Archive for June, 2010

MICHAEL JACKSON’S FINAL DAYS – IT’S A THRILLER

June 21, 2010

June 2005

This was the start of the end. Michael Jackson was acquitted of ten counts of child molestation, but his professional career was all but over anyway and in the hands of a shady group of advisors, including a former producer of gay porn. Finally, Jackson knew he had to escape.

When MJ packed himself and his children off to Bahrain, into the welcoming opportunistic arms of Sheikh Abdullah, he was running away. Another place, but ultimately even more problems, not all  financial. Worried about where and with whom her children had ended up Debbie Rowe was asking for custody.

October 2006

Michael Jackson, children and entourage moved to Ireland. The custody issue had been resolved, but little else. MJ was on the run.

November 2007

Sony Records  had refused to renew Michael’s contract in 2002 but the looming 25th anniversary of ‘Thriller’ – the greatest album of all time – encouraged the warring parties to attempt a temporary reconciliation. Mid-2007 concert promoters AEG had approached Michael Jackson about the opening of the new O2 Stadium in Londo. He took the meeting, showed interest, but said he wasn’t ready to return to performing.

He wasn’t ready to take advantage of the ‘Thriller’ anniversary either. He kept Sony waiting. They missed the actual anniversary by three months. MJ managed just one new track. Five new remixes were added to the original ‘Thriller’. Disappointing. Not at all what had been hoped for.

November 2008

The financial issues continued but the confidence must have been returning.  Jackson met with AEG again and this time showed a genuine interest. He recognized what it was, both a lifeline financially and a way to redeem his career.

February 2009

With the details of his comeback at the O2 Stadium ironed out Michael Jackson started calling people who had played a part in his successful years, but been discarded on the way, including former manager Frank Delio. Industry insiders were surprised and wondered just who had suggested bringing Delio back into the picture. MJ and the children had moved back to Los Angeles in the meantime. He was getting his life back in order.

March 2009

In London at a press conference MJ announced 10 concerts at the O2 his first since 1997, followed by shows in Paris, New York City and Mumbai. Michael hinted that he would then retire. “This Is It”, he said.

Within hours of the announcement 1.6 million people signed up for tickets. AEG and MJ did their sums. Jackson called back and told AEG he would do 50 shows — as long as AEG did two things for him. First, he wanted to be provided with an English country estate with rolling hills, greenery and horses for the kids. Second, always with his eye on HIStory, he wanted a ceremony held at the end of the tour to commemorate the run of shows in the Guinness Book of World Records.

At the end of March, just three months before the first concert was scheduled to kick off, a crew of dozens of musicians and dancers and technicians began showing up for daily rehearsals – putting in long days, seven days a week. In the beginning, Michael Jackson himself would show up only a few times a week.

April 2009

There were a few who doubted whether it was Jackson himself who had made the London announcement – something about his uncharacteristic exuberance, his physical demeanour. Had it been an impersonator? Now there were doubts about his physical ability to deliver 50 concerts as fans and the paparazzi staked him out at his new home and noted MJ’s regular visits to his longtime dermatologist, Dr Arnold Klein, Debbie Rowe former boss. Klein said that he was treating Jackson for vitiligo, a skin condition that causes pigmentation loss, and working to help rebuild his damaged nose. MJ also went on secretive shopping expeditions in LA with the kids.

May 2009

Michael Jackson spent three nights straight at a medical facility amid rumours that he was being treated for skin cancer. Dr. Conrad Murray called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when he signed on as Michael Jackson’s personal physician for a six-figure monthly salary and agreed to accompany MJ for the entertainer’s much-hyped London comeback concerts which were now pushed back a week to give him more time to prepare.

June 2009

Kai Chase who, who has cooked for other celebrities had been  interviewed for the job by the Jackson children, hired by Michael Jackson in March, let go in May,  then returned on June 2. Dr. Conrad Murray would bring Jackson the special fruit juice drinks Chase prepared for him. For lunch, Jackson would eat with the children. Murray sometimes joined them for dinner. The doctor conferred with Chase about the 50-year-old pop singer’s food and made sure that he ate. The only oddity was the oxygen tanks MJ would bring from upstairs in the morning, one in each hand.

