Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.

Monday

Dr. John



Although John Cooper-Clarke's caustic brand of "talking in tune" initially earned him the label of the new wave George Formby, he soon won recognition as the British punk scene's poet laureate. Following the Innocents EP and the 1978 album Où Est la Maison de Fromage? (Both on Martin Hannett's Rabid Records), Disguise in Love was Clarke's major-label debut. This album finds the Manchurian bard at his adenoidal, alliterative best, delivering some of his more memorable satirical verses. Fixated on the daily, warts-and-all miseries of life in post-war Britain and beyond, Clarke casts a wide misanthropic net, taking on everything from track suits to extraterrestrials. The Invisible Girls (featuring Bill Nelson, Pete Shelley, and Martin Hannett) provide musical backing that complements each poem, from a minimal, heartbeat-style jogging groove ("Health Fanatic") to a cheesy disco pastiche ("Post War Glamour Girl"). Clarke's performance works well with these arrangements, especially on "(I Married A) Monster From Outer Space" (a story of intergalactic love gone wrong set to sci-fi electronics) and "Readers' Wives," on which lurid observations on D.I.Y. Polaroid porn are adorned with an appropriately kitschy soundtrack. Clarke's ear for the rhythms of everyday language and his galloping, sometimes staccato delivery can be best appreciated on two unaccompanied pieces: "Salome Maloney," an apocalyptic tale of ballroom dancing and death, and "Psycle Sluts 1&2," an amphetamine-paced paean to biker women praised by Frank Zappa as an example of Clarke's "exquisite diction." While it's a testament to Clarke's comic sensibility that these tracks remain laugh-out-loud funny, it's also important to recognize him as an innovator. Just as pop writers like the Mersey poets made Clarke's work possible, so Clarke opened the doors for numerous (less-talented) ranters and popular wordsmiths such as Attila the Stockbroker, Joolz, Seething Wells, and Benjamin Zephaniah.


For many, the decision on John Cooper Clarke still rests on the combination of words and music. People who remember the singles and who've copped listens of this album have complained that the music gets in the way of  Clarke's dazzlingly inimitable wordiness. This is crap, not just because solo Clarke is too dry in repeated and large doses but because the music on this album is FUNNY!
This album could be the perfect Eno-song album. The eleven poems - two unaccompanied and nine soaked in cool electronic shuffles, soothed by pretty mechanical patterns - are suffused with an erotic intensity and gossamer fragility that's really convincing. They are laid over short, evocative aural landscapes that include 'coitus interruptus' dub effects, voice treatments, echoes, whimsical little melodies, overlapping rhythms, layered guitars, spacey bass and silly sound effects.
The music itself is put together by a number of experienced Manchurian hands. Martin (Zero) Hannett, a brand new whizz kid of the mixing board who has produced two of this decade's classics in “Spiral Scratch” and “Jilted John,” produces the album and composes the music with a guy called Hopkins (blowed if I can remember his christian name). Guitarists Peter Shelley and Bill Nelson are known to have contributed. The 'compositions' are executed with much humour, insensitivity and craft. The record is produced for Rabid Entertainments, which should give you some idea of the way to approach it. Lopsided. John Cooper Clarke and friends are making machine music and telling us to go get stoned.
The likes of Clarke's verbal virtuosity and dexterity had been unknown since that great eccentric, aristocrat and surrealist Edith Sitwell. He has an exquisite a sense of the trivial as Henry Green's; his words are as energetic and as sick as Evelyn Waugh's. There is both the concentration on evil and seediness of Graham Greene and the continual sense of his own inadequacy that he shares in some ways with Philip Larkin.
Clarke is a poet who reports from the dusty, mediocre, useless and distasteful corners of real life. Thugs, sluts and flabby flesh. Inadequacy, revenge and the grimness of the sexual experiences. All political, religious, sociological and psychological implications are not incidental. His poetry is brilliant: verse not as poetry (which is produced under the kind of pressure that 'cannot' be faked) but as devious and didactic criticism. And his poems tell stories.
Side one starts with a bang. The exuberant northern wit of “I Don't Wanna Be Nice” sounds like Eno producing The Slits. It features the first definitive Peter Shelley solo since “Friends Of Mine” at the Doncaster Outlook mid-77, even if it was played by Bill Nelson. Five minutes of the maniacal “Psycle Sluts 1 & 2” follows: alliteration, spit, protruding imagery, breathlessness, the glorious rhythmic energy of the unaccompanied John Cooper Clarke.
The small fun of “(I've Got A Brand New) Tracksuit” combined with the meticulous Eno-cum-Diddley structure adds up to major fun, which in itself proves the worth of the comic musical settings. The fun-highbrow music intensifies the words' hilarity so that, like the best comedy albums, it can be played again and again.
Side one finishes with a run of Clarke's better poems. “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” has a marvellous hook, “Readers Wives” is a classic observation, has the lushest Eno parody and so is therefore best cut on the record, and “Post War Glamour Girl” is the single.
Side two opens with “(I Married A) Monster From Outer Space,” set inspirationally to gratuitous electronic weirdness, with Cooper Clarke's quivering voice echoed for more unpredictable atmosphere. The next piece is again a dry unaccompanied burst, a frantically detailed piece of trivia about ballroom dancing no doubt dedicated to Eric Morley my younger brother. The unmistakeable message of “Health Fanatic” has snug Eno-electronic support and a hilarious dub-coughing playout. The tragi-comic “Strange Bedfellows” is tearful and mechanical featuring an ice cold Bill Nelson solo that may well be by Peter Shelley. And how else to finish but with a flattened soft-soul smooch to back up a gentle lament for the trapped middle-class middle-aged woman in “Valley Of The Lost Women.” Just to unsettle you, it drifts into the distance with casual despondency. Side two finishes with a whimper.
Cooper Clarke resolutely avoids the serious and the sentimental for the grotesque and the irresistible. He is a gifted and zestful perpetrator of sardonic morality. The deadpan choice of music (right at the beginning of '77 the plan was to have poetry backed by Tom Waits-type cocktail or tinkling) is inspired. It's noise of the times (bland/electronic/disco) for observation of the times, as suitable in context as Jim Parker's swinging nostalgia arrangements for John Betjeman's slight poems on the poet's
Charisma albums, nasal and lazy. The problems of how to handle John Cooper Clarke on record, away from the advantageous atmosphere of a live recital, have been handled triumphantly. Clarke leads two separate lives. If you really are worried about muzakle interference - don't. The music is cute and all integrity is retained.
The 'familiar world' is cruelly, gaily or sadly dislocated. After you've played this record, what do you do? (EJACULATE!!) and start all over again.
Paul Morley


Ripped from a 2005 CD reissue with bonus tracks to MP3 @ 320kbps

John Cooper Clark; Disguise In Love

1.     I Don’t Want To Be Nice
2.     Psycle Sluts 1 & 2
3.     (I’ve Got A Brand New) Tracksuit
4.     Teenage Werewolf
5.     Readers Wives
6.     Post War Glamour Girl
7.     (I Married A) Monster From Outer Space
8.     Salome Maloney
9.     Health Fanatic
10.Strange Bedfellows
11.Valley Of Lost Women
12.The Pest (Live)
13. Gimmix! Play Loud
14. Kung Fu International (Live)



 

No comments:

Post a Comment