Remember The Polyphonic Spree? About 22 indie-looking oddbods wearing white robes formed into a choir and/or wielding French horns, tambourines an so forth. I do. I bought their LP The Beginning Stages Of… in January 2003 after reading enough about them to see if they were something different. They were.
When I write about these LPs of mine, sometimes I know vaguely that I last played them a few years ago, or a decade ago or maybe last week. I know exactly the last time I played The Beginning Stages Of…, it was at about 5pm on 30 June 2003. Just before I headed off to see them play at Manchester Academy. It was a horrible experience. They bounded out, blowing their whatsits and strumming their thingys and stuff, singing full pelt and for a reason I really cannot explain it just produced a feeling of absolute dread, nausea and out-and-out revulsion in me. It wasn’t just the robes but the whole thing had the flavour of a saccharine, seedy religious cult about it. I left early and I never do that. I got home put the LP away and had not looked at it until today.
The LP was never very good in my view, apart from a short track called ‘Soldier Girl’, sorry the LP did not have tracks it had ‘sections’ instead. There are enough references to suns, rainbows, days (usually bright), light and optimism to make a moth puke. Funnily enough playing section 9 ‘Light and Day / Reach For the Sun’ just now I got a full-on hit of the nausea I experienced when I saw them 9 years ago. The LP sounds the way I would imagine being trapped in a black and white version of the Beatles’ film Yellow Submarine for crimes I did not commit, with only the instrumental part of that LP on an endlessly repeating loop, would feel like. And I don’t say that lightly. I knew people who liked them, but we don’t talk anymore.
Should I ever be held at gunpoint in my house by armed robbers and have to answer the door in order to get rid of a caller, if I say ‘Gosh, whatever happened to the Polyphonic Spree?’ its a code word for ‘all is not right with me, call the authorities discreetly on my behalf immediately. Do it now!’ – try and remember that please. 1537 has spoken.
To cheer myself up I also listened to a neighbouring 12″, Poison Idea’s Punish Me. Now we’re talking, hard North-Western metal-edged punk, sung by 23 stone men about being sexually dominated by muscle-bound amazons. This is the very stuff of life itself. It’s tough, surprisingly melodic for this lot and funny. The musicianship is also spot on, particularly Myrtle Tickner’s bass.
‘I know I’ve never been a saint / I’ve lived a life of deceit and lies / Now I’m crawling on my hands and knees / Begging to be chastised’
‘Mario The Cop’ is pretty much just a foul-mouthed rant and the cover of ‘Endless Sleep’ is okay, but the A-side just rules. I wonder if I could stipulate that its played at my funeral? over and over and over again. They were a brilliant, brilliant band.
Idea 1 – Spree 0.