Lou Ferrigno, the star of the 1970’s TV hit The Incredible Hulk had started working as Michael Jackson’s physical trainer in preparation for Jackson’s return to live performing. A few times a week he and Ferrigno would go to a backroom that was equipped with a treadmill. Jackson didn’t want to build muscle, so they worked out gently, stretching with a rubber band and an exercise ball. Jackson wore black tuxedo pants, a black T-shirt, black shoes and black socks while he worked out, so he wouldn’t have to change when he went to rehearsals afterward.

9 June 2009

In addition to overseeing the elaborate effects-heavy stage show for his comeback shows at the O2 Arena in London on this day Michael Jackson on this day completed a 5-week mysterious video production known as the “Dome Project” at Culver Studios, which 70 years earlier was the set for the classic film “Gone With the Wind.”  Four sets were constructed for Jackson’s production, including a cemetery recalling his 1983 “Thriller” video. Besides the cemetery, one set was draped in black with an oversized portrait of Jackson in his “Thriller” werewolf costume. Another set was designed to simulate a lush jungle, and a fourth was built to replicate a construction site, with a screen in the back to allow projection of different backgrounds. Taping took place in marathon sessions ending early in the morning. Little detail is known about the project because everyone involved was sworn to secrecy.

17 June 2009

Another old face re-entered the Jackson inner circle after a period in the outer. Manager Frank Delio had phoned Michael Jackson’s long-time on-off legal representative John Branca. “Michael wants you to come back,” Delio told him. “He wants you to give some thought to what you can do for him, what kind of deals.” MJ was assuming control of his affairs and determined to reap every advantage from his comeback. On this day MJ and Branca met for the first time in years, hugged like old friends, and got down to business on the agenda Branca had set out in preparation.

21 June 2009

Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse specialising in nutrition, received a phone call from Michael Jackson. MJ complained that one side of his body felt hot and the other cold, leading her to believe that “somebody had given him something that hit the central nervous system. He was in trouble and he was crying out,” she told the Associated Press. Jackson was pleading for a powerful sedative for his persistent insomnia in recent months.

22 June 2009

 According to a LAPD affidavit Dr. Conrad Murray on this day attempted to wean Michael Jackson from Propofol by giving him a lower, 25 milligram dosage, along with anti-anxiety drug Ativan (lorazepam) and the sedative Versed (midazolam), which successfully got Jackson to go to sleep.

23 June 2009

As Jackson prepared for a rehearsal he told aides how much faith he had in his personal physician, claiming, “I trust this guy with my life… He makes me feel good about myself, and young again”. Patrick Woodroffe, a lighting director who was at the rehearsals, said that Jackson was indeed ‘himself’ again that night. “He came on stage at 9 o’clock in the evening and we all looked at each other and there was something that said that he really had it,” he said. “It was like he had been holding back and suddenly he was performing as one had remembered him in the past.”

24 June 2009

Michael Jackson turned up three hours late for today’s rehearsals, and this time  appeared listless and lethargic, according to one observer.  The rehearsal, which went on for several hours, included dancers, musicians and aerial performers. It was captured by multiple cameras, and the audio digitally recorded in a manner that could be used to produce a surround-sound DVD and audio products. ‘This Is It’. There ain’t no more.

25 June 2009

Something was wrong. Murray Conrad didn’t come downstairs to get the juices and granola he routinely brought Jackson for breakfast each morning. He was busy trying to revive his client. After finally going into a drug induced sleep Michael Jackson had stopped breathing. That was 10:52 a.m.. At approximately 12:22 p.m. security guard Alberto Alvarez called 911. Nearly 82 minutes passed between the time Murray found Jackson not breathing and the time an ambulance was called. After being transferred to UCLA Medical Center at 2:46 p.m. Michael Jackson was pronounced dead.

The kids had followed Jackson to the hospital and the job of telling them that their father was dead fell to Michael’s manager, Frank DiLeo, who had nearly fainted when a nurse broke the news to him.

Then the circus began. Within hours sister LaToya rushed to Michael’s mansion frantically searching for the bags of cash she knew he kept there, and in a matter of days, their mother raced to court to fight for control of Michael’s estate and custody of his three children.  Within a week, against the family’s wishes, John Branca was named co-executor of the will, not the job he’d signed up for, and with a new set of deals to sign his client up to, including a new deal with Sony Records. Sales of Michael Jackson albums exploded.

AND NOW WE WAIT FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Michael Jackson left the bulk of his estate and his children to his mother Katherine. Father Joe was not mentioned. Joe is looking for every avenue to stay connected. The kids live in the Jackson compound with Katherine and assorted cousins. She’s 80. She’s already had a fall in recent weeks. She can’t live forever. What then?

WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE

June 18, 2010

When Billboard magazine switched to SoundScan for the source of its chart calculations of the American best sellers it revealed that country music was far more popular in America than had previously been acknowledged.  The latest surveys are throwing up another “truth”. The older demographic is buying albums, the younger demographic is buying tracks, usually online.

Ask yourself about the economic implications of this. To satisfy the online masters –Apple is the world’s largest music “store”  – the price we pay for music has hit bargain basement. The music industry has slowly been destroying itself, for the sake of getting in bed with Apple etc.

And so, the popular advice to music wanna-bes is to forget physical releases and concentrate of promoting yourself online. That actually doesn’t make sense.  I’m at some bar, totally impressed by what I’m seeing on stage. Will the performers remind me to make sure to download their music when I get home? Or should I be able to go to the traditional card table in the corner of the venue and make that impulse buy? Which is more likely?

A lot of sales, not on the Soundscan horizon, happen than way.

I keep telling older established artists who feel out of place with the new music marketplace that they in fact have the advantage over their younger brothers and sisters.  An established artist has a familiar brand name we can look for and keep in touch with. How is the 17-year-old  potential star of the future going to attract our attention? Put music on MySpace and hope some idle or industrious record executive comes across you? Yes there have been cases of such beginnings, some real, some made up for the sake of a good story, but when you considered HOW MUCH music is on MySpace and YouTube, what are the real chances?

We do live in exciting times. The music business HAS to restructure. But how much of what we’ve got has to be dismantled or left to die a natural death to get to that new beginning? If the music business is making less money – and it is – it’s also investing the money being made into the artists making it, rather than the artists who might make money in the future.

What I’m listening to: Devo (Something For Everybody), Foals (Total Live Forever), Chairlift (Does Inspire You)

IT’S TIME TO GO – PEREZ HILTON

June 17, 2010

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton may be investigated under child pornography laws after posting an upskirt picture  of teen starlet Miley Cyrus on his Twitter page getting out of a car apparently without underwear. After an understandable outcry Perez has removed the offending image and has tried to deflect the issue by saying Miley wouldn’t be that stupid.

That’s not the issue. Perez Hilton is the issue. It was only a matter of time before he went too far, and whether the photo was doctored or not, he finally has gone too far. It’s time that record companies, artists and their managers put a stop to this vile “man”. The stars don’t need him, he needs the stars and it’s time to cut him loose.

Perez Hilton belongs to the likes of his namesake Paris Hilton, celebrities who are famous for being famous and nothing more. Let THEM pally up to Perez. Worthless no-talents with worthless no-talents. If you’re in the least talented at some artistic endeavour stay away. Don’t  dirty yourself by associating with this creature.

Haven’t we had enough of the celebrity-for-celebrity’s sake? If we have, we need to start somewhere and Perez Hilton is the first step. Let’s cut him down. Take away his power base. Then there’s the paparazzi, climbing fences with their long-distance lenses, to capture some image we were never meant to see.

In the end it’s our fault, for feeding these voyeurs. If Perez Hilton is charged, and God I hope he is, then so should the rest of, everyone who lusted for that image of a 17-year old crotch. That won’t happen of course. We won’t be charged but we should give a hard time to everyone who lives off this stuff so we can admire real people for accomplishing real things.

John Lennon had that song ‘Imagine’. Imagine a world where Britney Spears drives up and down Hollywood looking for attention and no-one gave a stuff! Wouldn’t that be something?

What I’m listening to: Crowded House (The Intriguer), The National (High Violet), Captain Beefheart (Safe As Milk)

BLIMEY LIMEY HIP-HOP

June 15, 2010

Recognition, condescension or self-interest?  Probably the latter, but it doesn’t matter. Rap mogul – doesn’t that tell you? – Sean “Diddy” Combs has declared that British hip-hop is on the verge of making it big in the United States.  Verging? It’s there! Jay Sean took “Down” to No.1 in America in October 2009 and Taio Cruz followed him in April with “Break Your Heart“.

Diddy, America and – as a result – the rest of the world may only have just discovered British hip-hop, but Britain has a hip-hop history stretching back to the 80s. Jay Sean and Taio Cruz could actually be seen as “sell outs”. They haven’t achieved US recognition without bowing down to God America. “Down” came following  a six year recording career by Jay Sean, after his signing with America’s Cash Money hip hop label and enlisting the help of Lil Wayne. Taio Cruz has served his international apprenticeship after years of writing songs for other artists including – the usual suspects on a CV to success – Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Pussycat Dolls

While announcing his seal of approval of British hip-hop Diddy has also advised UK hip-hoppers to find their own voice!

