The Power Of The Written (The) Word

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not a huge fan of Jo Whiley. I used to love the Evening Session in the Jo and Steve days and I have very fond memories of her interview with Nicky Wire when the Manics were taking their tentative first steps after the disappearance of Richey, but these days I find her daytime show largely uninspiring and thus choose not to subject myself to that particular radio output. Having said all of that, her Session days alone guarantee her a certain immunity from the kind of hatred doled out to people like Bowman. I don’t actively dislike Whiley, I just steer clear aside from her appearances on Glasto coverage.

All of which begs the question, where the hell did Rob Fitzpatrick‘s venom come from in his interview with her in the latest issue of The Word? Under the title, ‘The Bland Leading The Bland’, he proceeds to administer a sizeable shoeing, relentlessly picking at the fact that she doesn’t come off the back of a Nickelback song saying, “Well, that was a load of shit, wasn’t it listeners?” I don’t for a second suspect that Fitzpatrick doesn’t understand the requirements of daytime radio and thus I can only assume that he chooses to overlook the fact that the vast majority of daytime jocks follow a similar policy. It’s hard to imagine the host of a predominantly music-based show playing stuff that’s popular with the listeners and then calling it toss hanging around for long. Ok, Mark & Lard always used to leave less than subtle hints after a song they didn’t like and Moyles has taken to slagging off, well, Nickelback recently but it’s hardly the norm for people to just slag off the tunes they’re playing. Radcliffe and Moyles both focus on banter and entertainment in the links ahead of the music, so they’re possibly not even fair points of comparison. Whichever way you look at it, being in an almost relentlessly good mood is hardly a crime and announcing songs whilst clearly rather jolly is hardly the most ringing endorsement ever proffered upon a piece of music.

What really prompted me to have a rant on here was playing the ‘Now Hear This’ CD that comes free with each issue. Fitzpatrick’s opening question – or deliberately provocative and slightly infantile statement, to be more accurate – was ‘Jo Whiley, you are The Voice of Boring Indie’. Has he heard some of the mediocre, tinpot shite being served up as music directly recommended by The Word team? The odd track (Tony Allen, Marina And The Diamonds and the previously loved on here, Priscilla Ahn) is worthy of note, but tracks by The Scaremongers, Findlay Brown, Julie Feeney, The Yeah Yous and Sharon Robinson, amongst others, are utterly tedious musical wallpaper. As The Word slowly retreats to the middle-ground of safe, hoary old rockdom, it takes the piss to turn around and have a go at Jo Whiley for peddling mediocrity. What revolutionary topic adorns the cover of the latest issue? ‘Why The Beatles are underrated’. How remarkably smart, post-modern and brain-buggeringly original. Presumably, sales are a bit slow, people want holiday reading, the upcoming remasters will be getting more and more press and, perhaps most importantly, put any old shit about The Beatles in a magazine and you’ll sell loads.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the writing of a number of the people who appear in The Word’s pages – I shall forever be indebted to Paul Du Noyer for the leg-up he gave me into reviewing and the lovely Jude Rogers is one of the most splendidly jolly people writing about music right now – but this kind of lazy hatchet job is not becoming and it does make them look like a bunch of smug, middle-aged wankers. To inspire a vitriolic defence of Jo Whiley from someone who doesn’t really have all that much time for her in the first place is perhaps exactly why this is actually a very good piece of writing, but I can’t reconcile that with treating somebody who’s doing a decent job of what she’s required to with so little respect.

Anyway, couldn’t they have used those column inches to do a similar job on Bowman?