Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

a miscellany of the wonderful and the banal

Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer: I Say!

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My boyfriend likes to buy presents for me which are actually presents for him; fortunately for peace in the household this Christmas, he opted to give me something which both of us could enjoy – the latest long-player from Chap-hop superstar and rival of Professor Elemental, the great (but appropriately humble) Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, entitled I Say!. I also have this most excellent Chap’s first album, Flattery Not Included, which I thoroughly recommend.

I Say! album cover


1. Hail the Chap
2. Lord Byron
3. Shoot the Cuff
4. You Just Can’t
5. Guy Debord
6. How Many Brilliant Minds Are Lost to Work?
7. A Thoroughly Modern Break-up
8. I Say, You!
9. Everything Stops for Acid
10. Hermitage Shanks
11. Crazy Knights
12. Lady C
13. Let’s Get This Over and Done With
14. The Impossible Dream
15. Songs for Acid Edward

Hail the Chap

Being a gentleman of impeccable manners, Mr B typically begins his records with introductions; in this instance he lays down the origin of Chappism and the “ten rules of the Chap Manifesto”, in reference to both the oft-applauded Chap Magazine, who in effect were the vanguard of the Chappist movement and the originators of the rather entertaining and heavily-attended annual Chap Olympiad, and to the excellent Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip song, “Thou Shalt Always Kill” (“Thou shalt always doff thy hat.”).  Off to a good start, then, with his very English wordplay (“We’ve upped our standards, now up yours too!”) and frenetic banjolele strumming. Marvelous.

Lord Byron

Naturally the place to look for commentary on the hazards of fame turning someone into a wanker who refuses to acknowledge his friends is in a chap-hop song concerning the famously arrogant Romantic poet. “We’d been out on the sherry three nights on the trot, but when I knocked on your door this is what I got: ‘Lord Byron doesn’t accept requests from fans’ – I can’t believe the ruddy cheek of the man!” It references Beau Brummel, but there is a certain issue of imperfect scanning and perhaps a little less good production on this track than on those from Flattery Not Included.

Shoot the Cuff

The thing about Mr B’s tracks is that they are almost always parodies of popular hip-hop or dance tracks, and the problem with that is that my hip-hop education is woefully lacking. Dance music I stand slightly more chance of identifying, but as a far-from-afficionado who came to the genre via indie, metal, techno, and trance, I haven’t the foggiest to which this song refers. A shame, but no great loss as I find it’s just as bouncy and charming in my ignorance as I’m sure it would be in my ignorance. “Button up your shirt unless you wear a cravat” is also a sentiment this blogger can get behind.

You Just Can’t

This song because with a sheep sound effect. I’m not sure this bodes well. Ah, I see, it’s a cautionary tale about how one can’t rape a goat because it’ll end up on Facebook.

Guy Debord

Yes, that Guy Debord. Pronounced “G-ee”, as the song informs me. This track is noteable for the lengthy playout and rather pleasant brass solo; apparently “boredom can never ever be revolutionary”, a message which will doubtless pain and then be discarded by the audience of hipsters.

How Many Brilliant Minds Are Lost to Work?

Once upon at time your dear blogger scribbled a partly-plagiarised poem combining the witticism “work is the bane of the drinking classes” (ascribed to Oscar Wilde, although as Dorothy Parker noted, that’s no guarantee of its origin!); Mr B here has done a rather better job in advising his listeners to “get off your phones and back on your arses”, and creating a perky pean to the art of slacking off and knocking a few back.

A Thoroughly Modern Break-up

Apparently Mr B wants his tits back. I mean – oh, a wanking reference  – that this is an unexpectedly upfront (pun very much intended) piece of bawd from the Gentleman Rhymer regarding a failed relationship and his desire to remove the breast implants that he paid for. A little childish and possibly out of keeping with the Chap Manifesto, but very funny all the same.

I Say, You!

Straightforward parody of Hey! You by the Rock Steady Crew. Not sure what else there is to be said about it aside from Mr B is causing a broadening in my musical knowledge.

Everything Stops for Acid

For some reason I am picturing this being MC’d by a clown. That is all.

Hermitage Shanks

It’s a song in praise of the people who manifacture lavatories and other bathroom furniture, in which all the rudery is left to the imagination with the glaring omission of the rhyming word, in finest end-of-the-pier entertainer style. The intimated coyness of sidling up to an explicit description of the obscene but catching himself just in time and the juvenility of writing an entire song devoted to the smallest room are so quintessentially English that it’s almost enough to make me consider this – very briefly – as an alternative National Anthem. I’m not exaggerating the brevity of my consideration, though.

Crazy Knights

Gentle mocking of the Kiss song/album; Mr B’s idea of a “crazy night” may not line up with that of the average rock ‘n’ roller but to me it sounds extremely enticing. Except the part about early nights, which I have yet to master. Again it is a fairly straightforward parody/mockery, and what with Kiss not being a hip-hop group Mr B is somewhat straying from his remit.

Lady C

A dancefloor-filling track at any Chappist event, presuming that the floor will fill entirely with ladies, right up until the part where Mr B has to be bleeped out for saying “wankstain”.

Let’s Get This Over and Done With

The biannual battlecry of the genteel when faced with the noisy enthusiasm and flag-flying of the Euro Whatsit Football Thing or the World Cup has long been “let’s get this over with and get back to the cricket.” Set to a tune immediately recognisible to most as “that bit from The Great Escape“, this is a firm march through the loutishness of the World Cu, hurling a bridge of criticism of the “nouve-riche” and the failings of the modern footballing elite, featuring penny whistles, an “aaahing” chorus, and the strong desire for a cucumber sandwich. Easily the best football anthem my country has ever produced.

The Impossible Dream

“To fight for the right to make ‘party’ a noun, and have those who use it as a verb run down” numbers among the ambitions of Mr B’s impossible dream – “to make hip-hop gentlemanly”. I think he may be fighting a losing battle there, especially as this song is far more West End than West Side.
Songs for Acid Edward

Several immediately recognisible parodic references here, from “Move Any Mountain” by the Shamen through a menagerie of much loved trite dance classics. Don’t take my word for that – watch the video.

Overall, then, a charming album although if I’m honest it lacks a little of the novelty value and enthusiasm of its predecessor, and the “hissing record” noisebed has been somewhat overused. Still, he is a jolly good banjolele-playing, and Mr B does have a very fine moustache…


Written by Amelia &/or Delilah

December 27, 2010 at 3:01 am

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