It’s always going to be a difficult choice, the first posting on a new blog. But this little seventies' gem not only sets the tone for things to come, but it was the record that began my obsession with new and 'alternative' music.
It wasn't the first record I bought, that was Wizzard's 'See My Baby Jive'. (Curiously enough, for those who are into synchronicity, 'See My Baby Jive' was the number one record in the British singles chart on the day of my live-in-lover and mother of my daughter's birth!)
As a thirteen year old kid, punk rock had excited and enthused me. But U.K post-punk I initially found disappointing. It was too dour, too bleak, apocalyptic even, for my sensitive adolescent ears. (My own serious existential angst was yet to kick-in.)1979, the year of Unknown Pleasures, Live at the Witch Trials, Three Imaginary Boys , Metal Box (still, I believe, one of the bleakest recordings ever) and Wire's 154, all of which scared and depressed the hell out of me. They also seemed to go against all that punk promised and stood for; at least in the way I understood it.
I was looking for some joy in my life, and apart from my new found interest in reggae, the majority of dynamic new music seemed to be emanating from the States.I had already discovered Zappa, Beefheart, the Fugs and the Residents, as well as lots of U.S. psychedelia, but what sounded most gratifying and inspiring to me was the music coming out of the American new wave scene: The Cramps' Songs the Lord Taught Us, Talking Heads with their classic Fear of Music and Devo's Duty Now for the Future (although I was always a little perturbed by Mothersbaugh's "We shoved the Poles in the holes").
But then, one normal school-day lunchtime, while smoking cigs and playing darts with a few muckers, the guy whose house we had invaded decided to play his older brother's brand new single. It was the funniest but at the same time one of the most progressive pieces of music I had heard.
And it instantly changed my life.
So what does it sound like?Well, it is a kind of cover version of the song 'Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)' (originally Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt) made famous by Marlene Dietrich in the movie The Blue Angel (originally Der blaue Engel), but it deliciously deviates away from the original English translated lyric; especially noticeable when the vocalist blurts out "666" every now and then in a most tourettic fashion.
There's lots of primitive keyboards, but not in a Human League or Kraftwerk way; they're used far more humorously, particularly on the flip side, when the moog adopts a spiteful onomatopoeic laugh. And it is, despite being fun (in a dancey kind of way), terribly vitriolic and blatantly misanthropic:
"I like to laugh coz you look like a clown with your trousers down
And when you're talking with someone you're trying to impress
And you're trying so hard but they couldn't care less
And you feel like you're starting to look like a jerk
So you put on an air but it just doesn't work
And your voice starts to crack and there's sweat on your face
And already I can see that you wish you were dead
You're so funny I just have to laugh"
and there's even a little xenophobia, to boot:
"I like to laugh at Americans
I like to laugh at their Westcoast's men
I like to laugh at the clothes they wear
I like to laugh at their haircuts, yeah"
Unfortunately, the band, who were based in Bristol in the west of England were not together long, producing just one other single and an album. They were part of the Fried Egg Record stable, and this single was the first Fried Egg produced.
I hope I've whet your appetite, and I will be posting Shoes for Industry's album Talk Like a Whelk sometime in the near future.
That's just as good; only longer!
Falling in Love Again (label credit: can't help it)
Laughing Song (label credit: Laughbeat)