Something you can rarely accuse British music of is imitation. Integrity and innovation have been mainstays of Britain’s contribution to music over the years. They’re the ones that have tended to keep things “honest” and shown the way forward. Maybe that’s what we’re actually seeing in hip-hop’s case. Hasn’t American hip-hop gone round and round in the same circles for some time now? Don’t they need an injection of original thought?

The reason UK hip-hop hasn’t been allowed its justified room on the hiphop map is BECAUSE they’ve tended to use their own voice and expressed their own community and culture. Jay Sean is PART of that story.  His parents were Punjabi Sikh immigrants to London.  The Streets’ Mike Skinner has not shunned rapping in an English accent. Ty was born in Nigeria.

These people don’t  need or want to rap in voices other than their own … although … what we also need to acknowledge is that different music forms develop their own “natural” language nuances and characteristics. America invented rock’n’roll so there was always an element of THAT voice in rock’n’roll made in the rest of the world too. Had to. It wasn’t particularly that they wanted to sound AMERICAN. To be convincing rock’nrollers they needed to adopt the accents of rock – and there’s an aspect of that need in hip-hop too.

While Sean Combs and the rest of us are Johnny Come Latelys when it comes to British Hip Hop, there IS something afoot. Names like Dizzee Rascal,  Chipmunk, Tinie Tempah, Plan B and Professor Green are featuring prominently on the British sales charts, the beneficiaries of the pioneers and groundbreakers. That commercial success is going to ensure the next generation, the next wave.

What I’m listening to: Hot Hot Heat (Future Breeds), Pavement (Slanted And Enchanted),  Massive Attack (Blue Lines),

PAUL McCARTNEY REALLY IS DEAD. IS GEORGE?

June 9, 2010

Paul McCartney really is dead.

John Lennon was killed by remote control. Kurt Cobain was murdered. The Rolling Stones drowned Brian Jones. Bob Marley was killed by the CIA. His manager was responsible for Jimi Hendrix’s death. Glenn Miller died in a brothel. And Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson both faked their deaths, presumably living happily after with, respectively, a blocked colon and a botched face anyone in the world could recognize in a moment.

We love conspiracy theories.

An upcoming DVD release titled “Paul McCartney Really Is Dead, The Last Testament Of George Harrison” revisits McCartney’s rumoured death in November of 1966 as the result of a car accident and the subsequent cover-up, including replacing McCartney in the Beatles with look-alike Billy Shears.

According to the makers of the DVD, Highway 61 Entertainment, audio tapes featuring a voice “identical to Harrison,” arrived at their offices in 2005 and the film-makers have “corroborated” what the voice “reveals”, that British intelligence, MI5, forced the Beatles to cover up McCartney’s death to prevent mass suicides of Beatle fans. However, the remaining Beatles tried to signal fans with clues on album covers and in songs.

We’ve heard all that before. There’s more.

In this film, “George Harrison” reveals a dangerous cat and mouse game with ‘Maxwell,’ the Beatles’ MI5 handler, as John Lennon became increasingly reckless with the secret. “Harrison” also insists that Lennon was assassinated in 1980 after he threatened to finally expose ‘Paul McCartney’ as an impostor.

In their press release Highway 61 Entertainment claim their have corroborated most of “Harrison’s stunning claims”. They haven’t said they corroborated that the “voice” is indeed that of George Harrison.

Maybe it was George who was replaced, not Paul. But the “real” George is dead. Isn’t he?  Time for another conspiracy theory.

What I’m listening to: Roky Erickson With Okkervil River (True Love Cast Out All Evil),  Coldplay (Viva Da Vida), Love (Forever Changes)

Paul Simon: STILL TROUBLED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

June 8, 2010

Paul Simon has told Hollywood show biz reporter Roger Friedman he is moving his entire solo catalogue back to Sony Music after three decades with Warner Music because he wants his solo catalogue to be “in the same place” as his work for Simon and Garfunkel. A significant career move. His objective may be to finally absorb his S&G work into his own, finally reducing Art Garfunkel to bit player.

