The seventies finished with Arabicus Pulp having made a few 8mm films, written a few songs, but crucially without them having played live. Perhaps it was because they were too nervous or too unprepared, but more likely it was down to Jarvis and Dolly lacking a halfway-competent rhythm section. Fungus had failed to master the “bass”* at all, and Dixie was still “drumming” on the coal-scuttle.
In 1980 all was to change – by the end of the year they would be regularly playing live around the city, playing with real (cheap) equipment, making a name for themselves (that name would now be, yes, ‘Pulp’) and going through bassists and drummers with reckless abandon. Fungus was inevitably the first to go, replaced by Philip Thompson (“Pip”), then Dixie was dropped after their first public performance and replaced by nicknameless Jimmy Sellars. By the end of the year Pip was out too, replaced by Jamie Pinchbeck, formerly of heavy rock band Satan.
There were no proper recording sessions embarked upon in 1980, no gig recordings are in circulation, and even set lists are in short supply, so unfortunately there are another four songs we’ve really no chance of hearing.
The most obscure of all known early Pulp tracks, nothing more than a name on a remembered set list. Any information would be welcome.
On the 5th July 1980 Pulp played their second ever concert. Their first had been in their school assembly hall, in front of friends and classmates. This one was to be in front of paying customers, in support of a moderately successful local band, The Naughtiest Girl Was a Monitor. Lacking more than a handful of complete songs, Pip’s imitation of a Jah Wobble bass line was hastily fleshed out into what became “Disco Baby” that afternoon. It joined a few cover versions on the set list that night, and then managed to stay on set lists into 1981, outstaying its creator and most of the other contemporary tracks.
A song played at an early concert at the Royal Hotel, Sheffield. Jimmy Sellars sang harmony vocals with Jarvis – he’d broken his hand and was unable to play. NMX fanzine reviewed the performance:
“There’s very little I can tell you about Pulp, because I asked them to send me some information about them and they never did (if you’re reading this, why not? Don’t you want to be famous?). I saw them at the Royal, which despite the (lack of) atmosphere is by a long way the best place for discovering new talent in Sheffield, and their music seems to be a mixed bag of all things modern, as if they listen to the John Peel show every night in an endless quest for influences. They look so young you think they ought to be too busy studying for their ‘O’ levels to be messing about with these damned pop groups, but I understand one of them works in the fish market. Anyway, they don’t appear to have seen enough of life to be obsessed with doom and despair, instead covering more superficial subjects such as ‘Message From The Martians’ and ‘Disco Baby’. Despite comparatively elementary musical ability and a slight togetherness problem they’re a fun band and definitely one to watch for in the future.”
New bassist Jamie Pinchbeck brought along a couple of songs when he joined the group. One, ‘Devil Doll’ never caught on, but this one served well as his legacy in the group, being played as late as 1982, outstaying its creator much as ‘Disco Baby’ had. If Pulp had recorded an album with the original lineup then the writing credits would have had to be fairly complicated.
Next week we’ll finally be getting to single reviews of single songs. See you there.
*actually the bottom four strings of an acoustic guitar