Cries and Whispers: My good friend Homie Blair

There are few things less absorbing than an LP's sleevenotes, so it's always a pleasant shock when the music obsessive's eyesight-jeopardising scrutiny of the small print is rewarded with anything worth reading. One such case is the intriguing dedication on 12Play, the record released in 1993 by Chicago's groin-rubbing swingbeat balladeer, R Kelly: "Shout out to my homie and good friend Tony Blair (the Beeper Daddy) - Page me later, Nigger." And you thought he was just a Paul Rodgers fan.

Of less political significance, but of note, perhaps, to linguistics students, is this dedication on All That Matters, the latest album by the housewives' favourite soft-soul man, Michael Bolton: "Jay Sirois ..." say the sleevenotes. "Thanks for your support and shagging balls." Do any American readers know what this expression might mean? In Britain, of course, it is totally nonsensical.

IN 1965, Woody Allen released an album of stand- up comedy that included a minute-long track entitled "Taking a Shower". From the amount of laughter we can hear, it's plain that Woody is treating his audience to a virtuoso mime act, but I've always wondered why this wordless track was included on the record, except perhaps to give aspiring comedians something to play in the background while they're practising.

Thirty-two years later, Dennis Leary, star of beer commercials and Hollywood flops, has released a new album, Lock'n'Load, which includes the following monologue: "I'm Irish, OK. You've seen us dancing at weddings ... we dance like this [a lengthy break for guffaws and applause] ... 'cept for the sober Irish guys. They're over in the corner dancing like this" [evidently the most amusing thing the audience has ever seen]. You can't help but feel left out.

In these days of digital editing, wouldn't it be a simple matter to excise all material from the live show that wasn't actually funny when it was committed to CD? Mind you, in Leary's woeful case, this practice would result in a Lock'n'Load that lasted a mere 13 seconds.

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