Thursday, October 19, 2017

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number Twenty-Eight - “We’re gonna grease ourselves up *real good*, and trash that place with a baseball bat!”

Season 7, Episode 16
“Lisa The Iconoclast”
First
Broadcast: February 18, 1996
Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT HAPPENED

As Springfield's perfectly cromulent bicentennial approaches, Lisa attempts to embiggen an essay on Springfield’s founder by learning more about him at Springfield Historical Society.  In the course of her research she discovers that the character of Jebediah was merely an alias for murderous pirate Hans Sprungfeld, and decides to reveal this in her essay.

Labelled a “greasy thug” by the townsfolk for her besmirching of their hero, Lisa is aided in her quest for the truth by Homer, who has taking the ceremonial position of town crier in the related celebratory parade by sheer volume and obnoxiousness.  He uses his clout to have Jebediah’s coffin exhumed; when the skull inside does not contain the silver tongue Sprungfeld used after his own was bitten off in a bar fight, Lisa is discredited and Homer loses his criership.

Lisa eventually discovers that Hollis Hurlbut, the chairman of the Historical Society, saw the tongue at the disinterment and snatched it while the dust was clearing.  He has an epiphany and rushes Lisa to the parade to present the evidence.  On viewing the crowds she decides that the idea of Jebediah is of utmost importance to the town, opts not to shatter their happy illusion, and reunites with Homer, who has assaulted and replaced his successor as town crier, the hapless Ned Flanders.

MAGIC MOMENTS

A throwaway conversation between Miss Hoover and Mrs Krabappel that actually embiggens the English language.  They gift us not only “embiggen” (a verb meaning to grow or expand), but also “croumulent” (an adjective meaning valid or acceptable).
Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
A classic slice of Jerk-Ass Homer (before that was even properly a thing), as he wrests the position of crier from Ned Flanders not once but twice, including damaging the antique hat that Ned actually owns.  Ned, of course, takes it like a champ.
Hans Sprungfeld’s brutal brawl with George Washington, including the most painful employment of wooden dentures imaginable.
ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING

"The Ballad of Jebediah Springfield" is played over the closing credits.  This country-fried style seems to suit The Simpsons' songsmiths, as the same basic template would later be used for the classic "Canyonero" and had previously powered Lurleen Lumpkin to what passes for fame for a country singer.


HISTORY/LEGACY

Jebediah Springfield sort-of first appears back in Season One's "The Telltale Head", albeit in statue form.  The founder of Springfield, a town stemming from a disagreement over cousin marriage between Springfield and his good friend Shelbyville Manhattan (as revealed in "Lemon Of Troy"), he was either a buffalo-taming, bear-killing inspiration or a murderous pirate killed by said bear - or, more complicatedly, both.
Some legacy opportunities seem to have been passed by, however: I don’t recall “embiggen”, “cromulent” or the character of Hollis Hurlbut ever making repeat appearances.  That means this bit will be shorter than usual, so...  Er.  Yeah.
WHY I LIKE IT

“Lisa episodes” have a bad rap with the world in general.  Whereas Bart or Homer’s name in an episode title usually means a mischievous romp is ahead, and Marge’s often alerts us to genuine emotion and adult issues, Lisa’s is usually shorthand for an episode dealing heavy-handedly with an issue around the environment or political and social issues, which is a hard sell for a half-hour comedy.

This one is an exception though.  It deals very deftly with the notion that the idea of a person and the stories around them can be more important than the truth around the person themselves, and that the inspiration taken from these stories can be positive even if the person themselves was no angel, which was recently tackled in a much more on-the-nose fashion by "Rick and Morty", via a paedophilic anthropomorphic jellybean.  As you do.

It’s also a rare episode where we’re entirely on Lisa’s side; she’s not nagging or hectoring, not smug or superior, and the issue at hand is one that is genuinely of a lot of importance, both historically and for her present community.  This time it’s nice to be rooting for the little guy – and she’s the littlest guy we know.
Atomic Sourpuss would like to apologise for the brevity of the "History/Legacy" section in this post.  The author is believed to be too drunk to properly complete his research.  In compensation, we present this picture of a weasel:




Join us next time for part one of a sporting double header, at the blog where I dispense the insults, rather than receive them.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number Twenty-Nine - "Shh, Lisa! The dog is barking!"

