It’s been a while since the last time, but now Christmas is out of the way, you can rely on me to help you spend your lovely money on some worthy, deserving, incredibly amazing music. On Compact Disc, preferably. Apparently, Rihanna is the most downloaded artist of all time. This speaks volumes in this day and age as I have observed that the youth of today tend not to bother with the concept of physically owning music. These are the people that seriously need a musical education!
Anyway, on with the show…
Different Class by Pulp
In 1995, we were well and truly in the iron grip of ‘Britpop’. We’d had Oasis, Blur, Suede, Cast, Supergrass and oh so many more. Then Pulp released their second album. A year earlier, they had given us the Mercury Music Prize nominated ‘His n Hers’ and now they took it up a notch with this absolute gem. In the days when bands only had 4 or 5 ‘singles’ on an album, Jarvis Cocker and co managed to produce an album with easily 6 or 7 single quality tracks.
Kicking off with ‘Mis-shapes’, itself a double A-sided single of considerable quality enough to reach No 2, we get a typical Pulp-style song – catchy melody coupled with story telling ‘kitchen sink’ lyrics and delivered in Jarvis’ own Sheffield way. Following this is ‘Pencil Skirt’, a tale of a man offering himself as an illicit bit on the side, as well as an education. And then we get the unstoppable behemoth that is ‘Common People’. Disco synth-pop tune and funny yet tragic lyrics combine for an instantly memorable sing-along hit.
Sandwiched between ‘Common People’ and another mega-hit, is the understated ‘I Spy’. Arguably another story about an affair, this time the song is a taunting of a rival as we hear that he’s “been sleeping with your wife for the past 16 weeks, smoking your cigarettes, drinking your brandy, messing up the bed you chose together…” Nice.
A gravelly, chunky guitar riff introduces us to the super-hit we know as ‘Disco 2000’. Another slice of Pulp genius begging to be sang along to (and I rarely fail to do so myself), Jarvis Cocker tells us about Deborah (it never suited her) and how they grew up together. He admired her from afar, and stood by while the other boys had their way. Now he’s suggesting they meet up again, and yes, she can bring her baby.
The album continues with ‘Live Bed Show’ and ‘Something Changed’ before yet more awesome-ness. ‘Sorted for E’s And Wizz’ is quite overt in it’s depiction of someone going to a rave, taking drugs and then experiencing the highs and lows before ending with the paranoia of “what if I never come down?” The song itself was subject of a Newspaper crusade to have it banned, claiming it was a pro-drugs song, which Jarvis Cocker countered with a response stating that drugs “aren’t a solution or answer to anything” and that if anyone listened to the song and thought it had a pro-drugs stance had misinterpreted it. As always when there is an uproar about a song, it immediately propelled it to the No 2 slot (Double A-side with ‘Mis-shapes’) as people want to know what all the fuss is about.
The album closes with the significantly less controversial quartet of ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E’, ‘Underwear’, ‘Monday Morning’ and ‘Bar Italia’ that whilst not necessarily being Pulp at their utmost best, are still snippets of quality.
And so there you have it. An album that is quintessentially Pulp, almost synonomously ‘Britpop’ (although Pulp had been honing their craft since the early 80’s, when Britpop was merely a glimmer in Paul Weller’s eye) and without a doubt ‘Different Class’.
Go and buy this album. In fact, buy two copies, and download another copy. Then give the extra CD copy to a friend, and the downloaded copy to some needy youngster with a laptop full of Rihanna, Tiny Temper (or whatever), or Katy Perry. As Tony Blair once said: ‘Education, Education, Education’.
Spread The Word.