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If you're in your thirties, chances are you remember the Britpop days. I am, and I do. Those days were squeezed mostly into one year, that year being 1995, a year which saw Oasis and Blur fight it out for the title of the Biggest Band In Britain, even though Take That were bigger really. Indie kids (including a teenage me) didn't count boy bands. Britpop was ours and - after years of the charts being dominated by pop, dance and the kind of soul music that is unlistenable to anyone who has so much as heard Aretha Franklin breathe - suddenly "our" bands were picking up mainstream attention.
1995 saw the release of "(What's The Story) Morning Glory" by Oasis, "The Great Escape" by Blur, Elastica's eponymous debut album and a goodly number of other albums by the bands who would go on to define our late teens. I don't remember those albums when I remember 1995. It is to this album, a 12-track document of Jarvis Cocker's jaded yet hopeful worldview, that I still find myself listening eighteen years on.
The CD bursts into life with "Mis-Shapes", which at the time was familiar to Pulp fans as the second track on the double A-side single that also contained the controversial "Sorted For E's And Wizz". As an opening track, it's a perfect choice. A national anthem for the freaks and the geeks, it really represented a call to arms for those who just didn't quite fit in. Those of us who did try to rise up, armed with this album and a love of French cinema, were quickly slapped down by the hard kids, but at least they tried to borrow our CDs a few weeks later.
The next track is "Pencil Skirt", one of many tracks on the album not to be released as a single but which would have been a perfectly good one. It's also the first insight on this album into the sleaze in so many of Pulp's best songs were marinaded. If you reacted to a snub from the cool girl/boy you fancied by cooing "You can tell some lies about the good times that you've had/But I've kissed your mother twice, and now I'm working on your dad", and survived, then you're a braver nerd than I.
Track 3 is "Common People", as close to a defining song as Pulp ever had. An account of Jarvis' short-lived relationship with a slumming Greek socialite, it beautifully skewers a sense of "ooh, let's live like the poor" which still exists today among people well-educated enough to know better. The poor wouldn't live like that if they were rich, and it's insulting to treat it like a game, is the message of this song. But Jarvis and the band make it catchier and it had Sadie Frost in the video, and when it landed at #2 in the Top 40 it felt like our time had come.
Following up, "I Spy" is a manically dark, filmic panic attack set to music. The key themes here are revenge, class war (a recurring theme on the whole album) and envy. It ends with a twisted rant containing the immortal phrase 'Take your "Year in Provence" and shove it up your...' - well, you can guess the orifice Jarvis had in mind here. It's brave to follow this up with an indie disco classic that has more in common with Elton John than John Barry, but then Pulp never did things the easy way, having been together for thirteen years at the time of this album's release. And "Disco 2000" doesn't disappoint.
What to say about this song? It's not exactly celebratory (virtually none of the album is completely euphoric, at least on a lyrical front). But it has the catchiest hook on the whole album, and recounts an affair that never quite happened between a boy and girl who grew up together but went their separate ways leaving the boy musing on what might have been and the girl blissfully unaware.
It is followed by "Live Bed Show", and if I say that the story of this song is of a protagonist who used to entertain many guests at night, but doesn't really any more, you'll notice that a pattern is emerging across the album. The song itself is OK, but it's Pulp OK (which by Britpop exchange rates makes it "Good Blur", "Astounding Oasis" or "Don't Even Dream Of Getting There, Cast"). And it leads into the prettiest, sweetest song on the album, and maybe my favourite Pulp song ever.
"Something Changed" is the song about being glad you did something on an album of songs about regretting doing nothing and being guilty about things you have done and thought. It imagines the parallel universe in which you didn't go out for the night and didn't meet the partner you'd been dreaming about, and it snaps you back to saying "Hang on, why ponder on what could have gone wrong, let's celebrate what went right". A beautiful sentiment, expressed tenderly against a mostly acoustic backdrop.
Beauty is at a premium for the rest of the album, as the sleaze makes a big return. This is no bad thing. "Sorted For E's & Wizz" is not the celebratory anthem for drugged-up youth that it was portrayed as. It's also not a totally disapproving read, to be fair. Simply, it makes the point that while those nights in a field with chemically altered friends may have felt like the perfect future, the highs are short-lived and the comedown traumatic.
"F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E." is an absolute nightmare to type. I should have cut and pasted it. As a song, it's a seething, drum-n-bass influenced number that sounds a bit like a tension headache. You know that early stage of a love affair when you can't wait to see the person again, and you can't concentrate on anything else, you're constantly paranoid that they'll write you a letter saying they never want to see you again because of the weird way you snort when you laugh? This is a song about that. Reading back I can see that I've not really sold it, which is a shame because it's really quite fabulous.
In the closing quarter of the album, we have Pulp on a plate - the sweet, the sour, the highs, the lows and the filth. "Underwear", the b-side to "Common People", is a gentle waltz about the moments just before you take a big step with a new beau or belle, and is endlessly listenable despite that. "Monday Morning" and "Bar Italia" are companion pieces, both dealing with the comedown feeling from different points of view, the former almost drilling in its sense of anxiety while the latter lowers you softly onto your bed to sleep it off. All in all, it ends the album on a positive note after forty-plus minutes of uneasy - but brilliant - listening.
Back in 1995, I was a teenage girl from a working class background, sitting my GCSEs alongside all of my friends, and one of the sounds of that summer was Pulp's Common People - an anthem to my friends. At that time, there was Blur, or Pulp, and with Pulp being from Sheffield (the town I was going to for University) and singing about more class related matters that seemed a bit more important to a teenager starting to take more notice of the world, the band for me was Pulp.
The cover to the disc is not that inspiring, but certainly very striking. Featuring a colour picture of a wedding scene, the band are superimposed in black and white over the top. To me this always has a bit of an old feel to it, and while not that appealing to me, perhaps more appealing to the parents of me and my friends who had grown up at the same time as front man and singer, Jarvis Cocker, and experienced similar angst to him. The tagline inside, 'Please understand. We don't want no trouble. We just want the right to be be different. That's all. ' There is something very appealing about this sentiment to someone on the cusp of becoming an adult and establishing their opinions at an alarming rate.
The CD I own was purchased from Woolies - thanks to a receipt tucked in the cover, I can see I paid £12.49 for it. How amazing that you can get albums cheaper than this now. One of the only commodities that doesn't cost you more these days. The album features 12 songs with an alternative rock feel, sung by Jarvis Cocker in a style that features his Yorkshire accent and sometimes almost feels more speech like than singing, with a bit of a nasal property. Each track has a run time between 3 and 6 minutes, so the CD as a whole runs for about one delightful hour.
Mis-shapes opens the album - a song that reached 2 in 1995. This is quite a catchy tune about class divide and how people who stand out get mistreated. It is a song about standing up for yourselves and rising up in spite of where you come from. 'We want your homes, we want your lives, we want the things you won't allow us. We won't use guns, we won't use bombs. We'll use the one thing we've got more of - that's our minds. ' For someone from a working class background, that is so relatable about rising up beyond what you have using education and hard work.
Pencil Skirt is more of a little ditty to me rather than a full blown song, spoken by Cocker in quite a breathless voice about an affair between two people who shouldn't be together. You can't help but feel he is the underdog who is not quite good enough as the other man. I love the rhyme in the lyrics with this one, it always makes me chuckle a bit with its descriptiveness and although it kind of is meant to be a bit seductive, its like a satirical northern version of it. 'When you raise your pencil skirt like a veil before my eyes. Like the look upon his face as he's zipping up his flies.' I can't think of anything less romantic sounding myself.
We are then took into the biggest hit from this CD that has most mass appeal, Common People. Another number two, this was the song of my summer. At 6 minutes, it is quite long, but it doesn't necessarily feel it. It describes a girl lowering herself a bit with an affair with a boy who is a lower social class than her, but there is this undercurrent that she can always stop pretending and go back to her normal life whenever she wants, and how pretending that your poor is not the same reality as being poor. This for me is such a relevant theme even now though is obviously more from Cockers own youth in the 80s. It definitely felt relevant at the time where I was approaching my own University/college education, making it sound an exciting time.
