Noel Gallagher's on the cover of the NME this week, which can mean only one thing. (And, yes, it does - Pete Doherty's on the cover next week.)
Noel on the cover; and inside, there's an amusing interview with a grouchy, funny giant of the Manchester music scene.
No, not Noel; Mark E Smith:
I mean, the Arctic Monkeys, come on. They've been to music college [this is not true]. They've got degrees in tock music [this isn't true, either]. I think some of them have got passes in The Fall.That's the way you do it. But then Smith doesn't have the problem Gallagher does - he's not trying to square a working class hero image with struggling with paying to send his kids to school; his anecdotes are about Pixies fans trying to take selfies rather than (as Noel does) stories about being on the red carpet at the BAFTAs.
I get sent magazines with all this advice for new bands... and it's 'Number one, get a decent bank account.' It's like applying to university. There was always privilege in music, but nowadays you don't have a chance in hell."
The NME is still calling Noel "the chief"; I'm hoping this is ironic, given his timorous, weak new album - the way men in their 80s who were something in the Raj were still called The Major long after the sun had set on the Empire they once bestrode and the career they once had.
There's six pages of Noel, and Tom Howard gives him an easy ride. Especially when there's a strand of his thinking that's a little disturbing.
First, Gallagher trots through the Ali G defence for sending his kid to private school. We've heard this before, of course:
Good for you that you don't have to go to fucking school and come home talking like fucking Ali G, because, believe me, I would beat that out of youLet's hope that Noel's using "beat that out of you" as a figure of speech. Let's hope that.
But - as the last time he used 'I don't want my kids to sound like Ali G' justification for swerving the local comprehensive - what does "sounding like Ali G" mean?
It could be that he simply means that he doesn't want his children to sound like working class kids do these days - a strange position for a man who has made his money out of tales of working class upbringing. Suddenly, Gallagher is concerned about "speaking proper", is he?
Or it could be that "talking like Ali G" means "talking like Ali G" - co-opting the speech patterns and slang of young black men?
Later on, Gallagher is talking about his support for the Teenage Cancer Trust - one of the things that reflects really well on him. It's a great cause, and Noel has really gone above and beyond in the work he does for them.
There's a but.
I like it because it's a charity for British kids, and it's real, you knowNot a charity for kids who are unwell; not that they're facing a massive challenge at a time of their lives when they should just be enjoying themselves.
It's a charity for British kids.
As opposed to what, exactly, Noel?
It's not as if Noel hasn't helped charities aiding people cursed with the misfortune to not have been born British on top of their other problems - Oasis were one of the main attractions for War Child, for a start. It makes the phrase even more puzzling.
Like the Ali G remark, it feels less like a racist stance and more a throwback to Victorian charity-begins-at-home Little Englanderism; a faint whiff of the UKIPs that Noel himself would probably be surprised to notice.
Maybe The Chief has more in common with The Major than we'd first expect.
Elsewhere, Laura Snapes watches Sleater-Kinney, deftly linking Carrie's claim that their music is an "obliteration of the sacred" with their presence as "some sort of religious totem".
Emily McKay talks to Kim Deal, making a game attempt to get to the bottom of the Pixies split but deciding it's better to hear about the Breeders than it is to pursue the matter.
You do wonder, though: The Fall, Noel Gallagher; Sleater-Kinney; a Radiohead The Bends feature; Mark E Smith; The Breeders... why on earth are young people not buying the NME? Is it because they're not really much in the NME these days?
One last thing: Between page 52 and page 59, Pete Doherty has morphed in Peter Doherty. Might want to decide on which it is before you lay out next week's cover, guys.