Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Pulp


If you are an indie snob, and want to blame someone for the V Festival, then it’s Pulp you have to have a go at. Fifteen years ago, they organised their own festival at Hylands Park in Chelmsford. Being essentially a Pulp mega-gig, the headliners on the second stage, Elastica, finished their set before Pulp opened theirs, ensuring nobody could miss Jarvis & Co. The following day, Pulp and Friends went up the motorway to do the same thing in Warrington. The decision was taken to use the Chelmsford site for a one day event on the Sunday, and so it was the Paul Weller headlined V96 that took place on the Sunday - the “V” standing for Virgin, who were involved in organising the event.

This year, Pulp are back out on the festival circuit again - the latest in a long line of bands reforming without having a new album to promote. What is interesting is the shows were billed as being with “the original line up”. But when that line up was named, the reaction from some of us older people was “that’s not the original line up”. What the PR people were trying to say was, it’s the line up that did “Common People”. But Pulp had been knocking about for over a decade before that song, so I felt it was only fair to look at the band’s releases, starting of course with those pre-Fame years.

Red Rhino And Fire Releases

The band’s debut release was the 1983 mini album, “It”, on Red Rhino records. Seven songs with a playing time of under 26 minutes, none of the other seven musicians who played on it along with Jarvis Cocker stayed in the band long enough to experience becoming proper pop stars - Cocker has been the only member of the band to be in every subsequent line up. It was a genteel, sometimes fey affair, showing no signs of the euro-disco or grand pop the band would later come to excel in. Few copies were pressed, and the album is now - of course - an obvious collectors item.

A 7” single, “My Lighthouse”, was lifted from the album (in a different mix), with a new B-side, “Looking For Life”. Nobody bought it. A second stand alone 45, “Everybody’s Problem”/”There Was”, was issued later the same year, but suffered the same fate. Post-fame, “It” was reissued on CD with the three extra tracks from the singles added as bonuses, before being withdrawn over licensing issues. A second reissue added just “Looking For Life”, as indeed have all subsequent repressings.

The band then signed to Fire, the label on which they would release two albums and a sizeable chunk of singles. The first single was a stand alone track called “Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)”, issued as a 4 track EP on 12” only in 1985. This was followed in 86 by another non-album A-side, “Dogs Are Everywhere”, issued on 12” again with four extra tracks. The band’s second album, “Freaks”, was scheduled for a May 1987 release, and two singles were lifted from the album in the run up to it’s release - “They Suffocate At Night” and “Master Of The Universe”.

“They Suffocate At Night” was released on both 7” and 12”, with both the A and B sides being edited for the former format. The 12” version of the A side was the same as the version on the album. “Master Of The Universe” was issued on 12” only, with the single mix being slightly censored for radio play - not that it probably got much. One of the two B-sides, “Manon”, had originally appeared on a compilation album, and was remixed for single release. By this time, the seeds of the “classic” lineup were in place, with Russell Senior, Candida Doyle and Nick Banks all in the band, although “Freaks“ featured no involvement from Banks. Steve Mackey would join in November 1988, and this was the line up that would record both the next album and the 1994 breakthrough, “His N Hers”.

Another post-fame compilation in 1994 did a fair job of compiling the single releases on Fire from 85 to 87. “Masters Of The Universe” included (nearly) all of the tracks from all of the 12” editions - material from the “Suffocate” 7” was therefore absent. However, the mix of “Manon” was the original compilation LP mix, whilst the other “Universe” B-side, “Silence”, was omitted from the release as Cocker hated it.

“Freaks” meanwhile had flopped, and the band effectively split for a short while, before reconvening in 1989 to begin work on “Separations”, an album not too far short of being a lost classic. In typical early Pulp style, the album was completed in early 1990, but was not released until 1992, due to some sort of record company 'issue'. The second half of the album was where the band showed their Acid House influences, and is a particularly energetic and enjoyable 25 minutes of music. “My Legendary Girlfriend” was the first single release from the album, and is arguably the best pre-fame Pulp song, a good six minutes of propulsive indie, with Cocker’s spoken word segments in the verses breaking out into euphoric choruses. It was issued on 12” only, with two remixes of the closing track on “Separations”, “This House Is Condemned”, as B-sides. A Live version of “Girlfriend” was released as a mail order only 7” in 1992, whilst the original 12” version was reissued on CD - post-”Common People” - in 1996.

“Countdown” was issued as the second single, released in Summer 91. It appeared on both 12” and CD, with both an edited and extended mix of the A-side, along with an exclusive B-side, “Death Goes To The Disco”. This explains why “Separations” included a track strangely called “Death II”. All three tracks from this single later appeared on the 1996 compilation “Countdown 1992-1983” released on Nectar Masters, which appeared mostly in reverse chronological order, with the 12” mix of “Countdown” being used to close the album.

