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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Pulp

    It 8 ( 1983 )
    My Lighthouse / Wishful Thinking / Joking Aside / Boats and Trains / Blue Girls / Love Love / In Many Ways / Looking for Life

    At this early stage in Pulp-land Jarvis had Simon Hinkler later of UK goth rockers The Mission 'fame' to help him out. The Pulp line-up has changed a few times through the years, but whatever musicians Jarvis has had the benefit of working with, it's him - his character, his voice, his lyrics, his ideas - that shine brightly through. It's assumed, seeing as this debut Pulp album arrived a full ten years before Jarvis and company even remotely approached anything resembling the charts, that the early Pulp were, in a word, crap. Well, lookee here! They aren't! At all!! Well, through the opening song here 'My Lighthouse' they certainly aren't anything even remotely resembling 'poor'. Sure, they were hardly Genesis, you know? They couldn't exactly 'play' but having said that, the guitar is sweet, and the vocals are ultra bitter-sweet and rather attractively resemble an early Morrissey in a parallel universe. In some parallel universe it was Pulp, not The Smiths that were charged with changing the face of UK alternative music. 'My Lighthouse' is just gorgeous, plain and simple. The young Jarvis has a very alluring quiver in his voice, the guitar really is sweet and the whole song is over in a very satisfying three minutes or so. And yeah, things continue! 'Wishful Thinking' has a tender, emotional Jarvis to open over a bare, repeating guitar figure. The bass and drums click in, the sound is lo-fi but attractively so, naturally so. It's another gorgeous song, to be truthful - and in actual fact, I can think of few other Pulp albums that have opened with two songs as great as this. "I've got this love inside of me" - female harmonies come in, a big grin appears on the listeners face, well, THIS listeners face, at least.

    But seriously, joking aside..... hey, 'Joking Aside'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, cheap joke. Something that sounds like a violin but might not be opens the third song here, Jarvis sets out another interesting set of lyrics although the melody here is rather minimal, sadly. 'Boats And Trains' has more attractive and pretty guitar courtesy of the man Simon Hinkler, Jarvis sings softly and it's all over in a minute and a half. It's nice, it's pleasant and sweet. Ok, so it's not a world beating effort - this is very firmly rooted in obscure UK indie music of the early Eighties, but hey, that music RULED! 'Blue Girls' is an astonishing (?) six minutes long. It's rather bare, rather minimal - nothing much appears to go on, but it's fairly atmospheric. Mostly instrumental actually, rather dull but this isn't BAD or anything. It isn't 'pop pulp' of years to come, but it works within this particular albums context. 'Love Love' opens with a smattering of drums and guitar, "I recall a special friend, I invited her home for tea..... she was under the table with me...." - some kind of dixie-land jazz trumpet sound appears through this very quirky song, but ultimately it just makes you smile. Jingle jangle guitar heaven opens 'In Many Ways', the sound continues to be lo-fi, Jarvis sings gorgeously in his, at the time, tuneless, quiver in the throat, beautiful way. Does that make sense? It should. 'Looking For Life' wraps up the whole affair, an affair that's one of the most 'charming' albums i've heard in my entire life. It's simple, the playing is certainly simple. The production is cheap, nobody is trying to be anything big. In fact - everything is so 'small', that's a huge part of the appeal. So, 'It'. Obscure certainly, but very attractively and humanly so. A winner in my house, if nobody else's.

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    Masters Of The Universe ( 1994 )
    Little Girl (With Blue Eyes) / Simultaneous / Blue Glow / The Will To Power / Dogs Are Everywhere / Mark Of The Devil / 97 Lovers / Aborigine / Goodnight / They Suffocate At Night / Tunnel / Masters Of The Universe (sanitised version) / Manon

