Monday, 28 October 2013

The past keeps knock-knock-knocking on my door, and I don't want to hear it anymore.

Here I am, back writing about dead people again.


One day during the summer holiday of 1974, about six or seven of us convened around a friend's house, having brought with us a variety of crappy instruments to entertain ourselves. We had the run of house for the week, so we could make as much noise as we liked for as long as it suited us. The eventual outcome of all this aimless pissing around was that we formed a band, despite only one of us being capable of finding their way around an instrument and a couple of the others barely able to play at all. We weren't exactly taking it seriously, and besides, what could a bunch of near-incompetents realistically play anyway? At this stage it was safe to say Heart Of The Sunrise was pretty much out.

Someone had brought along a copy of Transformer and a copy of Live At Max's Kansas City, and I think we attempted Vicious (successfully) and I'm So Free (less so) from the former. We took a run at just about everything on Max's at some point, before finally settling on Sweet Jane and Sunday Morning. By the end of the week, we could vaguely hammer out the odd song by Sabbath, Free and the Stones as well, but initially it was probably the combination of simplicity and ready-made cool that made Lou Reed's songs so attractive. By the time we first performed in public, at a school dance several months later, almost half our set was Reed/Velvets covers.

A couple of years earlier, Walk On The Wild Side had introduced a world largely unfamiliar with his work to Reed's fascination with what might be called "transgressional" lifestyle choices; the Bowie co-sign representing the perfect entry-point-slash-endorsement for greenhorn teenagers like me. When I found out this morning that he'd died, I was much more shocked than I expected to be. Not because Lou Reed had managed to hold out until the ripe old age of 71, beating odds that, at the peak of his 70s excesses, were tipping him to keel over mid-performance. Nor was it to do with the Velvets' canonical status - "hardly anyone bought the records, but everyone who did formed a band", etc - or with any sadness at the death of a great and ambitious artist (and he was certainly that). No, this is more like that feeling you get when you pay a return visit to somewhere you grew up, only to find that yet another old landmark has disappeared. Suddenly, there's one less thing helping you to make sense of the world and figure out your place in it, even if, truthfully, you don't really need it anymore.

There's probably plenty of stuff being written elsewhere about Reed's notorious curmudgeonliness, his combative relationship with the critical community, and his long-lasting resentment over the mauling that some of his best and most influential work received upon release, so I'm not going to bother with that, nor with the deathless influence of the Velvets. In any case, the contrarians will probably be along soon, holding up efforts like Reed's recent, supposedly ill-judged collaboration with Metallica as irrefutable proof that he wasn't all that. The work, however, says otherwise. Reed made no secret of wanting to create (and leave behind) a body of work that stood comparison not with the rock musicians who it seemed were his obvious peers, but with the likes of Dostoyevsky and Burroughs and Ornette Coleman. Whether or not it manages to do so remains to be seen, but even if it doesn't, he's still responsible for some of the greatest rock music ever made.

Lou Reed wrote Heroin nearly 50 years ago in 1964, a couple of years before the Velvets recorded it for their debut album. It's that rare beast amongst drug songs, in that it avoids taking any sort of moral position and instead just tells you what it's like. I should add at this point that I've never used the stuff, but I'm assured by people who have that Heroin the song is a fairly faithful description of heroin the drug's effects. It's also the song which, more than anything else, was responsible for the Velvets becoming the unofficial poster children for the decadent, anti-hippy nihilism that eventually gave birth to punk. There's a scene in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting - another landmark example of non-judgemental junkie art - where Mark Renton describes choosing the 13-minute Rock 'N' Roll Animal version of the song over the original as "breaking the junkie's golden rule". This probably explains why it's my favourite version.




Rock 'N' Roll Animal is, in my humble opinion, the greatest heavy metal album ever made. Alice Cooper seemed to agree at one point; not long after its release, he stole the entire band for his Welcome To My Nightmare album. But regardless of that (and the opinion of Mark Renton), Heroin is the record's glorious high-point. Here, the Bowery scuzz of the original has been replaced by a chromium-plated, proto-stadium-rock imperiousness that seems utterly at odds with the subject matter until that last verse, where the band steadily raises the tempo until the song is roaring along, and Reed harangues a New York audience still numb from Vietnam and Watergate, and with Spahn Ranch and Altamont fresh in the collective memory;

"'Cause when the smack begins to flow,
  I don't really care anymore,
  About all you Jim-Jim's in this town,
  And everybody puttin' everybody else down,
  And all the politicians makin' crazy sounds,
  And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds...yeah!"