Season 5, Episode 13
"Homer And Apu"
First broadcast: February 10, 1994

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT HAPPENED

We establish that Apu, the manager and usually sole worker at the Kwik-E-Mart. is willing to go to immoral lengths to gouge his customers.  Enter Homer, one of the few hungry and dense enough to gorge on spoiled meat.  Homer decides to take his revenge by exposing Apu on the local consumer rights show, "Bite Back with Kent Brockman and his Channel 6 Consumer Watchdog Unit".

Sacked by the Kwik-E-Mart, Apu attempts to find meaning by atoning for his indirect poisoning of Homer.  He achieves this by becoming the then-latest in an ever-lengthening list of people to move in with The Simpsons, following in the footsteps of Mr Burns, Leon Kompowski, Otto Mann and Herb Simpson, and himself followed by...  No.  I'm not going to list them all.

After lying to The Simpsons through song, Apu vows to get his job back.  When Homer accompanies him to the head office in India and thoroughly ruins his chances of forgiveness there, he eventually gets rehired by taking a bullet for his replacement - a pre-"Family Guy" James Woods.

MAGIC MOMENTS

Basically anything related to the hat:

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
...In fact, all of Kent Brockman's involvement.  "Coming up next: the case of the cantankerous old geezer!"


"I'm selling only the concept of karmic realignment."  "You can't sell that! Karma can only be portioned out by the cosmos!"  "He's got me there."

A classic Grandpa Simpson story - "Ah, there's an interesting story behind this nickel. In 1957, I remember it was, I got up in the morning and made myself a piece of toast. I set the toaster to three - medium brown..."

ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING

"Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart?" is probably the first thing you thought of when you realised what episode this was.  Nothing wrong with that; The Simpsons' original, plot-related songs were things of beauty back in the day, and this won't be the last we see of them.


I'm particularly keen on Grandpa's misfortunes and Homer's failure to keep up with the song - a subtle callback to the previous season's "Monorail".

HISTORY AND LEGACY

As an immigrant store clerk with a non-Christian religion, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is a character that is not without potential execution problems in an American sitcom - or a British one, for that matter - and could easily be nothing more than an unfortunate stereotype.

To their credit, the Simpsons' writing staff have handled the character with a deft touch for most of his appearances, and he has largely been used either to positively showcase Indian culture or simply as a character unbound by his ethnicity.

The Homer/Apu combo would be revisited in future episodes "Much Apu About Nothing", which also makes a valid point about immigration and its place in American culture, and "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", which does the same for arranged marriage whilst introducing his wife,  Manjula.

Another Homer and Apu episode is "Eight Misbehavin'", which unfortunately also introduced Apu's octuplets, in one of the seemingly desperate twists thrown in post-Season 10.  Most Apu and/or Manjula sightings since have revolved around the logistical problems in having eight babies.

Finally, Homer returns to India in a later episode, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore" in Season 17.  He goes as he mistakes it for Indiana.  Don't ask.  The whole thing reads like they realised they didn't put a Bollywood sequence in this episode and wanted a second swing.

WHY I LIKE IT

This is a rare example of a great episode that bears the crosses of later seasons: it's both an episode where a side character moves in with 'hilarious' consequences, and a "The Simpsons Are Going To..." episode - two tropes we have probably seen enough of post-2000.
It's also a supremely well-balanced episode, admittedly one that takes many odd twists and even takes its protagonist to the other side of the world, but ramps the stakes up so evenly that even the more off-the-wall elements seem more earned than in later, less well-realised offerings.

The story manages to establish a new friendship that would provide the crux of future classics and fully flesh out a supporting character for later use, and as such is a pivotal episode, as well as a damn good one.

Join us next time when we’ll be embiggening your day with a perfectly cromulent blog post.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number Thirty - "I think I hate Ted Koppel!"

Season 5, Episode 16
"Homer Loves Flanders"
First broadcast: March 17, 1994


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT HAPPENED

We kick off with an episode that heavily features a Simpsons side character mainstay, Ned Flanders.  This zealously Christian man of moderation occupies the house next door to The Simpsons, casting their less pious lifestyles in stark relief and vexing Homer with his every move...

...Until a radio phone-in competition (Christ, that really ages it) brings Ned two tickets to the big football game, and he takes Homer as his guest.  Homer and Ned strike up a healthy friendship, which Homer naturally takes too far, ending in a disastrous camping trip.

