I can’t explain why I need to be free
But if you need to be naked that’s alright by me  (After You)

Got rare if you want it. Rare from a band I briefly loved beyond all others, I resisted their charms for ages then fell hard for the corduroy and nylon charms of Pulp when they released the sparkling, intelligent and awkward Different Class.  I genuinely can’t think of many better, or more complete albums at all. So I got collecting…

Pulp Promos 03

F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. by Pulp, a one-sided promo only mix by Sheffield oddball dancesters/chic popsters Moloko.   It was only released as a promotional record around the time of the ‘Something Changed’ single* in very limited numbers.  I won mine in a competition to write something amusing about when Jarvis Cocker leaped up on stage at the Brit awards and wafted his skinny arse at Michael Jackson in disgust at his messianic shenanigans.  No idea what I wrote, I wasn’t organised/optimistic enough to keep a copy, but it was clearly every bit as wonderful as you would expect from a man of my talent.

Pulp Promos 05

Pulp Promos 04

This isn’t chocolate boxes and roses
It’s dirtier than that, like some small animal that only comes out at night
And I see flashes of the shape of your breasts and the curve of your belly
And they make me have to sit down and catch my breath

The music? oh.  Well.  The original ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.’ is one of the songs that made me revere Pulp to start with.  I love its oddness, that synthy spacey beginning, with Jarvis muttering rather malevolently over the top, sounding like an electro pop Jake Thackeray.  There’s obsession, passion, griminess and transcendence right here in these masterful grooves.  Well, there is on the original.  This Moloko remix is a little more disconcerting, taking the vocals and backing them with a creeping (C.R.E.E.P.I.N.G?) baseline, which dilutes the feeling for me, but seems to add a real pathos to the ‘It’s so cold yeah, it’s so cold’ lines; the mood almost prefiguring the frigidity and agony of Pulp’s This Is Hardcore album.  They do a very deft job and I am very glad to have heard it, but I’ll stick with the original for now.

Pulp Promos 02Pulp Promos 06

Out of sequence I know, but hey, Common People.  In some ways I should just leave it at that, arguably apart from a contender, or two from Dylan and Cave** I genuinely cannot think of a better song than this.  Funny, barn-storming, intelligent, righteously angry, very danceable and socially sound, it really does tick all my boxes.  This promo only 12″ features both 7″ and full-length versions of the track, along with a remix by Motiv 8 and the ‘Vocoda Mix’, phew!  I really like the idea of indie darlings Pulp approaching Motiv 8 to remix this track and getting the biggest, daftest, most mainstream Euro pop sound they could for their little sugared pill.  This is precisely what they got too, it’s big, obvious and bouncy, just the sort of thing that would have me dancing around my handbag down the disco; even better they don’t lose a single word of Jarvis’ attack.

The ‘Vocoda Mix’ is even better, although it doesn’t actually credit anyone with the mix, it trips off on an elegiac Giorgio Moroder tip^ hitting that perfect mix of upbeat melancholy that always brings to mind long night-time journeys for me, flashing into Goldfrapp territory a little.  The full length version will always be the best but for once, that’s no fault of these clever remixes.

Pulp Promos 07

Next up is one of the few RSD records I own, their 2014 single After You.  Worked up from an unfinished demo from the sessions for their last LP, the track was exhumed by the band when they reformed and reanimated by James Murphy, made available for download it saw light of day in RSD 2013.  I dig Soulwax but their two mixes here don’t add anything for me whereas the original version … wow! ‘After You’ would have been a stand out track on Different Class, even.  After a deceptively quiet intro it all explodes into bass-driven life and Jarvis is on his best nudge-nudge-wink-wink form, back to his all-conquering form as the saucy stick insect overlord of Earth,

On the last night on earth, when the horses roam free
The scriptures foretell of a party in Hackney
In a dimly lit room full of loathing and hate
They’re selling their souls and I just can’t wait

I shrivel inside at the sight of your beauty
I fall to the floor as she’s shaking her booty
I was up to the gunnels, against all advice
I felt so ashamed that I did it twice^^

This is all carried along by a great up-tempo performance by the band, Pulp’s greatest strength musically has been their ability to absorb, reflect and refract all kinds of music from the 60’s to the 90’s bending it into their own very distinctive shape and sounding like absolutely no-one else.  Lots try, but I can’t think of anyone else who ever succeeded on this scale and that takes some real innovation and skill from the players.  Hearing After You just made me greedy for more new Pulp, which I sadly can’t see happening any lifetime soon.

