Album Review: Paul McCartney – “New” (2013)

Paul McCartney – “New” (2013)

Paul McCartney New

As a lifelong Beatles and McCartney fan, each new release by Paul is met with a mixture of excitement and slight nervousness as to just how good it is going to be.  Over the decades, Paul’s albums have been of varying quality, but even the efforts which didn’t meet with critical acclaim (“Wild Life”, “Press To Play”, “Driving Rain”) aren’t without at least a handful of tracks which make the purchase more than worthwhile.  His very best albums (and they’re the majority) are packed full of excellent songs with maybe one or two lesser songs, as if to prove that he’s human like the rest of us.  The great news about “New” is that, for me, it falls into the latter category of Paul’s excellent albums with only a track or two that doesn’t quite cut the mustard… and even that is down to personal taste.

As I believe in delayed gratification, I had completely avoided all of the online previews of the tracks from “New”, with the exception of the title track which had been played on the radio and had also gone almost instantly viral within the Beatles community upon release.  “New” (the song) had really whetted my appetite for the new album, as it is a classic McCartney composition, one of those rare, beautiful beasts that could have easily have been a Beatles track.  However, I have to admit that, when I first heard the album from start to finish, I really didn’t care for it at all.  I was bitterly disappointed, really disliked the pop production and the only track that really had something going for it other than the title track was “Appreciate”, one of the more left-field efforts on the album.  “Queenie Eye” was undeniably catchy but, on first impressions, there was something just a little too obvious about it.  I was unimpressed and didn’t get the instant rush I’d enjoyed from many of his releases in the last twenty years. Then, on the third listen, I started to really enjoy it and every subsequent play revealed something new and wonderful.

Now, on my umpteenth listening session, every song on this album genuinely has something good to offer, much of it is truly great and, in my opinion, it’s his most creatively rich release since 2005’s “Chaos and Creation In The Backyard” which, I feel, is his modern day masterpiece.  “New” really isn’t that far behind, though.  It also has the commercial sensibilities of 2007’s “Memory Almost Full” and manages to combine the best of both albums whilst also giving nod or two to musical phases from all through Paul’s career.  The fact that McCartney has worked with four different producers on this album I believe has helped raise the quality of “New” above his last couple of albums full of original material (“Electric Arguments” and the aforementioned “Memory Almost Full”), both very good releases, but Epworth, Johns, Martin and Ronson have obviously given their individual tracks a lot more attention than a single producer would have and, as such, the fresh ideas and musical detail of each track means that “New” rewards the repeat listener with something pleasing each time and gives a lovely eclectic feel to the whole project.

If you’ll indulge me, I’m going to give the album a track-by-track review, something I wouldn’t normally do for a new release, but this isn’t just another run-of-the-mill release, it’s something new by Paul McCartney, you know, the guy who used to be a Beatle and is arguably the greatest living composer of our time.

“Save Us” – Co-written with and produced by Paul Epworth, this is a cracking opener and a fantastic mature, powerful pop song.  The harmonies on the chorus are gorgeous, especially when the song title is sung with that gorgeous minor-chord transition.  I wasn’t overly fond of the production of the track, but it has certainly grown on me.  (9/10)

“Alligator” – Produced by Mark Ronson and performed by McCartney’s band, this is an absolutely superb song, musically, and reminds me heavily of mid-70s Wings, but the lyrics are a bit hard to swallow at times.  Nonsense, vague lyrics aren’t anything new for Macca; some work, others don’t.  I think he just about gets away with it here, but it’s a closely-run thing.  The creativity of the instrumentation and arrangement, as well as the contrast between the tense verse and the sweet release of the strummed acoustic guitar in the chorus make this a very enjoyable listen.  I really love the electric guitar work on this one, too. (9/10)

“On My Way To Work” – This is the first Giles Martin produced song on the album and it’s one that, initially, I found to be quite ordinary.  However, I like it immensely and love the way the sound becomes fuller as the track develops, with some tasteful strings embellishing the later verses and concluding with a rather grand finish.  I particularly like the detail in the lyrics, the dreamily philosophical nature of the song and the gently optimistic “How could I have so many dreams and one of them not come true?”. (9/10)

