Rearranging The Flowers – A Pointless Whodunnit with musical interludes and 7 chapters – #3

(Will the sneeze prove fatal for our hero?)

I must have looked pretty odd when the vicar (accompanied by Mrs Figgis) eventually opened the roof door about ten minutes after I sneezed.  I stood there gripping my trowel.  I was prepared to, well, trowel someone to death if I had to. 

Clubbed to Death – Rob Dougan (1994, Mo’Wax Records, Taken from ‘Annie On One’)

Mrs Figgis held the door open as the vicar walked across the roof towards me.  I lowered the trowel and tried my best to look at the very least, sort of sane.

“Whatever’s the matter man?” said the vicar, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost” and he put his arm around me and lead me to the small wooden stairs that lead from the tower to the rood.  As we reached the doorway I felt the first drops of rain fall onto my head.  I looked back, my bucket sat all by itself over by the air vent and I broke free from the vicar and told him that I’d forgotten my bucket. 

The rain splashed on the reinforced roof of the tower as I trudged back over to get my bucket.  I took in a few deep gulps of air and then turned back around and grinned at the vicar,

“Vertigo” I said to him, “Sorry, makes me a bit, erm, forgetful”. I don’t know why I said that.  I figured that it was more believable than telling him I was shaken up by two of the flower arrangers conspiring to murder an as yet unknown person.

Vertigo – The Libertines (2002, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘Up The Bracket’)

We walk back down the stairs, I collect my bag from the office and head on out of the church.  As I walk through the aisles I see Mrs Checkley and Kevin standing by the door and putting a big tub of brightly coloured flowers in a tub.  They both stare at me as I walked down the church towards the exit.  I eye them suspiciously and quicken my step.  Kevin suddenly steps out in front of me and for some reason my legs sort of wobble and then just stop working. 

Paralyzed – Ride (1990, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Nowhere’)

I should fancy my chances in a straight up fist fight with Kevin.  For a start, I’m a lot younger than him.  I’m also in much better shape and I’m armed with a trowel.  He has what looks like a bunch of aspidistras in his hand.  I shouldn’t be worried about him.  Then again, on other hand, I haven’t poisoned someone, filled their pockets with rocks and then dumped them in a reservoir.

“Make you a cup of tea?” Kevin asks me in his chirpy Cockney drawl, “As a thank you for fixing the roof”, he looks towards Mrs Checkley who has a look on her face that could curdle any milk she touched.

God Help Me – Jesus and Mary Chain (1994, Blanco Y Negro, Taken from ‘Stoned and Dethroned’)

I shake my head and decline his offer, making an excuse that my wife is expecting me home so I can fix the dishwasher.  What I want to say is that I don’t want to be their next victim.  I’m sure I read somewhere that the sap from aspidistras is poisonous to humans.  I step to one side to pass the bulky figure of Kevin and as I do, a door opens from behind me and the vicars voice calls out.

“Kevin have you or Jean seen Angela Finch?  Apparently she has not been since she left Bridge Club last night.  Her neighbour has been round to her house and she is not there and her bed hasn’t been slept in”.

Have You Seen Her Lately? – Pulp (1994, Island Records, Taken from ‘His N Hers’)

And with that Mrs Checkley dropped a vase on to the cold stone floor.

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #8 (1998)

By the time 1998 had ended I had left University and with a shrug of indignation turned my back on the music industry by applying for, being interviewed for and then accepting a proper ground up job in Devon.  A decision which was surprisingly easy to make.  The choice, be the with the woman I love and live within spitting distance of green spaces, fresh air and beautiful beaches or spend the next two years at best, hanging around toilet bars in Camden speaking to massive bellends with raging cocaine habits about the new Warm Jets EP. The only downside was that I had to start actually buying music and gig tickets again instead of blagging it.

For the second year in a row, a record connected to at least one of Daft Punk topped my end of year poll and because of that, it was also the second year in a row where a track where guitars were virtually non existent topped the end of year chart.  Although of course it does sample a guitar riff from a Chaka Khan hit from the eighties. 

Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust (1998, Virgin Records, Single)

Aside from sexy one off single from French dance geniuses, 1998 was pretty much the year when Fatboy Slim took over the planet.  I remember DJing at University in late April and dropping ‘The Rockerfeller Skank’, ‘Brimful of Asha’ and ‘Renegade Master’ one after another and each one nearly took the roof of the place. ‘The Rockerfeller Skank’ in particular filled dancefloors months before it was officially released.  Each one of those would feature in my 1998 end of year chart, ’The Rockerfeller Skank’ came second, Cornershop were fifth and Wildchild were tenth.