I Spy - this has a bit of a sound of the Pet Shop Boys to me. This is almost whispered by Cocker, over music which starts really quietly and then builds throughout the song, leading to song through the chorus. It seems a quite jealous song to me. Some of the words are pronounced quite harshly with a lot of emphasis on the 's' sound which sounds almost like hissing. 'You see you should take me seriously. Very seriously indeed. Cause I've been sleeping with your wife for the past sixteen weeks. Smoking your cigarettes, drinking your brandy, messing up the bed you chose together. And in all that time I just wanted you to come home unexpectedly one afternoon, And catch us at it in the front room. You see I spy for a living and I specialise in revenge, On taking the things I know will cause you pain. I can't help it, I was dragged up.'
Disco 2000 - another hit from the CD, though this one was only ever number 7 in the charts, but I found it far more 'pop' and catchy than Mis shapes. I love looking back now at 'Let's all meet up in the year 2000' which at that point was a future event, but now how long ago was that? It describes Cocker's real life, of falling in love with someone totally unattainable, and how they grew up not very differently, but the girl is infinitely more popular and never notices him and his love in unrequited. It's hard to see that the track did not achieve more commercial success as it is a lot more cheerful than some of their other tracks.
Live Bed Show - this is quite a melancholy sound which to me is about the demise of a relationship that has just slipped away. This is to me, a couple who are moving apart from each other, like ships in the night. I love the line 'It's changed from something beautiful, to something else instead.'
Something Changed - It's a nice guitar based track. It always puts me in the mood of the film, Sliding Doors, what would happen to you if you made one choice in life rather than following another route. 'When we woke up that morning we had no way of knowing that in a matter of hours we'd change the way we were going. Where would I be now if we'd never met? '
Sorted for E's and Whizz was the other A side of the track, Mis shapes which reached number 2. The song has a bit of a spaced feel with clear reference to drug use, describing the trip. This seems to make drug use seem quite unglamourous to me, talking about feeling like you can't go home because you left part of your brain in a field in Hampshire.
F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E is a very weird song, following on well from the quiet ending of the previous track, featuring Cocker speaking in a very quiet voice through the verses that is difficult to make out like he is telling you a secret. The chorus starts with him almost whining like an animal that it is cold. It is an odd description of love, stripping it back to more of an animal thing. 'So what do I do? I've got a slightly sick feeling in my stomach, Like I'm standing on top of a very high building oh yeah. All the stuff they tell you about in the movies, but this isn't chocolate boxes and roses. '
Underwear - firstly, an odd name for a track - it sounds a bit sordid, and this is what the lyrics describe, someone stripping down to their underwear. I feel there is a bit of sordidness underneath the lyrics, someone not quite wanting to be where they are, but needing to continue once they have started. 'If you could close your eyes and just remember, that this is what you wanted last night. So why is it so hard for you to touch him, for you to go, to give yourself to him? Oh Jesus!'
Monday Morning - this song somes up perhaps how many people live, surviving the week to get to the weekend, where you live, until its Monday again and you are constantly on this repetitive cycle thinking how pointless it is. The lyrics make you think a little about what you would do if you could escape from the rat race.
Bar Italia is the 12th and final track on the disc. It describes the feeling at the end of the night, not wanting it all to end, making plans to do it all again, making it a good track for ending the CD.
For me, this disc starts with a bit of pace and passion, and kind of dies out by the last quarter where the more laid back and less popular tracks are. I find that the strength to this CD is the lyrics, and this is why Pulp always won over Blur for me as there lyrics have a lot more meaning to them. Musically, this could sound like other bands, but it is the strength of these lyrics and Jarvis Cockers unique voice that really mark this band apart from others. While this angst will not be for everyone, the catchy Common People and Disco 2000 (5* tracks) will drag people in to listen to the rest of the disc. For me, some of it is a bit self indulgent, and this is what stopped the band gaining more commercial mainstream success.
While I love the songs that charted from this CD, and I am amused by some of the other tracks like something changed and pencil skirt, I find that I only tolerate the last three tracks really.
This is a CD that calls out to you to listen to the words being spoken, unfortunately not all of them are that wise or worth listening to, and overall it is an average album with a couple of gems in it for me. I played it to death when it was new, I still don't mind the occasional listen, but it is music to match a mood and an era. A fun trip down memory lane, but the sentiments are a bit dated now for me.
Pulps Different Class set the britpop scene alight in 1995, with a different tune to what Blur and Oasis were pumping out furiously in their little war of music. Pulp managed to turn out a piece of art, not just any old pop album.
The album starts off with Mis-Shapes, this song is punchy, rebellious and leads a message on adolescence. Mis-Shapes is one of my favorite tracks off the LP!
Secondly, Pencil Skirt is a darker; more sexual song about a man's sexual feelings of this woman's skirt.
Then comes Common People, this song was known as the highlight track of 1995 Glastonbury, it was about Jarvis Cocker's relationship with a member of the upper class. This is one of the best known tracks but the others want noticing as well!
Then comes 'I spy', this song I feel gives a tingling sensation as it describes the story of a stalker.
Disco 2000, this track tells the story of Jarvis Cocker's friendship with a girl at High School who was more popular than he was, her name was Deborah and it apparently never suited her. What Jarvis was communicating in this song was what if they both met each other again?
The B side is full of hidden gems, is suggest you find out for yourself.
Overall, Pulp's Different Class is refreshing after the works of Blur and Oasis.
In school you either liked Blur or Oasis. Some of the cool kids liked both, but the really cool kids liked Pulp. I wasn't that cool - I liked Blur. I had a bad haircut and distinctive eye brows and by default I looked like any member of Oasis - but Blur were way cooler. Nonchalant, hip, and cheeky - and despite my seemingly innate pre-dispossession to be a Oasis fan, Blur were my band. I'd love to say I was one of the actual cool kids and I remember 'Different Class' when it came out, seeing them live first time round and trying to convince people Jarvis Cocker actually was cool - but I wasn't. Pulp were there but always in the background, and it wasn't until a few years after 'Different Class' (97-98ish) came out that I really got stuck into the album and recognized it as one of the greatest albums ever made - almost certainly the album that defined the 90s.
I was too young to fully 'get' 'Different Class' when it first arrived in '95. I was more at ease with the punchy, upbeat rhythms of 'Parklife' and 'Song 2' and I loved nothing more than a simple clever lyric that I could easily remember and quote the next day in school. Pulp didn't offer this to the 14 year old me - their lyrics were clever, story telling and grown up. Their music pounded to a less simple beat, keyboards and violins underpinning the sassy, slutty, melodrama the band would produce. They were darker, quieter and less easy to sing along to. Of course, this was all nonsense, and as soon as my age allowed me to catch up with what was cool 'Different Class' would soon become one of my personal favorite albums of all time, a record I have never spent a dull second with despite 100s of repeated spins.
Pulps second record, 'Different Class' followed the trail and error of 'His and Hers' in '94, a great record that was brilliant but far from perfect. With 'Different Class' they remained the distinctive Pulp from the last record but injected a kind of magic into their music that, they not only failed to have in such abundance previously - they would also struggle to capture again. 'Different Class' was Pulp in their sweet-spot - musically and lyrically they captured something - their age, their demographic and the existing in Great Britain in the 90s all worked together to capture not only a sound but a vibe that would dissolve - just as quickly as the 90s became the 00s, the band made money and Jarvis became a celebrity.
From the off, the front cover says a lot about this album and indeed this band. It shows a happy wedding photo, with the members of the band dotted among the guests but blanked out in black and white - in an almost ghostly way. They are made to look like a reluctant part of the picture and match this up with the albums title -'Different Class' and Pulp already capture the vibe of the album on cover alone before you even start on the 12 tracks on the album. Inside the front sleeve of the inlay booklet (note to younger readers; there used to be these things called CDs, and CDs came with little inlay books that sometime contained lyrics and pictures. You don't get inlay books with MP3s) is a quote from the band 'We don't want no trouble, we just wan't the right to be different. That's all'. Social class played a big role in Britpop - to be working class became cool. Pulp personified this, to be working class was no longer a struggle, or the aggressive call to arms 70s/80s punk would want it to be - it was cool. Pulp would put this into words with 'Common People' - one of the two big anthems from the album.