So, one more thing before I go, check out one of my all-time favourite things I own: the promo for Mis-Shapes/Sorted.  It came in a beautiful promo package, in the style of AND WITH a knitting pattern! Oh yes.  I’ll write about the music one day when I review Different Class*^, let’s keep this very superficial for now.  Just check out the attention to detail.

Click to enlarge and read it properly
Click to enlarge and read it properly

Pulp Mis-Shapes 03Pulp Mis-Shapes 05

It's not actually yellowed at all, blame my rudimentary photography skills.
It’s not actually yellowed at all, blame my rudimentary photography skills.
OKay, so it is a CD, but at least it is appropriately pin-striped
OKay, so it is a CD, but at least it is appropriately pin-striped

This all makes me very happy and always provides me with the answer to that eternal Britpop question,

Q: Who was best, Blur or Oasis?

A: Pulp.

612 Down.


*the one that had his and hers, CD covers.

**not forgetting ‘Long Stick Goes Boom’ by Krokus, of course, which must feature large when any definitive history of twentieth century culture is written:

^check out my dance lingo!

^^I edited the lyrics a bit, to fit my own fell purpose.

*^when I’m good enough.

20 thoughts on “R.A.R.E.P.U.L.P

  1. Very much enjoyed this Joe.
    As you know, Hardcore’s on the 1001 – when I looked at it, I argued that if you took the big ’95 album and the ’97/98 followup from Blur/Oasis/Pulp, Pulp takes the title – I’m pleased I’m in excellent company!
    Different Class will probably be somewhere around review #992 for me, such a wonderful record.

    1. Thank you, fellow believer! I couldn’t agree more.

      I’ve never heard ‘Hardcore’ all the way through actually, I was skint when it came out and I never got around to getting it since. I think vinyl copies of it are pricey.

      1. I found it on compact disc for $2 – I think I did a double take when I saw it, Pulp doesn’t usually spend much time in the bargain bins!
        I really like the opening track, really sets the tone right away that it’s not DC part II

  2. Jings! Moloko! Mind them?

    As for Pulp, I’ve been rediscovering them recently. Different Class mostly. Great stuff.

    … and my answer to that question has always been Supergrass!

  3. Great write up. I tells ya, all these posts about Pulp have got me listening to nothing but! Yeah, I love that Motiv 8 version of Common People, although I’m sad to say I just have it on CD.

    1. Thanks Ian – I absolutely fixate on Different Class, not a duff second on there, not even a duff nano-second.

      I was lucky I got this stuff hot off the press before it got to pick up any real scarcity value.

      I just love the band going as absolutely populist as they could do, clever dressed as dumb.

  4. I’m gonna be the odd man out here, maybe, but I never cared for this stuff. I get that people love it, but I never could get my head around Pulp, or Blur, or Oasis or any of the Brit wave bands in the 90s.

    So, I’m happy for you that you have these, it’s cool owning rare things that bring you pleasure. As a collector myself, I absolutely see the value in these items.

    But musically, I’m gonna sit this one out. Carry on!

    Q: Who was best, Blur, Oasis or Pulp?
    A: None of them. 😉

    [braces for inevitable blast of WTF from the fans of these bands, is ok with that]

      1. Haha I soak up your abuse! You can’t scare me! Or beat me to a… Pulp.


        So given the other comments here, should I do this as a drunk review, or would that be treading on sacred ground?

      2. You’re a free man, I have no issues over you reviewing whatever you like. Hell, you can even elect a tattooed prime minister, if you want to!

      3. All this freedom! Mwahahaha! Ah, I won’t have time for ages anyway, I got too much good loot in Taranna to go through!

        As for the PM, well, we’ll see. He didn’t have my vote*. I hope he proves me wrong.

        *I was thisclose to voting for Don Cherry. Again.

    1. Thank you, I don’t go in for collecting this intensely anymore but these are great items. The knitting pattern (although my shite photography makes it look frayed and yellowed) is my favourite – just reminds me of the ones my mum and gran had. Very witty, very clever, very fitting for Pulp.

    1. (takes bow, on behalf of self and band)

      I know, they make me happy. Occasionally when no-one else is in, I close the curtains and rub them on my naked chest. True story.

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