    A collection of Pulp singles circa 1984 and 1985. Exit Simon Hinkler at this stage, and enter a period of uncertainty. The group would shed members and gain members throughout the eighties leading upto their 1989 album 'Separations' which featured the line-up which finally broke Pulp into the hit-parade! Yay!! But, first things first. 'Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)' is wonderful, a sheer delightful joy with keyboards effectively replacing the guitar that was a feature on the groups debut. Jarvis retains that alluring quiver in his voice, the lyrics are tragic, sad, funny, glorious..... The melody is good, the vocals great. This easily is on a par with the best songs from 'It' if not even better! But, things taken an eccentric course thereafter. Of course, many of these songs were originally b-sides, and not really intended for any sort of album project. They display a Pulp searching and looking for their niche, so to speak, even though to all intents and purposes they'd already found it. The instrumental tracks aren't the glory of latter Pulp of course, but perhaps they needed to make songs such as these to grow? 'Simultaneous' is frightening, to be honest with you. Very bare, very sparse until a cutting, very loud violin comes in. Later on, someone other than Jarvis ( What?? ) quickly sings a section backed by lots of loud noise. And, that's pretty much it. An interesting song, but it hardly qualifies as a great composition, or even something you'll really want to listen to more than a couple of times. 'Blue Glow' sees Pulp go all Goth Rock on us! The production and sound is cavernous, the Violin see-saws in places, bass gently rolls - very atmospheric if again, hardly essential. 'The Will To Power' is a minute of percussion, then a very noisy explosive mess that doesn't bear repeated listening, features the other Pulp vocalist at this stage, rather than Jarvis - and lacks distinction in every way you can imagine. It's horrible, basically! On the otherhand.... 'Dogs Are Everywhere' is glorious. The keyboard lines are cheap and charming but this is a strong, melodic song. The lyrical content is sheer gold. An all-time 'best of pulp' would feature 'Dogs Are Everywhere' if they put ME in charge of compiling it!

    'The Mark Of The Devil' inexplicably features a disco rhythm. But, a-ha! The sound of later Pulp edges slowly into place!! '97 Lovers' is very 'art' and very little 'music', 'Aborigine' the same, although this does suddenly, and out of nowhere, feature decent guitar parts. 'Goodnight' is a spoken word thing over a drab musical backing - the kind of combination they'd do so much better later on. 'They Suffocate At Night' is more the Pulp we love. Not especially in terms of sound, you know, this isn't 'Common People' or anything! But, we have a clear melody here and some decent lyrics. 'Tunnel' is an eight minute monstrosity, seemingly Pulp's attempt to be The Velvet Underground. No, it doesn't work. At all. 'Manon' is more 'art', very little 'music', but does feature unintentionally hilarious vocal contributions.

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    Freaks 6 ( 1986 )
    Fairground / I Want You / Being Followed Home / Master Of The Universe / Life Must Be So Wonderful / There's No Emotion / Anorexic Beauty / Never-Ending Story / Don't You Know / They Suffocate At Night

    Pulp remain damned inconsistent here, but there are further small steps forward in terms of musical performance and realisation. The most obvious of these is 'Master Of The Universe' which builds and builds layer and layer of instrumentation, speeds up as it goes along even reaching a semi-pulp-disco-boogie-rhythm. Yeah, it's good! Another highlight here, although this particular song isn't any kind of step forward for the group, is the charming 'I Want You'. It clearly repeats the feel and ideas first displayed on both 'My Lighthouse' and 'Little Girl...' although the lyrics here aren't quite as suggestive, shall we say. Still, it's a fine song, swoon-some in places. 'Fairground' opens the album scarily and frighteningly. The spoken vocals are story-telling but intoned in a stark, ominous - then shouted fashion. The 'laughing' section of vocals in the chorus really do suggest an evil fairground, though. Fairgrounds are scary places! Well, they obviously are in pulp-land. 'Being Followed Home' opens with the sound of someone walking. I don't suppose they really needed to do that, you know? Guitar opens, the same slightly dark atmosphere that was a feature of the mid-eighties singles and other songs here, is repeated. Later on, the song develops into a more regular type of semi-pop song, although to be honest, it's horribly tunelessly sung. 'Life Must Be So Wonderful' doesn't at all live upto it's name, and that's the first half of the album over. 'There's No Emotion' opens quietly, builds up, is again horribly sung. What exactly had happened to Jarvis Cocker's voice at this stage, I don't know. He isn't so much 'singing' as attempting to deeply intone, whilst semi-singing at the same time. Pulp as a dark, goth-type act just doesn't wash with me, to be frank. The romance seems to have disappeared from the songs of Pulp on this record, 'I Want You' apart.

    'Anorexic Beauty' is a carefully considered and well structured song, but still not a great song. The explosions into guitar white noise are done pretty well though, better than previous Pulp attempts. 'The Never-Ending Story' has a jumpy, jerky sounding keyboard line to open, Jarvis continues to 'not quite' sing, but this particular song is striking, if nothing else. 'Don't You Know' finally returns the album to some kind of normality, being a straight pop kind of song. The guitar and keyboard lines combine well, Jarvis sings in a more 'usual' fashion, and this is a fine piece of work. 'They Suffocate At Night' wraps up the album, it's intriguing, interesting. The lyrics are fascinating and the keyboards are again prominent, the guitar gentle and attractive. The vocals here are quite nice, by the way. Jarvis stretches out, a little. A good song, an average kind of album. In 1988, Jarvis would enrol on a film course at St.Martin's College in London and the hit-making line-up of Pulp would finally be assembled, ready and waiting.