'Common People' is a polite call to arms, as a story of middle class Vs working class perceptions is told - set to a throbbing, chant-able pace with Pulp musically at their most furious - still precise, in tune and catchy - but this song rounds off headline sets at festivals for a reason. A chorus packed with energy pulls together each verse as frontman Cockers tells a story of teenage love stunted and interrupted by class perceptions, him working class and her middle class - but her wanting to tour within the working class world. Cocker and his working class army come out on top though, with pride over coming lust as he convinces the listener the reality of his lifestyle is not as 'glamorous' as it seems. This song was released as a single, and although it did well chart wise in '95, its the kind of song that would just struggle to exist if released in 2012. Its not obviously immediate and not the glossy cool 99% of the sewerage pumping out of radios is these days. Its place seems firmly, and comfortably in the 90's - but to revisit it is a joy - not only does it take me back personally, but it harks to a different time. Top Of The Pops. New Labour. Pints for under £2.
Single number two came in the form of 'Disco 2000', another wonderfully told story about teenage love suffering at the hands of time. Cocker tells the story of a pact made with a girl, only to jump forward in time to see not only the pact broken - but shattered and trampled on. Its a song that not only deals with teenage innocence but the reality of adult life - with it musically seeing Pulp again produce another anthem.
Around these two single, the other 10 tracks are just as great - but these two were clearly picked on how catchy and radio friendly they were.
Kicking off the album in style, come another song dedicated to the coolness of working class - as Mis-Shapes' not only talks about not fitting in personally, but the lyric 'raised on a diet of broken biscuits' talks about not fitting in in the wider context. For me, every track is a highlight but its when Pulp turn down the lights with 'FELLINGCALLEDLOVE' is when it gets super magical. This is a dark, dirty song with Cockers lyrics at their most adult and a little cringe-y to the teenage me. The adult me doesn't find them as cringe worthy, instead they add to the tone of the song - as it throbs and pulse and and eventually reaches musical climax as the title of the song is gradually called out. Pulp do similar things with 'Live Bed Show' and 'I Spy', and you hear Cocker sexualising his songs - something Blur and Oasis never went within miles of - and this again gives this album and edge and a depth that makes it a masterpiece.
The heart rate of the album builds with the drug fueled anthem 'Sorted For Es and Wizz' - Cocker capitalizing of the cool of lost weekends at festivals - but also, with comedy - giving a little bit of a cautionary tale to those to not yet have a bad trip. This song feels like a live song, with crowd sound effects and all - and its maybe the most fun song on the album, sat right in the middle of the record helping keep the pace.
The album rounds off with 'Bar Italia', a sassy also fun song that borders on feeling out of place at first - but builds and as it finishes and easily warrants its place on this album. But thats not where this album ends. Its an album I have listen to countless time, and will listen to many more - so when its done giving it another spin is hard to resist.
The biggest charm of this album is that it serves as a great antidote to the music of 2012 - its works best played in full, as an album - its great on CD format and the youth of today are guaranteed to hate it. There is hardly any swearing, zero bass lines and its impossible to remix. Perfect.
This classic Britpop album was re-released a few years ago, with an excellent disc of bonus material.
The album itself should be familiar to anyone who likes British indie music. After the success of 1994's His 'N' Hers, Different Class was the album which shot Pulp, and particularly frontman Jarvis Cocker, into the major leagues. The lead single, 'Common People', became an anthem for the era, arguably beating any of the output of the so-called rivals Blur and Oasis as the song most synonymous with 1995's 'Summer of Britpop'.
Different Class is something of a masterpiece, with some of Cocker's best lyrics, combing a heady mix of sexiness, menace, comedy and social commentary. As the name suggests, the British class system is an overarching theme of the album, with 'Common People' and the snarling 'I Spy' the most obvious tracks.
Sex is also never far from the forefront, but always viewed from a rather skewed viewpoint. This comes to a head in 'F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.', a sprawling, sweaty song that views love as a rather seedy inconvenience, and 'Underwear', a tale of coming to your senses during a one night stand and wondering what the hell you're doing there, via the tale of unrequited teenage lust of 'Disco 2000'. And the other theme is need for belonging, from the call to arms of the bullied that is 'Mis-Shapes', to the bittersweet tribute to the rave scene of 'Sorted for Es and Wizz', and songs about the joy and madness and ultimate futility of nights of excess, including the raucous 'Monday Morning', and its comedown flipside of 'Bar Italia'.
And in the middle of this there's a straight up - if rather quirky - love song in the shape if the rather lovely 'Something Changed'.
Much-feted as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, and it's not something I'd argue against. No-one tells a story in song quite like Jarvis Cocker, and this is some of his very best work. If you don't own this album then, really... why not?
As for the bonus disc, it' a mixed bag of lost b-side gems, live tracks and bizarre rarities that will only get fans excited. Of the better tracks there's P.T.A., a perky song that hides the rather sinister tale of a sexually inappropriate teacher, 'Mile End', a story of urban hell in a tower block, and 'We Can Dance Again', an unreleased demo that is the best hit single the band never released. Other tracks are odd but never less than interesting, including a vocoder remix of 'Common People', and a version of 'Disco 2000' with Nick Cave on vocals
Back in 1995, it was almost impossible to escape the music press droning on about Oasis and Blur being the next best thing since everything else, and how they didn't like each other very much. Yet while these two big boys were scrapping it out in the middle of the playground, a much wittier, geekier, talented kid of the over-rated Britpop scene was making some very dry comments, all set to some quite splendid pop music.
I use the word 'kid', but this is a total misnomer. Pulp had been around in at least some sort of guise since 1979, formed by the then-teenage Jarvis Cocker. Gathering a small but respectable fan-base (including the late John Peel) in the 1980s with some quirky, half-fun half-dark material, their rise to success in the 1990s was thoroughly deserved. Cocker had held on to his dream of success, and the years of creativity and touring paid off. Having experimented with post-punk and electronica, Pulp hit upon a winning formula on their previous album 'His n' Hers', and magnified it here.
'Different Class' is a tight, well conceived record. Throughout its twelve tracks, Jarvis Cocker performs what is more of a mesmerising piece of character acting than vocal performance. One gets the impression that he has been furtively skirting round the fringes of society, soaking up everything he sees and scribbling it all down on the back of fag packets and bus tickets. He hops into narrate the lives of characters we have all encountered, and perhaps sometimes been, with a flair and wit that captivates. From the working-class boy that meets a slightly deluded posh student in 'Common People', to the memories of a once lovelorn teenager in 'Disco 2000', to the cold, calculating intelligence of a manipulative, jealous love-rat on 'I Spy' and the thorougly stoned festival-goer on 'Sorted for E's and Whizz', Cocker presents us with candid snapshots of these individuals. And he also plays a clever mind-game with the listener; are these songs semi-autobiographical? As he confesses 'I've been sleeping with your wife for the past sixteen weeks/ Smoking your cigarettes, drinking your brandy', one wonders if he is addressing someone in particular. Sung mostly in the first person, these songs could be sordid extracts from a diary that nobody should ever read...
But it's not just a clever bit of pop music/sociology hybridization. Pulp sound utterly tight here, with memorable keyboard fills from Candid Doyle, flamenco guitar flourishes and Gregorian chants on 'I Spy' mixed in with muscular power chords of 'Disco 2000'. Jarvis Cocker sounds at his most sinister and haunted here, while the rhythm section provide either a creepy backdrop on the confessional affair of 'Pencil Skirt'. They also penned one of the most memorable dance-floor fillers of the decade with 'Common People'. It's also wonderfully bookended with 'Mis-Shapes', a hymn for all disaffected weirdos everywhere, and 'Bar Italia', which is the tale of a hungover conversation distilled into three minutes and contains the wonderful line 'If they knocked down this place/ It'd still look much better than you...'
I've never been particularly fond of the label 'indie' for music, as for me it is just a by-word for overrated, trendy music that NME or Q will rave about for five minutes and then promptly forget when they realise nobody actually likes them. 'Different Class' has more in common with the power pop of Blondie or R.E.M. in places, but with a subtle, shadowy tone of its own to give it a trademark sinister edge. It has also aged remarkably well, with much of its observations still relevant, and the production and musicianship spot-on.