“Queenie Eye” – Apart from the title track, this is probably the most infuriatingly catchy song on the album.  As soon as I heard it, I saw what Paul was trying to do with this and, believe me, I resisted.  However, it’s very difficult to resist against something that is absolutely irresistible.  It’s simply a fantastic, bouncy, melodic song which has a very “in your face” feel, using a children’s game as a loose metaphor for the tribulations of a relationship.  The finished product is even more impressive when you discover that Paul plays everything on the track, apart from drumming duties which are undertaken by producer and co-writer Epworth. (9/10)

“Early Days” – This beautiful song, impeccably produced by Ethan Johns (one of my favourite contemporary producers) is one of the most “stripped down” on the album, with Paul’s voice wonderfully unaltered, giving the song a feeling of honesty and intimacy.  Paul has written about his earlier life before with a little bit more of a swagger (“That Was Me”), but this paints a picture of both his relationship with his friends (you assume it’s John, but assumptions are never wise).  Paul’s personality shines through as well, turning “pain to laughter” and his love of music.  There’s even a bit of a ticking off to those who theorise about his life, telling them that they simply weren’t there.  Even the slightly frail high note at the end adds to the sheer beauty of the track.  I’d love to hear a whole album with Paul and Ethan. (9/10)

“New” – This is Paul at his melodic, commercial best; an absolute gem of a song, almost perfect in every way.  The lyrics, melody and performance are all simply stunning and it’s marvellous that he’s written a love song about the excitement of a new romance which doesn’t stray into over-sentimentality.  I also take my hat off to Mark Ronson, not one of my favourite producers by a long way, but he’s captured something very special here.  Of course, I’d have loved to have heard what someone like Nigel Godrich could have done with it, but I’ll certainly take this, one of the best things Paul has done, ever. (10/10)

“Appreciate” – This was one of the few tracks I loved from the very first time I heard it.  Produced by Paul and Giles, it has a sublime, chilled out vibe during the major-to-minor chord motif verse and an explosive “chorus”, as well as a superb guitar solo by Rusty Anderson closing the song.  It feels like pure McCartney, but also has as contemporary a feel as anything released this year.  Is he really 71 years old? (9/10)

“Everybody Out There” – Also produced by Paul and Giles, this, to me, is the first slightly disappointing, average song on “New”.  The lyrics are a little one-dimensional and, sadly, a little poor.  However, it’s a very catchy song and there are several crafty little hooks in it to make it rather enjoyable and certainly not something you’d skip when it came on.  All-in-all, a good song, but if a little more thought had been given to the words, it could have been brilliant. (7.5/10)

“Hosanna” – When I first heard this Ethan Johns (and McCartney)-produced track, I quite honestly thought it was a little dull and unremarkable.  However, repeated listens gave me a greater appreciation for this little jewel of a song.  It reminds me heavily of the work Neil Diamond accomplished with Rick Rubin, simple songs of love, simply presented.  There are some nice backward sounds at the end of the track too, which naturally give it a bit of a Beatle flavour. (8/10)

“I Can Bet” – This fantastic, cheeky little rocker is reminiscent of Paul’s work on “Flaming Pie” and, so far, never fails to put a smile on my face when I hear it. It has a great sound, thanks to Giles and Paul’s production; I especially like the electric piano on the verses and the acoustic guitar-driven chorus, together with a lovely bit of Hammond organ on the bridge.  Simply put, I love it. (9/10)

“Looking At Her” – Produced by Giles Martin, this one is perhaps my least favourite song on the album, one of Paul’s “isn’t my other half beautiful” type songs. You know, there’s a reason that everybody looks at your wives, Paul, and that’s because they’re married to you.  I enjoy the raucous little instrumental break after he sings, “I’m losing my mind”, but that’s about it, I’m afraid.  This is the dud on the album, for me. (6/10)

“Road” – This one is a real grower. A moody, sizzling track written by McCartney and Epworth which requires a few plays for the dark lyrics and subtle melodies to sink in.  It’s actually rather brilliant, even if it isn’t something you’d generally expect from Paul. (8/10)

“Turned Out” – The last of the Ethan Johns-produced songs.  It’s enjoyable enough, has a nice slide guitar on it and an inventive arrangement, but there isn’t anything particularly special about the song itself.  A decent, but unremarkable up-tempo number. (7/10)

