Glass Smash Jack – EMF (1995, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Cha Cha Cha’)
Let’s rewind the clocks today to 1995 and listen to ‘Cha Cha Cha’ the third studio album by EMF and look in particular to the last track, ‘Glass Smash Jack’. Right at the start, you can clearly hear Stephen Fry introduce the song in his best General Melchett voice before EMF come in with their trademark half shouty sing/speak tracks that is accompanied by some crashing guitars, thumping drums and jerky synth sounds.
With about two minutes left, the guitars stop crashing and the drums stop thumping and all that is left are little sampled bleeps and stuff and suddenly rather unexpectedly the voice of Stephen Fry then begins to read a poem of sorts, it kind of sounds like Fry is reading it in time to the music. Then it all dies down and that is that. It will never be a question in any pub music quiz that I go to but should it ever come up, the answer to the question “Who is the last person to speak on the third EMF album?” is Stephen Fry, the erstwhile semi reclusive comedian and actor and renowned hater of singing (he famously said in interview that he has a voice like a drain and will rarely, if ever, sing in public – although saying that he does it all the time on ‘I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue’)
It of course begs the question. How on earth did EMF or their people for that matter persuade Stephen Fry to guest on their third album? In 1995, Fry would have been a big star, it was just before he made the film ‘Wilde’ but he would have been well known to fans of Blackadder or A bit of Fry and Laurie (talking of which the sketch in which Fry and Laurie send up Countdown remains to this day the funniest thing that BBC 2 has ever shown). The mind well and truly boggles. It is without doubt one of the most bizarre cameos in musical history.
Loads of tracks in the music library that have ‘Jack’ in the title, here are a four of them, starting with Parquet Courts Tribute band Bodega and the tremendous ‘Jack In Titanic’, which is taken from their also tremendous debut album ‘Endless Scroll’.
Jack In Titanic – Bodega (2018, What’s Your Rupture? Records, Taken from ‘Endless Scroll’)
Next up, some early Ash
Jack Names The Planets – Ash (1994, Homegrown Records, Taken from ‘Trailer’) – when Ash first burst on the scene, nearly 30 years ago (and that will make some of you feel utterly ancient, the fact that Tim Wheeler is 45 years old worries me deeply, because it means I am nearly 50) they were one of the most exciting bands to have emerged in years.
Next up, some very early Mark E Smith
Fiery Jack – The Fall (1979, Step-forward Records, Taken from ‘Dragnet’) – which was according to Sounds magazine, the sound of The Fall jumping head first into the world of rockabilly. They also said it was ‘practically perfect’, which it isn’t, although it is very good in a typically ramshackle way.
Next up, bringing it full circle, we will end with another Stephen
Amberjack – Stephen Malkmus (2020, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Traditional Techniques’) – which sees rocks greatest Stephen (yes he is, face facts, other Stephen’s, and you never know that might actually be a series on day – ‘Stephens in Rock’) embrace folk music and do it remarkably well.
On Monday Diane who may well cruise down Rober Street