Like most human beings forced to spend too much time with Homer Simpson, Flanders eventually snaps, soiling his reputation in the community in the process.  But Homer implores the congregation to give Ned another chance, and all signs point to a massive sea change in the ongoing series - perhaps Ned and Homer will remain friends after all?

MAGIC MOMENTS

The sequence that launched a thousand gifs - Homer disappearing into a hedge.  These days it's easy to forget that it leads directly to an on-point "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" homage, with Homer spearing Ned's car with putters and hanging on, dead-eyed, for as long as possible.


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Giphy.

The opening speech by Kent Brockman, playing on the perception that the news was over-dramatizing stories to create a climate of fear - how times change, eh? - by branding the US Army "The Killbot Factory".

Lisa's prediction that everything will return to normal, which turns out to be entirely correct in the last ten or so seconds of the episode.

ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING

Eddie Money, responsible for Time Life Rock Classics deep cut "People Hold On", is featured heavily with his almost-as-good offering "Two Tickets To Paradise"...


...Excellent refrain.

That's not to mention Homer's spirited rendition of The Village People's seminal "Macho Man", offered here as "Nacho Man" as he wears a nacho hat, an invention that I would say I wish someone had made, were I not 100% certain, without having to Google it, that some damn fool has probably not only made a very flimsy hat out of a toasted corn dough, but also worn it like it's somehow an achievement.

And even after all that, I still have to pause to mention Rappin' Ronnie Reagan.  He DID say "well" a lot.

HISTORY AND LEGACY

For most of the first couple of seasons Ned Flanders had been little more than a one-note joke, pointedly placed next door to the Simpsons family to provide an all-too-pure contrast to their chaos.

He would eventually become a full blown antagonist, albeit a somewhat gentle one, in "Dead Putting Society", before "When Flanders Failed" laid the foundations for a Homer-Ned friendship, as seen in this episode.

I think there's enough affection for both characters that their alliance, though temporary, is a treat for the audience, and would be explored again in such episodes as "Viva Ned Flanders" and the awfully-titled (but actually pretty good) "Sex, Pies And Idiot Scrapes", where the two are unlikely bounty hunters.

Wow, that last one really does sound rubbish on paper.  Give it a go though!

WHY I LIKE IT

The Simpsons is a very different show now to the family portrait it was for the first couple of seasons,  and this list will likely bear out my affection for the wider rogue's gallery of Springfieldians.

Episodes with a focus on non-Simpson recurring characters help to flesh out the world of The Simpsons, and stupid sexy Flanders is key in that; as the sober yin to Homer's raging yang, he provides a balance that would otherwise be lacking, and even though we're meant to root for Homer - and do, most of the time - it's impossible for me to want anything but the best for Ned, a character who is going to go through an awful lot both as Homer's neighbour, and Springfield's moral compass.

This was the episode that first established Ned as a go-to character; from here on in, if you were watching a Flanders-heavy episode, you were unlikely to be disappointed.

Join us next time when, in stark contrast to today's entry, we'll learn that life is one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Zero - Starts and Beginnings

The first episode of The Simpsons I ever saw was "Call Of The Simpsons", and it was terrible.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
I was aware that The Simpsons was a thing, but as a stranger to Sky TV in its early years, was not swept along on the wave.  A show about an annoying, essentially unsupportable kid, with poor animation, moral lessons by the back door and gentle (if any) humour, I honestly thought the hype was due to the relatively low take-up of Sky TV, and the social stock that came from being someone who could view the show in this country.

The third episode I ever saw was "Bart Gets Hit By A Car", and I still wasn't convinced.

However, this was nowhere near as unengaging as the first season offerings, but it still seemed to be a show that would not be able to appeal to me; the comedy was definitely connecting better with me though, and I did make a mental note to check back later and see how it was coming along.

So what hooked me?

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

Truckasaurus, of course.  The fifth episode I ever saw was "Bart The Daredevil".

Now here was an episode I could get behind: less mawkish, more relatable and with the ultimate swerve at the end, a happy ending realistically denied, albeit in arguably the most cartoonish sequence the show would offer up for some time.  So I can get human drama AND Wile E Coyote-style slapstick?  Sold.

Since then, thanks in no small part to a) getting cable TV in 1996 and b) The Simpsons coming to terrestrial television in the UK, I have become a fully paid-up Simpsons obsessive.