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    Readers Comments

    Billy Liar Glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    I can’t describe my disgust enough the way you just brush away ‘Life must be so wonderful’ .I Think it is the best song on the album its one of the best pulp song’s ever its so amazing its so beautiful. You are right about ‘Masters of the universe’ it’s a huge step forward but as is most on this album compared to the first album. I think there is only one not great song on here ‘Never ending story’ it doesn’t do anything for but it’s still ok. God come on six BAH I give it 9.5

    Danny danny@leftoffthedial.com
    When people ridicule early Pulp, "Freaks" usually comes up first. I can understand this, but I completely disagree and find this album brilliant in the darkest and most disturbing way possible. Historical context! Jarvis was living with a junkie in some attic in Sheffield, and the band was completely broke--hence the awful production on Freaks which is the one thing I will not deny. With better production this album could not so easily be shrugged off. But Freaks is still seething with dark dysfunctional tales that no artist but Jarvis could express so clearly. "I Want You" and "Life Must Be So Wonderful" could be timeless love songs in a sixties sort of way, but Jarvis infuses them with lyrics so dark and hopeless that they'd break a tin-man's heart. "Anorexic Beauty" is the happiest tune here, and a perfect cover track to express the obsession with gloom. "Fairground" has a bit of Syd Barrett's Vegetable Man laugh in it. Is Pulp playing with insanity here, or are they real! ly cracking up? Try to tell the difference, you can't. It's the tale of normal people being beaten down relentlessly by life, which considering Pulp's situation at the time is a pretty accurate expression of what their lives may have been like, at least Jarvis' life. You'd never play this stuff in a club like His N' Hers or Different Class stuff, but that's why the album's called Freaks. It's scary. It's not meant for the masses, but no band I've heard of has ever pulled off an album with this kind of darkness in such a convincing fashion.

    Ebeneezer Knifery London
    I'm not going to tell you you've severely underrated the 1984-7 Pulp (oops! I think I have!) - I'm just going to say that; yes, there WAS another Pulp vocalist in those days (on Simultaneous, Will To Power, Fairground and Anorexic Beauty). It's the guy who wrote/co-wrote those songs: Russell Senior!!

    Steve Essex
    I've only recently discovered this album and it's a gem. "Fairground" would have sounded better sung/spoken by Jarvis, but its nightmarish quality is truly haunting. Having said that, Russell Senior's voice is perfectly suited to "Anorexic Beauty," which has some superb, wry lyrics. The lyrical theme of "Being Followed Home" is slightly reminiscent of "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight" by The Jam, but much darker and more sinister. "I Want You" is the musical highlight of the album for me - a track that is very hard to get out of your head after a few listens. "The Never Ending Story" is the one let-down for me, but the rest of the album more than makes up for it. I'd easily rate this 8.5/10, and feel it's a shame that so many people consider this the low point of Pulp's career.


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    Separations 8 ( 1992 )
    Love Is Blind / Don't You Want Me Anymore / She's Dead / Separations / Down By The River / Countdown / My Legendary Girlfriend / Death II / This House Is Condemned

    'Separations' should have been released in 1989 / 1990, but Pulp's record label sat on it for two years. In the end, Pulp themselves had to ask for it to be delayed further, because its release coincided with their first single for another label. Not that anybody much appeared to care outside of the band and a small, cult following. But, come the eventual release of 'Separations' and especially the release of one song from it, 'My Legendary Girlfriend', the press suddenly started taking an interest in the music of Pulp and the strange creature that is their front-man, Jarvis Cocker. Even forgetting 'My Legendary Girlfriend' for a second, the rest of 'Separations' displays enough evidence of a band re-born and writing a clutch of songs that rank amongst their best-work to safely say, something had happened. Maybe the new-line, maybe a renewed interest from Jarvis, or just a burst of inspiration? If we take the first three songs here, i'd go as far as to say they rank amongst the best-ever opening songs on any Pulp album! 'Love Is Blind' with it's bouncy, distinctive ( if simple ) drum pattern and a Jarvis sounding positively wired. The lyrics, if on previous Pulp albums often reflecting upon real life and doomed romantic relationships, suddenly have another angle to them. A new literacy and accomplishment, a new imagination about them. The lyrics to 'Love Is Blind' are glorious, a series of great lines come out at you. Second song 'Don't You Want Me Anymore' is a better song than 'Love Is Blind' though - "i've never seen you look so ugly as the way you did that night", goes Jarvis, and the music with prominent violin, keyboards and bass, sounds like a Seventies Glam version of a twenty first century pop band. Jarvis discovers his voice, vocal wise, one of his finest vocals to this day, both touching, romantic and urgent. 'She's Dead' is the first recorded evidence of Jarvis Cocker's love for the music and style of Scott Walker. Romantic, slightly sad lyrics, but always romantic lyrics. A touching vocal, going for the real soaring ballad performance! Fantastic stuff.