This is available on Amazon for about three pounds, or if you're a big fan, the expanded version is available for about twelve. This contains a second disc packed full of extras, such as out-takes, live cuts and b-sides, including the jaunty but depressing 'Mile End', and a surprise rendition of Thin Lizzy's 'Whiskey in the Jar'. And if you can find a vinyl version, it's a wonderfully packaged album with extra artwork and posters, just how an LP should be.
At the height of Brit-pop mania during the late nineties, Pulp were one of the many indie bands that got caught up in the current and were catapulted straight into the mainstream. With classic tunes such as Common People, Sorted Out For E's Ands Whizz and Disco 2000, the band established themselves as one of the big players in the Brit-pop circus and, following Jarvis Cocker's memorable antics at the Brits when he invaded the stage whilst Michael Jackson was performing, became a name that everyone remembered!
The fifth studio album that Pulp released, this was also their most memorable with three top ten hits and controversy that dogged their single, Sorted Out For E's And Whizz bgecause of its artwork inspired by drug paraphernalia; something that was pretty much a storm in a teacup!
But it is not just the hit singles featured here that makes this album so great! Whilst Mis-shapes, which opens the album, has never been one of my favourites, soulful, somber songs like Something Changed give this album a personality all of its own far removed from anything else Brit-pop had to offer! "What would've happened if we'd never met?" Ponders Jarvis at one point, "Would I be singing this song to someone else instead?" It is these kind of poignant lyrics that helps this album stand head and shoulders above anything else that was around at the time and keep it right up there as one of my favourite albums of all time!
Released in 1995, this for me was Pulp's greatest album, mixing sublime story telling with excellent music, it is not as seedy as their previous album but still has voyeuristic elements that the other big guns of the time, Blur and Oasis just didn't have the desire to mess with.
Beginning with the excellent "Misshapes", about Misshapes, mistakes and misfits, who'd like to go to town but they can't risk it, this is a rallying cry for anyone who is considered different, and it lays into the bullies and directors of who is and isn't acceptable, the song is brilliant but as always Jarvis Cockers lyrics add another layer to the song.
2. "Pencil Skirt"
This is a really good song with Jarvis playing a guy who is incredibly excited about seducing a woman in a Pencil Skirt while her fella is out of town, it is brilliant in its smalltown English seediness and sums up Pulp and Cocker in particular.
3. "Common People"
If you don't know this song, then where were you in 1995, this is one of the anthems of the Britpop era, with its innovative video starring Sadie Frost, it mocks a posh woman looking for a bit of rough wanting to live amongst the "Common People", it was taken up as an anthem by many different sections of society with many of them not understanding that it was actually digging at them, it sounds amazing still and is a wonderfully satirical bite at the British class system.
4. "I Spy" - Another cool song, a bit like I will survive if the singer was a dark, lazy man with odd thoughts, it is a voyeuristic song again, which Cocker spits out at times, it is emotive, thoughtful and a whole story of revenge and spying, dark, dirty and wonderful.
5. "Disco 2000" - Love this song, simply love it, disco in an English Indie stylie, talking about meeting up in the year 2000, its being ironic, as nothing would have changed by then, but its an awesomely camp piece of disco that is still danceable now. One of the great Pulp songs and one of the eras great songs, this is a wicked tune now and always will be.
6. "Live Bed Show" - I really love this song too, it still works now, it is a wonderful illustration of Pulp that we concentrate on Cocker but the beautiful guitar work on this song really shines through also and is a compliment to the band as a whole. I never know fully if this song tells of the life of a bed, as it relays stories of what has happened in the bed, but I think its something deeper about a changing relationship from the point of view of the bed as its use changes from headboards banging constantly to the sound of heads hitting pillows early.
7. "Something Changed" - Beautiful song, this will live with me always due to the lyrics, it is a love song about how different decisions could have changed the whole essence of a relationship, through not meeting or missing each other, this is lyrically perfect and one of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard, I love the overarching Spector-esque strings and the guitars are beautiful, Cocker has a magnificent vulnerability and cynicism at the same time in this song, which is both touching and weary at the same time. This is honestly one of my favourite songs of all time and really does make you consider how lucky those of us who have found love are and how it could all have been so different!
8. "Sorted for E's & Wizz" - Pills, E's, this is a mickey take of the drug taking club and festival goers of the mid nineties, this is a cynical mickey take which became a huge festival hit. I love the chorus 'In the middle of the night it feels alright, but then tomorrow morning, oooh then you come down' it really shows the massive downside of drugs, beyond the initial buzz and excitement, the song fits the era perfectly and is a great song.
This song is awesome because the lyrics are poetic and real, detailing love beyond romance, its carnal, dark and real, Jarvis totally understands this and croons over a slow melodramatic beat about losing his heart and his body to a woman, the song's chorus is really catchy.
10. "Underwear" - Jarvis singing about a girl being naked in someones room, while he'd give his life to see her naked, this is one of the songs which reminds me most of the voyeurism of their previous album, I love the lyric "If fashion is you game, then when your naked, I guess you must be unemployed", this is catchy, silly, funny and a bit weird too.
11. "Monday Morning" - "Why live in the World when you can live in your head?", love the idea of that, talking about that Monday morning feeling, and why life is the way it is this is a thrashing fun song, filled with a dark undertone, as has much of the album.
12. "Bar Italia" - I love the imagery of this song, wanting to show someone love as a couple heading home passing commuters on their way to work after a weekend of debauchery, it's a perfect idea and while its one of the weaker songs on the album it still ranks as a great idea. I like the chorus, it is quirky and weird and the idea as always is about thriving to be different, which we should all do.
So overall, this album is absolutely a 5 out of 5 for me, every song is intelligent with strings, guitars, excellent scoring and amazing lyrics, Jarvis Cocker is an amazing singer and performer and this album sums up his writing talents, some of his songs remind me of Alan Bennett vignettes but much darker, he is an awesome social commentator and really gets to the edges of being different, love, sex, class and voyeurism.
The album is available for download on Itunes or Ebay for £2.99.
And now for something completely different from Praski..........
As most of you may have gathered from reading my reviews I have travelled and moved around quite a lot in my life but there was one city where for a while I actually did put roots down and that was Sheffield. I left home when I was very young - 16 to be precise and went from a very quiet hamlet in rural Lincolnshire to the steel city of the north. In the 80's and 90's I got involved with the art and music scene and made a lot of good friends who went on to become quite famous. It was great fun and we lived in an area called Nether Edge which was very trendy if a little run down. We were all skint (I still am) in those days and often went to the Broadfield pub and used to share pints.
Having moved to Sheffield I first found the accent quite strange even worse than Polish (only joking) but over the years it grew on me and even now I still use lots of Sheffield words so today I have written my review in the Sheffield vernacular.
This is all very light hearted so I hope it doesn't offend anyone in anyway.
Here is my review of what I think is Pulp's best album.
Sheffied 1978. The Big Tree - Woodseats.
There wor a big tree outside
Which were as well 'cos Stoneziz beer wor shi**
But in them days, tha could see a band
In every bar on every night
And 'avin nout else to do
I thought, why not?
I'll gi' it a go
Then some nobby mounts t'able
Like Christmas time wi' our Aunt Mable
The Milky Bar Kid and Joe 90 combined
Maybe that's common, praps it's refined
'E's a geek. e's a freak, e's fantastique
For a kid of fourteen, 'e's pretty unique
Daft as a brush and wet beind th'ears
Maybe lad's 'ad too many beers
I won't boast or pretend to be au fait
Wi' superstars or papparazzi
But ABC, The League an't Caberet
Well mi' pikelets, I couldn't keep 'em away
Bugger off, I said
Go and be famous somewhere else
We're hanging paper
Sensibly and in straight lines
Then Jarvis turns up
Bold as yu' like
Wi' Beautiful Steve
Attached to his side
Fluanting him like some motorbike
Pretty and sexy and ready to ride
They both came from Freshville, No connection sexually or otherwise.
