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POP MUSIC

Pop Eye

March 01, 1998|Dave Jennings, from London

POLITICS AS USUAL: The anarchists of Chumbawamba (one of whom drenched a deputy prime minister with water at the recent Brit Awards) aren't the only rockers expressing disenchantment with the administration of Prime Minster Tony Blair. Alan McGee, head of Creation Records and one of Blair's most ardent supporters in last year's election, has broken ranks with the Labor government, issuing an angry statement slamming plans to introduce a U.S.-style "workfare" program in Britain. McGee is particularly concerned about the potential effect on young musicians who benefit from government support "during that critical period when they are perfecting their art."

Meanwhile, Blur singer Damon Albarn, another staunch Blair supporter last year, participated in a press conference Wednesday at the House of Commons in protest of the withdrawal of government grants to full-time students.

"Politicians of all parties have tried to claim popular culture for themselves," Albarn said at the press conference. "The politicians who claim that art for their own end ought to ask themselves how much of it was possible because of free education."

SEASICK: It's not exactly an iceberg, but something has finally cut into the momentum of the "Titanic" music steamer, at least in Britain. London band Cornershop's single "Brimful of Asha" shot straight to No. 1 on the U.K. charts last week, displacing Celine Dion's "Titanic" love theme "My Heart Will Go On." Cornershop, though gaining recognition both at home and in the U.S. (where its "When I Was Born for the 7th Time" was Spin's choice for 1997 album of the year), had still been considered something of a fringe act. However, the single got a boost by being used in a new British TV ad for Caffrey's beer, which started airing even before the song was officially released as a single.

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