Quite simply put, and despite my love of "Doctor Who", "House", "Father Ted" and a plethora of other shows, I believe that seasons four to nine (inclusive) of The Simpsons is the greatest television ever made - comedy, animation or otherwise.

I quote The Simpsons every day, with bonus points for doing it in meetings; usually the bit about "weaselling out of things", although - and this was a stretch - I did once manage "this is worse than your song about Mr. T!"  I've promoted a Simpsons-themed punk rock and quiz night, at which I appeared dressed as Troy McClure, and recently won a different Simpsons quiz thanks to the able help of TV's Clangers expert, Tim Worthington.

A bootleg DVD of Season Fifteen got me through the choppy early weeks of my 'adventure' at university - though like all of my kind, I am legally obliged not to like anything after Season 10 (but I do still secretly love seeing new episodes - as will be borne out by my upcoming list).  I once bonded with a stranger in Bristol over my Globex Industries t-shirt.  I made a point of looking for "BORT" licence plates on a recent trip to Texas.

My favourite though is this little doozy: on an early date, my girlfriend impressed me greatly by making a Simpsons reference I didn't recognise, and I adored her even more for it - though it is with great regret that I must refute her accusation (note to self: possible cologne idea).

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
Lately I've been at a creative low ebb, in part due to laziness, but also due to some genuine personal inconveniences.  I've therefore decided to mine my deep vein of Simpsons knowledge and appreciation and present my top 30 episodes, in hope that it will spark me to greater writing and/or musical highs.  It probably won't, though.

So every Thursday for the next 30 weeks, you'll go where I've gone!  Defile what I've defiled!  Eat who I've eaten!...  Oh, wait, no: that was Genghis Khan.  But if you tune in here each Thursday, I'll try and tell you why I like each of the episodes I've chosen.  And you might even stumble across a couple of very special bonus blog posts along the way!

But come not to judge, friend; these are merely opinions.  Creating debate is good, but slating others for their views on a television show is not.  Remember: everybody has a favourite Simpsons episode - and everyone is right.

How can you afford to miss this cavalcade of fun?  Colour yourself tickled pink to join us on Thursday for number 30, or we'll have to give your noggin a-floggin'!

Monday, September 25, 2017

This October: Heeeeere's Johnnycakes!


22 SHORT PIECES ABOUT SPRINGFIELD

A trilogy in around thirty-five parts

Starting Sunday, October 1

D'ohn't miss it!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Read All About It: Remotely Interesting

Hello, dear friends.  After a rollercoaster year of not writing anything, I finally have something to plug...


...For my great pal BEN BAKER, who has a brand new book out!  Remotely Interesting is a TV quiz book for people with eyes.  It features 50 (50!!!) quizzes about the gogglebox, and the Special Edition comes with scorecards so you can play along at home!  Fuckin' scorecards, man!  Why are you still here?  Get over there and buy it!  (NOTE: DO NOT LEAVE THIS PAGE YET.  READ THE SENTENCE BELOW FIRST.)

And as a fantastic bonus, I got to reprise my role as pub quizmeister by setting Ben a super-tough quiz about my favourite televisual treat, Those Simpsons.  Come and test your mettle over here!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Everybody Up! - Epilogue

OH YES WE CAN LOVE - A History Of Glam Rock


Purchasable here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oh-Yes-We-Can-Love/dp/B00EJU8ZZ4

And here's the top pop picks from each disk!

DISK 1:


THE STOOGES "1969"

Honourable mentions: BILLY FURY "Jealousy", CURVED AIR "Back Street Luv", VINCE TAYLOR AND HIS PLAYBOYS "Brand New Cadillac"

DISK 2:


T. REX "Metal Guru"

Honourable mentions: MICK RONSON "Growing Up And I'm Fine", THE OSMONDS "Crazy Horses", ROXY MUSIC "Virginia Plain"

DISK 3:


SPARKS "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us"

Honourable mentions: KISS "Rock And Roll All Nite", SAILOR "A Glass Of Champagne", FOX "Only You Can"

DISK 4:

Argh...  This is too difficult...  Fuck it.  TWO WAY TIE!!!