“Get Me Out Of Here” (bonus track) – This Giles Martin-produced number is a pleasing little bit of skiffle to end the ordinary version of the album.  Apart from the “Oh Boy” calls which steer a little too close to the Buddy Holly song for comfort, it’s really quite charming.  I could help but smile when Paul, with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, proclaims, “I’m a celebrity! Someone get me out of here!”.  Very nice, indeed. (7/10)

“Scared” (hidden track) – The hidden track is a strong contender for the title of best song on this album.  With little more than Paul’s vocals and piano, this heartbreakingly vulnerable composition brings to mind Elton John at his very best, back in the early seventies.  It finishes the album impressively, leaving a slight trace of salt-water in your eyes and a lump in the throat the size of a golf ball.  It’s doesn’t exactly have the sheer magnificence of “Maybe I’m Amazed”, but it is of the same quality.  It’s a remarkable piece and means that “New” both starts and finishes brilliantly, with only one or two minor hiccups on the way. (10/10)

So, that’s what I think.  Just one man’s opinion.  I find it remarkable that I’m writing this after being severely nonplussed and disappointed about it when I first listened to it, but “New” is genuinely one of the best albums that Paul McCartney has ever put his name to.  I sincerely believe that it can be spoken about in the same terms as his greatest work, like “Ram”, “Band On The Run”, “Tug Of War”, “Flowers In The Dirt”, “Flaming Pie” and “Chaos and Creation” (as well as my own personal favourites that haven’t met with perhaps such universal acclaim).  All of these very different albums have one common theme – a dazzling, rich creativity and a willingness to experiment and push the boundaries.  That Paul McCartney still has the hunger inside him to not rest on his laurels and release something that would have been a lot less laborious is incredible. That Paul McCartney can return with an album so (almost wholly) brilliant when his advancing years have been a little too apparent during his live performances, it’s nothing short of amazing. However, people, this is no mere mortal… this is Paul McCartney, the only living legend who has sold millions of records, had dozens of number one songs and albums, who has played on the biggest stages there are… the only living legend who could possibly be described as underrated, but – my word – he really is.

*****

Day 16: Paul McCartney – Unplugged: The Official Bootleg

Paul McCartney – Unplugged: The Official Bootleg (1991)

Paul McCartney Unplugged

This was one of my first Paul McCartney purchases, bought on the “wonderful” cassette format on the day it was released when I was a mere sixteen years old. Directly after I bought it, I went on holiday to a friend’s house in Scotland and played it for the first time on their very good stereo system. The first thing I was struck by was just how warm it was, both in terms of sound and presentation; it was like having Paul and the band in the same room as me. It was recorded strictly “unplugged”, in the respect that none of the instruments were plugged into an amplifier, unlike many other bands who appeared on the MTV Unplugged series. For Paul’s performance, microphones were placed in close proximity to each acoustic instrument, providing a beautifully sounding mix. Also, McCartney and his band seemed to be completely at ease with each other, making funny little between-song comments and generally seeming to have a great time which, seeing as they’d just come off a massive world tour together (with the exception of drummer Blair Cunningham who had newly joined the McCartney band and went on to record and tour “Off The Ground” with him) was a good sign for a man who, since the Beatles, had got through quite a lot of band-mates and collaborators.

This album is a testament to just how good the Paul McCartney band was at this moment in time. Wix’s piano solos are both impressive and fun, Hamish Stuart’s soulful vocals complimented Paul’s wonderfully and Robbie McIntosh’s guitar work is impeccable. There is a really great mix of Beatles, solo songs and covers, with Paul revisiting a few tracks from his 1970 solo debut, “McCartney” (“Every Night”, “Junk” and “That Would Be Something”), arranging, re-working and performing them lovingly – the harmonies on “Every Night” are exquisite. “Unplugged” was the first time I’d heard those three songs and I loved them so much that it led to me buying “McCartney” as soon as I could afford it, shortly afterwards. All of the vocal performances on this album are absolutely fantastic; the slower Beatles numbers (“Here, There & Everywhere” and “And I Love Her”) are soul-meltingly gorgeous, “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “She’s A Woman” are toe-tappingly infectious (the latter has probably never sounded so good) and “Blackbird” (or should that be Blackboard?) is performed perfectly with a few genuine laughs prior to the performance.