'Aving known Jarvis through a range 'o decades
I've tried to keep track of 'is escapades
'E's done mardy and arty
Clever and daft
But the one that stands out is
'A Different Class'
It talks about hope and working class dreams
Fumbles wit th' awkwardness of the teens
Dissapointment, failure and loss
Woodchip, anaglypta and flock
Nar tu review - 'ere gorze - wotch art fuh dogoh!
Oooh - this is a goodun and gets us off to a reet good start!
If you are not common, you won't know that misshapes are cheap rejects from Berty Bassett's factory and if you're really posh, you won't know what Berty Bassett's are! A different class perhaps? Jarvis shows how brit pop should be done. It's like London Burning played by the resident band at Attercliffe Working Men's Club.
I'd forgotten this'n. Sounds a bit rude! Moves from fifties bubble gum to seventies pulp.
Now we're talking. Rock on Tommy!
The most depressing thing about this song is that it wor kept off at number one spot by Teletubbies. If that's not a conspiracy against the working class, I don't know what is. If George Orwell wrote pop songs, this'd be the one. This song is so good that I am giving you the link and I shall be round later t' check shoes for dogoh. You've been warned! I know lad's been an apeth on occasions but this'ns a classic, even by woosy southern standards.
Ay up - this'ns a bit wierd
It starts off with that John Barry feel - tha' knows Persuaders theme tune. Then we go all Shirley Bassey - well why not? It's Friday night and I'm up for a rum and coke. Want owt from bar love? Ooh these shoes are killing me - they're pinching.
Come on Vicky - lets 'ave a dance!
I love this one don't you? Guitar playing sounds like early Bowie. 'E were weird un all. 'Er name was Deborah. Do you recall, yu house was very small, with woodchip on the wall.' It's clever that. 'Ow many songs do you know 'wi references t' wallpaper? Yu struggling - admit it! I've been trying to get our Bert to do our bathroom f'rages.
Live Bed Show
I like this'n too. It's got that sixties feel. Words about a bird what goes ont game and music builds up in a right moody way. I don't know about you but I could murder a bag 'o pork scratchings. I'll get some ont' way back from lavvy.
This is nice. A proper song wi' a tune and some singalong bits. Strings remind me of Cilla Black. She were class.
Sorted for E's and Wizz
This sounds like a pop song too and some bubbly Chicory Tip keybords. You know, 'Son of my Father'. Better words than this'n. Do you know what 'e's on about? 'E were in t'other day - Phi Oakey. Tha' knows, daften wi' 'arf an 'aircut. I said, 'Ay Phil -when yu getting rest done?' 'E didn't laugh. 'E's fatter than 'e looks ont' telly.
Oh Jarvis - don't go all arty on me. This takes a while t' get goin and I'm not sure where it goes when it gets there. Do yu' fancy a Baileys? I'll go to' bar while this one's on.
Eh, this is a bit saucy. You don't think 'e's kinky do you? It's a pretty little tune and the singing's like a bad Bryan Ferry. I suppose that sums 'im up.
This is lively. Reminds me of Bonanza - defo a gooden to dance to. Now Jarvis - e's thinner than 'e looks. 'E does that daft dance 'e picked up at art school. Looks like Ministry 'o Silly Walks. Never thought they were funny. Now Mike 'Arding - 'e were 'illarious!
Oh - last one already? Eh for a moment then, I thought it were gonta be Elvis. It's like an old fashioned 50's song. Shooby doo, dooby doo. Eeeh! I 'aven't 'ad this much fun since John Shuttleworth took us all art t' Bernie Inn at Norton. Prawn cocktail, mixed grill and a schooner ov' Emva Cream. Now that's class!
When all eyes were fixed ont battle between Blur 'n Oasis, Pulp sneaked up ont rails and stole all the prizes. By 1995 when t'album came out, Craisy Dasies 'ad long since given way t' Leadmill ant Limit. Beautiful Steve 'ad gone bald and fat and wor living o'r brush with some manky wench from Wincobank. Jarvis tried to go up market, getting a girl int group. She must 'ave been from Ranmoor 'cos she 'ad a fancy name - Candida - although, I thought that were posh word fu thrush. Get some Canistan love! For all 'is fame, 'e will allus remain acting goat ont' table at Big Tree. They say when 'e's not playing banjo, he moonlights as a decorator and is a dab 'and wit paste brush. I wonder if 'e'd do our bathroom.
The Pulp Classic, and although its not my favourite Pulp album it is understandable why it is their best known.
Misshapes relates to so many people who feel outcast, and is an uplifting and defiant Album
I'm not a big fan of Pencil Skirt, although it picks up where His'n'hers left off.
Common People - as everyone knows - is a Pulp classic, and at 8 minutes long it still feels like a short and sweet pop song.
I Spy is very dark and brooding and, i think, the albums highlight
Disco 2000 - another classic, big riff, danceable
Live Bed show - tells the story of a womans sex life through the viewpoint of her bed. Inventive
Something Changed is another of the albums classic singles, about all the variables that lead to a relationship starting
Sorted For E's and Whizz - a cautionary tale about drugs
UnderWear - another sex song
Feeling Called Love - one of the more experimental tracks on the album
Monday Morning - a pop belter hidden at the end
Bar Italia - The albums comedown
God, Pulp have been around forever, or at least that's the way it seems. The oddly shaped Jarvis Cocker and his band of northern misfits had drifted around on the edges of the big time for years before they had their big breakthrough with the Common People single and suddenly became the oldest overnight successes there has ever been. They followed up the massive success of the single with Different Class, a definitive statement of their art, which contains all the brilliant singles which they put out in that extraordinarily successful run of theirs - All Sorted For E's and Wizz, Something's Changed, Disco 2000, such wonderful, wonderful pop music. Those songs are undoubtedly instantly catchy and draw the listener in like the best addictive pop, but this album is about a great deal more than a few hits. Cocker is a brilliant writer and charismatic performer with his short sighted stick insect stance and has a handy way with words. Some of the dark little ditties on this album are so jaded, cynical and world weary it would make you want to cry if they weren't so bloody well realised and admirable. Cocker deals in the seamier side of life - sex, guilt, cheating, sex, theft, adultery, more sex - he's an obsessive writer, but he manages to paint some wonderful little short stories over an incessant, attractive brand of pop that made Pulp for a short while immense contenders. Their reign at the top was surprisingly short lived, culminating in the patchy and decidedly inferior This Is Hardcore album and Help The Aged single and similar dross. It's a great shame, because the band proved with Different Class they could be wonderfully inventive and addictive and write ace pop choons. I wish it could have lasted forever, but at least we have this to remember them by. The NME summarised this wonderful album thus: "He's a dirty old bastard, that Jarvis Cocker. You'
d better lock up your underwear when he's around and check the wardrobe for unwanted visitors. Sniff the continental quilt for those tell-tale deposits and make sure the bedroom curtains are closed so tight that nothing can be seen from the outside. Then, when everything seems secure, maybe you should wonder about the loyalty of those you love, or at least those you think you love. You see, nobody's really safe." Typical NME that, but it sort of captures the sleazy Pulp world perfectly, and Our Jarv is certainly obsessed with sex and the darker side of life, but transforms potentially adolescent themes into something dark and extremely macabre, fashioning a land of betrayal, guilt and lust in a way that previously few other than Elvis Costello had managed, rambling on about "When you raise your pencil skirt like a veil before my eyes Like the look upon his face as he's zipping up his flies" and "in all that time I just wanted you to come home unexpectedly one afternoon And catch us at it in the front room". Jarvis has penned some masterful lyrics here and is peculiarly English in the same way that the Fall's Mark E Smith is also peculiarly English, using the everyday trivia and mundane as the stuff of his shallow and claustrophobic little world. The room is cold and has been like this for several months If I close my eyes I can visualise everything in it right down Right down to the broken handle on the third drawer down of the dressing table And the world outside this room has also assumed a familiar shape The same events stuffed in a slightly different order each day Just like a modern shopping centre And it's so cold - yeah it's so cold There's true genius in some of this stuff and it comes from the very normality of the thing, which Cocker somehow turns into something much more sleazy and gripping. It takes style and imagination and a very dif
ferent world view to do this sort of thing and that's what Different Class is all about, the difference of being very, very normal and ugly and ungainly and torn apart by lust-loathing... Different Class, the Greatest Hits for the 90's... Long live the seamy, sleazy, claustrophobic, ugly hordes of the world... Full track listing- 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
