Arts and Entertainment

A sideways look at the world of music

Deeply moving, standing still

Rock

We're on a road to nowhere: HOTWELL ROAD, BRISTOL

Times change and few things mark the passing of people, fashions and ways of life so eloquently as once thriving city thoroughfares

ARTS CRIES AND WHISPERS

4 POP MUSIC is always reinventing itself, and breaking down into new sub-divisions - jungle-techno, techno-grunge, jungle-grunge, grungle-junge, etc. Even so, I was surprised to discover, from the Letters page of the May issue of Mojo, a category called "Independent-on-Sunday- teenage-wet-dream-groups". The writer of the letter is Pippa Legg from Hampshire. The only example she gives is Portishead. My colleagues on the rock desk are doing their best to take it as a compliment. But we're not sure how closely Ms Legg has been reading the paper. Elsewhere in the letter she asserts that "one of the greatest secrets of last year was how gorgeous Boz Scaggs's Some Change was". Well, it's true that only one national newspaper championed the album, and bothered to interview its author. But it was this one. A clear case of no Legg to stand on.

Rock: The reluctant dbutante

Portishead are Britain's most talked-about new band. But until now their singer has let others do the talking. Ben Thompson meets Beth Gibbons

Letter: No need to name that tune

JACK Hughes ('Cries and Whispers', 18 September) is right that DJs ought to play a wider range of music, but it cannot be true that the categorisation of popular music needs to be more specific.

POP / Angela Lewis on pop

Take one studio bod with a film soundtrack-inspired, lucid musical vision. Give him a penchant for experimenting with the most eerie of late-night atmospheres, concocting new worlds from cool jazz, moody guitars and lethargically-paced, hip hop beats. Find him a woman with a voice of genuine, stricken beauty, who sings like the only salvation for her oft-broken heart is to warble her agonies away. Together they make Bristol's Portishead (right), and, along with Tindersticks, are Britain's most beautiful indie roses, but down-to-earth with it. For example Geoff Barrow, the studio bod, met his female accomplice,, Beth Gibbons, on an Enterprise Allowance Scheme meeting day a few years back. 'I liked her voice because there was something really different in it,' Geoff urges. 'I'd been looking for a soul singer and she came across as somebody who was coming from a personal, honest view. I don't think the lyrics are just made up - she's not the type of person to make up some dreamy relationship.'

Letter: Mourners shouldn't be rushed

I'M SORRY that Geraldine Bedell feels clergy are not very good at making funeral services meaningful and getting relatives to participate in paying tribute to the dead (21 November). She (and your readers) may be unaware of the constraints we operate under.

Travellers blockade motorway: Officers pelted with stones as protest over festival closes 15-mile section of M5 for over three hours

NEW AGE travellers were dispersed by police last night after they blocked the southbound carriageway of the M5, causing a 15- mile section of the motorway to be closed for more than three hours, writes Andrew Gliniecki.
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