Mike Smith's true value to Mercury: past, present and future

A couple of cold, tart pints of Strongbow sunk last September, this was what I'd been so tantalisingly promised when signing on the music industry's dotted line: a boozy Friday afternoon peep behind the "we're all just fans deep down" pantomime - and a slice of old-fashioned passionate intra-trade fury.

Then something odd happened. A wound-up Lamacq suddenly offered a brief, sobering footnote.

As he painted the uncharitable portent of Lucian Grainge and Simon Cowell ruthlessly squabbling over the last ...

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