Loaded: Gossip and news from rock critic Eamon Sweeney
Bruce Springsteen has rounded on critics who consider him unpatriotic for claiming the US has involved itself "anti-American" activity ever since George W Bush became the 43rd President of the United States.
Springsteen singled out CIA interrogation techniques, Bush's domestic surveillance programme and the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay for criticism in his latest cutting broadside against the powers that be.
The Boss says: "I think we've seen things happen over the past six years that I don't think anybody thought they'd ever see in the United States. When people think of the United States' identity, they don't think of torture. They don't think of illegal wire-tapping. Those are things that are anti-American. There's been a whole series of things that... I never thought I'd ever see in America."
Of course, Springsteen famously went out on the presidential campaign trail with Democrat nominee John Kerry in 2004.
* The Boss isn't the only songwriting legend backing a political candidate. Elvis Costello is playing at Hillary Clinton's birthday and backing a fundraising drive for her candidacy. Hubby Bill set the trend when he got the Rolling Stones to headline his own birthday at New York's Beacon Theatre last October. Their appearance was filmed by Martin Scorsese and the supporting cast included Christina Aguilera and Jack White of the White Stripes.
Before the Strolling Bones played, Mick Jagger quipped, "Thank you President Clinton for bringing along your husband." Jagger followed this up with a pelvis-thrusting rendition of She's Hot.
Obviously, admittance to the next Clinton birthday do won't be cheap. 'Gold' tickets to hear Costello play are on sale for $250 a pop, 'platinum' tickets for $1,000 and 'rock star' passes for the top limit that is permitted under US electoral law will cost a hefty $2,300. However, if you can raise funds to the tune of $25,000, you can gain access to a star-studded VIP after-show party.
While Costello is a decent enough booking, Hillary's campaign theme song leaves a lot to be desired -- Celine Dion's You And I. I mean, please!?!
* British music weekly NME has clearly given up on championing new talent, as they're fronting a campaign to get a re-issue of the Sex Pistols single God Save The Queen to number one.
This latest cheap stunt from John Lydon and his aging pack of past-it punks comes in advance of three Pistols reunion shows in London and Manchester marking the 30th anniversary of the release of their only album, Never Mind The Bollocks.
When the song was originally released in 1977 to coincide with the Queen's Jubilee, it did indeed reach number one. However, the official UK chart was rigged that week so not to cause offense to Her Majesty, prompting Johnny Rotten to remark, "We've declared war on the entire country without meaning to!"
While God Save The Queen is still a good song, it had its time and place and this tacky re-release is an example of milking it beyond belief. Shame on the Pistols and NME. As Johnny Lydon himself once said, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
* I shudder to think just how bad the nominations list for next February's Choice Music Prize will be, as 2007 has been an annus horribilis for Irish music. While Delorentos and The Flaws deserve some credit, both acts peddle a fairly predictable brand of generic guitar pop.
It begs the question, what on earth is up with Irish music? Sadly, despite all the stellar talent of recent years, nobody has managed to forge anything singular and original this year. In general, Irish bands are pathetically aping musical trends from overseas.
One demo I was sent recently (which will remain nameless) contained the most blatant Arcade Fire rip-off I've ever heard. Seriously, what kind of goons do you take music fans to be? Expect the same culprits to be the first ones in line moaning about how they can't get a record deal. Hmm. I wonder why?
* To be fair, there is some hope on the horizon in the shape of releases early next year from Jape and Giveamanakick. Richie Egan's Jape project is going from strength to strength. I've heard the full album and it's marvellous. Giveamanakick from Limerick could teach all those Dublin chancers with stupid haircuts and no ideas a thing or two. Quite simply, they're the best hard-rock band in the country, penning songs that are smart, catchy and furious.
They can also deliver a live show that leaves the rest of the pack for dust. Hopefully, 2008 will be a good one. In fairness, it really couldn't get much worse.
John Meagher is currently on leave