Although they started their career together as schoolfriends in 1959, and they subsequently became one of the biggest selling recording acts in music history a tension has existed between the two almost throughout that time. Hard as he’s tried Paul Simon has never been able to shake his union with Art. It’s what’s sustained him when his solo career has gone off the rails, which, for someone so talented and successful has happened a number of times.

 As we’re constantly reminded, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel started their career together as Tom and Jerry. They subsequently both attempted solo careers, which seems to be the source of the original tension between them. Art was hurt by Paul choosing to go solo when they were 16.

Their paths crossed again in 1963. Paul Simon had become a folk singer. They still had much in common and Paul Simon enjoyed the enthusiasm Art showed for the songs he played him. They recorded those songs together for the first Simon and Garfunkel album, which made no impression and they went they separate ways again, until one of the songs on the album was given a string arrangement without their knowledge, released as a single and became a huge hit. Paul Simon was in England pursuing his latest solo efforts when the call came to return to America to promote ‘The Sounds Of Silence’.

Simon and Garfunkel’s career was reborn and soared to unimaginable heights. In 1969 Paul Simon found himself in the studio working on their fifth album, resenting the fact that Art Garfunkel was off being a movie star. There and then Paul Simon decided this album would be the duo’s last. What he wasn’t expecting was how successful that album would be. Worse, the title song, the big hit, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, featured Art Garfunkel’s voice almost exclusively and night after night on stage while Art enjoyed all the glory with Paul’s song, Paul Simon was forced to stand in the background.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel went their separate ways again, Paul enjoyed some initial success but then hit the rocks when he asserted himself by negotiating a big contract with Warners and delivering a flop, ‘One Trick Pony’, also the name of a flop movie in which Paul Simon starred. A reunion concert by Simon and Garfunkel put things back in order.  The concert at Central Park turned into a tour and almost resulted in another Simon and Garfunkel album, until Paul Simon removed Art Garfunkel’s voice and completed and released  what became ‘Hearts And Bones’ in his name alone.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s “partnership” has been one of convenience ever since, a safety net when needed. Touring, but no recording. but to get the duo back on the same stage, a compromise had to be reached on THAT song. ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was rearranged to allow Paul Simon to sing – and star – on one verse.

In recent times Paul Simon’s career has hit troubled waters again. His ‘Capeman’ musical took ten years to conceive, cost 11 million to produce, but closed after only 68 regular performances making  it possibly the biggest flop in Broadway history. Neither of his subsequent albums was a hige success, although the second ‘Surprise’, produced by Brian Eno was “kindly received”. For his latest album Paul Simon has looked to his Simon and Garfunkel safety net, almost.

The album is produced by Phil Ramone, producer of Simon and Garfunkel albums and producer of Paul Simon’s first pos- S&G solo work. The new album isn’t finished yet, but Paul tells Roger Friedman “It’s the best work I’ve done in 20 years”.

And .. if  Paul Simon manages his stated aim to bring his entire career together he might erase Art Garfunkel once and for all. Almost.

 What I’m listening to: Tracey Thorn (Love And Its Opposites), Placebo (Sleeping With Ghosts), The Doors (Stage Days)

THE MILEY VIRUS

June 7, 2010

How many times is Miley Cyrus going to have to apologize for doing what comes naturally – or at least for doing what other girls her age have been encouraged to think is “natural” – being sexy.

There were the leaked shots of Miley in her underwear and wet t-shirt, found by a hacker but intended for her boyfriend.  There was the outcry about the topless (hidden by a towel) shots taken by Annie Liebovitz for ‘Vanity Fair’. More recently  there was the lap dance at the ‘Hanna Montana’  wrap party and the “lesbian” kiss with a dancer on British TV. 

We have a double standard. Approve or not, children and teenagers are being sexualized by the society we live in, but apparently “child stars” are meant to hold onto our fantasy of them as chaste innocent beings.  Britney Spears was never the bible-reading virgin she said she was.  Asking her to pretend she was has helped turn her into the crutch-exposing human train wreck she’s become.

We shouldn’t condone Miley’s indiscretions,  but nor should we reel back in shock horror when they happen.  Miley should learn to  live with what she does, instead of  trying to step back into her fairy floss existence when this hypocritical world disapproves.

Let her grow up .. but not to be THAT! One Britney’s enough.

 What I’m listening to:  Band Of Horses (Infinite Arms) , Biffy Clyro (Only Revolutions) , Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (Before Today)

GLEE-FULLY SINGING AWAY THE FUTURE

June 2, 2010

Two US No.1 albums within the same month stamps the TV hit musical ‘Glee’ as an unprecedented success story.