I mean, why the fuck wouldn't you shoot up?

And then, and then...Steve Hunter's death-from-above guitar solo swoops in like one of Travis Bickle's internal monologues set to music, and the dreamy narco-fatalism of the original is blasted to fuck, supplanted by a seething rage at all that's wretched and hateful in the world, with Reed snarling over the top of it. I've played it over and over this morning, and it's still every bit as thrilling and full of anger and joy and desire and love and hate and confusion as it was when the teenage me became slightly, unhealthily obsessed with it. Whether intentionally or not, Lou Reed always represented one of the most truthful, if not the most comforting, of signposts through all that uncertainty, and it makes me sad to think he'll never surprise us that way again.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cocaine 80s are the best band in the world (this month).


Nowhere in the 2012 best-of round-ups could you have found even the mildest suggestion that the universal acclaim heaped upon Channel Orange may have been just a little bit for the backstory as for the music. I liked it, although not as much as some people, and possibly not even as much as I liked 2011's Nostalgia, Ultra. In any event, it was frustrating for me personally to observe the way that black pop music which was at least as interesting, if not more so, than Frank (or the equally effusively-praised Abel Tesfaye p/k/a The Weeknd) was being largely ignored amidst an apparent rush amongst commentators eager to assert their impeccable liberal credentials by endorsing a black r&b singer who might or might not be gay. Speaking of which, you'd think it might have occurred to a few more people to ask Rahsaan Patterson what he thought of all this?



I have my suspicions that the concept for Cocaine 80s may have arisen from, of all things, No ID's production gig on ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft's most recent solo album United Nations of Sound, a couple of years back. As hook-ups go, it wasn't an obvious one; the man Kanye West has described as a mentor, responsible for a bunch of the most notable hip-hop tunes of the last two decades, and rock's leading Cosmic Woolyback. Despite the album being Ashcroft's least successful to date, it does seem to have had the side benefit of encouraging No ID's more experimental instincts. Certainly, both projects appear to involve a number of the same musicians, with guitarist Steve Wyreman's contribution being particularly outstanding. Otherwise it's multi-platinum singer-songwriter James Fauntleroy doing the singing and songwriting instead of Mad Richard, with vocal support from Makeba Riddick and, on their latest The Flower Of Life, the excellent Jhene Aiko. It's been spun as a Common project in some quarters, but it really isn't. If anything, Com seems unusually content just to play his position here (as does Nas on Chainglow), and his contributions are probably the most vital he's made to anything in quite some time.



It seems to me that the original five-word pitch might have been indie-rock/r&b/rap fusion, which admittedly sounds horrifying on paper. Yet, instead of the usual Mr. Potatohead shit you often get with things of this nature, everything's actually in the right proportion for a change. The writing's imaginative and a bit unpredictable, instead of the tedious four-chord looping Coldplay knock-offs that many rap/r&b acts fall into when they want to invoke a stadium rock vibe. Even the standard lyrical tropes sound fresher simply for being placed in a different musical context. I've actually been wanting someone to do something like this for a few years now - at least since Lewis Taylor went off the grid.



Cocaine 80s debuted with zero fuss whatsoever somewhere around June 2011 with The Pursuit EP, thus making them roughly contemporaneous to Frank Ocean's emergence with Nostalgia, Ultra, give or take a few months. Three EPs and plenty of accumulated word-of-mouth later, there's a little more weight lent to my belief that they're representative of how black artists have begun to draw upon a much broader palette than they might perhaps have done a decade ago. Back in the early 00s, performers like Anthony Hamilton appeared to be the ones swimming against the tide and the prevailing trends, even if they were still essentially traditionalists. Now there's suddenly more artists coming from a loosely similar angle, where the song is still central, but who along the way are drawing in strands from Radiohead, Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, Cocteau Twins, Elliott Smith and all kinds of strange textural shit that people wouldn't normally expect to hear referenced in black pop. And it works.