Every now and again there is an album that comes along that redefines boundaries and sets a new standard. In 1995 Pulp released their album Different Class which was certainly among the top ten albums of the 90s and the most thrilling British release of the year. Of course Pulp, by 1995, were veterans of the alternative pop and rock circuit. They had years of experience behind them and had paved the way with a good run of singles releases. The album before Different Class, His ‘n’ Hers, was a superb effort which laid the foundations for what was going to be the Britpop Revolution of 1995. So if Pulp were now part of the alternative consciousness with Do you Remember the First Time? and Babies, they just needed a big break and that came in Glastonbury 1995. The Stone Roses pulled out and Pulp stepped into the breach to headline. So a crowd, that wanted to see the Stone Roses instead saw Pulp and they went wild for Cocker and the band’s mix of homespun philosophy and charity shop style. Just one gig propelled the band to the greatness to which they had always aspired and deserved. Part of the success was that Pulp had released superb album and released a superb single, Common People. But Different Class did exactly what it said on the packet. It was in a Different Class from the band’s previous work and also consolidated what was a very Pulpish sound into something unique but also sellable. From the very beginning of Mis-Shapes it is clear that this is an extraordinary album. And the open We don’t look the same as you, we don’t do the same as you, but live round here too It’s a song that celebrates diversity and preaches tolerance but not on a terms of compromise. Indee, it acts as the battle cry of the album by striking against those who lack imagination, ambition and have low expectations and simply conform. Pulp seem to be declaring war on normality: and cocker is clear that “revenge is g
onna be so sweet.” And this attack is an intellectual one because: “we won’t use bombs, we won’t use guns we’ll use the one thing we’ve got more of: that’s our minds.” The next song, Pencil Skirt, is tawdry little ditty about infidelity that really starts on the album’s theme of destructiveness. It’s about the temptation of an engaged woman by a lover who isn’t her fiancé. He seems to be driven and excited about the danger and destruction he is causing and also totally convinced of his talents and abilities. What is striking is that it is not done for love but for power and excitement and is without morals: “I’ve kissed your mother twice and now I’m working on your dad.” The chaos he causes is his raison d’etre in his drab and wretched life. In its time Common People was a great anthem for the yangers and townies who sang it as if it affirmed their belief that being common was a good thing. I recall standing in the Event club in Brighton not long after the song was released to see a crowd of the town’s least promising young citizens chanting it with pride. It was rather sad. Of course, it is actually a deeply ironic and angry song that attacks that glamour and pride that can sometime be found amongst those who have little or nothing. Cocker directs his anger against someone with money who has no idea of how the other half live, who thinks it might be fun to play being common. Cocker plays her along but his sentiments are clear in the rousing end of the song when he declares “you’ll never fail like common people…you will never understand how it feels to live your life with no meaning of control.” For this girl has an escape route, she could phone her dad and stop it all. But in real life there is no way out. And it isn’t funny or something to be coveted. The arrogance of this song is breathtakingly brillia
nt. In I Spy Jarvis asks early on in the song “can’t you see a giant walks among you seeing through your petty lives.” It is effectively the rant of a wronged outsider, probably a spurned lover, but more than that it is a song about aspirations: You’ve got to wait for the best. But it is also a song about belief in one’s own greatness: the wish for a blue plaque outside the place where he first touched a girl’s chest and the imagined critical notices show this. It is a song about watching and not really getting fully involved and feeling jealous about what others have and thus is the perfect song to follow Common People. And whilst the threats at the end of the song maybe real or imagined, it is disquieting perhaps to think what being have-not does to one’s perception of the world. The mood lifts with Disco 2000. In many ways the mission of the album has now been fully stated and after the tawdry, we need the uplifting. It is in many ways a fickle and whimsical song but as is typical it has a hard heart: unrequited love. Two people, jarivis and Deborah, and their lives together as they grow up is marked by the pathos of her going with other guys and not him, of her not really noticing him despite the prediction that they would get married. When he suggests “Let’s all meet up in the year two thousand” it is without realising that she will be married and their love still unfulfilled. In fact a very sad and desperate song, but it’s got a good beat. Perhaps only Pulp could base a painful song about failed love around the history of a bed but, as Jarvis points out, “this bed has seen it all from the good time to the bad.” From the early days when the headboard was banging in the night seven years ago to the days now when the bed is silent, the bed was the witness and chronicler of love. It is a song that is so simple that it has resonance where a song with grander aims and
manner would have lacked texture. Of all the songs on the album the only one that seems to display any kind of innocence or optimism, is Something Changed. It is imbued with faith that some good things are meant to be and even in the worst situations good things do happen perhaps when least expected. Jarvis declares that “when we woke up that morning we had no way of knowing, that in matter of hours we’d change the way we were going.” And that I suppose is the glimmer of hope that exists in the sad and angry songs. You never know when something might change. Like when Jarvis waggled his arse at Michael Jackson, Sorted for Es and Whizz is a sarcastic jab at the pompous. It is a sideswipe at those who take the whole festival thing a bit to seriously. Ostensibly a ballad about a festival from the details that they bought the tickets from a fucked up man in Camden town to the fact that they cannot find the damn festival, it is a satire because all the shortcomings can be overcome because they’re sorted out for Es and Whizz. My favourite comment is on the faux comradeship that the festival gives the ravers: “Everybody asks your name, they say we’re all the same again, and then it’s “nice one, geezer.” And that’s as far as the conversation went. When Jarvis asks at the beginning whether this is the way the future’s supposed to feel or just 20,000 people standing people standing in a field. There is little doubt by the end the song that it strongly the latter. Jarvis’s almost ghostly sprechensang is in fine fettle in F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E it is rhythmic and precise as he describes the emptiness after the break up. The power is in the detail. The pain in the small things. This is, however, drawn out by the vicious cry of “what is this feeling called love?” Underneath it all is a sardonic humour, as he contemplates suicide and darkness. It isn’
t chocolate boxes and roses. Well, we never thought it was. Underwear is an ambivalent song that seems to be about the loneliness of the one night stand but could also be about prostitution. I just don’t know: comments welcome. It captures the sleazy intention of a fella confronted with a semi-naked woman and yet it is sung in a questioning way that asks the woman why she is in such a tawdry situation. But has the great lyric: “If fashion is your trade, then when you’re naked, I guess you must be unemployed.” “There’s nothing to do, so you just stay in bed. Why live in the world when you can live in your head?” Imagine having no structure to your life, no purpose and you have the essence of this song. It has a splendid driving angst ridden vocal and jolting guitar tune that makes it rather uncomfortable to listen to. For the Bravura finale, Bar Italia was the obvious choice. In this soulless world that Different Class has painted what is more obligatory than getting smashed and staying up all night? And where else would one go in London when everyone else id going to work in London but Bar Italia, that all night caff of the gods where all the broken people go.. This is oblivion, fun and happiness all in one and what is there too lose? “It’s ok, it’s just your mind.” Different class is quite simply one of the albums that ages but doesn’t become dated. It rewards constant reappraisal and re-listening as different strand reveal themselves. But the thing that makes it timeless is it’s superb productions and excellent quality. It has a full sound and a heavy, but obvious heart. It should be required listening.
