#41 – Joking Aside

2 Jun

Joking Aside
Joking Aside at Pulpwiki

“In my naive days, I thought that you were going to get a girlfriend and then it was all going to be all right. And then you find out that it’s not going to be all right.”

The ‘It’ recording sessions were finished, but the album wasn’t. Five tracks were done, with a total run time of 21 minutes – enough for a fairly long EP, but not enough for even a short mini-album. Tony Perrin, still somehow the band’s manager, had no choice but to go out and find the cash to complete the record. His solution was to play the completed tapes to Tony K of Red Rhino records, who liked the songs enough to stump up £500 for the band to go down to London and complete the sessions, so on the 15th of January 1983 the group went down to London’s Victoria Studios to record one more track. They arrived there without either Peter Boam or David Hinkler. The increasing side-lining of these two talented musicians was a poor sign for the stability of the line-up. Peter seems to have been resigned to leaving the group at this point, but David later expressed annoyance at recording sessions having taken place behind his back.

Aside from the remixing of “Blue Girls” and “My Lighthouse”, the sole product of the day’s work was ‘Joking Apart’ – a track which certainly fits the sound of ‘It’ and brings it up to mini-LP length. Aside from that, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm about it. An oom-pah-pah bier-keller waltz, it’s performed in an unironic folky style by the Artery rump of Simon Hinkler and Garry Wilson, with Jarvis’s school friend Jon Short guesting on country-fiddle-style cello. It’s not the usual instrument for this kind of music, and Short wasn’t happy with the single take, but Jarvis and Simon apparently thought it was good enough to keep.

Once again – fortunately for the last time – we hear all about one young man’s search for meaning in the daunting world of adult life, though to be fair these ideas are a little more mature this time. The lyrics are, in places, as good as anything on ‘It’ – “I’d like to turn you over / and see what’s on your other side” would fit well enough on any Pulp album from Freaks to This Is Hardcore. Jarvis makes a play of being disillusioned and world-weary – “Viewed from outside / these pursuits I might try / seem possessed of a certain allure / Now they’re no longer a source of mystery / my faith in them’s more unsure” – but being “unsure” isn’t quite the same as being tired of it all. And notice he “might try” these activities, meaning that he hasn’t tried them yet. This is, then, a prediction of cynicism, rather than real experience of it, but we won’t have to wait too long for the genuine article.

It’s a shame that these promising lyrics are matched to a tune and an arrangement which amount to little more than a nice idea taken way too far. The first couple of minutes are perfectly pleasant, but past that point the song frustratingly fails to go anywhere at all. The only motion towards taking it up a notch is when Saskia and Jill’s “luh luh luh luh” backing vocals come in, but these just sound out of tune and out of place. After the full four minutes and eighteeen seconds the idea that this is just filler becomes hard to shake. Placed towards the end of side A, just after the two “hits” of My Lighthouse and Wishful Thinking, it slows the record down into a lull it never fully escapes from.

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2 Responses to “#41 – Joking Aside”

  1. Toddlers 09/06/2012 at 11:39 am #

    Joking Aside is up there with my favourite early Pulp songs (along with The Will To Power and Dogs Are Everywhere), honestly think it’s glorious.

    • haonowshaokao 09/06/2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Just goes to show that it’s all a matter of personal taste, etc (That still seems like a very strange selection of favourites though)

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