You can download all four EPs here, and you should.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Female rap beef is outta control




Rap beef has always possessed a kind of WWE quality by definition, but there's something rather dispiriting about the way in which dis wars between female performers tend to get hyped up that little bit more, as if the likes of beef-seeking-missile Azealia Banks and net-celeb femcee Angel Haze are only really interesting when they're pulling each other's metaphorical weaves out. Even supposedly liberal, left-leaning publications like the Guardian can't resist a good old-fashioned cat fight, it seems.

Of all the female rappers to have emerged over the last couple of years, Azealia Banks is one of the most intriguing. Unlike certain of her peers, who've sought validation via co-signs from established male performers or somewhat unreliable internet buzz, she's blessed with a strongly individualistic streak. She seems determined that she'll be the one to dictate the terms upon which she'll stand or fall, whether that be via all the “Little Mermaid in the hood” imagery or by choosing to rhyme on tracky house beats or over twitchy, Warp-inspired electronics, rather than voguish Lex Luger knock-offs or the obligatory Mike Will beat. All of which makes her propensity towards bouts of public bickering with the (often inferior) competition seem that much more bewildering.



But perhaps a more worthwhile question might be; in the already hyper-competitive world of hip-hop, how come female rappers generally exhibit a more alarming level of open aggression towards their peers than even their male counterparts? Never mind that it plays up to every lazy stereotype you've ever heard about some women being more anti-woman than even the most avowed misogynist. It sometimes seems as if there's a compulsion to view all other female emcees as threats to be torn down at every opportunity. I say “sometimes”, because it's worth pointing out that this applies much more readily to US performers than their British equivalents, who are models of virtuous, supportive sisterhood in comparison.

Perhaps it's because they've noticed that the industry at large only seems prepared to accommodate one successful female rapper at any one time. It's a little like the one-in,one-out situation with reggae acts. After all, how many people can name more than one currently active, internationally successful reggae act with widespread name recognition? I'll give you Sean Paul as a starter, but after that I'll bet that anyone else you name either isn't really that big, is in decline or is dead. But I digress.

There's a widely-held perception that, rightly or wrongly, rap's core audience simply isn't interested in female rappers. Consequently the industry will only seriously invest in either the most extraordinarily talented (Missy) or the ones with a strong image, preferably one which is highly sexualised (Lil' Kim). Occasionally, there's a striking confluence of both skills and image (Nicki and Azealia), but for the rest of the pack all that remains is a frantic scramble to get through the door before it slams shut. A big part of that scramble involves a ruthless trashing of the competition along the way, and so we end up perpetually witnessing something like the closing scene of Blue Collar, only with Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor replaced by a parade of rappers with two X chromosomes. Which, at its worst and most spiteful, manifests itself in the kind of smack-talk that involves a black woman making sideways remarks about another black woman's skintone. In the words of Jeru, ain't the devil happy.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Rolling Stone stays failing.

A$AP Rocky, a leading scourge of get-off-my-lawn rap

Regular readers, if there were ever any, may by now have worked out the main reasons I still post at all on here. The first of these is when I'm struck by a wave of guilt over the fact that I don't actually write enough and am letting my innate laziness get the better of me. The other is when I get tired of wondering whether a better, more eloquent writer than myself is going to state something that's plainly fucking obvious (or obvious to me, at least), leaving me with no choice but to say it myself or go slightly mad with frustration.

Rolling Stone has just published its list of the 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs Of All Time. Before moving on to the meat-and-potatoes of the whole thing, let me quickly point out that it's one of those shitty, cynically-formatted click-bait features that are becoming more and more common nowadays (hi, Complex!) and which feel like part of a massive conspiracy to waste everyone's time. But since people are no longer prepared to do anything so d├ęclasse as...oh, I dunno, support the creators of physical media for which they pay once and can then read at their leisure at no further cost, then the subtext here would seem to be; eat those data charges and STFU like Sean Price.

And so, to the main event. The judging panel for this glorious exercise consisted of a broad selection of the great and good from the rap game, an assortment of hacks and a few randoms like Tom Morello and Vernon Reid, all of whom were asked to pick their favourites. Right now, elsewhere on teh internets, there is probably some over-earnest rap blogger twisting himself (it's always a "he") into a blind rage over the exclusion of deadprez, Immortal Technique or Lupe Fiasco, whilst wondering how it's possible that Talib Kweli would attach himself to a "greatest ever" list that makes room for Jay-Z (twice), Kanye and Missy. As it happens, I have few issues with the actual content itself. Taken as an arbitrary list of 50 great rap songs, rather than the definitive 50 Greatest Of All Time, there's not an awful lot on there that I'd argue against. On the other hand, the guiding principles behind it (or what I imagine them to be) are absolute fucking cocksnot – cosy, easily digestible rap nostalgia, lazy list-based journalism, and rock-crit values attempting to impose themselves on rap. Again.