    'Separations' is held back slightly by its inconsistency, at the end of the day. The good songs here really are right up there with the best of the hit-making Pulp, if not yet quite displaying the glorious Pulp swagger and level of confidence that was a feature of their mid-nineties material. Lesser songs here include the closing eight minute long 'house' experiment that funnily enough is titled 'This House Is Condemned'. 'Death II' is a fine, if not astounding Pulp song, same comments apply to the title track and the strange story-telling of 'Down By The River'. Having said that, 'Countdown' shares a disco feel with 'Death II' and it is this disco retro feel integrated into the world of Pulp that pointed a way forward for them. Well, that and the fact Jarvis sounds positively inspired all through 'Countdown'. You want to hear every single word and vocal eccentricity. Which just leaves 'My Legendary Girlfriend'. A song so good, there is a band named after it now. You know that Stone Roses Rock / Dance mix? Well, 'My Legendary Girlfriend' has that present and correct. It has a lengthy introduction where Jarvis quietly speaks over the music, almost sounding like a thin, Sheffield version of Barry White, if such a thing is at all imaginable. After two and a half minutes the song goes supernova with the semi-disco feel of other songs here, and Jarvis gets all excited and energetic before switching back to the lo-rent sensual groove of the song's slower sections. "oh, and we can touch the sky, ahhhh, please......" goes Jarvis, and it's actually very funny when added to the vocal delivery. A sense of humour developed in Northern England, sent out to the world via the new model Pulp. The future and past suddenly both looked bright.

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    Pulp Intro ( 1992 )
    Space / OU / Babies / Styloroc Nites Of Suburbia / Razzmatazz / Sheffield Sex City / Stacks / Inside Susan / 59 Lyndhurst Grove

    Pulp sign to Island records, hits were not far away now. But first, let me tell you a story.

    "I was only about eleven when this happened. We were living in a big block of flats with a central courtyard. All the bedroom windows opened onto this court, and sometimes in the middle of the night, in that building it sounded like a mass orgy. I may have only been eleven, but no-one had to tell me what all that moaning and yelling was about. I'd lie there mesmerised, listening to the first couple. Invariably, they'd wake up other couples,and like some kind of chain reaction, within minutes the whole building was fucking. I mean, have you ever heard other people fucking, and really enjoying it? It's a marvellous sound. Not like in the movies, but when it's real. It's such a happy, exciting sound."

    And so goes 'Sheffield Sex City', amongst music that is happily retro futuristic disco, with Jarvis ooohing and ahhing and sounding dead sexy over the top. Really, he does! Pulp have arrived. I remember a particular evening, I was staying with a family in Plymouth, Devon, staring out the window onto the stars. The night-time looked so lonely and it mirrored the way I felt that day. Anyroad, the radio played this song, ONE song, that had me in some other place altogether. 'Razzamatazz' by a group called Pulp. I'd never heard their name mentioned ever before. But oh, was it glorious! "The trouble with your brother, he's always sleeping with your mother. And I know that your sister, missed her time again this month......OH OH OH!!" Things get a little better with a bit of Razzmatazz.

    'Space' and 'OU' was the first single Pulp released on tiny label 'Gift Records' during 1992. Neither song is special, although 'OU' contains hints at later, all conquering Britpop Pulp. The second single of 1992 was 'Babies' which later made it's way onto 'His N Hers', their first album proper for Island Records. This compilation was also released on Island Records, by the way. Just so you know. But, let's talk about 'Babies'! The guitar and keyboards play all these simple little melodies - going up, going down. Space keyboard noises, funny noises, then Jarvis. Who sounds funny, in any case. In this case, he also sounds absolutely wonderful, real-life depicted so fantastically. If 'Babies' doesn't either have you out there trying to make 'Babies', or at least jumping up and down waving your arms around in the air deliriously, then you have absolutely no love of pop music as far as I'm concerned! This being a simple compilation of three singles, b-sides and all, you'd expect a few songs to miss the mark. They don't exactly, apart from the spacey 'Space', where nothing at all happens apart from Jarvis speaking for five minutes. 'Styloroc Nites Of Suburbia' quite clearly reveals to me that comments I made in previous reviews about 'another' Pulp vocalist were patently untrue. It was all Jarvis, but in a different voice, or rather a developing voice that re-appears here all through 'Styloroc Nites Of Suburbia'. As a song, this is a nice future retro disco groove, but no more than that. The closing three songs are sub-titled 'Inside Susan : A Story In 3 Parts'. And, that was the b-side to 'Razzmatazz'. How's that for a single! 'Stacks' is simple, poppy fun, but lots of fun. 'Inside Susan' is one of Mr Cocker's spoken story things over wonderful music. The story is great, this one works, absolutely. '59 Lyndhurst Grove' is a lovely three and a half minute ballad with gorgeous Jarvis vocals, and there you have this 'Pulp Intro' compilation. Obviously, Pulp are/were a mighty band.