THE RUNAWAYS "Cherry Bomb"


BONEY M. "Rasputin"

Honourable mentions: MAGAZINE "The Light Pours Out Of Me", ADAM AND THE ANTS "Antmusic", BLONDIE "Rip Her To Shreds"

DISK 5:


Sorry to be predictable, but it has to be EARL BRUTUS "The SAS And The Glam That Goes With It" (here performed by their latest incarnation, THE PRE NEW)

Honourable mentions: MARILYN MANSON "The Dope Show", SUEDE "Metal Mickey", MORRISSEY "Glamorous Glue"




THE END




(See you all back here next week for "Each Holding An ORB" - it's only twelve years late!)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Everybody Up! 21 - Unstoppable (Except At The End)

14. THE DARKNESS "Growing On Me"

Fad retro metal here from the flavours of the half a week from 2003, featuring the constantly inappropriately-dressed frontman Justin Hawkins, who would eventually produce an imagination-free cover of "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" under the guise of British Whale, with a video featuring darts supremo Phil "The Power" Taylor.

(DON'T look it up.  It's not worth it.)

I did not fall under the spell of these particular flashes in the pan at the time, when they were suddenly selling out arenas and contending for Christmas number one before completely disappearing, though many of my contemporaries did, so I have had plenty of exposure to their works.

I must say that this isn't nearly as bad as I remember - "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" was always the more annoying of their main two singles, and this one is relatively inoffensive hair metal, with the jarringly high voice of their lead singer deployed as a special weapon rather than all over the bloody place - so you could say, it's grown on me!!! (cymbal crash, mild jeering)  Ooh, tough crowd...

15. GOLDFRAPP "Strict Machine"

Another act who had a brief flirtation with mainstream success, Goldfrapp draw a shocking lineage from our friends Fox, who back in the day (and on one of the earlier disks) built a reputation on a coquettish frontwoman and off-kilter pop stylings - in this case, strictly electronic in flavour, like Moloko taken to its logical end.

As it's all very "ooh, I might have sex with you and it might be a bit pervy", I really don't have a great deal else to say about this, so let me pull the curtain back a crack on this business we call show: sound engineers rate diva-ish antics by artists they process on the Alison Goldfrapp Scale, and let's just say no-one else tops that out.

16. THE ARK "Clamour For Glamour"

Here come some Swedes.  Seasoned swedes, at that, with a career spanning nineteen years between 1991 and 2010.  And pretty popular ones as well - in Sweden at least, with three of their five albums going to number one.  A stark contrast to their career in the UK, which was crowned by a single reaching 121; turns out we're not the centre of the universe after all!

You would be forgiven for thinking, after the run we've been on, that this track was largely included due to the word "Glamour" in the title.  But no: I'm pleased to report that they are thematically correct, being both glam AND rockers, and this is a pretty good offering.

I did promise myself I wouldn't just parrot facts out of the book that came with the compilation - for one thing, it gives you less incentive to buy it, and I do actually recommend you do so - but it would be remiss of me not to mention that they toured with The Darkness at one point since, well, we've just mentioned The Darkness.  So, y'know...  There's that.

17. FOXY SHAZAM "Unstoppable"

Oh my sweet lord Schumacher, we've actually made it to the final track of the final disk of the compilation, some approximately seventeen years after starting to write about it!  It's not pat on the back time yet, though; to be frank I usually drift off a bit on this disk after Marilyn Manson, so let's have a quick listen to this one and see if it evokes any distant memories...

(twenty minutes later)

...No.  It hasn't left an impression.  OK, so as an essentially new offering, what do we have here?  Well it's definitely glam in a good many ways, including the stomping beat, marching bass and inspirational riff, coupled with the Freddie Mercury-esque vocal (they really should have shelled out for Queen.  A bit of "Seven Seas Of Rhye" would have gone down a storm at the end of the last disk).  They're also American, despite sounding very English - it's usually the other way round, so that's quite heartening to hear for once!

It's obviously not the most heavily played or well remembered song on this collection - which is a by-product of ending a glam retrospective in the 2000s, I guess - but it's a perfectly cromulent offering, and one which I was glad to re-listen to tonight as I finally wave a fond farewell to the compilation.  It's been a journey not without its rough patches, but one that was very much worth taking.

Perhaps you'd like to follow in my footsteps?

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Everybody Up! 20 - Hair Design By Nicky Clarke

10. EARL BRUTUS "The S.A.S. And The Glam That Goes With It"

Long time favourites of this writer, Earl Brutus were arguably the most underrated band of the nineties - although I could probably give you a list of ten to twenty "most underrated bands of the nineties", depending on time, mood and level of inebriation.

