With the Peel session broadcast, and the band on the front of the Sheffield Star in their school uniforms, Pulp went overnight from being also-rans, not good enough to get on the decidedly patchy ‘Bouquet of Steel’ compilation, to the relative heights of the Sheffield B-league. As the A-league had largely migrated to London by 1982, this meant Pulp were headlining their own gigs, or supporting well-known groups like Artery. They even had their own feature in Melody Maker and a review in Sounds – everything looked like it was on the up. Sadly, though, the next year would see the attention begin to fade, and now they were finishing their A-levels there was pressure on Jarvis and Dolly to finish messing around and go to university.
This is another era where almost nothing is in circulation, but recordings do exist, so we’re more likely to eventually hear some of these than Message To The Martians or Shakespeare Rock. These five songs were performed live, but none were ever professionally recorded. What little information we have on them is largely sourced from Mark Sturdy’s book.
A noisy instrumental song used to open shows, with a typical Jamie Pinchbeck bassline smothered in spiky guitar chords.
Could this be the start of the band’s mid-80s obsession with Slavic culture? At a gig at Bath University Jarvis describes ‘Zhivago’ as “that rare thing in modern music, a Russian love song.” Mark Sturdy describes the song as having a “jerky, Eastern-sounding bassline, thudding, syncopated drums and a nicely dissonant guitar.” With lyrics like “Days out in the snow, seem so long ago” it sounds very much like the song may be based on the 1965 film version of Doctor Zhivago
In February that year, Pulp gained a 5th member. David Hinkler (younger brother of Simon Hinkler of Artery) had previously played with Wayne in Vector 7-7, and had a roving role, playing guitar, keyboards and trombone, generally expanding and augmenting the band’s sound. After a short while he settled down as the group’s keyboard player, setting up on one side of the stage, with Dolly on the other with his organ and cornet.
#21 – Red Letter Day
The first of three tracks preserved in an (uncirculated) recording from The Limit, in April. This one is, apparently, a moody, down-tempo song about receiving a ‘Dear John’ letter. It was a new one, but didn’t survive to be recorded for ‘It’ a year later, so the song may never have been properly finished.
#22 – You’ve Got a Face
Another song first performed at The Limit, this one seems to have been “twitchy ska”, perhaps in the vein of ‘I Scrubbed The Crabs…’.
#23 – You Go First
The third new song from the gig at The Limit, a moody number built around Dolly’s wobbly synths.