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    His N Hers ( 1994 )
    Joyriders / Lipgloss / Acrylic Afternoons / Have You Seen Her Lately? / Babies / She's A Lady / Happy Endings / Do You Remember The First Time? / Pink Glove / Someone Like The Moon / David's Last Summer

    I saw a live performance Pulp gave in-between Pulp Intro and the release of 'His n Hers' that previewed much of the material. My favourite song of the whole performance was 'Pink Glove', so when I got my hands on 'His N Hers' I skipped straight to 'Pink Glove' expecting to be fulfilled, expecting another 'Razzmatazz' moment of glory from Pulp. I didn't get it, I slumped in my chair in despair at what I heard. The production in the studio had added little noises and effects to the song that served no real purpose, but the biggest problem was the sound of the vocals, stuck through some kind of effects unit that made Jarvis sound inhuman and alien. The keyboards sound synthetic here, whereas live they sounded natural and in keeping with the spirit of the song. I know this is all just a personal experience of mine, if I hadn't heard 'Pink Glove' performed live in the first place, i'd have thought nothing of the song here, other than it wasn't an especially good one. But, because of my experience, I was initially prejudiced against this entire album. I was pleased when 'Lipgloss' entered the UK singles charts, more pleased when 'Do You Remember The First Time' cracked the top 40 and then a re-released 'Babies' made the top 20. 'Babies' was re-recorded for this album, although there are no discernable differences to the previous 'Pulp-Intro' version. 'Lipgloss' and 'Do You Remember The 1st Time' are both good enough songs, but nothing here is as striking as 'My Legendary Girlfriend' or as perfect as 'Razzmatazz'. The two songs that come closest to overcoming the glossy over-production of 'His n Hers' are songs three and four. 'Acrylic Afternoons' sweeps you along with simple little keyboard melodies, lots of glorious lyrics and even more glorious vocal sounds from Jarvis. 'Have You Seen Her Lately?' is a story of romance, an observational piece of Jarvis story-telling that really hits the spot. The vocal here is glorious, the keyboards akin to lo-rent strings, but this synthetic feel suits a song that appears to be about lost love and friendship.

    Oh wait, I said I was initially prejudiced against this album because of 'Pink Glove'? These days, I wouldn't say I was at all predjudiced, just that I don't like this 'His N Hers' album as much as I do Pulp albums surrounding it. Simple as that. 'She's A Lady' for example clocks in at close to six minutes, has a little disco groove that's enjoyable, but the vocals have again been treated in the studio, and it's a horrible thing to endure. The musical track has all sorts of keyboard sounds piled on top of it, nothing sounds real - on previous records, Pulp if nothing else, sounded real, true to themselves. 'His N Hers' is a compromised product, their first album proper for a new label. Luckily for them, it was the album that broke them. After this, Pulp were given more freedom, a freedom allowed to a big-selling act, and they took advantage of that. I don't like either the overblown ballad 'Happy Endings' or the very quiet 'Someone Like The Moon' which sounds like an unremarkable 1985/1986 era Pulp song, no more, no less. The closing 'Davids Last Summer' is good, though! A funky little instrumental track with spoken word Jarvis storytelling over the top inbetween bouts of actual singing. It sounds a little different, something a little more enticing than commercialized re-treads of the groups recent past. <

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    Joe Rodgers jjrodgers21@hotmail.com
    I have to disagree about the sound of the album, I think Pulp got great when they started to sound slick and less organic - by 93/94 they sounded timeless rather than indie and 'quirky'. The album sags under the weight of the incredible singles but is still a masterpiece, surely?

    Billy Liar Glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    So just because you were expecting more from’ pink glove’ is why you don’t like this very fun and ‘Pulp’ signature choruses galore album. ‘Pink Glove’ is one of the best maybe if you hadn’t herd it live and had much expectations then this ‘Whole album’ would have got a much deserved 7 at least come on!. But even when I first listened to it I thought hmmmmm very inconsistent and did almost agree with a 6 ½ but after repeated listens I love it, it’s a cool album “Mister we just want your car because we taking a girl to the reservoir” “Hey you in the Jesus sandal’s’ How glorious. Its not there best but still great Id give it an 8 ½ hmm or 9.