In 1999, Cooking Vinyl issued the quite charming “Pulped” boxset. It did the useful job of compiling the “It”, “Freaks”, “Separations” and “Masters Of The Universe” CD’s into a single package. Each CD was housed not in a picture sleeve, but a plain white due cut sleeve, with the “It” release adding “Looking For Life” as a bonus track. It’s not a particularly easy release to find now, but if you can, it’s a quick way of getting the early years stuff in one easy punt.

The Gift/Island Years

In 1992, the band signed to Gift Records, for whom they would record three singles, each consisting entirely of exclusive material. The first single, “OU”, was released as a 3 track 12” and CD, including two mixes of the A-side. The follow up, “Babies”, would later become one of the band’s more well known songs when it was remixed for an EP release “post-fame” on Island Records. It appeared on both 12” and CD, with the CD edition including an extra track - an instrumental version of “Sheffield Sex City”, the vocal mix of which was on both the 12” and CD. The third single for Gift, “Razzmatazz”, surfaced in 1993 on 7”, 12” and CD. The b-sides were three inter connected tracks that were listed under the overall banner “Inside Susan”, but the 7” edition only included two of the three parts.

Soon after, the band’s first album release on Island was issued, a compilation of most of this material. The album was given the slightly misleading title “Intro”, designed to be an intro to the band, but conveniently ignoring the decade’s worth of material that had preceded it. Repetition was “out”, so the edited version of “OU” and the instrumental mix of “Sheffield” were absent.

And then, in 1994, it finally all came together, as “His N Hers” became Pulp’s critical and commercial breakthrough. At long last, the band had managed to craft a pop sound that matched the genius lyrical tales of teenage sex and bored housewives. If the likes of “Freaks” and “Separations” had sounded just a tad too “unpolished”, “His N Hers” hit the heights time and time again. The songs were superb, and the glossy production gave them that extra gravitas, as opposed to blanding them out. “Babies” was remixed for the Cassette and CD editions, and then appeared as the lead track to the “Sisters EP”.

“Lipgloss” and “Do You Remember The First Time” were issued as singles - they appeared on all the regular formats, but it was the 12” and CD editions that were of most interest, as they included extra tracks not on the other formats. The CD versions tend to be the easiest to track down, as post-”Common People”, these CD editions were repressed. The “Sisters” EP appeared as a 4 track release on ALL 4 formats, not - as Wikipedia claims/claimed - an unusual occurrence in the general music world, but it was a first for the band.

1995’s “Different Class” sent the group into the stratosphere, helped by that famous “Stone Roses Replacement” Glastonbury set, and the single issued just before hand - “Common People”. It was the first Pulp single to benefit from being released on two different CD singles with different track listings, and many future Pulp singles were marketed in much the same way. The cassette single featured the same track listing as the first CD. In 1996, a European only CD Single was issued as “Common People 96”, which featured a unique ‘censored’ version of the track.

“Different Class” was first issued in a die cut sleeve, with six insert cards, which you could place inside the CD booklet in different orders - thus allowing you the chance to have one of 12 different covers. The next single from the LP was the AA-sided “Mis-Shapes”/”Sorted For E’s And Wizz”, the second CD coming in the now famous “tabloid baiting” ’wrap’ sleeve, which caused then journalist/now “Loose Women” presenter Kate Thornton to write a Daily Mirror piece headlined “Ban This Sick Stunt”. Remixes of “Common People”, previously only available on a promo 12”, turned up as bonus tracks on the same format.

The final single from the LP was “Something Changed”, issued on two CD’s with the same track listing, but housed in either a “Boy” or “Girl” sleeve. A cassette, minus the bonus versions of “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E” found on the CD, was housed in the “Girl” sleeve only.

There were more post-”Common People” reissues, at the end of 1996, when all seven of the singles the band had released from “His N Hers” and “Different Class” were reissued on 7”, all pressed on coloured vinyl. The track listings matched the original 7” releases, and in the case where no 7” was originally released, then the track listing offered up the basic A and B side of one of the original CD singles. For the “Different Class” singles, each single was also issued on a black vinyl 12”, in most instances using a “new” track listing by cherry picking tracks from the various different original formats. For the “Something Changed” reissues, the 7” came in the “Boy” sleeve, the 12” in the “Girl” sleeve.

1998’s “This Is Hardcore” reflected something of a comedown period, although the band were still acting like, and were actually still, popstars - a signing for the first single, “Help The Aged”, was conducted at a HMV store in Central London with the band DJ’ing at the same time. The CD edition of the album saw the final track, “The Day After The Revolution”, have it’s final note ‘extended’ by ten minutes to fill up some extra space on the CD. The vinyl edition was spread over three sides, with the fourth side including bonus tracks from the then-recent single release of the title track. The band played Glasto again the same summer, and the album was later issued in a new slipcased cover with a free “This Is Glastonbury” album featuring highlights of the set. The freebie was also available via mail order, and promo copies were also issued in an Island Company die cut sleeve. The three singles lifted from the album after the release of “Help The Aged” all appeared as double CD single sets.

