Where our intrepid editorial team takes an askance look at the weird and wonderful world of music and media.

Where our intrepid editorial team takes an askance look at the weird and wonderful world of music and media.

Out in the States in May, the Rev Calvin O Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist church in Manhattan kicked off a campaign "to combat sex, misogyny and violence in rap lyrics." The righteous reverend was particularly down on the lyrics of Apache, Scarface and NWA. So it was particularly ironic that the week Billboard magazine reported the Rev Butts' campaign the Number One album on their R&B chart was by none of the aforementioned groups, but the explicitly pro-Jesus rap album 'Down With The King' by Run-DMC.

You can imagine jaws dropping all over American evangelicalism when on opening the May CCM magazine readers were faced with this advert for...horror of horrors...a Madonna 'Erotica' album. Had Madonna gone and got herself converted? Had there been some bizarre ad mixup at CCM's printers? No, it was just sneaky ol' Nelson Word with an attention-grabbing teaser ad followed through on the next page with an ad for Julie Miller's new album featuring her "SOS (Sick Of Sex)" song.

Talking of foul up at the printers, Cross Rhythms' more attentive readers will have noticed that in our news story in CR15 about musical maestro Roger Jones we said 'pictured' when he was nothing of the sort. Well, he was, in a sense. On the page opposite, Mr Jones, resplendent in beard and sweater, is there in the middle of a news story about the first Christian roots fest Roots And Branches. The only problem is that the photo caption identified Roger as poet and muso Godfrey Rust. The bald and bearded one, Cummings to you, sends the by now standard Cross Rhythms grovelling apologies to Mr Jones and Mr Rust. He also made the following comment, "What makes it worse is that I'm shortly to be meeting up with Roger Jones for the first time to interview him. And if that isn't embarrassing enough Godfrey Rust is my boss!" Apparently, the nearest thing our venerable editor has to a day job is working with the MCPS recorded music database, National Discography, and ND's top banana is the said Godfrey Rust.

We mentioned in the last Sidelong Glance that Music For Nations' A&R assistant Billie Sylvain was photographed in Music Week wearing a 'Born To Die', Christ on the cross T-shirt. Apparently metal's tendency to acknowledge the King is growing. For who should be seen in a recent issue of Raw magazine wearing a 'Won By One' T-shirt but Axl Rose of Guns 'n' Roses.

The letters pages of Folk Roots magazine over the last few months have contained some fascinating correspondence about the unfair practices of the Performing Right Society. The PRS issue licences to establishments who perform music but such is their inept distribution system that the average roots musician has a tiny chance of seeing any of the money collected even if he or she can (a) prove their songs were performed in a venue that's paid for a PRS licence and (b) gone through the astonishing administrative nightmare of becoming a PRS member. Leading Folk Roots tirade against the iniquities of PRS folk clubs licensing system was Christian roots man Jonathan Day. In the light of Jonathan's protests it was intriguing to note that shortly after the last of the Folk Roots letters, Music Week should be running a headline story over PRS members fury at the management wasting £8m (yep, eight million pounds) on a computer system that doesn't work! Many senior executives resigned while a heated meeting was held demanding more heads rolled. In the same Music Week their columnist Dooley made the following comment about the PRS crisis meeting, "The gold lettering circling the conference room's roof was particularly apt given the tone of the proceedings: 'Holy is the true light and passing wonderful, lending radiance to them that endured in the heat of conflict'."

You can find some amazing things in blues magazines these days. In a recent issue of Juke Blues, under the headline Holy Trivia Batman discographer Alan Young spent several paragraphs discussing the two different recordings made in 1928 by black preacher the Rev Johnnie 'Son Of Thunder' Blakey of "Warming By The Devil's Fire". As Mr Young so elegantly points out, "On the second version, poor ol' Rev Johnnie gets the Bible reference wrong. 'You will find my text in the 14th chapter of St Luke and in the 54th verse,' he says. Oh no you won't sunshine. Luke 14 has only 34 verses. Try Mark 14. It's got 72 verses and the 54th is the one that Blakey quotes." After several more paragraphs musing on the significance of this occurrence Mr Young concludes that for someone armed with Dixon and Godrich (the huge discography listing every pre-war blues and gospel record) there is serious work to be done. Young comments, "We not need some dedicated soul with the patience of a saint and a King James Bible to sit down and cross check what comes after the words 'you will find my text...' on every sermon listed in Dixon and Godrich." And you thought Christians were weird.

Finally, though your favourite magazine has not yet been able to discover whether country hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus is a genuine believer, we have noted that a song has recently been published Stateside called "Jesus Will Heal Your Achy Breaky Heart". CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.