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    Different Class ( 1995 )
    Mis-Shapes / Pencil Skirt / Common People / I Spy / Disco 2000 / Live Bed Show / Something Changed / Sorted For E's & Wizz / F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E / Underwear / Monday Morning / Bar Italia

    Everyone was talking Blur & Oasis, but suddenly this third 'force' emerges, and for some, eclipsed either of the aforementioned bands. Although they'd broke the charts with 'His N Hers' and its attendant singles, nothing troubled the top five. 'Common People' reached number two, 'Mis-Shapes' and 'Disco 2000' both became anthems of a kind. I remember thinking to myself when the 'Common People' single was just out, that this was it. As good as Pulp were gonna get, or at least as big as they were gonna get. Record Company guys have a tendency to grow blinkers around their good senses when a group suddenly grasps hold of the zeitgeist and has a big, big seller. Way back in the mists of time, shortly after MC Hammer had finished promotional duties and touring his massive selling 'U Can't Touch This' and it's parent album, I witnessed a TV program which featured an interview with a spokesmen for MC Hammer's record label. They projected his sales into the future based on his current sales and 'growth'. How can you project the next three albums after only one, anyway? They had some ridiculous figure, that in 1995, MC Hammer would be selling 50,000,000 albums, 'based on our current figures and projections'. Well, it was some figure as ridiculous as that, in any case. And they were serious! Ah, I remember it well! MC Hammer, didn't they make a statue of him in every capitol city in the world? Man, did he get big!! Stupidity aside, what has any of this got to do with Pulp? Well, they peaked. You can draw a line through their career, and it peaks with 'Common People' and peaks with 'Different Class'. And it was always going to be that way, at least from a commercial stand-point. It was foreseen, although not by anybody at Island Records, suffice to say. 'Different Class' includes the three songs I mentioned of course, each one of which will stand the test of time if only as classic examples of britpop in years and years to come. These songs define that era. 'Mis-Shapes' is well produced, striking and clever and playful lyrically, and musically lots of fun. It builds and builds, and reaches a 'Pulp' disco/retro/groovy chorus, and everything is well with the world. 'Common People' arrives third, 'Pencil Skirt' has the unhappy task of breaking up two such defining Pulp songs, and does so by representing itself as a very minor, understated little lullaby of sorts. The near six minute long classic of a kind 'Common People' is followed by the far more interesting, although far less commercial ( no single release here ), 'I Spy'. Scott Walker influence to the fore, Pulp's usual charging keyboards and rhythms abound, a wonderful lyric and vocal holds everything together. The songs stops, starts, sweeps through its different sections with an ease that Pulp made seem, well, easy. Commercial success AND artistic ambition? Both merge together for 'Different Class'. It worked.

    'Disco 2000' was all about 'NOW!', thus only seven years later, it already doesn't quite seem right. Well, it's dated! It's two years AFTER the year 2000. What are we all gonna do? Go back in time? Pulp held the zeitgeist, at least in the UK and parts of Europe, they did. Who knows what the US were listening to in 1995, the year of Britpop? Does anybody remember? 'Live Bed Show' is seedy yet slinky and smooth, 'Somethings Changed' swings around it's little guitar figure most attractively. The controversial 'Sorted For E's And Wizz' still makes a spine chill somewhere, every time it's heard, i'm sure of that. A selection of lovely keyboard sounds, very clever and funny lyrics that met the populace head on. Still works to this day, actually. Something intelligent is going on. 'Feeling Called Love' is a weak link in the 'Different Class' chain, the only song that doesn't really work or hold itself together seemingly effortlessly. 'Underwear' is a sheer glory, the kind of soaring, romantic ( of a decidedly lo-rent, Northern England kind ) song that Pulp had given us from time to time all through their career. Here, such a song was married to confidence, swagger, no little achievement. 'Monday Morning' is bouncy and jerky and fun. The closing 'Bar Italia' another piece of Jarvis Cocker theatre, glorious lyrically. An album full of glorious lyrics, an album that so perfectly evokes the time that was 1995/1996, it sends you right back if you happened to be around England at the time. Thing is, I have reservations about 'Different Class', just small ones. Although it's a very solid album, removed from it's place in history and time, how does it stand up? It still remains a fine album, but the sense of magic that surrounded it in 1995 has gone. A test of time theory. 'Different Class' HAS stood the test of time, just about. It's lost a little, but it's still standing pretty proud, and glad to be around.