Including the first song Paul ever wrote, “I Lost My Little Girl”, is a cute touch, but you can tell that it was written by a fourteen year old and why it hadn’t surfaced before this album. The choice of covers work really well with the exception of “Hi-Heel Sneakers” which, personally, I really don’t like. “Be-bop-a-lula” kicks the album of with style, “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” is very enjoyable, especially during the hoe-down at the climax of the song, “San Francisco Bay Blues” is great fun, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and “Singing The Blues” are more than decent and the best of the bunch, “Ain’t No Sunshine”, features Macca on the drums and Hamish on lead vocals, which he handles superbly. Paul is in such great form throughout this performance that it feels as if this project came at the perfect time in his career. The entire album is just so likeable and has such a great positive feeling running right through it that listening to it is enough to put you in a great frame of mind for the rest of the day and there aren’t many albums which can do that. Simply put, I love this album. I wonder how many times I’ve played it since I first bought it twenty-two years ago? Much be at least a hundred. I never tire of it though, which tells you just how endearing it truly is. Maybe one day it’ll be re-released with the other songs he performed during this session (“Things We Said Today”, “Matchbox”, “Midnight Special”, “Mean Woman Blues” and “The Fool”). That’d be good. However, until that point, it’s just about perfect the way it is.

*****

12 Dreadful Tracks From Otherwise Great Albums

Well, I’ve been up most of the night with toothache, so I thought I’d use my grumpy state of mind to compile a short list of truly dreadful songs from otherwise great albums… and without further ado and in no particular order, here it is:

1. I Love You (But You’re Boring) – The Beautiful South
(from “Welcome To The Beautiful South”, 1989)

The Beautiful South, formed from the ashes of indie royalty, The Housemartins, made a superb début album which made for a cracking good listen, until you got to the last track. Then you got some strange acoustic guitar ditty with Heaton banging on about listening to his carousel, complete with street noises and all manner of weirdness. I’m not sure what they intended to achieve with this track, but it was simply tedious, rubbish and a frustratingly bad end to a great record.

2. Innocent Smile – Ash
(from “1977”, 1996)

1977 was a superb album from the young Northern Irish trio. A little rough around the edges, but you can expect that from musicians who were just around eighteen years old when it was recorded and released. However, this track should never have made the cut. It’s an over-long, over-loud, uncreative, dreary, tuneless piece of garbage which has you reaching for the ‘skip’ button not long into it’s near-six minutes of sonic mush. It also commits the terrible crime of letting you think that it’s over and coming back in during the fade-out. Utterly dreadful.

3. My World – Guns ‘n’ Roses
(from “Use Your Illusion II”, 1991)

Whatever your opinion on Guns ‘n’ Roses, most people who love the genre will agree that the “Use Your Illusion” albums were two pieces of metal genius… until you come to the end of “Use Your Illusion II” to hear a throbbing synth bass, electronic drums, Axl doing some kind of rap and the sound of him actually having sex with some woman, all captured horrifyingly within a couple of minutes of complete and utter nonsense. Not exactly the best way to end your magnum opus, but, then again, Axl Rose and good decisions aren’t well known for going hand in hand.

4. Meat Is Murder – The Smiths
(from “Meat Is Murder”, 1985)

I have nothing against the politics of the song. As a one-time vegetarian, I understand Morrissey’s point of view on this subject. My problem is that it’s a purposely bloody awful song and completely ruins an otherwise superb album. I get what they were trying to do, juxtaposing the harsh lyrics with discordant music to hammer home the point, but it literally makes it unlistenable and gets filed under the category, “I’m glad it’s the last song on the album because I can turn it off before this one comes on and I haven’t missed anything good”. Truly dreadful.

5. Motor Of Love – Paul McCartney
(from “Flowers In The Dirt”, 1989)

Paul McCartney had a torrid time in the eighties. After 1982’s critically acclaimed “Tug Of War”, everything went downhill. Sure, he had a few great singles which sold well, but the film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” was absolutely slated, he was (unfairly) mocked for “We All Stand Together” and his credibility and popularity slowly slid to an all-time low towards the end of the decade. Then he came back with “Flowers In The Dirt”, an absolutely superb piece of work, featuring some collaborations with Elvis Costello and it seemed as if he was back to his brilliant best… until you reached “Motor Of Love” at the end of the album. “Motor Of Love” is over six minutes of utter sonic slush, with both the words and the music making me want to reach for the sick bucket. With over-wrought vocals attempting to squeeze every last bit of faux-emotion and, frankly, a dreadful piece of imagery to start with, McCartney did his very best to sabotage his greatest piece of work for years. Thankfully, the rest of the album was good enough for it to remain well thought of, but this piece of dreary, nauseating mush could have derailed lesser albums completely.