To be honest, I've given up all hope of the rock press and its associated critical community ever managing to deal with rap on its own terms. You may as well try juggling smoke. Here’s what I mean. Take a random sample of English-language music publications from the last 10/15 years, possibly longer, and I'd bet large on at least half of them regularly defaulting to Public Enemy as the artistic yardstick whenever they cover hip-hop; "[rapper x] channels the spirit of Public Enemy", "[rapper y] will have the listener yearning for some of Public Enemy's righteous anger", et-fucking-cee. It won't matter a tuppenny fuck who they're writing about, and it's still happening. Now, try to imagine almost every review of a rock record you ever read trying to tell you it wasn't as good as Exile On Main Street. For clarity’s sake, Public Enemy are responsible for some of the greatest, most exciting music I've ever heard, but it's like this - they haven't made a truly great album in over twenty years. Public Enemy fell the fuck off ages ago. People might not like hearing it, and I don't particularly like saying it. But it's true.

Why should it matter, though? Who cares about the collective opinion of a bunch of people who'd probably insist that rap's been struggling against a long slide into irrelevance ever since PE failed to top Fear Of A Black Planet, as they make yet another drearily obvious attempt to establish A Canon, to re-order and re-shape rap into what they think it ought to be instead of accepting it for what it is? After all, they can comfortably tell you where rap was at twenty or even thirty years ago, but I wonder whether they'd have too much of a clue about where it's at now. I mean, doesn't anyone else think it funny that all these people seem to agree that the definitive high-water mark of the genre happens to be the exact point where the rock press finally declared that, yes, it might actually be possible for rap music to be more than just a craze, perhaps even something that could exist on the same plane of artistic worth as rock? And that that point was in 1982?

Which brings us to the rappers. Now, I'm not even remotely inclined to give them the same hard time I'd give the hacks. These are people who grew up on rap music, who lived and breathed it and, for the most part, continue to live and breathe it. Anybody who follows Dante Ross or ?uesto on Twitter can tell you that those two guys alone are on some super-heavyweight rap nerd shit - matter of fact, the latter's preamble might be the most worthwhile and entertaining thing about this whole shitshow. But I look at that list and factor in the age of all the rap dudes involved, and balance that with the strong likelihood that certain of the songs have vast nostalgic appeal that perhaps outweighs the usual consensus notions of “greatness”, and I still think, “Really..?” A bunch of rappers – this bunch of rappers - think Juicy is better than Hypnotize? Or that Paid In Full is better than I Know You Got Soul, and Strictly Business better than It's My Thing? They think – and this is really fucking suspect - the Jay tune that UGK got on is better than any other UGK record? Or any other Jay record, for that matter?

Although I doubt whether The Symphony or the remix of Flava In Ya Ear would be there at all without their input, I find it extremely hard to believe that the pros wouldn't have broader taste than this. Nah, this is something that has been skewed by a bunch of casual listeners who default to the same obvious choices every time and cannot fucking bear to deviate from the same rigid critical metric they've been pushing for the last three decades; the people who commission and occasionally write all those ridiculous “[X] Albums For People Who Don't Know Anything About Hip-Hop” pieces about a form of music that's existed on record for over 30 years. Just think about that for a minute. Imagine someone writing a piece called “[X] Albums For People Who Don't Know Anything About Rock” - in 1986. Seriously, if you still need to be led by the hand through hip-hop in 2012, then perhaps it isn't for you. Likewise, when your value judgements suggest that you stopped seriously listening to rap about twenty years ago, then you really need to fall back from any debate regarding what's what, and leave the arguing to the people who still give an actual fuck about it. You're welcome.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

"Will he make it out alive..?"



