Tag Archives: punk

#65 – Breaking Down at My Door

1 Dec

Breaking Down At My Door (Live, Hallamshire Hotel, Sheffield, March 1985)
Breaking Down At My Door at Pulpwiki

Were it not for the tape recorder secreted somewhere in the Hallamshire Hotel on the 28th of March 1985, Breaking Down At My Door would most likely be lost to history, along with a barely audible two-part spoken word piece called ‘Tilly’s Story’ by Mark Tillbrook. And, to be frank, neither would’ve been a great loss to the world.

All we have here is the same note thrashed out for eight bars, and the same eight bars repeated for three minutes – the only progression being that Jarvis starts out shouting excitedly and ends up shouting furiously, and that Magnus beats his drums in an more aggressive manner. Oh, and there’s a bit where Jarvis asks “can someone turn up the microphone please?” It’s all a bit of a mess, a ham-fisted attempt at making a punk ‘Sister Ray’ that just ends up as a mindless, pointless thrash.

This is no ‘Silence’ though. While it’s certainly nothing special, it does have a certain energy and passion to it, and lacks anything truly grating or pretentious. Soon Pulp would be drawing on motorik rhythms and hypnotic drones in a much more interesting way – and Breaking Down At My Door, in its own small way, is a start.

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#61 – Repressive Forkout

3 Nov

Repressive Forkout (Live, Dec 1984)
Repressive Forkout at Pulpwiki

Genre magpies as they were, 80s Pulp generally steered clear of metal, understandably considering the most successful Sheffield band of the time were Def Leppard. “Repressive Forkout” is the exception, though – an experiment in a different form. A listenable enough, dead-end of an experiment.

The main reason for the existence of Repressive Forkout is the riff. And what a riff it is! Almost enough to carry an entire song – which is presumably the reason they didn’t bother developing it any further. The following two and a half minutes feature a great deal of shouting and noisy thrashing and not a lot else.

For years this track was known as “Respect her, Reject her” since these two phrases constituted nearly half of the lyrics, and no setlist had become available. An interview with Russell for “Truth & Beauty” revealed the true title.

“We never really finished it. Manners came up with the title – because it was a loud, trashy punk thing, it made sense to give it a muck UK Subs, Sham 69 sort of title – you know, ‘repressive forkout, maaan!”

Only a working title for an unfinished song – and very little chance of either title or song being worked on further – and that’s all we’ve got.

#24-27 – The Rotherham Demo

23 Mar


A street in Rotherham, 1982. Click through for a superb ‘then and now’ photo gallery.

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.

#24 – Why Live?

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.

#25 – How Could You Leave Me?

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.

#26 – Teen Angst

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.

#27 – Barefoot in the Park

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.

#3 to #8 – Arabicus Pulp

14 Jan

 

Arabicus lasted just a few practices before fizzling out towards the end of the year, taking Ian Dalton and his coal scuttle skills with it. Jarvis and Dolly were by no means finished, though; as 1979 began they roped in two of their friends to make a proper four-piece band. David Lockwood (”Fungus”) was on bass, though he apparently failed to become a proficient player in his time with the group. On coal scuttle (there were still no drums around) was Mark Swift, known as Dixie. Another friend, Glen Marshall, wanted to be involved with the project, but lacking musical talent elected himself the group’s manager. This entailed tape-recording practice sessions and filming super-8 films, including a music video for ‘Shakespeare Rock’.

“Arabicus Pulp,” as this incarnation was known, never played a gig or recorded a session, so the only record of their existence is the various tapes and film clips presumably owned by Glen Marshall. This is therefore one of a few periods of (especially early) Pulp history where songs are unavailable as anything other than brief descriptions.

 

#3 – Queen Poser

Written by Peter Dalton. Apparently the title was just picked up from the NME, rather than being a critique of a popular girl at school. It seems to have been a staple of their early sets, before being dropped from the setlist when the band realised they had accidentally plagiarised Teenage Kicks by The Undertones.

#4 – What You Gonna Do About It?

A Jarvis / Dolly collaboration, this seems to have been their first attempt at writing a Punk song. Not Whatcha Gonna Do About It by The Small Faces, though it does sound like it may have been suspiciously similar.

#5 – I’ve Been Looking at the World Today

Had a rhyming couplet about “toilet rolls and dead sea scrolls” – further information is unavailable.

#6 – You Should’ve Known

We’re back in the realms of “trying to explain the whole world in a song” territory here, with an excoriation of person or persons unknown for failing to pay attention to current events. It’s hardly surprising that a high school student would be annoyed at the pig-ignorance of some of their more boorish classmates, but such feelings tend to be fleeting and limited to school days:

Someone died last night
As you polished up your shoes
But you were unaware
‘Cos you never watched the news
Too involved in your own existence
To see the world outside
It’s all too challenging
You just prefer to hide

It’s not quite as embarrassing as ‘Life Is A Circle’ but it’s close enough.

#7 – Message To The Martians

A novelty semi-instrumental which originally featured Fungus making alien noises while the others jammed over a bass-line nicked from Joy Division. It survived Fungus’s departure and featured in sets for the next year or so, eventually morphing into an infectious, repetitive drum-led piece which could continue for up to fifteen minutes. Of all the tracks in this short list, this is the one I’d most like to hear.

#8 – The Condom Song

When I was 16 years old some of my friends found the word ‘spoon’ hysterically funny. I may well have joined in with them. Other friends thought the word ‘cheese’ a touchstone of hilarity. Fortunately we were all worldly enough not to choose the word ‘condom’.
Back in late 70s Sheffield certain teenage boys thought it would be amusing to sing a song about these items, presumably as they’d never had the opportunity to see one, let alone use one. Personally I’m not really bothered if this song remains lost forever.

 

This entry owes a lot to Mark Sturdy’s book, as there seems to be no information out there about this time apart from what he uncovered in his interviews.