6. I’m Scared – Brian May
(from “Back To The Light”, 1992)

Some may laugh at the notion of Brian May releasing a great album in the first place, but this first piece of post-Queen work from the influential guitarist was a piece of flawed genius and this is probably as good as some of Queen’s best work – apart from this track, of course. I haven’t actually counted how many times Brian sings the words “I’m Scared” on this four minute track, but I think it is in the region of 58,000. The music and the words are formulaic and the repetitive nature of the song make it one of the biggest hurdles to get over when considering the true greatness of “Back To The Light”. Of course, Brian committed worse crimes on other albums and projects, but none of which came as close to this one as being a truly excellent album. That’s what makes this turd in the punchbowl such a pity.

7. Les Boys – Dire Straits
(from “Making Movies”, 1980)

This was Dire Straits’ first real move into the big time of rock music. It contained solid gold hits such as “Romeo and Juliet”, the eight minute masterpiece, “Tunnel Of Love” and the meaty rocker, “Solid Rock”. You could argue that it already had a relatively weak link in “Skateaway”, but the rest of the album could have carried that one lesser composition. Unfortunately, it then ended with “Les Boys”, which is, frankly, the most unexpected, bizarre end to an album like “Making Movies” you could have ever imagined. I mean, it’s kind of fun; in the way that it’s so bad, you can’t help but laugh at it. Without it, this album could have been the coolest thing in music that year. With it – well, it makes everybody take the album a hell of a lot less seriously, which is a shame, because it’s arguably one of their best.

8. I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship – David Bowie
(from “Heathen”, 2002)

“Heathen” is probably Bowie’s best album since 1980’s “Scary Monsters & Super Creeps”. It’s almost wholly brilliant, apart from this fly in the ointment – a pointless cover of a Norman Odam song. It has a ‘dance’ feeling to it which is slightly out of place on the album and the repetitiveness of it spoils what could have otherwise have been a perfect album.

9. Honey Are You Straight Or Are You Blind – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
(from “Blood and Chocolate”, 1986)

“Blood and Chocolate” is one of Elvis Costello’s many masterpieces. Unfortunately it contains this absolutely mind-numbingly dumb, insipid piece of meaningless nonsense. The very presence of such a throwaway song on such an otherwise magnificent album is a travesty. From a man who rarely writes bad lyrics, to write such a dreary piece of disposable pish and to put it in the middle of one of his finest albums just goes to show that even a genius like Costello can’t get it right all the time.

10. Caspian Sea – Graham Coxon
(From “The Spinning Top”, 2009)

“The Spinning Top” is a really wonderful piece of work, a creative triumph of an album by the former Blur guitarist. Apart from this shocking piece of headache-inducing inanity, of course. It crashes and swells like the sea it’s supposed to be describing, but instead of sounding inspired, it just drags on and on, overstaying its welcome by a good couple of minutes. A truly awful piece of foulness on an otherwise excellent album.

11. Working Class Hero – Manic Street Preachers
(From “Send Away The Tigers”, 2007)

The Manics’ 2007 album was, at that point, the most consistently excellent piece of work they’d released since “Everything Must Go” and there was a huge feeling of accomplishment and euphoria running right through each track. That is until you reach the bonus track, a dreadful and pointless cover of Lennon’s “Working Class Hero”. It brings the whole album down, completely, and – quite honestly – feels cheap. Whereas Lennon’s original was dark and understated, the Manics treat it with completely unnecessary bombast. Who ever had the idea to put this on the otherwise brilliant “Send Away The Tigers” – it was a bad one.