It's long been a suspicion of mine that part of the reason more rappers and R&B performers choose not to come out is the fear that there'll never again be a point, certainly not in their professional lives, where they won't be expected to discuss their sexuality. It won't make a blind bit of difference whether their music is on some perpetual next shit or if it's landfill. From now on, for a significant part of the media, "who's Frank Ocean fucking?" is always going to be a bigger story than his music. This is pretty depressing.



All the same, this is a big deal whichever way you slice it. Added to which, if your area of business is an idiom where, generally speaking, notions of masculinity are far from fluid, then that's quite a risk you're taking there. It'll be interesting to see how things are looking a couple of albums from now, when we'll know the extent to which the current fuss has shaped Frank Ocean's career path. Right now, as you'd expect, there's no shortage of people ready to declare that this news means they're no longer able to listen to his music, seemingly without a thought for how irrational that might appear. Meanwhile, Chris Brown.

Andrew Noz said something on Twitter that I thought was insightful, but for some reason he chose to delete it a couple of minutes later. I wouldn't want it to get lost in all the noise, though;  

"dude very carefully wrote about a complicated experience only to have it immediately reduced to a soundbite."

Frank's tumblr post is a nice bit of writing, after all, apart from being something of a cultural watershed. But that little observation from Noz also raises the issue of what our reactions, and those of the media, might be saying about us. I think it's perfectly possible to separate the art from the artist; you just have to want to do it. And unless Frank Ocean chooses to be gender-specific, I don't see where the issue is. I don't remember anybody being too bothered by this, and it's clear as fucking day what it's about now...

Speaking of which, isn't it funny who's turned out to be the first rap crew with an actively progressive attitude towards sexual orientation?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Unsolicted Plug X MeMeMe Corner


Every now and again over the last couple of years, I've written the odd thing for The Arts Desk, a really rather good arts criticism portal. The most recent was a piece on Whitney Houston, but the whole lot can be found here in one handy little spot.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

"...so guess who's gonna take the blame for my big mouth..."

Noel Gallagher's political career in full. Suit c/o Paul Smith, champers c/o the taxpayer.


If you're a working class kid made good, the worst possible sin you can commit is to Forget Where You Came From. Being seen to betray the values that made you The Man/Woman You Are Today is simply not done. Indeed, cross that particular nexus and it requires a very generous reservoir of public goodwill if you're ever to be welcomed back into the affections of an audience who no longer see you as one of them, as the manifestation of their hopes, dreams or ambitions. I doubt Noel Gallagher has completely burned his bridges with his ''things were better under Thatcher'' grumblings in a recent interview for The Daily Blackshirt's website, but he probably hasn't done himself too many favours either.

Generally speaking, Noel Gallagher makes for an entertaining and often very funny interviewee. I'd certainly much rather read or hear what he has to say than listen to the last few Oasis albums, for example (although Don't Believe The Truth was alright). Now and again, however, his tendency to deal in absolutes has betrayed an unpleasant small-c conservative streak. His pronouncements on Jay-Z at Glastonbury were profoundly ignorant, especially coming from someone who, by his own admission, never went as a regular punter and never strayed beyond the VIP garrison when he was there as a performer. Here's a man who quite obviously doesn't trouble himself too much with actually knowing what he's talking about, as was borne out when Jay delivered a headlining performance significantly more dynamic than the "each half of the band static on opposite sides of the stage and Liam sat on the drum riser" model that served Oasis so well. And now here he goes again, peddling the line that "hard times = great art", proving in the process what a witless piece of received wisdom that is, particularly from the mouths of those too complacent to spend much time looking at the bigger picture.

‘Under Thatcher, who ruled us with an iron rod,’ he says, ‘great art was made. Amazing designers and musicians. Acid house was born. Very colourful and progressive.’ That may well be true, but how much of that was directly or actively encouraged by the Tories? Very fucking little, unsurprisingly. As acid house was slowly beginning to take hold in the late 80s, full grants for students in higher education were coming to an end. This would be the last generation able to enjoy the absolute freedom to bum around at poly or uni while they figured out what they wanted to do with their lives; spending their student years forming bands, making films, writing, running club nights, painting or dicking around with graphic design and fashion, getting leathered and occasionally studying are the kind of luxuries no longer available to most kids from similar backgrounds to Noel, whose parents would invariably have to take a second job nowadays just to help pay for the books. If they could find a second job. In any event, the Tories saw little worth for "business" in the humanities or arts-related courses generally, so they were more or less doomed from the start. In fact, an education with no measurable practical value was considered little more than a frippery. Strike one, therefore, against Thatcher for dealing a death blow to precisely the kind of academic and cultural environment that helped produce and nurture the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, the Who, etc., etc. Difficult to believe you'd seriously want to cosign that, Noel. Difficult to believe you'd even have a fucking career without one half of those bands, frankly.

