In the catalogue of Pulp mark one, there is little more than a few crumbs of available material in a desert of the unrecorded, unreleased and uncirculated. Given the chance to unearth one tape from this era, I suspect that most would choose the Rotherham demo. The session features four tracks, none of which are available elsewhere, recorded at a time when the band were much more well-rehearsed and professional than before, and produced by a talented, sympathetic producer.
Kaley Studios in Rotherham were a slight improvement on Ken Patten’s living room, but obviously nowhere near the standard of the BBC’s Maida Vale. It seems to have been little more than a bit of derelict office space with sound-proofing and an 8-track mixing desk. The session was produced by David Hinkler’s brother Simon, whose day-job was playing keyboards and guitar in Artery. With the help of the studio engineer he was able to get four decent recordings out of the band in the time allotted.
From Mark Sturdy’s description, ‘Why Live?’ sounds pretty depressing. David plays mournful spanish guitar while Dolly joins in on the xylophone. Jarvis’s lyrics sound, on face value, to be indulgent teenage whining – “To moan and whine about my life is my perogative / Pessimistic overviews are all I have to give” – but the group were self-aware enough to know how silly po-faced whining could sound, so I suspect there may be more to this song.
Here we find Pulp’s one and only attempt at playing Jazz. A slow-paced, bluesy thing, with one of Jamie’s walking basslines, Wayne’s swing rhythm, Dolly’s blues guitar licks and David playing the ‘vibes’ setting on his keyboard. Jarvis sings a warbly, melancholy vocal, and Simon joins in with a piano solo at the end.
Another of the band’s upbeat ska pop songs – an upbeat, bouncy thing about girls and parties, with heavy synth parts from Dolly and David.
An upbeat one, apparently “power pop”, heavy on Dolly’s pitch-bended moog. It’s impossible to tell what this song is about from this fragment of lyrics, but you can safely guess that it’s not particularly serious – “Alternative reality/ Reject responsibility/ We’re walking barefoot in the park/ They lock the gates when it gets dark”
This was to be the line-up’s final recording. In the following months Jarvis, Dolly and Jamie took their A-levels, and band activity had to be suspended. When the exams were passed, it was time to go to university, and while Jarvis’s mother was happy enough for him to defer his place, the other two were not so lucky. With interest in the band petering out, the end of this particular Pulp was inevitable.