12. Revolution 9 – The Beatles
(from “The Beatles”, 1968)

It has to be said. The brilliance of The Beatles’ 1968 self-titled double album is beyond doubt, but if there was one track that makes all but the most hardened of Beatles fans reach for the “stop” button, it’s “Revolution 9”. The least heard of all Beatles songs is probably “Goodnight”, because not many people get that far (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it’s not that great either). Long, boring and baffling, if it remained unreleased until the “Anthology” series, people would probably have denounced it as the over-long, over-indulgent piece of avant-garde nonsense it is, but because it was on an actual Beatles album, fans were forced to take it seriously. Yes, it may have been innovative, but not every innovation is particularly good and “Revolution 9” is proof enough of that.

Of course, there were other obviously candidates for thoroughly dreadful songs, but like “Bugs” from Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy”, of “Delilah” from Queen’s “Innuendo”, the parent album simply couldn’t otherwise be considered a great enough album if those tracks were removed. Naturally, whether the tracks from the albums that made it onto this list are considered great albums at all are completely subjective opinions and, seeing as this is my ‘blog, these are mine. Please feel free to comment or to add your own suggestions.

20 Amazing Music Facts That Will Amaze You!

  1. It’s a common myth that Bob Holness played saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”. The original saxophonist was, of course, then session musician Prince. However, the Blockbusters host did play the clarinet on Chas ‘n’ Dave’s “Snooker Loopy”!
  2. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich is an avid collector of all things Chris De Burgh.  He once paid a massive $32.50 on eBay for the original handwritten lyrics of “Don’t Pay The Ferryman” and often wears the white suit Chris De Burgh wore in the video of “Lady In Red” whilst wandering around his castle in Rotherham.
  3. Yoko Ono literally means “farting fish” in Japanese!
  4. Bono and The Edge originally met in a Dublin queue to buy tickets for a Supertramp concert.  Bono said, “I love Supertramp, I do.”  The Edge replied, “Really, you too?”  Bono liked the phrase “You too?” so much, he decided to form a new band right there and then, shortening it to “U2”.  At that point, no member of the band could even play an instrument!
  5. Formed ELO frontman Jeff Lynne is addicted to Pickled Onion Monster Munch.  It’s not available in Los Angeles, so he pays for weekly shipments from the factory in Leicester direct to his California mansion.  His musical pal Tom Petty has to wear a nose peg when he visits Jeff, as he can’t stand the stink of the niffy fried corn snack!
  6. Luther Vandross’ real name was Eric Bristow, but he had to change it because there was a professional darts player of the same name.  They met to decide who had to change their name to Luther Vandross, but after Eric threatened to bottle the soul legend, Luther agreed that it would be him.  The pair never forgot their rivalry and once, when Eric was playing a very important darts match, Luther got very drunk on Diamond White and heckled him all throughout the match.  Eric had the last laugh, however, because he won that match comfortably.
  7. 12-bar legends Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo once joined Bucks Fizz for a gang bang directly after their Eurovision triumph.  When Francis asked Rick which girl he was going to have sexual intercourse with first, he said that he was “Making His Mind Up”. Francis laughed so hard that his nose fell off and then Rick had a heart attack before he could do anything saucy to either of them.  It was after this incident that they both became teetotal, born-again Christians. Bucks Fizz, however, still battle their hard drug addictions.
  8. Most people don’t know that Slade’s Noddy Holder is actually royalty and lies 12th in line to the British throne.  His real title is Duke Noddington of Holder and is The Queen’s first cousin.  He was actually born and bred in Berkshire, but affects a Wolverhampton accent to further his rock and roll career.
  9. Crowded House rock star Neil Finn keeps dozens of fully grown pet crocodiles in his twelve bedroom bungalow near Bath to make him feel like he’s back down under.  He recently had a scrape with the law when one of them escaped and ate the postman.  The antipodean singer got a fine of £100 and was warned not to let his feisty reptiles eat postmen again otherwise the fine would be doubled.
  10. Parents in the 1980s would have been very surprised to learn who was under the Paul Daniels creation “Wizbit”’s costume.  The production staff were sworn to secrecy, but it was none other than grumpy Irish rock and soul sensation, Van Morrison.  He even penned the catchy theme tune to the show – “Ha ha this-away, ha ha that-away, ha ha the other way, my oh my”. The royalties for this song alone earned him more money than all of his other songs put together!
