Four Hundred And Eighty-Seven Thousand Times

I’m looking for someone that I can play with
I don’t care if she’s skinny, I don’t care if she’s fat
As long as she goes for boys like me
‘Cause I like them like that

Love eh? what’s it all about? now I’m aware that over the years this question has vexed the best poets, philosophers and scientists as countless of them have had a go at pondering the imponderable.  Some would have you believe that love is the most precious, most humane feeling of all, a transcendent state of being that defines and differentiates our species as human.  Others would have you know that all love is sent from heaven, a gift from the deity and that we move closer to him/her when we exhibit it.  Still others would have you believe that it is solely a biological process, fully explicable with reference to physiological processes and minute chemical imbalances within the body.  Moe Berg has his own theory.

She might be a Catholic
She might be a nurse
She might give me a child
Or gonorrhoea, or something worse

Moe, lead singer and lyricist with 1537 faves, The Pursuit of Happiness knows that love is the root of all, if not evil, then all awkwardness, social compulsion and regret, as well as the source of all manner of jiggy-piggy pleasures which you can feel awkward, obsess about and regret later*.  Love Junk, the band’s debut, illustrates this perfectly and I think, at its best, an absolutely brilliant LP.

She might be a painter
Or a communist with my luck
But that that’s the kind of girls
You really want to fuck
Yeah, so I’m looking for girls

TPOH Junk 07

The TPOH sound is right there from the off on ‘Hard to Laugh’, if forced at moose-point to describe it I’d plump for something usefully vague like ‘garage band power pop’, the chugging riffs are leavened by jangly guitars and Leslie Stanwyck and Kris Abbot’s vocals; I’ve always loved the female vocals on their stuff.  Their sound developed, acquired more light and shade, as I assume they got better at their game, but I really dig the urgency they infuse every track on Love Junk with.  ‘Hard to Laugh’ is a brilliant tale of a boyfriend’s angst that his beautiful girlfriend has been cheating on him, ‘People always asks you why you’re so serious / ‘Cause your woman’s got a body that would make most men delirious’; personally I think its all in his head and she’s faithful to him, or at least until his jealousy inevitably drives her into the arms of another.  ‘Ten Fingers’ is another perfectly realised take on obsession, the sheer repetition of ‘Is that the way it feels for you?’ drives this home perfectly.  Lots of love here, just not much light.

I might find her in a car
I might find her in a cave
I might pull her from a shopping mall
I might pull her from the grave

It was the smart-arse lyrics of ‘I’m An Adult Now’ which first really hooked me on Love Junk.  Wrapped up in their rockingest tune, Berg’s lyrics essentially deal with how crap it is being adult and semi-sensible at least, nailing it perfectly in relation to girls and sex.  There’s some tasty bass playing from Johnny Sinclair prominent on this tune too**.  It was and is an incredibly cool thing to write a song about, still more so to carry it off so well.  Pausing briefly to patronise a younger girl, albeit both ironically and enviously, on ‘She’s So Young’, we hit one of my favourite song titles head-on; ‘Consciousness Raising as a Social Tool’.  We’re really not in the Crüe-zone here folks, a song about political/spiritual activity as a means to a social end? again the fact it is a good tune, saves it from just being smart-ass.

I want to kiss her lips
I want to see her dance
I want to see her wriggle and jiggle
Right out of her pants***
Yeah, so I’m looking for girls

TPOH Junk 05

My absolute favourite track on Love Junk is ‘Walking on the Woods’, over some clever, restrained drum and strum, Moe recounts the tale of seeing a pretty girl reading a book on the subway train one morning, catching her eye sharing a smile (she smiled when she caught me so I diverted my look / when I lifted my head she was back inside her book) and regrets the fact you can’t just go and say hello like that, how we live like ‘we’re walking in the woods’.  Two weeks later he sees a newspaper article about her, here he rhymes ‘grief-stricken mom and dad’ with ‘beaten pretty bad’ and feels really bad for her, sometimes when you walk in the woods, ‘the wolves are gonna eat you’ and when you see a pair of eyes you don’t know if you’re seeing a friend.  I love this track, for the music, for the subject matter and for the execution, its just there and right for me^.

