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.


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???


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.

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