin to record his Violin Concerto in B Minor for EMI's HMV label. The Second World War saw the recording of government propaganda and also the last session by bandleader Glenn Miller in September 1944.

Party Of The Week: A night of pop art for Rankin and friends

The singer Joss Stone, Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, magazine editor Jefferson Hack and My Summer of Love actress Natalie Press were out in force on Monday night for the private view of Rankin's exhibition Destroy at London's Phillips de Pury Gallery.

Just another Manic Street Preachers road trip

The Manic Street Preachers followed their recent creative revitalisation with their first American tour in a decade. The novelist John Niven travels with a band still hungry for new challenges

Twiggy at 60

The super-skinny model who found fame in the Sixties has finally come of age. Anna Slater lists the triumphs, the tragedies and the trivia

Hit & Run: Where’s our Jon Stewart?

Who said satire was dead? In the US, at least, plenty did. Once President Bush left office, they argued, political comedy would be moribund, irrelevant – specifically that scourge of the Bush administration, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Album: Delays, Everything's the Rush (Fiction)

Influenced as they are by the Manic Street Preachers, it's no great surprise that Delays should err on the side of overstatement throughout this third album – though tempering their grandiose tendencies was never likely to happen with Youth as producer.