Tuesday, 16 November 2010

'Dance and drink and screw because there's nothing else to do' by @diaryofaledger

Back at the start of 1994 Pulp were nowhere.  Three albums down and their unique(ish) sound had captured no one's imagination.  Brit Pop changed that though and His 'n' Hers did pretty well, songs like Lipgloss and in particular Babies, were coming out of badly set up speakers at every indie disco in town.

What followed, in '95 was an album that put Pulp on the cultural map.  An album that for a while over took them and threatened to break lead singer and driving force Jarvis Cocker.  Different Class is so British, so of its time that listening back to it now it feels dated.  Brilliant but dated.  That there's a song about meeting up with someone in the year 2000 probably doesn't help.

What does survive throughout is the humour.  Cocker knew how to spin a lyric brilliantly, 'Your name was Deborah, it never suited ya.'  Genius.

Pulp were always about the words more than the music.  The songs are built to fit around Cocker, but it works so well here.  There's plenty of art school musings from the the man from Sheffield trying to make his way in London but it's hard to believe how much grief they got for Sorted for E's and Whizz a song basically taking the piss out of rave culture.  But it added to the infamy and helped raise the bands profile even further.

And then of course there's that song that they finished their brilliant set at Glastonbury with in '95 after replacing the Stone Roses.  Common People is the moment when Pulp reached perfection.  Sure there are songs on This is Hardcore (follow up album released in 1998) that are better produced, but Common People WAS 1995.  It's such a perfect piece of joyful pop music whilst at the same time a scathing attack on the rich kids at University slumming it with the masses.  The video was wonderful too.  Cocker's seemingly impossible, skinny, ever bendable body throwing shapes in a dayglo supermarket while trying to woo a young Sadie Frost.

Does the rest of the album stack up?  As a document of 1995 yes.  As an album that you'd listen to over and over again to now... maybe not.  I preferred His 'n' Hers more stripped down approach and the less 'concept album' feel of This is Hardcore with its denser more intense sound.

What is exciting is that around 15 years after I last saw them play live they'll be at the Isle of Wight Festival next summer, reformed and gigging again.  Common People with a backing of 50,000 is going to be special, I can promise you that.

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