Different Class This was the first Pulp album that commercially made it big. After His ‘N’ Hers became something of a classic amongst many music listeners. Before that Pulp had released many albums, with some rather hit and miss songs on them. Here is my run down on the songs that really do make this album ‘Different Class’ An album full of songs about the common person, and the underdog. “Please understand. We don’t want no trouble. We just want the right to be different. That’s all” – quote from the back of the inlay. 1. Mis-Shapes This is a song, about how it’s all right to be different. It’s about how people who are different who enjoy studying and dress differently (stereotypical nerds) can be bullied by those people who think they are better than them. This song is full of witty remarks, one of the best verses is: “Check your lucky numbers, that much money could drag you under, Oh what’s the point in being rich, if you can’t think what to do with it, ‘Cause you’re so bleeding thick.” This is an incredible song that deserves to be listened to by everyone. Particulary if you consider yourself to be one of the mis-shapes that gets picked on by the ‘popular people’ because you are not afraid to be an individual. “You could end up with a smack in the mouth, just for standing out” A definite high point, not just on this album but also for music in particular. A song that a lot of people will be able to identify with. 10/10 2. Pencil Skirt This is a song about some slimy love rat that gets thrills by making love to other peoples girlfriends. He delights in telling his lover how he has kissed her Mother twice, and now he’s working on her Dad! Funny, yet disturbing. 8/10 3. Common People This is the song that really catapulted Pulp to bigger things. The classic anthem for the Common Person. This song is about the type of person who thinks it is fashionable to try to become one of the Common People. Even though that person is from a privileged background. Very upbeat, with yet again concise, funny, cutting yet painfully honest lyrics. This song criminally only got to number 2 in the charts… this is a mad mad world we live in sadly. Best lyric: “Rent a flat above a shop, cut your hair and get a job, smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to School, but still you’ll never get it right…” 10/10 4. “I Spy” Another brilliant song. Can you spot a trend developing here? This person in this song thinks very highly of himself. He envisages himself as a giant looking at people’s petty lives. He specialises in revenge, and ruining relationships it seems. He excuses his behaviour by explaining “I can’t help it, I was dragged up, My favourite parks are car parks, Grass is something you smoke, Birds are something you s**h” That shows to me his disrespect to everything. He clearly has delusions of grandeur, he is the best, he looks at people with disdain, and he cheats because he can… 9/10 5. Disco 2000 The song that borrows a riff from an Elton John song. This riff though is incredibly inspired and suits the feel of the song perfectly. The main person in this song is in love with Deborah. He grew up with her; this song recollects things that he still remembers about her. He remembers how everyone said that they would get married and never split up. They never did it, though apparently he often thought of it. When in big School, she became very popular in School. Whilst he still loved her, evidently she could have any lad she wanted.
This person not being one of the boys as it were, had to be content watching others chatting her up and having fun with her. As the years have passed, it is obvious there relationship has been deteriorating. The main part of the song then is the boy saying that they should meet up again in the year 2000 when they are fully grown. Perhaps he thinks he may have a chance with her when he is older. Maybe he is just romanticising. An emotional song, which I can identify with the same feelings as experienced by the admirer of Deborah. As I am certain many people have done. 10/10 6. Live Bed Show A sad story about how the life has changed of the main female protagonist in the song. Her boyfriend/husband left her. It is obvious by references to the headboard banging in the night, that this couple led a very active sex life. She works now, not because she has to, but because otherwise she will lie in bed all day. In the past that would be good, not now though. Best lyric “Now every night she plays a sad game. Called pretending nothing’s going wrong. Oh but she knows if this show was televised no one would watch it not tonight but 7 years ago” 9/10 7. Something Changed WOW – beautiful and stunning would be understatements in my opinion about this song. About a blind date, that may have never been. There were so many factors that could have ruined the relationship from happening. The lyrics as per usual are nothing short of perfection. The music is perfect from the gentle guitar, to the strings that are used. Best lyric: “I could have stayed at home, and gone to bed. I could have gone to see a film instead. You might have changed your mind and seen your friend… life could have been very different but then ‘Something Changed’” Nothing short of a 10/10 rating coul
d ever be used for this song in my opinion. 8. Sorted for E’s and Wizz This song caused a storm upon its release as a single, with Mis-shapes. It was called a song encouraging drug use by the clueless tabloid press, the Mirror being the most disgusted. If they had bothered to actually listen to the song they would have noticed it has an anti-drugs message in it. Best lyric “In the middle of the night it feels alright but then tomorrow morning, oh then you come down. Oh then you come down, what if you never come down” That is the ending of the song, the never come down reference is in my opinion obviously a reference to the fact that, you may not survive. 9/10 9. F.E.E.L.I.N.G C.A.L.L.E.D L.O.V.E About that feeling called love. About what that feeling called love means to him, what he associates with it. This song is best described as a lyrical painting; it paints everything from the room, the furniture to what’s going on in his mind. He says it’s not Chocolate boxes and roses; it’s dirtier than that. Well this is Jarvis Cocker speaking. Best lyric “F.E.E.L.I.N.G C.A double L. E. D L.O.V.E what is this thing that is happening to me? 7/10 10. Underwear About how a woman goes back to a Mans house whilst drunk. She realises she doesn’t wish to have sex with him but, it’s too late now. She’s already semi-naked in his room. “He’s coming up the stairs and in a moment, he’ll want to see your underwear” This song, for me has a moral about it. Don’t get too drunk, as you may end up in a situation that you may regret. This song doesn’t delve any deeper into this Woman’s situation, but leaves you with a feeling that maybe she gives in and gives the man what he wants out of fear or obligation. Best lyric “If fashio
n is your trade, then when you’re naked. I guess you must be unemployed yeah.” 9/10 11. Monday Morning This song is about someone who has no goal in life, no discernable future. They just “go out late from Monday till Saturday turns into Sunday”. No hope for anything, their friends have all left town and this person is still stuck at home. Living life as a routine. 1Everyone else has moved on, this person hasn’t. Best lyric “There’s nothing to do so you just stay in bed (oh poor thing). Why live in the World when you can live in your head?” 8/10 12. Bar Italia About two clubbers, staying out all night. Bar Italia is where they meet an all night bar of some sorts. I believe that the people in this song have both taken Amphetamine. The male character wants to keep moving, whilst the woman is not feeling well at all. Best lyric “If they knocked down this place, it would still look much better than you” 8/10 Note all of these songs are my interpretations of them; of course I may well be wrong. This is my opinion anyone who disagrees with it, can do so within the feedback section, where your observations will be more than welcomed. I will update this opinion again soon.