The Rockerfeller Skank – Fatboy Slim (1998, Skint Records, Taken from ‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’)

Brimful of Asha (Fatboy Slim Remix) – Cornershop (1998, Wiija Records, Taken from (originally at least) ‘When I Was Born for the 7th Time’).

1998 was also the year that the Britpop bubble burst and many of the bands that had been lumped in with it moved swiftly away from it.  Pulp, for instance, released ‘This is Hardcore’ and managed yet again to thrill the critics, but at the same time, angered and lost most of the new fans that they had gained during the ‘Different Class’ years.  Personally, I thought and still think that ‘This Is Hardcore’ is Pulp’s second best album and that it was several yards better than ‘Different Class’.  ‘This is Hardcore’ was placed sixth in my end of year chart.

This Is Hardcore – Pulp (1998, Island Records, Taken from ‘This is Hardcore’)

I’ll jump forward a few years if I may, it is relevant.  In 2004, might have been later, I can’t quite remember, I saw Asian Dub Foundation down at the Eden Project and it was an amazing audible experience.  I stood quite close to the front – just right of centre – and around halfway through the band stopped and the small video screen to the right of stage showed shots in the crowd.  The camera zoomed in, for a second, it paused on my ugly mug and then suddenly switched just right and there stood grinning was an Asian man, who waved at the camera. 

This man’s struggle inspired the next song.  Satpal Ram.  Just another innocent man

For it was he.

Free Satpal Ram – Asian Dub Foundation (1998, FFRR Records, Taken from ‘Rafi’s Revenge’) which was at number eight just in case you were wondering.

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #5 (1995)

The second year of my editing of the music pages of the student paper allowed me to expand my end of year top ten to a top thirty of both singles and albums.  I won’t go into details because most of it was garbage (and number 24 actually was Garbage) but suffice to say it was an eclectic mix of indie, hip hop, trip hop, techno, house and electronica.  It drew criticism.  A female wrote in and called me a misogynist because I had apparently put a song that glorified domestic violence at Number One, whilst a chap called Simon called me an idiot for leaving out ‘Alright’ by Supergrass. Swings and Roundabouts.  Simon if you are reading, ‘Alright’ by Supergrass, is shite and so are you.

We Don’t Need Nobody Else – Whipping Boy (1995, Sony Records, Taken from ‘Heartworm’)

‘We Don’t Need Anybody Else’ doesn’t quite glorify domestic violence (although, you could argue it has a funny way of showng it) but rather looks at the unhealthy and complex relationships that can escalate with unpredictable consequences.  Yes it has that lyric “I hit you for the first time today….Christ we weren’t even fighting…” and everything that it seems to indicate but it is so much more that line.  The intensity of the lyrics as they are delivered and the way the music explodes around it, is, and remains, staggering.

Most people argued that the song at number two should have been number one and in retrospect they were probably right as it was this: –

Common People – Pulp (1995, Island Records, Taken from ‘Different Class’) and it is still quite simply one of the greatest songs by any band anywhere in the history of music.  It doesn’t sound it but ‘Common People’ is actually quite a political song because underneath those irresistible hooks is anger at those who identify as working class to try and be more authentic.  It is a record that defined a generation.

Elsewhere in the Top Ten were tracks by the likes of Oasis (‘Some Might Say’ at Number 9), Radiohead (‘High & Dry’ at Number 8), Black Grape (‘Reverend Black Grape’ at Number 6) and Ash (‘Girl From Mars’ at Number 4). The rest of the top ten were tracks where a guitar could barely be heard.  At Number Three for instance was this :-

No Government – Nicolette (1995, Shut Up and Dance, Taken from ‘Now is Early’) which despite being released three years earlier got a well deserved re-released and was something I described as “Majestic jazz infused magnificence”.  Which of course it is, but its also full of laid back breakbeats and Eartha Kitt style vocals.  It still sounds marvellous today as well.

At Number five was a track that ushered in the next big scene to emerge out the dying embers of Britpop,  At first the press called it Amyl House, and then after several of the main acts starting hanging out with indie pop stars it morphed into Britbeat but that was terrible and so in a hail of trumpets, 303s and arpeggiators, the NME proudly invented ‘Big Beat’ in homage to the colossal beats that Fatboy Slim threw into a series of remixes of indie pop classics.  Me, I put it a bit more simply when I made ‘Leave Home’ a single of the week.

