Monday, December 17, 2018

“The century is drawing to its close…”

15. MCALMONT AND BUTLER "What's The Excuse This Time?" (1995)
From the compilation "The Sound Of McAlmont And Butler"

Let's kick off our Christmas festivities with a tale of holiday depression, set to the toe-tapping sounds of David McAlmont wondering why he isn’t getting laid.  As “You Do”.  (A little McAlmont And Butler joke for you there.  You’re welcome.)

I’d owned “The Sound Of McAlmont And Butler” since I found a copy in Bedford’s cavernous branch of Cash Converters the day after having a conversation about their debut single “Yes”, which is easily their best-remembered song.  Having paid peanuts for the CD, I went home and listened to “Yes” – and turned it off, due to a naïve disinterest in what else was on the disc.  This pattern would repeat every nine months or so for somewhere in the region of eleven years…  Until Christmas 2013.

What was different about that time?  Well, I’d just returned from a friend’s wedding in New York full of the joys of spring and hungry to get my teeth into work and build up the ol’ savings again.  So it was a bit of a blow when I almost immediately had to interview for my own job, and was unsuccessful – but was made to continue in the job the company said I wasn’t good enough to do until my replacement was appointed.

Something about that smash-cut from good times to bad times broke my brain a little bit, so that Christmas saw bitter times, accompanied by can after can after can of Fosters, the official lager of not being arsed anymore, and marathon Doom 2 sessions.  It was during one of these demon-slaying pity parties that I put “The Sound Of McAlmont And Butler” on, and subsequently couldn’t summon the enthusiasm to walk to the CD player and change it after “Yes”.  This, then, is track two on that disc – and reader, I enjoyed it.  And possibly due to drunkenness, I mused on the infinite surprises that life can throw up, and resolved to pull myself out of my funk and get things sorted.

Then, like, three days later, Michael Schumacher had his skiing accident.  Life, eh?  What a shitter.

Anyway, you’ll probably want to know what the song’s like.  Well, it’s pretty good – otherwise I wouldn’t still be listening to it in 2018, regardless of context and association.  A nice little piano riff kicks us off, as McAlmont needles an allegedly lazy lover with every trick in the book, such as doubting their prowess, citing previous agreements and mentioning just how long it’s been.

He then moves on to speculating as to whether he’ll get any before the end of the century, which at that stage was bearing down on us all like a speeding juggernaut of hope and chaos, but to paraphrase the words of another popular song of the time, was nothing special.  Frankly it just sounds like they have very different sex drives, so they’re probably better off splitting up and pursuing people more their own speed, but that’s the benefit of distance I guess.

Apparently Bernard Butler’s also on this, but you’d be hard pressed to identify his contributions, other than a bit of guitar that goes “biddly bee” near one of the choruses.  He wasn’t long out of Suede at this point, but still a while away from Creation Records’ cringe-worthy attempt to make a solo star out of him, when he would clearly rather have been playing guitar for someone else and looking after his cats.  And when the results are this good, who can blame him on either count?

Join us tomorrow for number 14.  The band in question formed part of a “Freak Scene” in the nineties, so “Start Choppin’” or you’ll “Feel The Pain”!

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