In honour of the World Cup starting tomorrow, being the ultra topical guy I am I thought I’d dig out all my football records in one go. All three of them. Now this may be a bit of a parochial entry for some of you foreign chaps and laydeez out there, so feel free to skip to the 405 Down bit and I’ll see you tomorrow. Football’s a big deal here, especially in Liverpool where I work, everyone is getting excited and patriotically attaching little St George’s flags to their French and German cars.
I’m not a big football fan, too much skill and running about for my tastes, give me rugby and its massive collisions any day, it’s far closer to Rollerball, or my fave old computer game Speedball II, or another favourite board game of mine Blood Bowl – which is all any sport should aspire to in my view. However I sat down and learned football, by studiously reading the papers purely so I could communicate with other males when I started the world of work. It, umm, worked, after a bit of practice I could pass for normal and so I suppose I did get a bit into it. What was interesting in Britain was that during the 90’s football shed its hardcore hooligan image and became more accessible, more middle class and cooler musicians got more into it too.
Now we have a long and shameful history in this country of appallingly bad football songs – usually produced for cup finals you’d get some local yokel pop star from yesteryear supported by a group of baying yobs putting out a single of such mind-numbing tedium that it could legitimately be used for anaesthetic purposes. When the national teams were playing in a tournament, it was often even worse right up until New Order produced World In Motion, which, although still a bit crap, managed to be so in a good way. Anyway by the time the 1996 European Cup was held in England things obviously reached fever pitch, as all three of my football 12″s come from then.
First on the deck is the most straight-forward one Collapsed Lung Eat My Goal, I remember them as a shouty rap, industrial band but on this track – still heavily used in advertising today, they sort of became House of Pain circa. ‘Jump Around’*. It’s the only record I own with a little sticker on it telling me proudly ‘as featured in the Coca-Cola advert’. Hmm, corporate sell-out as I and them may be, I quite like this still. It’s jaunty and catchy, pretty lightweight and that’ll do me for a minute or two until I get bored.
Next on the launch pad of listening is a Scottish effort, Primal Scream The Big Man & The Scream Team Meet the Barmy Army Uptown. Definitely not obeying the usual laws of footie tunes this is a rambling, dubtastic, swearing-drenched sprawl of a track featuring author Irvine Welsh and Adrian Sherwood and the On-U Sound System (Doug Wimbish plays bass on it). The cover is fantastic, showing fanatical Scots fans from their 1977 victory over England at Wembley, when they invaded the pitch and broke the crossbar. Primal Scream kindly offered the song to the Scottish FA to use as the official song for the tournament, but they turned it down in favour of a Rod Stewart song called ‘Purple Heather’; can’t think why. Maybe it was the opening patriotic lines,
In every hick town in Caledonia
Across this pseudo nation
You can see the most fucked up scum
That was shat into creation
Can’t think why that didn’t pass muster. Ah well, their loss I’ll just sit here and enjoy the growling bass bits again. One to admire for its pluck, rather than to enjoy hugely, it could do with a tune in my view. This B-side is an interesting one, it’s Irvine Welsh reading his parts of the song and some other swearing that didn’t make it into the final mix.
And lastly riding up over the horizon, like the cavalry come to save us, or like the stragglers in a donkey derby, here come Black Grape England’s Irie**. This is just sheer unhinged excellence right from the word go. Black Grape being of course Shaun Ryder’s vehicle after the drug-induced catatonic ending of the Happy Mondays, whom I loved. Black Grape were a good band who banged out some really good singles, a fun mixture of dancehall, rap, indie and pop, all underscored by Shaun Ryder’s great, flat delivery and his deceptively clever way with a lyric.
Ably assisting the band on this one are actor Keith Allen, who puts in a great introduction and someone called Joe Strummer, who apparently used to be in a band way back when. For a song that got to #7 in the charts at the time, no-one seems to remember this track at all, it isn’t even on Spotify and I can’t find a decent version on Youtube either.
There are some real gems of lines in here too, there’s not many songs I own that proclaim ‘I come from a land of crass hypocrisy’ and go on to mention lactation, free kicks and dribbling around your socks. It’s got a great solid chorus and is just altogether a class act. I’d forgotten just how fun this track was.
So that’s the 1537 digital football thing over and out, my interest obviously nose-dived after Euro 96 (which I really enjoyed) and 18 years on I still haven’t bought another football record. I’m fine with that.
*really no bad thing in my book.
**Irie being Jamaican patois for excellent, highest, great.