Monday, 18 April 2011

Day 35: Where's that bloody belt?

The Fall, the only band I know who have opened a song with a line about not being able to find a belt first thing in the morning, pure brilliance, this is a request for reader 'Sly & The Family Bone', you are welcome.

Song: No Bulbs
Album: The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall

Year: 1984

This one is demented, punchy and quite jerky, again, the idea of a slow descent into madness echoes the grotesque artwork for this album. Having said that, the lyrics are hilarious, focusing on the minutiae of modern living and what seems to me like poverty, no belt, no bulbs for the flat and talk of living in a 'trash mound'.

The music is brash, loud and features some paint-peeling feedback squalls/keyboard towards the end, but is most notable for the harmonics (yes harmonics in The Fall!) of Mark and Brix singing together on what we could term the chorus of: "In need of black strap/No belts in this flat" the harmonics are skewed of course, but its a nice touch when it happens, the production as I've said before about this album, is pretty maxed out and abrasive (not quite as fuzzy or crackling with scuzz as Slates) and gives you an idea of how loud they must have recorded it, but when you are recording The Fall, why not go all out?

Flashes of lyrical genius pepper this one like so many bullets, the half-finished line of "No belts in this flat/The former tenant was anti-corporal-punish!" this sense of simple poetry gone-wrong leaves behind a great line I'd argue, certainly memorable. Elsewhere there is the despairing: "They say damp records the past/If that's so I've got the biggest library yet" this is just cracking, kicking any notion of romanticising poverty or squalor a la George Orwell and his type and just shooting from the hip, its not glorious, its pretty disgusting right? I'd guess that Mark is against any type of class tourism you see these days (the characterisation of the working class as chavs and media lampooning them with no sensitivity) and this song could be seen as evidence.

I'm going to stick my neck out and label this song as a tad existential, its in the realms of challenging the futility of life, at one point, not able to find a bulb, our protagonist (I presume this isn't autobiographical) destroys what he describes as 'years of hippie craft/Cut up the match ship/And a string wooden chandelier or something' this is what sounds like mindless destruction and a lot like self-loathing. The whole song reeks of existence, the grim reality of damp on the walls, living in a place so untidy a belt cannot be found in the 'trash pile' and a lack of bulbs is just the icing on this cake of crust.

I once went to look round a house on my own (to see if it was any good for me and my mates, they were all busy) and the house was covered in hamster shit and sawdust and none of the lights worked, no bulbs you see, the letting agent just turned to me and said "I'd leave if I were you, this is horrible" one of the most honest things I've ever heard from someone in that profession, either way, this song reminds me of that house in Sheffield, I wonder if they ever found the explosive hamster?

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