Billy Whizz/Blue 1 – Spacemen 3 (1991, Fire Records, Taken from ‘Recurring’)
Billy Whizz you may recall was a cartoon strip that ran in the Beano. Billy had an ability to run very fast indeed. In fact he was so fast that in one cartoon, Billy was being interviewed on television about something that was happening in Beanotown. Billy asked the TV reporter when the interview would be played on TV and the reporter told him it was going out live. Billy ran home so fast that he was able to be home to watch himself live on the telly. He was so fast that he could effectively be in two places at once.
I like to think that Jason Pierce was reading the Beano when he sat down and wrote the track ‘Billy Whizz’, which is closing track on Spacemen 3’s final studio album ‘Recurring’. I like to think that Pierce was so impressed by Billy’s can do attitude and his positive thinking that he decided that the bequiffed speed merchant would be the perfect role model to patronise in song.
Of course, it might just have been that Pierce was using drugs at the time that he wrote it and that he wasn’t a fan of the Beano at all, but I find that impossible to believe. Although, at the time The Beano was of course going through its ‘Drug Phase’ and continuously published comic strips where the heroes were given names were synonymous with drug use. Smackhead Pete for instance, a story about a boy Pete who had an extremely flat head from all the things that got dropped on his head. Mary Jane was a strip about an extremely lazy girl who was simply too tired to get out of bed and finally Special Agent K was about a boy who worked as a spy for the government and had a weapon that made people’s legs stop working.
There are quite a few songs in the music library that have ‘Billy’ in their title. Here are just three that I have picked at random.
First up Peter Hook’s short lived New Order bass heavy side project Monaco, who had some minor success in 1997 with their debut album ‘Music For Pleasure’.
Billy Bones – Monaco (1997, Polydor Music, Taken from ‘Music for Pleasure’) – The vocals for the majority of the songs on ‘Music for Pleasure’ were provided by David Potts, with whom Hooky also performed with when he was in the band Revenge.
Next up some classic PJ Harvey.
C’Mon Billy – PJ Harvey (1995, Island Records, Taken from ‘To Bring You My Love’) – ‘To Bring You My Love’ is despite being PJ Harvey’s third album, actually considered to be her first as a solo artist and ‘C’mon Billy’ was the second single to be released from it.
Finally uncompromising experimental noise rap from Death Grips.
Billy not Really – Death Grips (2014, Third World Records, Taken from ‘Niggas On The Moon’) – the fourth Death Grips album was a double album released over six months, the first instalment was called ‘Niggas on the Moon’ and it heralded a slight change of pace from the band. Previous records were intense and bruising affairs, the musical equivalent of a mouthful of broken teeth. This one was more the musical equivalent of a gap toothed smile, although it’s still abrasively addictive though.
Tomorrow – Angela who holds a grudge over nothing.