I have a confession; this isn’t my first Pulp-related writing project. In 1997, during that strange lull between ‘Help The Aged’ and ‘This Is Hardcore’ I put out my first Pulp zine, ‘Blue Glow‘. It contained nothing in the way of interviews, news or in-depth analysis, but plenty of novelty features and off-topic wittering.
According to most independent sources, the most interesting article was the ‘Pulp Taste Test‘ – something I’d created by putting eight Pulp tracks on a tape and getting non-fans (people I knew from Sixth Form) to review them ‘blind’. The selection was as wilfully obtuse as possible, every song featuring a wildly different style. I hoped that none of the reviewers would twig that they were listening to the same band. Results were varied. ‘The Will To Power’ didn’t go down very well at all. Only one track met with universal approval; ‘Love Love’.
It was an unusual winner, but it does make some sort of sense. On the album it sounds perversely out-of-place – the final notes of ‘Blue Girls’ fade away and, before you have a chance to readjust yourself, there’s a few thumps of what David Hinkler refered to as “the heaviest bass drum I’ve heard in my life” and we launch into a straight-up jolly trad jazz song. In theory it’s as jarring as it would be if the album cut to Gants Graf by Autechre; in practice it sort of works – sort of – only because ‘Love Love’ itself is so fundamentally un-annoying.
later on, much would be made of the fact that the writer of these songs was, at the time, a virgin, and nowhere is it more obvious than here. Meeting a “special girl” he invites her not for a sordid weekend in a sleazy hotel, but to his mum’s house “for tea.” True, they end up under the table, but it seems unlikely that much is going on beneath the cloth. Later they go to the park to feed the ducks. It’s all so charming and inoffensive that it’s almost impossible to make fun of. Fortunately the innocence is charming, but it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that a slightly older Jarvis may have found it a little embarrassing.
There’s not a lot of information available about the genesis of this odd little curio. It certainly sounds nothing like anything else from the Cocker / Hinkler improvisations that summer (or for that matter, like anything Pulp would ever record again). The trombone and clarinet, sitting squarely at the heart of the piece, were only added at the last minute. David put together his trombone parts on the balcony at Victoria Studios while the band were mixing inside, and the clarinet flourishes were improvised by Barry Thompson during his session. A former member of the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, he was the only musician present with any experience of this sort of music, and his contribution truly makes the song.
A real labrador puppy of a song, it’s impossible to hate ‘Love Love’. Though the lyrics lack insight and the music lacks originality, the finished product somehow stands up even today.