Completely out of step with the mainstream perception of "indie" music at the time, with neither a sharp image nor sickening youth on their side, and a penchant for nodding to both punk and classic rock at a time when both were considered extraordinarily passé, their crunching wall of guitars, samples and popular culture sloganeering struck a chord with this oddbod at the very least.

This is probably their best known offering.  Named after an inscription on a VHS video spine, this is the perfect summation of what Earl Brutus did, and their continuing legacy band The Pre New still do: a simple but catchy guitar hook; an excellent shout-along chorus ("you are your own reaction", in this case); and a bit in the middle where it all breaks down and goes a bit sketchy, before crashing perfectly back into step to career down the hill to the end.

Perfect.

11. GAY DAD "To Earth With Love"

And now for something completely different: Cliff Jones, music journalist, like many of his kind (and, let's face it, your esteemed writer - I will not be a hypocrite about this) actually wanted to be a rock star.  So he tried and he tried and he eventually came up with this - an absolute photofit of the kind of thing that was getting indie bands signed at the end of 1997 by a music industry desperately, gluttonously eating itself up in search of a quick buck.

And signed did he get, to the eventually ill-fated London Records, and out did it come, getting to number 10 in the charts.  And lo, did they go on to do nothing of consequence, being arguably the biggest case of Emperor's New Clothes since good old Sigue Sigue Sputnik.  See?  I can do continuity.  Who said I couldn't?  (smashes bottle) WHO SAID I COULDN'T???

Ahem.

The exact opposite of Earl Brutus, then - had all the right moves for the time but no individuality and consequently no lasting legacy.  No surprise mentions on major terrestrial television, no love from The Quietus, no enduring iconography - nothing but this two bit writer resentfully banging out a tattoo of mediocrity upon his barely mid-range laptop.  And when my rancid tapping comes to an end, well: what remains then?...

12. MARILYN MANSON "The Dope Show"

An interesting personal case of full circle, here: some time ago, a friend of mine (hello, Christian!  Though you're not reading this!) opined that the Marilyn Manson album "Mechanical Animals" was the closest we would get to a glam rock album in this day and age.  He was right on the money as well - the drum patterns, the gender play, even some of the riffs fully support that assessment.

And here we are with a vindication of that position - the inclusion of that album's lead single.  A perfect example of how to piss off middle America, the song actually starts with a shout of the word "DRUGS!" and progresses as idiot-baitingly as you would expect.

But as is the norm with mid-period Marilyn Manson, there is actually a great tune buried under the controversy - and a glam rock tune at that, albeit one spiked with ketamine to achieve a funereal crawl, fighting for its own breath under the weight of its own diseased guitars.  Which a very funny way of saying I really like the song, but there you go.

13. PULP "We Are The Boys"

Oh fuck off Jarvis.

Some time ago, a friend of mine (hello, Dan!  Though you're not reading this!) opined that we would look back upon the music of the nineties with great affection, aside from one band.  That band, dear reader, was Blur.  Time has proved him wrong, for it is Pulp.

What appeared at the time to be innovative storytelling pop - and to be fair, hindsight hasn't dulled that - now grates, with the knowledge that every one-fingered keyboard intro will bring a tale of Jarvis Cocker's favourite hero, one Mr Jarvis Branson Cocker, and how incredibly great he is, and how every girl that's turned him down in the past is a sad, fat slag who made the wrong decision in not shagging him, despite the fact that he looks a creepy, lanky hobo scarecrow on dope.

It's a shame how grating this has become for me, as I was a big fan back in That Day - and "Intro" and "His 'N' Hers" are still pretty good, it's just the post-fame albums that are quite this formulaic - but I just can't do Pulp anymore. 

Oh, and just so I've actually said something about the song, it's from the "Velvet Goldmine" soundtrack, where Bowie's obvious reluctance to be involved in speculation about his sex life led to Britpop bands being tapped up to do glam-style songs.  That went exactly as well as you'd imagine.

Join us next time for the end.  Really truly, honestly, the end.  We're not pulling A Godawful Small Affair-job and chucking in another entry in the wrong order - if we did, not even a picture of a weasel could redeem us.  So join us next time for the omega.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Everybody Up! 19 - Pokemon Go! (NOTE: contains nothing about Pokemon Go)

6. THE FALL "Glam-Racket"

I did say I wouldn't be critical about the choices of tracks, but this one is literally just here for having "glam" in the title.  The song itself actually seems to be a protest about the perceived over-glam stylings of bands of the time - including Suede, who we just heard from, unless you're here for the first time, in which case you may be expecting something about Pokémon Go.  Sorry: we're not writing about that, but Simply Roxilicious did, so maybe try that?