Everyone remembers their early musical days, however vaguely. The first few albums you bought, the music you liked when you were a kid, the music you hated. Me, I didn't really get into music in a big way until later in my teens, although I appreciated and enjoyed it before that. But it wasn't until my mid-teens when I actually started buying cassettes/CDs for my own listening pleasure. It may surprise some people to hear that 'Different Class' was actually one of the earlier CDs I bought – despite being about 14 by that time. But I didn't really get into actually BUYING albums until then, I just enjoyed my music off the radio, and other people's music! Obviously, this was a big step forward for me (even if I WAS only buying tapes LOL). Well, I have pretty much all the albums I bought on tape on CD now, so I can enjoy all that digital quality sound (oh baby!). - I spy a boy… Pulp hasn't had what one could call a particularly simple past. The only really mainstay of the whole Pulp 'experience' has been the man himself – Jarvis Cocker. Other than that, they've been through a whole range of different lineups starting in 1978 in Sheffield, before forming a more stable band in the late 80s. By this time they'd produced so many different types of music it's inconceivable – dark morbid material, folky styled music, acid house and pop influences, before settling into an altogether 'safer' indie and pop styling in the early 90s. There's still a few of the old influences present, as we shall see as we look at the album, but it's nice to see that they've finally got the success they deserve after a decidedly lack-lustre period in the 80s. When I look at Pulp's music on 'Different Class', I tend to find the sort of thing I can identify with. Confused feelings, aspects of inferiority, the beauty of love and the whole class difference th
ing all help to consolidate the kind of way I was feeling in my teens. You only have to look at the first track 'Mis-shapes' to see that. - Won't it be strange when we're all fully grown? The great thing about 'Different Class' is it's variety. It gives little thought to mediocrity, and it's often that you'll see it leaping from a light happy pop song right down to something altogether more dark. Let's take a look shall we? - Mis-shapes The first song starts off with quite a light and airy song. It sort of typifies the whole album – a reflection on the class wars that go on in our everyday lives. Just look at the lyrics "We want your homes/ We want your lives/ We want the things you won't allow us/ We won't use guns/ We won't use bombs/ We'll use the one thing we've got more of – that's our minds". Strong lyrics, and lyrics with meaning – something I always look for in a decent song. The combination of abrupt guitars and drums and the unusual backing of organ, synth and, in an innovative twist, a stylophone. - Pencil Skirt I always find this track quite amusing in it's upbeat treatment of adultery. The organ backing the simplistic guitar riffs gives this song a rather happy and light feel, while Jarvis sings calming over the top about his marriage-wrecking antics, and his inability to pull out of the relationship. It's what I'd term a 'grower' – you probably won't like it to start with, but you will after a few listens. - Common People This song is spiralling towards 'cheesy' status with the level of playtime it's received on the radio and in clubs at the time. Luckily it fell into the background before that could happen, as it would have been a great shame to see that happen to such a great song. You'll find that the roles are reversed in this song – the synth an
d organ provide the foreground in this one, and the guitar just plays backup. It's certainly an 'anthemic' song to say the least, taking a cynical look at how the upper classes picture the working class – specifically a little rich girl wanting to know what it's like. A great track, although there are better on the album. - I Spy As I said, some of Pulp's roots show through in this album, and this a perfect example of this, a dive back into a more dense and dark period. The synth and deep drums lend this song a more melancholy feel, and while Jarvis sings the lyrics, I feel they could still work well in a modern poem (albeit a rather hateful one!). It looks at Jarvis as a working class man on a mission to reach revenge on his hated class system by seducing rich housewives and wrecking their lives that way. The lyrics are beautifully constructed: "Y'see, I spy for a living/ And I specialise in revenge/ I'm taking the things I know will cause you pain/ I can't help it/ I was dragged up/ My favourite parks are car parks/ Grass is something you smoke/ Birds are something you shag/ Take your Year In Provence/ And shove it up your ass…" The whole atmosphere of something epic and all-pervading is added to by the wonderful orchestral backing – it sounds great. It delves the album right down into the depth of darkness… - Disco 2000 …And then back up it comes again. This is a happy-go-lucky guitar pop song about a boy's infatuation with a young girl called Deborah. I have to say that, when you look at the quality of the other tracks on the album, this one actually doesn't stand out all that much. Sure, it's a great party track, but it really doesn't have the same kind of depth that most of the other tracks possess. It's nice as one of those songs you can relate to when you're a depressed and lonely teenager, because that's how Jarvis
puts himself across in the song. Great song, but not the best. - Live Bed Show Like a rollercoaster of emotions, this track plunges back down a 50ft slope into the depths of the dark and dense side of Pulp. This is a rather despairing and depressed look at the demise of a relationship, a beautiful love that faded and passed away without either party ever realising it until it was too late. 'Live Bed Show' is quite a tragically beautiful ballad, and the use of the bass drum and synth makes it all the more gloomy. Top stuff. - Something Changed This is more of an upbeat love song, about the life changing impact of a love that creeps up and suddenly hits you in the face before you even see it coming. Quite a contrast to 'Live Bed Show', but it's always been my position that this is quite intentional. I love the guitar riffs in this song, backed up by synth and strings – it always has a very light and happy feel to it. This is one of the few singles I ever bought, and the B side was the excellent 'Miles End' from the Trainspotting soundtrack. Happy memories! - Sorted For E's & Wizz This has always been my least favourite track on the album. It's a psychedelic and dreamy look at the relative merits and downfalls of drug use. It's quite a strange recording too – a combination of live track (from Glastonbury '95 where it was debuted – I remember that too!) and studio recording. It's rather strange, but it fits the mood of the song. - F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E I hated this song when I first heard it, but as with so many other songs – it's a 'grower', and now I think it's actually one of the best tracks on the album! Ambient and atmospheric, this track mixes singing with spoken lyrics. It's inspired, and gives the whole song a foreboding and feverish feel – like the writer's mind is very distant world we all know.
This song probably has the most inspired lyrics, poetic in style, perfect for listening to in the dark on a hot summers night. "and as I stand and cross the room, I feel as if my whole life has been leading to this one moment. And as I touch your shoulder, tonight, this room has become the centre of the entire universe" - Underwear Probably one of the most simplistic songs on the album, with it's poppy reflections on sex and that side of relationship. It still has all the trademark clever quips that I love in Pulp songs "If fashion is your trade, then when you're naked/ I guess you must be unemployed yeah". Very croony, lots of fun. - Monday Morning This is a lot darker than 'Underwear', I've seen this track described as 'uptempo, downbeat', and that's exactly what it is – a rather despairing song played at a fast tempo. I love the line "Why live in the world when you can live in your head?" reflecting peoples withdrawal from the problems of the world into the safety and sanctity of the imagination. It's a rather bleak song, but also rather lively, so you're torn between quiet depression and getting up to dance. It's an inventive way of doing it, and it sounds great. - Bar Italia The final track is a gentle and even sort of fragile track, in the way that it looks at life – stuck in a rut just taking each day as it comes. "It's ok – it's just your mind." This is a beautifully sombre track, the sweeping guitars and vocals delivering you safely to the end of the album with a warm feeling in your heart. It's a fitting ending to a great album. - So, what have we learnt here? We've found a really great album, hidden in the mists of time. Sure, you won't listen to it every week, but you WILL listen to it, and you'll be glad when you do. You may even find yourself wondering why y
ou hadn't pulled it out of the rack soon. I know I do every time I listen to it! It's a perfectly constructed album, with not a bad track on there – the music is great and the lyrics are superb. And Jarvis Cocker (yes, he is the man showed his backside to Michael Jackson – good on him I say) is the perfect person to carry the vocals. Altogether, this is a great album – well done Pulp! Superb fan site – Bar Italia - http://www.baritalia.ukgateway.net
Wow! A ground-breaking album for both Pulp and the so-called “Brit-pop” scene that they got lumped together with at the time. Pulp had been around for many years and released several albums before this one, but were virtual unknowns until “Different Class” and its singles hit the racks and the eardrums. Released in 1995, and available with different covers in limited edition (mine features the wedding photograph) it’s a definite must-have for collectors of classic albums of the 90s, if not all time. Tracklisting: Mis-shapes Pencil Skirt Common People ! Spy Disco 2000 Live Bed Show Something Changed Sorted for Es and Whizz F.E.E.L.I.N.G C.A.L.L.E.D L.O.V.E Underwear Monday Morning Bar Italia This is one of those rare albums where the highlights aren’t purely the singles released from it, although highlights they certainly are in this case. “Common People” was a mega-hit and probably familiar to all – a masterpiece of lyricism, vocalisation and musicianship – infectiously sing-a-long and poignant depending how you see the lyrics. The other singles, “Mis-shapes”, “Disco 2000”,”Sorted for Es and Whizz” and “Something Changed” can also be put in that bracket – even if they are somewhat lesser-known. “Mis-shapes” charts the power of mind over fashion, “Disco 2000” some poignant schooldays nostalgia and “Sorted for Es and Whizz” is a glorious, amusing anecdote of rave culture. “Something Changed” sees a bit of string-laden romance, unusually for Pulp and Jarvis Cocker. Jarvis Cocker is a fantastic lyricist and singer. His writing shows a true human side and always contains some wry humour and his vocals can be wonderfully sinister aswell as haunting, whilst retaining his Sheffield accent. His sinister side
is shown beautifully on “I spy” – as he stalks and covets someone else’s wife including some of the most original lines of lyrics I’ve heard in many years. “Monday Morning” is a ska influenced, skipping track about work and club culture not mixing well. The final track “Bar Italia” is a glorious ending, it rolls along, with Cocker sounding sleepy and exhausted as he relates the post-nightclub goings-on of the people who make it to “Harry’s Bar” in Soho in the early hours of the morning. All in all I’m hard-pressed to label any tracks as lowpoints but for me my least liked tracks are “Pencil Skirt” and “Underwear” – purely because they are not as clever or as engaging as the rest but they are certainly not bad tracks for it.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Pencil Skirt
3 Common People
4 I Spy - Pulp, Anne Dudley, Orchestra
5 Disco 2000
6 Live Bed Show
7 Something Changed
8 Sorted For E's & Wizz
9 F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. - Pulp, Anne Dudley, Orchestra
11 Monday Morning
12 Bar Italia