 “Throw out your Suede records you sad indie losers and dance like bastards to this instead

Leave Home – Chemical Brothers (1995, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Exit Planet Dust’)

Finally at Number Ten, a record that I still love today. 

Release Yo’ Delf – Method Man (1995, Def Jam Records, Taken from ‘Tical’) – it was the first in a hip hop triple header, at eleven was Gangsta’s Paradise and at twelve ‘Criminology’ be Raekwon.

The One Word Countdown – #2

I heard you stop outside the door…..

Babies – Pulp (1992, Gift Records, Taken from ‘His N Hers’)

Points 245

My first memory of ‘Babies’ is playing it around midway through my first ever stint as a DJ at the university indie club.  This would have been around late November 1994 and I had a packed dancefloor, Britpop was just about to break, Oasis were becoming huge, Blur had been in the Top Ten and nobody liked grunge anymore.  ‘His N Hers’ had been a firm favourite with me since I heard Gary Crowley play ‘Razzamatazz’ on his Sunday radio show about three years ago, and people everywhere were slowly falling for the kitschy charms of Jarvis and his band.  Or so I thought.

Razzamatazz – Pulp (1992, Gift Records, Taken from ‘His N Hers’)

Because two minutes into ‘Babies’, the dancefloor is clearing slowly to this weird off kilter indie pop so that only the really cool kids remained (the same one who had asked me to play Gorkys Zygotic Mynci and the Pastels about twenty minutes earlier) and Andy the indie club head honcho is hastily handing me a 12” of ‘No Good’ by the Prodigy, which saves the dancefloor and a disaster is avoided.

Fast forward about six months or so and Britpop is definitely king and there I am again behind the decks at the indie disco, and I risk ‘Babies’ again and the floor is absolutely packed by the time the chorus has kicked in for the first time.  The same fickle creatures who wandered off to the bar and elsewhere when I last played ‘Babies’ are also there trying to dance like Jarvis, which basically involves them standing still and moving one arm and occasionally putting a finger on your lips and pouting or sucking in your cheekbones.  All of them will tell the person that they are standing next to at the bar in ten minutes that they have been into Pulp since about 1986 or something.  Saying that, they know all the words, and my dancefloor is heaving and remains regardless of what I play next so I’m pleased.   Jarvis was clearly indie clubs new champion and that was fine by me.  

But…..(and just in case you are wondering I am rolling my tongue firmly into my cheek here, which on reflection Jarvis would probably enjoy watching me do)

I’m not sure that this is the right place to call out Jarvis here about ‘Babies’ because everyone loves it – including me – considering ‘Babies’ is now officially the second best song with a one word title in the world – but and in this day and age of exploitation – ‘Babies’ is lyrically suspect and by suspect I mean ‘Confessions of a Driving Inspector’ suspect.

A young lad, who we are led to believe is Jarvis, is in love with a girl and one afternoon after school he and this girl listen to her older sister have sex or some sort of saucy shenanigans with another boy in her room.  Jarvis, then decides that he and I quote “has to see as well as hear” and so he goes into her room and hides in her wardrobe.  We don’t know how long he hides in the wardrobe for it could be days for all we know.

So presumably, Jarvis waits in the wardrobe on the off chance that this girl comes home, with a boy and they have sex without her once going to the wardrobe first and opening it and seeing Jarvis pretending to fix a shelf or something.  Where was the younger sister all this time, did Jarvis make his excuses or did he break in unbeknown to the younger sister in the middle of the night.

Anyway, Jarvis gets lucky as she is with some guy called David, but then if I am recalling this correctly, on another occasion – so he is a serial voyeur (or has he just moved in…) – the older sister spots him and then has sex with him in case her tells her mother (can we add blackmail to the list of crimes here, burglary, voyeurism, blackmail, sexploitation, , it’s like a 70s sex movie version of ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’).  But there is a twist, the younger sister just happens to hear and confronts Jarvis. 

But of course, Jarvis loves the younger sister, despite perving on and then banging her older sister so Jarvis doing his best Robin Asquith impression tells the younger sister that

 “I only went with her cos she looked like you…”

Well that’s alright then Jarvis.  I’m sure both these women feel valued.

I’m joking of course, ‘Babies’ is marvellous and the content of the lyrics and the characters it introduces and the awkwardness and the social inadequacy of it are why we Pulp are so endearingly magical.

Two other Pulp songs, both almost as lyrical suspect as ‘Babies’ were also considered

Underwear – Pulp (1995, Island Records, Taken from ‘Different Class’)

Lipgloss – Pulp (1992, Gift Records, Taken from ‘His N Hers’)