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    Readers Comments

    Aaron glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    Well this album is most likely in my top ten albums of all time its just so perfect I think ‘Common people’ is on a par with the likes of ‘bohemian rhapsody’ its just so well structured how can a band churn out heart wrenching choruses track after track ‘Different class’ = Master piece 10

    Danny danny@leftoffthedial.com
    In 1995-1996 Americans were listening to awful third rate grunge music, Bush, Candlebox, maybe Nine Inch Nails if you were lucky as corporate radio stations removed all fun and intelligence whatsoever from popular music. During this time I saw Pulp tour the states on Different Class at a typical unsold-out show in a small club and was literally blown to Jupiter when I realized that a current band could be so good. The genius of this album by stark contrast to everything else at that time in the 90s is staggering. If Different Class doesn't deserve a 10 no album from the 90s does, period. If Different Class is a bit dated in the UK, it has now become a bit of an underground US favorite since they've never gotten any surface attention here. Pulp probably don't care, but if they toured the US now there would actually be a lot of people that would kill to see them, even though the year 2000 came and went a long time ago.


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    This Is Hardcore 6 ( 1997 )
    The Fear / Dishes / Party Hard / Help The Aged / This Is Hardcore / TV Movie / A Little Soul / I'm A Man / Seductive Barry / Sylvia / Glory Days / The Day After The Revolution

    Not quite the day after the revolution, I wouldn't go as far as to say either 'Different Class' or Britpop in general was any sort of revolution, but 'This Is Hardcore' certainly sounds like the day, or more particularly, the morning after - something at least. Still, there are some astonishing things here created in a sea of tension by a drunken ( allegedly ) and stressed out Jarvis. The first five songs are all great. 'Help The Aged' may not have had the same appeal as a single as the more pleasing to the man in the street 'Common People' but it's a fine, soaring song full of feeling and a strange kind of romance. A pulp-kind of romance. The video was great, with Jarvis going up a stair-lift to heaven. 'The Fear' opens the album all spooky and dark - the lyrics are good Jarvis lyrics and keep you listening. 'Dishes' is simply glorious with an opening line from Mr Jarvis Cocker "I'm not Jesus, but I have the same initials". The song proceeds through a series of great lines and the music ably supports with keyboard lines to the fore. 'Party Hard' explodes and rocks, 'Help The Aged' has the required Pulp small-screen romance. 'This Is Hardcore', the title song, was also released as a single and tanked in comparison with any of the singles from 'Different Class'. Well, it's six minutes long, defiantly un-commercial, but glorious and ambitious with it. Cinematic and disturbing music and lyrics, little dark tinkling Piano sounds adding to the nature of it all, and the album is reaching a peak right about now.

    Everything goes horribly wrong. This is an album that tails off badly, everything sounds like Pulp and Jarvis in particular are merely going through motions. 'Tv Movie' and 'A Little Soul' are soft, reflective songs. 'A Little Soul' was eventually released as a third single by the record company in a desperate bid to inject some life into the promotional campaign for 'This Is Hardcore', but needless to say that effort failed. It's a charming enough song, though nothing special by Pulp standards. 'I Am A Man' is horribly clumsy sounding, 'Seductive Barry' horribly over-long sounding, running to eight and a half minutes. 'Sylvia' is nearly six minutes long, contains a few pleasing vocal and musical sections, but really lacks enough interesting ideas to justify being nearly six minutes long. 'Glory Days' sounds like Bruce Springsteen, and the closing 'Day After The Revolution' is all guitars going nowhere, a song going nowhere and an album fading fast after such a promising opening. 'This Is Hardcore' probably isn't deserving of a grade as low as six, but given the disappointing second half to the record and the fact I don't have the urge to listen to the first half that often compared to other Pulp records, leaves me feeling that it might just be appropriate.

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    Readers Comments

    Aaron glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    Well this album is most likely in my top ten albums of all time its just so perfect I think ‘Common people’ is on a par with the likes of ‘bohemian rhapsody’ its just so well structured how can a band churn out heart wrenching choruses track after track ‘Different class’ = Master piece 10

    cop c087714martyn@yale-wrexham.ac.uk
    have you lost the plot!!! Along with His n hers, Hardcore is their best album. Both are miles better than the trite glam of different class. come on, pull yourself together man


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    We Love Life 9 ( 2001 )
    Weeds / Weeds II / The Night That Minnie Timperley Died / The Trees / Wickerman / I Love Life / The Birds In Your Garden / Bob Lind / Bad Cover Version / Roadkill / Sunrise