I’m looking for someone
With a voice that’s true
And I’m going to be nice to her
May she’ll be nice too

Then I’m going to do it
Gonna do it to her
Four hundred and eighty-seven thousand times
Yeah, so looking for girls

As it is traditional for me to say it at this point when I glance at my word count (I’m terrified of boring you), I won’t give you the whole track-by-track here.  Needless to say though, I love the girlfriend’s-discarded-clothes-as-mental-travelogue on the ‘Beautiful White’, clearly recorded in Hornovision and the jingly-jangly college rock feel of ‘When The Sky Comes Falling Down’.  And is as equally traditional, Love Junk does tail off slightly towards the end of the second side, but it’s none of it poor, maybe just a victim of such high earlier standards.

Note the symbolic plastic carrot of love
Note the symbolic plastic carrot of love

Okay so I’ll come clean, I’m an unrepentant fan of The Pursuit of Happiness, I mean come on – any band whose fan club was called ‘The Love Slaves of TPOH’ nudges towards the upper echelons of my affections.  They made some excellent music, made me chuckle, made me nod my head and just wince as Moe sang truths that most of us wouldn’t whisper.  Most of all though I appreciated the way Moe knew love.

Looking for girls
Looking for girls
Looking for girls
Looking for girls

410 Down.

P.S – interspersed lyrics courtesy of ‘Looking For Girls’.

*and occasionally, very occasionally, breaks out into full-on hopeful romance such as the moving ‘All I Want’ on One-Sided Story.

**saw this for the first time ever today.

I can’t even look at young girls anymore
People will think I’m some kind of pervert
Adult sex is either boring or dirty
Young people they can get away with murder

I don’t write songs about girls anymore
I have to write songs about women
No more boy meets girl boy loses girl
More like man tries to understand what the hell went wrong

***the dance/pants rhyme scheme is officially endorsed on the 1537 blog.

^and a step on from Starz ‘Subway Terror’, the only other track I can think of along similar lines.

36 thoughts on “Four Hundred And Eighty-Seven Thousand Times

  1. People in Canada don’t even know about ‘TPOH’ . Moe’s a cheese eating adult “now”. I cant get that lyric out off my head “now”. When are you going to do a piece on the heavy weights of Can/Rock BTO?

      1. I don’t own any BTO either but I just like them because they are proud Canucks. Your buddies DOA did a video way back of ‘Taking Care of Business’ Classic. They’re playing hockey. Sooner or later it all comes down to Hockey.

      2. I am grinning from ear to ear. Again you have me speechless. ‘The Good Old Hockey Game’ , best part about that song is, the video has Dave ‘Tiger’Williams in it. The all time NHL bad boy. And I think he’s of Welsh heritage to boot. That song was staple at certain arenas. I have a perma grin on my face and I haven’t even smoked any dope.

  2. I can confirm Mike’s bit about Moe’s height. And herein lies a tale, about the time I bodychecked Moe Berg.

    I was walking along in Toronto and there was a big crowd in front of Lee’s Palace for some show. I wasn’t going to the show, but I did want to get to the other side of the crowd. I was forced to walk out onto the road a bit to get around them all. As I was stepping back up onto the curb I accidentally shouldered this Dude pretty hard (we probably moved towards each other at the same time and collided) and as I turned to apologize I realized it was Moe. He just smiled and said no worries.

    I regret now that I didn’t accost him and shake his hand and thank him for all of the wonderful music (as I, too, am a fan of TPOH), but I was so intent on making sure the dude was alright and then I just sort of carried on my way as his attention went back towards the front of the club. Ah well.

    Anyway, I’m 6’2″ tall, and Moe was well, well shorter than me. Like (I’m guessing) 5″8 or so? I dunno, I didn’t stop to measure his height, but my memory of it was of a much shorter Dude. And that’s OK, I don’t care. He’s a giant as a songwriter. He was wearing a cool black leather jacket with big buckles, too.

    And that is my story about the time I body-checked Moe Berg. Stay tuned next time for my story about the time I body-checked Liona Boyd.

    ALSO: Moe wrote a book, you should find a copy. It was called The Green Room. I read it (my copy is lost now) and it was good.

    1. Whoa! Book is on my list now.

      Great story – potential one for the grand kids one day!

      Tell us the one about the time you accidentally round-housed Celine Dion!

