In the last couple of days I’ve listened to two albums i’ve not heard for YEARS, thanks to the wonders of my iPod – first one was ‘Different Class’ by Pulp, and the second was ‘Being There’ by Martyn Joseph. In both cases, I’d completely forgotten what exceptional albums they are. Common People by Pulp was always a song whose jaunty music belied the incredibly dark social tale in the lyrics (I remember the NME or Melody Maker describing it as a ‘tale of inter-class shagging’, which is a bit like calling Macbeth a story about some mad posh woman…) – the line where they are in the supermarket and he says ‘pretend you’ve got no money, she just laughed and said you’re so funny, I said yeah… but I don’t see anyone else laughing’ is astonishing. Photomonkey Steve, Lorna and I were talking about out-of-touch toffs this lunchtime over coffee, how amazing it is that so many hugely wealthy people have no idea at all how the vast majority of people live… And this song says that better than any number of newspaper articles or documentaries featuring Michael ‘man of the (rich) people’ Portillo… The rest of the album is cracking too, and brings back some wonderful memories.
And ‘Being There’ – Martyn Jospeh’s first album for Sony (he was dropped after the second album) – bizarrely, Sony were trying to market him as some kind of Chris DeBurgh figure, despite the fact that he (along with poet Stuart Henderson) wrote mainly impossibly dark songs about redundant miners and single mothers on the game… Real ‘Lady In Red’ territory there…!! Anyway, again, it’s a really moving album, with some razor sharp lyrics, and a whole load of righteous anger married slightly incongruously with the slick singer/songwriter sound… actually, it’s not incongruous, it just sugar’s the pill a little, in a good way. It’s a great sounding album, full of amazing songs… His next self titled album was equally fab, but Sony really had no idea what to do with him, dropped him, and he’s carried on making stunning records ever since with and without record label support, and acting as opening act to the stars – from cool people like Joan Armatrading to arena-filling shrieking harridans like Celine Dion, Martyn has warmed up the crowd with tales of marital unrest, injustice and exploitation the world over. Hurrah for Martyn. And for Pulp! Anyone heard Jarvis’ record? Is it any good?by