    A smattering of guitars and shaking percussion, crystal clear vocals, harmonies. Deadly eloquent lyrical matter, Jarvis sings beautifully - and there you have the opening song on 'We Love Life'. It's a dramatic, wonderful opening. 'We Love Life' is the sound of Pulp giving it one last try, one last hurrah, before going off and doing something else that maybe isn't Pulp. I hope they do decide to continue, because 'We Love Life' is the sound of a band re-born. The Scott Walker production team, including Scott himself, aid the Pulp cause here introducing all sorts of sonic delights to the Pulp equation, and getting good performances from Jarvis especially. The opening 'Weeds' flows into 'Weeds II (the origin of the species)' and smiles are raised high. This is a glorious piece of Jarvis story-telling over beautifully exotic musical backing. Echoed drums and guitar chords introduce the sing-a-long 'The Night That Minnie Timperley Died' and something occurs to me at this stage. Upon initial release, a few fans claimed that 'We Love Life' was Pulp back to the sound of 'His N Hers', but that's not exactly true. 'We Love Life' sounds to me like the britpop years never happened at all, almost a return to the freshness of Eighties Pulp. Of course, factor in the Scott Walker production, which is no kind of throwback to anything Pulp have done before, and 'We Love Life' becomes something else altogether. But, if this is to be the final Pulp long-player, it would end things nicely, everything coming full circle. 'The Night That Minnie Timperley Died' sees Jarvis on absolute top-notch vocal form, by the way - it's a great track. By the time 'The Trees' arrives, song four, i'm all over the place. Smiling, crying, shivering, grinning - this is such a fabulous, life affirmingly glorious piece of music and writing, one of the greatest things Pulp have ever done, as simple as that. "The trees, those useless trees...." and then the Scott Walker shaking percussion comes in, orchestral sounding elements.... I think it's fair to say I absolutely adore this song, let's just leave it at that before I embarrass myself... but, oooh god! 'Wickerman' is simply glorious stuff, another Jarvis story-telling semi-spoken thing over wonderfully recorded music. Something like 'Davids Last Summer' from 'His N Hers' doesn't come anywhere close to being as good as this. Jarvis sings in places, alternating with the spoken parts - the music continues on and on, sounding pretty damn fantastic.

    A perfect Pulp album? Well, no, although it's still pretty damn great, and the finest thing they've done. So, side two includes a selection of near-filler amongst further great songs, and it works. 'I Love Life' has a very sweet and nice sounding Jarvis vocal, 'The Birds In Your Garden' opens expectedly with the sound of birds twittering and tweeting before a keyboard sound comes floating through the air you're inhabiting. And the comparison I made earlier with Eighties Pulp pops up again here, there's just a freshness to the sound. 'The Birds In The Garden' has all of the romance of the very finest Pulp songs and a truly beautiful vocal and vocal melody - another winner! 'Bob Lind' has many exotic, interesting and hard to place musical sounds amongst a jaunty, jingly guitar pattern. The song itself isn't terribly memorable or interesting this time round, unfortunately - but it remains pleasant listening at the very worst, even if it's a little lightweight. 'Bad Cover Version' is the nearest we get to Britpop Pulp of yore, although the group ruined their chances of have a hit, by releasing a re-recorded version with half of the grace of this version, which is pretty graceful and very Pulp, if not the best song here. 'Roadkill' opens with acoustic guitar, pretty guitar - but it soon becomes clear that not much else is happening here. Still, no matter. The closing 'Sunrise' is another brilliant song with good lyrics, strong vocals and interesting melodic musical textures. 'We Love Life' isn't flawless then, but then again, Pulp are only human. 'We Love Life' is a very natural and warm sounding album, and some way to bow out, presuming that's what the group are going to do. As I said earlier in this review, I hope that's not the case.

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    Readers Comments

    Aaron glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    I dont think this really kicks in till the 'birds in your gardon'its worth buying it for the Chorus of that alone them we get the glorious single which is what I brought it for that’s awesome what a song what a band but as I say till ‘birds in the garden’ I don’t really get in to it aloe I can see why the other tracks are liked they are good don’t get me wrong they are but you no. its a worthy 8

    Matt whitneym1@hotmail.com
    Love it!! I'd agree with the man above that the first 3 tracks are somewhat incongruous - a more jarring sound and sometimes I'll skip them just wanting the brilliance of the next 4 tracks - Wickerman is astonishing - such an epic with the haunting sound of the carousel touching something in you that rarely comes out - yearning meloncholy passion... the whole album conjures such feelings that only pulp can, and viewed in context to pulps past it is so mature and developed - ahhhh!

    Richard White riccardo666@heroesandvillains.net
    I rate "Roadkill" as one of the finest songs on this album - its so sombre and dark, and must sound awesome live.


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    this page last updated 22/4/11


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