I am certainly not going to complain about the presence of The Fall, though - particularly this track, recoded with the classic Scanlon/Hanley/Wolstencroft backing back (and Dave Bush, who I believe was the infamous Glastonbury 1995 streaker, appearing sans clothes during Elastica's last song). 

This track is from "The Infotainment Scan", their most successful album at least in terms of chart performance, hitting number 9 in the UK album chart, which also includes a cover of Sister Sledge's "Lost In Music".  The Fall do a surprisingly good line in covers for such an individual band, so maybe check that one out as well.

7. CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE "Glam Rock Cops"

Carter USM were not a band I appreciated at the time, which is a bit of a shame; having "acquired" (borrowed, forgot to give back, moved to the other end of Britain - sorry, former workmate whose name escapes me!) their singles collection, "Straw Donkey", I probably should have been paying more attention to their sound and fury.

In my defence, they were pariahs by the time I started reading the weekly music press; cast aside in the same way that S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men were being treated a year or so later, to fit in with the sharp-dressed, sanitised, punk rock-free anti-grunge Britpop that was making mainstream inroads.

Again, I hate the British public.  (Please keep reading, though!)

Since having the chance to give them a listen, I find them entertainingly enraged - in this example, dually frustrated about modern life and the nature of fame - and whilst this particular song again appears to have been included simply for having "glam" in the title rather than any actual genre affiliation, it's good see any proliferation of their very individual and alternative sound - albeit one that was very much of its time.

8. THE GLAM METAL DETECTIVES "Everybody Up!"

Finally!  We've got to the trope namer.  And what a story we have here for the uninitiated...  Remember when we spoke of "Rock Follies" not so long ago?  Like that, times a kajillion.

(Cracks knuckles, gets to work)

The titular detectives were one strand of a...  I'm going to say sketch comedy, but I feel like the segments were large enough that they sort of transcended that.  It was more of a magazine format (and indeed, there was a one-off magazine), with big chunks of content designed to replicate the feeling of flicking through television channels.

This was relatively high-concept stuff by the usual standards of BBC Comedy at the time, with the obvious exception of "Red Dwarf", and I believe it was one of several pilots made at the time that got one or no series, possibly including "I, Lovett" and "Tygo Road". 

And you know what?  This is when I hate the internet - I can find nothing to corroborate or oppose these things that I may be misremembering from well over half my life ago, but I bet some bright spark will prove me wrong in four seconds flat once this is finished and published.

The show ran in 1995 and featured such leading lights of the time as Phil Cornwell and Doon Mackichan, but failed to set the world alight.  Therefore we were left with this, the theme tune from the show, extolling the virtues of funk and justice for all, as the major cultural artifact and proof of existence of what at the time was a potentially groundbreaking and heavily-hyped series (again, I think this was the case, remember I was quite young at the time).

And since it's the one we've been waiting for, why don't we take a quick break for some of that funk and justice?...  Is what I would be saying if I could find it on YouTube, but it's all just continuity.  What a let-down, after all that; half-remembered twaddle and no payoff.  Honestly, you might as well just come down the pub with me.

9. SAINT ETIENNE "Star"

I did try looking this lot up, but most of the links I got were about violent fans at Euro 2016.  Hell, that's another popular search term right there!  Right, what else can we lie about featuring?  Justin Bieber?  Rickrolling?  Eve Myles' Tits?  We'll be packing in the Russian spambots tonight!

For the best part of twenty-five years I've been saying, "I must get into Saint Etienne at some stage".  And now here we are: in a situation where knowing anything about Saint Etienne (other than ripping off some facts from Tim Worthington's excellent book, "Higher Than The Sun") would be an absolute boon, and I know nothing.

Er...  Roll credits?

Join us next time for...  EARL BRUTUS?  Oh, ace!  We'll also be visiting with the God of Fuck, and the group who in retrospect are sadly this writer's pick for the most overrated Britpop band.  #it'll still be a good read, I promise!  Unless I accidentally delete it again, in which case you'll at least get a picture of a weasel.  Win win, mate.