  11. Although blaming ill health, Phil Collins has actually given up his career in music to become a school caretaker.  Although he has asked all his friends in the music business to keep it a secret, he can be regularly found spreading sawdust on lumpy schoolboy vomit in a state-run Primary school in Nuneaton. “Beats playing the drums for a living”, he sniffed, before running off to tell a bunch of kids to get the hell off his lovingly-kept flowerbeds.
  12. Joan Armatrading invented Jeggings.  The once popular “Love & Affection” soul singer was watching her grandchildren run around in jeans and had a brainwave that they would be much more comfortable in trousers that looked like jeans but were softer and more flexible, like leggings. One phone call to her niece, Tasmin Archer, who works as Head Of New Clothes in Primark and her invention was on the shop floor within a week.  She has been able to retire to Bournemouth on the royalties and has vowed never to sing again.
  13. Bob Dylan has actually been dead for years.  His fourteen wives and seventy-three children cannot survive without his income so, every night, they find a tramp on the street and pay him to pretend to be Bob, so he can stand there drunk in front of the microphone mumbling incoherently while his backing band do all the work.  Thankfully, nobody can tell the difference. While he was alive, Bob made an album a week, so there is plenty in the archives to keep the impression of new releases going and his army of fans satisfied.
  14. Suede’s Brett Anderson is the world record holder for the number of Fox’s Glacier Mints held in his mouth at any one time.  In his 2011 world-beating attempt, he managed to cram sixty three of the transparent boiled sweets into his mouth, beating Sir Bob Geldof’s previous record of fifty-four. Bob complained, “It’s not fucking fair, they’re smaller than they used to be.  I’d like to see him do it back in nineteen-eighty-fucking-two like I did.”
  15. Craggy Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger claims that the secret of his youthful appearance yet being an octogenarian is sleeping nineteen hours a day.  Jagger will often snooze away the whole day, either in bed or his favourite rocking chair.  He only wakes to eat, use the bathroom, strut around like a chicken and fornicate.  Apart from that, he sleeps the day away.  “It’s true”, reported Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, “When we’re on tour, he’s a nightmare.  He only gets fifteen hours sleep a day and becomes really cranky.”
  16. Famous vegetarian Morrissey loves prawns.  He eats them all day long and won’t accept that he’s doing anything wrong.  When it is pointed out to him that a prawn is an animal, he pouts and tells them that they’re wrong, it’s a vegetable, and that he’s never seen a prawn in a field.  When they attempt to explain further, he puts his hands of his ears and shouts, “La la la la! I’m not listening, I’m not listening! La la la la la!”.
  17. Elton John’s hair is fashioned from the pubic hair of over a thousand Swedish virgins.  It cost him over three million pounds and is personally transplanted into his scalp by artist Damien Hirst.
  18. Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker suffers from a rare medical affliction which means that whenever he sneezes, he has an orgasm.  The young Cocker, son of Sheffield singer Joe, used to sit in class plucking out his nose hairs to make himself sneeze, until he was sent out of class, squirming with ecstasy.  He wrote most of his best known songs in that school corridor, including the smash hit, “Help The Aged”.
  19. Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles, is alive, well and living in Scarborough.  Racked with the guilt of discovering that he was actually heterosexual, he asked The Fab Four to announce his death so that he could marry his sweetheart, rotund Carry On actress Hattie Jacques, and moved to the seaside Yorkshire town to live a quiet life and to father six children.  McCartney sang about Scarborough in his 1979 single, “Old Siam, Sir”.  This was a secret reference to spending a happy week there, every year, in the summer holidays with his old friend and manager and their respective families.
  20. One Direction are the world’s first successful animatronic android band.  Programmed to be irresistible to foolish, impressionable teenage girls but incredibly annoying to everybody else, One Direction have become the perfect pop band for evil mastermind Simon Cowell, because he can get them to do whatever he likes and doesn’t even have to pay them.  Earlier attempts to form a robotic band failed because each member of Sugababes kept on exploding, with hastily assembled replacements losing them fans each time.

Dear Mr. McCartney

Dear Mr. McCartney,

Please read this – I am not a nut, although am generally a lot less hairy once I’ve had my breakfast. I just wanted to thank you for everything you have personally done for me. You have visited me in my sleep many times, whispered words of comfort and encouragement into my ear and then disappeared back out of the window from whence you came, leaving a haze of smoke and coloured light in your wake. Although I imagine that you do this for all your fans, telling me that I’m sweet and cuddly in that lovely Liverpudlian lilt of yours makes me feel wonderful, thank you.

