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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
*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.