As the first season wraps of this week in the US, a third season has already been commissioned, even though filming of the second series hasn’t started. There’s no great secret behind why it works. Viewers can easily identify with the characters, and the music is pre-loved. ‘Glee’ is karaoke with a plot. There-in lies the trick for the future. Can the Glee cast members become music stars in their own right? Mathew Morrison, Lia Michele, Amber Riley and Mark Salling have already been signed to recording contracts. Will we hear them as “themselves” or as extensions of their Glee personas? Reality or fiction?

The ‘Glee’ stars have already complained about their workload. They’re about to become busier.

What we’re witnessing yet again is that music itself lurches towards an unknown future, it does so on the back of the past. The talent search franchises which have dominated music in the last decade – Idol, X-Factor, etc etc – entertain us with music we already know. The stars of the past appear on these shows, in the hope of extending their careers in front of these massive television audiences, but effectively climbing on the shoulders of the temporary stars momentarily created.

 ‘Glee’ uses old music.

 Today’s music, tomorrow’s music, struggles to be noticed.

Tomorrow’s ‘Glee’ won’t have any of today’s music to revive.

The Rolling Stones find themselves back in the winners circle with a revamped 38-year old ‘Exile On Main Street’. They’re even talking about going out on tour performing their past albums. In another 38 year’s time what albums from today will we so happy to hear from first song to last? Ask yourself this question. What’s the last “new” Rolling Stones song you can remember? They’ve kept recording as well as performing, but we stopped listening a long time ago.

 What’s new? Anything?

What I’m listening to: Faithless (The Dance), Flaming Lips (At War With The Mystics), Go-Betweens (Oceans Apart)

IS EMINEM NOT “NOT AFRAID”?

June 1, 2010

Due on June 22, Eminem’s ‘Recovery’ is the most anticipated album of the year. He is after all the biggest selling artist of the last decade in the US. His status as an artist and the aura of expectation were conformed by the reception received by the debut single ‘Not Afraid’  only the sixteenth song in Billboard’s history to debut at number one and only the second rap single ever to debut at the top spot.

More interesting than the statistics was the release itself. For the first time a debut single from an Eminem album was a statement rather than an entertainment. In fact, we’ve been told that ‘Recovery’ will be the first album not to feature a skit by manager Paul Rosenberg. There also won’t be a verse from mentor Dr.Dre for the first time. As well as the usual suspects, his fellow rappers, ‘Recovery’ features guest appearances from pop singers Pink and Rihanna! Who’s climbing on who’s bandwagon? Something’s in the wind.

Maybe, despite the song’s declaration ‘Not Afraid’, Eminem IS afraid. He is after all the master of contradictions. ‘Not Afraid’ sets out to tell us that Eminem has put personal problems (drug addiction) behind him and wants to put ‘Relapse’ (that period of his life as well as the album of that name) behind him. He vows to concentrate on his music and his family.

Family is Eminem’s biggest contradiction, more than being the white guy ruling a black music world, more than being a tough talking romantic. While his contemporaries are cheating on their women and running away from their multiples of kids, Marshall Mathers is not only devoted to his daughter Hailie – his most frequent muse – he’s also officially raising his younger  brother Nathan and has adopted his wife Kim’s sister’s two daughters.

A rapper devoted to rather than disrespecting women?

What could he be afraid of? One day Eminem’s going to be unmasked as a nice guy behind all the carry on. Shock! Horror! But more than that Eminem might be afraid of –at least insecure about – his place in the music world. It’s an ongoing theme. The cover of 2002’s ‘The Eminem Show’ played with the imagery of a closing curtain. Was it over? He came back with ‘Encore’. One last time? Was he playing with our minds or thinking out loud?  Two images have been released  ahead of the ‘Recovery’ music itself. In one he’s walking away from us down a road. Job done? In the other he’s “living” in a glass box.

What we have to appreciate is that behind the music Eminem’s life is and always has been a work in progress. Maybe, like his mother claims, he invented that trailer trash past. Whatever, he ain’t there no more. The pill addiction was a sidetrack. Enimen has made something of his life, through his music and away from his music. And will continue to do so.

‘Recovery’ is the latest signpost.

What I’m listening to: Crystal Castles (II), REM (Murmur),  Red House Painters (Songs For The Blue Guitar)