singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
15 January 2019
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800

I am, as you know, a very sophisticated person with very sophisticated tastes. Therefore, I like Felt. Well, I don’t actually like them; people like chicken jalfrezi and Coronation Street. It’s a common, low-class kind of thing. A connoisseur such as I appreciates Felt. One speaks of “craft”, “subtlety”, and “crystalline beauty”. One points out that Lawrence only did the song titles on Train Above the City but that it was enough; and cocks a snoot at the current reissuing of the back catalogue (which you probably call the ouevre, or corpus) because you have a full set of (cherished) original pressings. (Stained with the butter drips from crumpets.) You can also remind your audience that John Peel didn’t like Felt, setting yourself up as the most elite of musical contrarians.

All of that, of course, is great. But really? If I’m in the mood for Lawrence, I’m far more likely to reach for the Denim. Because you and I know that I’m hot-dog eating, jeans-wearing, pop-music listening, working-class trash, and Denim are much more on my level than the poetry-reading, jazz-chording, marimba-playing arty-farty Felt ever were.

So here’s a collection filler, picked up off Discogs. It comes from the Denim on Ice era: whenever that was. On Ice was the “band”’s second album: a double, which took years to make and involved a cast of thousands. (This happened around the time the Stone Roses were doing the exact same thing to far less effect.)

It Fell off the Back of a Lorry has it all. Orchestral stabs. A vocoder. The Glitter Band. A phaser. A kids’ choir. Bass pops. A lyric containing all of a dozen words. It’s genius, and it exemplifies why I like Denim more than Felt. The low-rent, everyman framing of Denim’s music perfectly complements Lawrence’s wit, ear for melody, and omnivorous creativity. Though Felt were always brilliant too, they were brilliant in a less fun, less, obvious way. And musically, you can’t be too obvious for me.

What did you hate when you were a child? Cabbage? Maths? Having your hair washed on a Sunday night? One of the things I hated was – I swear I’m not making this up – Peter Skellern. And, to a lesser extent, Richard Stilgoe. They used to turn up on various variety shows, and, I think, Nationwide, and there was something about their dapper smartness and Coward-lite wit that grated on eight-year-old me like you wouldn’t believe. I can’t explain it, and I certainly bear neither a grudge today. I mention this because the first song on the ‘b’, Snake Bite, is a Peter Skellern cover. All squelching synths and ’70s glamourousness. It’s great. I took a rare trip to YouTube (yes, I’m a hypocrite) looking for the original, expecting a man in a tuxedo playing it on the piano, but no, it turns out Lawrence (though I doubt he actually played a note of his version) did it straight. It’s excellent, and I regret my inexplicable dismissal of Peter Skellern. I might even pick up an album of his next time I see one in the “misc 70s” section of a second-hand shop. Sorry, Peter. We got there in the end.

Finally, Internet Curtains. It’s an edited version of the one on Novelty Rock, trimmed down so the only remaining lyrics are the title. Man, I love Denim. Tell you what, while we’re at it, just give me a sec, I know exactly where it is…

5

Chris Lowe might not like much really (does he), but he still likes more than Lawerence, who spends most of this bona-fide classic telling us who and what he actively hates. Sometimes it’s as specific as a song (Blue Suede Shoes), sometimes it’s as broad as a genre (multiple), sometimes broader still. (Riffs. Guitar licks.) He likes the middle of the road, though does not specify whether it’s the genre or the band. (The appropriation of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep suggest the latter.) Either is fine by me.

I can’t be doing with this idea of the “guilty pleasure”. Unless you find your pleasure in harming or exploiting someone, why would you ever feel bad about it? It’s as stupid as being proud of yourself for liking (or at least wearing the T-shirt of) a band.

Be honest about your music. I try my best to be. It’d take more than forty pieces of silver for me to renounce Steps, but I’ll tell you for nothing that there are only three good songs on Aeroplane over the Sea. And it’s fine not to like Sonic Youth you know. No one actually cares.

So, friends, remember:

Don’t be told who to like / It’s your choice, it’s your right to choose who you listen to / It’s your rock and roll

That’s as good as any advice music’s ever given us, and I am inspired by it. Like Lawrence, I am bored of being force fed your so-called “heroes”. And I’m prepared to name names too. The Clash. Joy Division. The Who. The Beatles (collectively and individually). New Order. Adult Michael Jackson. Kylie. Take That. Tom Jones. Adele. Hendrix. Nirvana. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Pulp. Springsteen. Banksy. Crap. All of them. IN MY OPINION. You’re welcome to yours, just remember it’s no more valid than mine.

Denim 4-ever.

5