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Half Man Half Biscuit
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  • Back In The DHSS
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    Half Man Half Biscuit

    Back In The DHSS ( 1985 )
    Busy Little Market Town / God Gave Us Life / Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus / Sealclubbing / 99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd / Time Flies By (When You're The Driver Of A Train) / I Hate Nerys Hughes / The Len Ganley Stance / Venus In Flares / I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves) / Reflections In A Flat / I Left My Heart in Papworth General / Architecture, Morality, Ted And Alice / Albert Hammond Bootleg / 1966 and All That / The Trumpton Riots / All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit

    Half Man Half Biscuit are a post-punk group that first won acclaim thanks to the legendary John Peel, a man who would later label them a British institution. They combine usually lo-fi music with usually witty lyrics and social commentary. 'Back In The DHSS' was their first full-length release led by the Merseryside vocals and guitar of Nigel Blackwell, together with Neil Crossley, Simon Blackwell, Paul Wright and David Lloyd. We've got songs with arcane references, well, arcane to me. '90% of god must look like Bob Todd' - who is Bob Todd? Well, Wikipedia tells us he was a Comedy actor who worked with Dick Emery and Benny Hill, usually playing the straight man. Is that important? Well, Half Man Half Buscuit also proclaim 'Fuckin' Ell, It's Fred Titmus', Fred being a cricket player who player for decades and decades. Important? Yes and no. Funny? Most likely yes, sense of humour dependant, of course. Musically this album is barely adequate and the sound is hissy and lo-fi yet the melodies are often all the better for being simple. These are jokes wrapped around songs or songs wrapped around jokes. The likes of 'I Hate Nerys Hughers (From The Heart) are songs that musically play it straight and very simple, very post-punk yet very enjoyable, certainly in a live setting. Half Man Half Biscuit were I suppose a reaction against all the pomposity and shiny production of the eighties. Can you do it with half the money, or no money? Well, following the release of The Trumpton Riots EP early in 1986, Half Man Half Biscuit were on the tips of the tongues of every Peel listener and had won over a sizeable fanbase for a British indie act.

    The final four/five songs were not on the original LP release, but rather taken, in the main, from 'The Trumpton Riots' EP, Trumpton being a fictional village in a quintessentially British kids TV show. The track itself is dense, distorted, fun, funny and very mid-eighties c86 indie. Meanwhile, 'All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit' has to be one of the best tunes here in terms of funny and quaint lo-fi catchiness. Well, it works for me.

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    Readers Comments

    Lee Auty Bolton
    Love this group. And they still are going strong. This album always makes me laugh but better albums were to come years later. Two particularly brilliant ones are "Some call it Godcore" and "Voyage to the bottom of the road". One listen to "Dead men dont need season tickets" on the latter album will convince the listener that their comic abilities have improved over time. I reccomend all their albums because even the so - so ones contain the occasional knock out track.


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    Back In The DHSS Again 7 ( 1987 )
    The Best Things in Life / D'Ye Ken Ted Moult? / Reasons To Be Miserable (Part 10) / Rod Hull Is Alive - Why? / Dickie Davies Eyes / The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman / I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan / Arthur's Farm / All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit / The Trumpton Riots" (7" remix)

    A Peel Session together with stray single releases and maybe a couple of new tunes comprises the Half Man Half Biscuit follow-up to the healthy selling 'Back In The DHSS' debut LP. Just as new single 'Dickie Davies Eyes' was topping the UK Indie Charts the band promptly split - never seemingly into this whole being a band business for any other reason than having a laugh and a satirical poke at a variety of celebrities. Musically this set sees the group attempting a variety of musical styles but they all end up being charming 1986 indie-jangle ramshackle type stuff, apart from one or two moments that appear to be genuinely musically good. Well, it's all subjective, Rick Wakeman attending a Half Man Half Biscuit gig at the time probably wouldn't have been impressed by the squeaky sounding, primitive keyboards and jaunty/funny/sarcastic lyrical matter! It's also doubtful he would be overly keen of the mention of Yes cover art man Roger Dean. See, i'm in the position of liking both Yes and Half Man Half Biscuit, wonder what Apple music or Spotify will make of that - let's see them try to join those dots together. The opening track is worth listening to almost entirely for the closing lyrical refrain 'There is nothing better in life / Than writing on the sole of your slipper with a Biro' repeated a few times before finishing off with 'On a Saturday Night instead of going to a pub.' The second song is short and happy and fun and seems to betray some kind of folk influence. 'Reasons To Be Miserable' parodies Ian Dury's 'Reason's To Be Cheerful' with the song title, musically it seems to want to poke fun at a lot of early to mid-eighties bands that popped up in the wake of Joy Division. At times it sounds like Cocteau Twins and at other times like a very early Echo & The Bunnymen b-side. Yes, a strange combination but overall this works - one of my favourite tracks here, without a doubt.

    'Rod Hull Is Alive, Why' moves from said Emu on arm fella through sculpting hedges, national service and the Duchess of York, all with a smile and a rush of jangle and primitive yet energetic drumming. I can only guess 'Dickie Davies Eyes' here isn't the single version, it sounds the least likely contender for a single and follow-up to 'Trumpton' the LP has given us yet far - whichever version this actually is - the bands aversion to being regular makes sense of the situation. 'Dickie Davies Eyes' is also a funny take of the far more famous song 'Bettie Davis Eyes' only replacing 'Bettie Davies' with the fine moustached Dickie Davies, presenter of ITVs 50s through to 80s sports magazine show 'World Of Sport'. We then folk-march through 'Bastard Son' and get a weird take on Gary Numan and the like with 'Animal Farm'. From here, some versions of the album have bonus tracks, some have 'Trumpton' and some a whole host of live songs. All told, this is an enjoyable set but it would have been sad if it had been their final word and deed musically.

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    this page last updated 08/08/15


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