I also wanted to genuinely thank you for the effect your music has had in my life – I have a radio inside my brain which plays ‘Mamunia’ constantly. I sometimes sing along in the supermarket which used to scare the younger children, but now they’re used to me and they join in whilst skipping behind me. It’s quite touching – you’d like it, I’m sure! I had my first kiss to ‘Silly Love Songs’ – it was a moving experience for me, but the Alsatian seemed unimpressed – we eventually split up because Elaine disagreed that ‘Wild Life’ was an important piece of work. She kept on calling it ‘Rough’. She said that a lot. I asked her how she was feeling, she said, “Rough”. I asked her what she thought of Wild Life as a whole, she insisted it was “Rough”. Now you can understand, when you have major artistic differences like that, relationships just can’t continue. Me and Elaine were just like you and John in that respect.

I follow your example and eat nothing but vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes and beef. I believe that strict vegetarianism is the way of the future and that the robots who will take over the world will eat nothing but pulses, grains and chicken-flavoured noodles. They will all be called ‘Paul’ and will roam the world wearing kilts, making their own cheese and meditating regularly whilst thinking of Linda. I must admit that I didn’t like your ex-wife at first, but the more I’ve seen of Laura, the more I like her. It’s a shame about her glass eye, though. Still, if she will run with pencils, that’s what she can expect.

I will always love you, Paul. Physically, if you desire, but I am a 56-year old man with a weight and body odour problem. I will wash, if necessary, and you can fulfil any of your desires with me – I don’t mind, honest. You can contact me at The Salvation Army Hostel, High Street, Crawley, Sussex. Just ask for ‘Mental Bob’ and they’ll get me from the cupboard under the stairs where I sit… it’s full of pictures of you!

With much love and adoration,

Robert.
xxxxxx

A fishy tail

“I’m too old for this game”, remarked Humphrey, the discontented Alaskan Salmon, audibly, as he fought the strong current of the river in order to force his way upstream. “I mean”, he complained, “All of this, just to breed – and with who? Some unknown female who, for all I know, may not even like The Beatles! There’s no time to have a romantic meal, chat about our shared interests, discuss music, nothing… it’s just spawning ground, spawning ground, spawning ground… it makes me feel used. What am I, just a sex object to these females?” A passing trout sniggered at the grumpy fish’s muttering. “You know”, Humphrey mused, “I can’t help feeling that we’re doing everything wrong. Where’s the love? Just because we’re fish, does that mean that we don’t have emotions or feelings? Plus, by a cruel twist of fate, we were born one of the tastiest fish! It’s just not fair…”

“I hear what you’re saying…” came a voice from behind a burbling rock. Humphrey, startled, flipped round like a burger on a griddle. “Who said that?”, demanded the piscine complainer. Just then, emerging from behind the rock came Doris, a female Alaskan Salmon. “Hi…”, she ventured, “I’m Doris – I heard what you said, and I feel the same. I don’t just want to be some egg machine upriver… I need more out of my life. Plus, when you know that you’re in danger of being caught and eaten at any minute, it makes you feel like you need something more.” Humphrey grinned and blew a few tiny bubbles in the shape of hearts, “So, Doris, do you like… The Beatles?” Doris blushed at this obvious attempt to flirt. “Yes, I love The Beatles”, Doris simpered, “I especially love their work from Rubber Soul onwards, although I do love A Hard Days Night and Help! as well.”

Humphrey looped the loop in delight, “Me too, me too! Hey, Doris, why don’t you and me do something different to what we’re pre-programmed to do… let’s break the chain, let’s go downstream and set up home together and make Beatles-loving babies of our own!” Doris, clearly excited blurted out, “Yes, let’s, let’s!! What’s your name, you wonderful specimen of an Alaskan Salmon, you?” Humphrey replied, “Why, it’s Humphrey!” Doris blinked and looked crestfallen. “Oh”, she said, “I don’t like that name. Goodbye.” and swam off with a macho salmon with a much better name, who was a fan of The Rolling Stones. Humphrey, however, wasn’t depressed for long, because he was caught by an amateur angler and was served up for a family of four’s dinner later that evening, cooked with garlic, black pepper and lemon juice.