What is the most relentlessly sex-obsessed LP in your collection? I hear you all ask, well it’s not Faster Pussycat, or Prince, it’s not the Crüe, not even Soft Cell – I reckon it is possibly The Pursuit of Happiness and very probably their LP One Sided Story in particular. Marketed to us rockers as a more literate option in August 1990, this could have been tailor-made for me at the time in my quest to find smarty-pants lyrics to like, in order to show just how damn clever I was myself.
Music? One Sided Story sounds much more like what came to be known as ‘College Rock’ (I hate that term, but hey! it serves a purpose) than rock, or hard rock. The melodies are good, jangly guitars helped out by the female backing harmonies from guitarist-chick Kris Abbott and acoustic guitar-chick Leslie Stanwyck (who both promptly split from the band once this LP was in the bag). But the music isn’t why I like this LP, it’s Moe Berg’s lyrics that drove me then and which I’ve enjoyed this time around too.
Sex? we have double entendre that Warrant would shrink from for being too obvious (Food), leering drunk husband/boyfriend creepiness (One Thing), improper thoughts about your partner’s innocent sister (Runs in the Family), self-subjugation and neediness (Shave Your Legs), infidelity (Forbidden Fruit), domestic violence and attraction (Something Physical), obsessive sexual jealousy (No Safe Place) – get the picture? I liked it then and I like it now because we’re not talking ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ sweaty, healthy, athletic bit-of-fun sex here, it’s a much more complex, dysfunctional, seedy affair laced with guilt, self-loathing and compromise. In fact fun is the last thing anyone’s having on this LP. Moe Berg creeps me out, and I’m a boy! Mrs 1537 it should be noted has no time for this LP at all and I can quite understand why.
I mean just check out:
Sometimes I go too far / The girls just think I’m icky / They can see the boner in my pants (The One Thing)
If you shave your legs I’ll stay home at night / I’ll defer to you, let you win every fight (Shave Your Legs)
She looks a lot like Paula, before we first met / Before I wore down and filled her full of regret (Runs in the Family)
If I could undress you, that’s as far as I’d go (Forbidden Fruit)
I feel just like a pig with your juice running down my chin (Food)
Get the message? I could go on like this for days. But we do have the odd mood changer in here, the brilliant put down of ‘Two Girls in One’ (She’s the woman she wants to be / and the woman she’s become) and the optimistic and rather lovely, sappy/soppy ballad ‘All I want’ *. TPOH also get massive 1537 bonus points for being the only band that I can think of to use the word ‘efficacious’ in a song (New Language) – I had to look it up.
So there you have it, not brilliant (the music’s not as good as the lyrics) but good in a skin-crawlingly cynical way. Potentially a good break-up LP** should you need one. I shudder to think what kind of unhealthy creature this LP would warp you into if you listened to it 4 times a day, every day for a month; don’t do it – think of the shame you’d bring on your family.
* which in 1992, smitten by her loveliness, I put on a mixtape for the, then-future, Mrs 1537.
** although not as good as ‘No Sleep ’til Hammersmith’ or ‘Psychocandy’, obviously.