      1. Book shouldn’t be too hard to find. If you have difficulties from there, let me know and I’ll track one down for you. Bloggers of this cool kids group unite!

        Yeah, I felt bad about kocking into Moe. Ah to go back and thank him for the tunes. Alas.

        I’ve never been that close to Céline. Give me time.

        The Liona story, however, is totally true.

  3. I love this review SO MUCH! My sister and I used to sing to “I’m an Adult Now” loudly as young’uns. That video Mike posted used to play a lot over here.

    1. Thank you SO MUCH! It’s a great vid that, made for about $8.99 I’d bet – just shows all you need is a spark and some creativity.

    1. Wow! Never seen that before, that’s such a great video – the dancing dude half-way through stole some of my moves though.

      Moe looks about 11 years old and I didn’t realise that the ladies didn’t join until later on.

      This is what got them signed wasn’t it?

      1. Well then you stole those moves from me, mang!

        This is what got them signed, yeah. Doesn’t Moe look different…but the same? You know what I mean?

    2. MOE BERG !!! ThankYouThankYouThankYouTHANKYOU!
      You won a bet for me (lost touch with him,can’t collect, but meh…)
      Record warehouse co-worker in the 80’s HATED TPOH – we’d see a flyer on a pole and he’d always add an extra “O” to it. They ruled the Toronto Queen St bar strip then- The Rivoli, Cameron House, The Horseshoe Tavern, The Gladstone Hotel, etc.(you’d even hear “I’m an Adult Now” playing in the pizza slice place). I thought they were great live, and that was as the trio that Mike posted (shot in the parking lot beside the Rivoli), the girls weren’t around yet. Moe was just as witty with his stage banter as his lyrics, could SHRED hecklers.
      But my co-worker/musical snob Rick always kept complaining and trying to drag me out of the bars. He said NO-ONE will ever like this outside of Toronto, just lame power-pop.
      And here you, jatstorey, are….
      WALES, Rick, frickin’ WALES!!!

      1. Ace! I’d loved to have seen them. I did possibly buy the only UK copies of the two LPs – shame, I think they were brilliant.

        Yup, there was a tiny corner of rural West Wales that was very Toronton(? Torontonian? Torontonish?). How could anyone hate them? I do remember reading about Moe Berg trying to piss on a photograph of Kylie Minogue on stage over here – I just assumed it was a Canadian thing.

      2. Torontonians (spoken in a James Earl Jones voice of authority) can only urinate on pop divas- it’s called “Syndrome de la Celine Dion” and is caused by the CN tower radiation. ;-P

        Rick was the worst kind of musical snob- the ONLY band he thought was any good were The Rolling Stones. “Best Rock ‘n Roll Band In The World” yadda yadda yadda…. (rolls eyes)

      3. Ahh, so that’s why. Apparently his urinary tract wasn’t up to the job, luckily for all in the first few rows!

      4. Cool! Glad to see so many memories of this video. It stood out, even back then. The “short haired guy with the big glasses and leather jacket.” Nobody mistook Moe for anyone else.


  4. How the hell did you hear of TPOH? That’s awesome man!

    Moe Berg wrote some tunes on the last Helix album. Good songs, too. I’ll have to post my review of it soon, for you to peruse.

    Moe is very, very, very tiny.

    1. No way! He’s a nine foot tall, wordy colossus of a man! You’re just jealous!

      I never knew there was a Helix link. I got into TPOH through a review of ‘One Sided-Story’ in Kerrang! mail-ordered it sight-unheard and never looked back.

      1. Sadly I may own several of the only TPOH albums ever sold in the UK, I haven’t met anyone who found them without my help/wearing them down remorselessly.

        I’ll have to have a listen to the Helix tracks now.

        The Wikipedia thing impresses me, you know.

      2. I can arrange to send you some TPOH CDs if you need more to spread the word!

        The Wikipedia thing was my OCD. I was frustrated that there was no single source that contained a complete, accurate discography & history of Helix. Even their official website has gaps. I did the Helix articles just so I didn’t have to fucking look up info in all sorts of different places! No lie! So I culled it from their website, Brian Vollmer’s book, all the CD credits, and so on. In the process I found that I own a Helix song that Brian Vollmer has absolutely no memory of.

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