What's that, Sooty? What about all the kids who were politicised during a decade of war, strikes, riots, civil disobedience and spending cuts, you say (and my, how things change)? Didn't they support and help produce exactly the kind of great art Noel's talking about, you ask? Well, Sooty, let me answer your question with another question - aren't they just examples of great art thriving in spite of the circumstances? If you were to look at some of the places from where hip-hop emerged during roughly the same period - areas of incredible deprivation, with block after derelict block burnt out and abandoned to the mercy of fuck-knows-what - you wouldn't seriously call for a return to that, just to give Flo-Rida a bit of a reality check, would you? Do a Google image search for pictures of, say, the South Bronx or Bushwick during the 1970s or 1980s, and you might be inclined to think we weren't that badly off in the UK at all, relatively speaking. Certainly there wasn't anything like the same level of grinding poverty that many are facing now. Remember also that, during the 80s, we weren't yet looking at a mortally-wounded welfare state. Rather, one that was being ever-so-subtly run into the ground, to the point where public confidence in things like healthcare, education and transport would eventually decline to such a low that widespread privatisation and the "freedom" it purported to represent would be welcomed with open arms. You could still just about get by on the dole as well, although there were few greater folk devils in the eyes of the Tories during the Thatcher years than "the dole scrounger", except perhaps Arthur Scargill (and maybe Purple Akie). I ought to add at this point that I was never actually out of work under Thatcher, apart from when I was in further/higher Ed - nice little irony there if you like that sort of thing. Anyway, my point is that, theoretically, there still existed the freedom to indulge your nascent musical ambitions (or get yourself an education) without having to blow out band practice for Jobstart meetings, but this was only because the Tories hadn't figured out a way to dismantle the welfare state any quicker than they were doing already. It's funny to hear so many modern Tories attempt to claim the resourcefulness people displayed during those straitened times as vindication of the entrepreneurial spirit they stood for. The truth is they'd have wiped it off the face of the earth in an instant if they could have got away with it.

By the start of the 90s, after Thatcher had been tossed under a bus by her own party following the Poll Tax Riots, you began to notice more and more homeless people on the streets, especially in London, and the politics of selfishness the Tories had worked so hard to engender were beginning to bear fruit. It wasn't long before the kind of political engagement that was a hallmark of the previous decade began to dissipate, to be replaced by tens of thousands of people protesting the freedom to run around derelict grain warehouses in Great Harwood of a Saturday night flapping their arms about like e-brained biffs, while "Mersey Docks & Harbour Board v. all the striking dockers" continued on in comparative obscurity. One must presume that Noel Gallagher was too preoccupied at this point with getting Oasis off the ground to notice that the Tories had introduced the Criminal Justice Bill in an attempt to hold a pillow over the face of what remained of the "colourful and progressive" acid house movement, and that nightclubs would soon be safe once more for people wearing leather trousers and fluffy bras (sometimes together) and supping champers in roped-off VIP areas. A few years later, he was pictured shaking hands with Tony Blair. That's about as political as he's ever got, either before or since.

But you know what? I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He isn't above talking some right bollocks, as he's proved, but on the whole I don't think Noel Gallagher is anything like that daft. I don't believe he'd cut the legs from under himself like this. I'm going to assume that this whole thing has been spun massively by the Daily Blackshirt in an attempt to validate the mean-spirited, thin-lipped bigotry they so vigorously cheerlead for, and to shore up their position in anticipation of when they're swamped by the inevitable tide of delight at Thatcher's passing. A pity they couldn't have found someone to stitch up who was a little more "current", to use the parlance of our times, but that's to be expected. Still, My Big Mouth, eh, Noel?

UPDATE: It appears that Noel was indeed tucked up by the Maim. I'll let him off with this, but he'll be relieved to know I haven't stripped him of his Services to Gobshitery award for declaring side two of Abbey Road to be shit in The Word a few months back. Straight red, that.