Just as Prince had no choice but to reissue “1999” in 1999, Island reissued “Disco 2000” in the run up to the millenium. The re-release went mostly unnoticed, one of the two CD singles originally released in 1995 was simply repressed again. There were rumours that a coloured vinyl pressing was being planned, possibly in a different colour to the 1996 reissue, but this version of the single never appeared.

If “This Is Hardcore” was something of a post-Brit Pop view of the world, then 2001’s “We Love Life” was it’s second chapter. It had a melancholic streak running all the way though it, especially evident on the lead single “The Trees” - there was nothing remotely “Common People” like on the record, although the subject matter in general was not as dark as the themes explored on “This Is Hardcore“. But it revealed itself to be a superb record, the closing “Sunrise” being one of the most beautiful and epic things the band had ever recorded. It was issued as a AA side with “The Trees”.

The second single from the album, the monumental “Bad Cover Version” was housed in a brilliant sleeve, a photo of a young Mark Webber apeing Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album sleeve, and one of the CD’s included B-sides of - yep - cover versions of Pulp tracks by Nick Cave and Roisin Murphy. The video went one stage further, featuring a beyond brilliant Live Aid style video with Jarvis cropping up as Brian May.

Although nobody knew it at the time, “Bad Cover Version” would turn out to be Pulp’s last stand. The band seemed to go out with a bit of a whimper, rather than a bang , and ended the year with a handful of festival appearances during the summer and a final UK show in Rotherham in December. A hits album, “Hits”, appeared just before the end, and by only going for the ’hits’, thus ignored everything the band had recorded pre-1992. An album of Peel Sessions and live shows broadcast on the BBC turned up in 2006, and at the end of 2010, plans were made to reform with the “Different Class” line up of the band, with the band playing their first show in France in May 2011.

Like numerous bands doing the reunion circuit, there seem to be no concrete plans about how long these shows will continue, nor whether or not a new studio album will be created. The band are not even plugging any material, as “deluxe” editions of the likes of “His N Hers” were already released several years ago. Lisetning to Pulp again does make you remember what a national treasure they were, and that “We Love Life” was the sign of a band going out on a bit of a high, despite the fact that they had by then fallen out of favour with some of the Britpop audience. It would be nice to think that another Pulp album might surface, but until then…

Discography

Listed below are most of Pulp’s releases. In recent years, there have been a slow stream of “early years” compilations, but I have only listed those that appeared during the mid 1990’s, as the ones released thereafter ending up including songs that were, by then, all already available on CD. For the studio albums, original releases only are shown. Both “His N Hers” and “Different Class” have since been reissued as deluxe editions.

The singles list is in two halves - the second half lists the 1996 reissues which are of interest as even though the track listings were “muddled” for the ‘Different Class’ 12” releases, buying these in conjunction with some of the original pressings will still give you all the b-sides. It is also worth pointing out that the deluxe edition of “His N Hers” includes all the B-sides from the three singles from the album, so buying the coloured vinyl 7” editions only in conjunction with the deluxe version of the album will mean you don’t miss out on anything. Very clever.

The main singles list includes everything that was of interest at the time of release, so some formats are missing because other formats that were issued included exclusive material (such as the “Babies” 12” which was missing the Instrumental “Sheffield Sex City” that was on the CD only). Any singles that have since become of more interest because the missing songs have since re-appeared, are listed separately.


ALBUMS

It (LP, Red Rhino REDLP29)
Freaks (LP, Fire FIRELP5)
Separations (CD, Fire 33026)
Intro (CD, Island IMCD 159)
His N Hers (CD, Island CID 8025)
Masters Of The Universe (CD, Fire FIRECD36)
Different Class (CD, Island CID 8041)
Countdown: Pulp 1992-1983 (2xCD, Nectar Masters NTMCD 521)
This Is Hardcore (2xLP, ILPSD 8066, with alternate version of “The Day After The Revolution”)
This Is Hardcore (CD, CID 8066)
This Is Hardcore/This Is Glastonbury (2xCD, Island CIDD 8066)
Pulped: 83-92 (4xCD, Cooking Vinyl COOKCD 178, original copies shrinkwrapped)
We Love Life (CD, Island CID 8110)
Hits (CD, Island CID 8126)
The Complete Peel Sessions (2xCD, Island 9841397)


SINGLES

My Lighthouse (7” Mix)/Looking For Life (7”, Red Rhino RED32)
Everybody’s Problem/There Was (7”, Red Rhino RED37)
Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)/Simultaneous/Blue Glow/The Will To Power (12”, Fire FIRE5)
They Suffocate At Night (Edit)/Tunnel (Cut Up Version) (7”, Fire BLAZE 17)
They Suffocate At Night/Tunnel (12”, Fire BLAZE 17T, diff coloured p/s to 7”)
Master Of The Universe (Sanitised Version)/Manon (Single Mix)/Silence (12”, Fire BLAZE 21T)
My Legendary Girlfriend/Is This House?/This House Is Condemned (Remix) (12”, Fire BLAZE 44T, later reissued on CD [BLAZE 44CD])
Countdown (Extended)/Death Goes To The Disco/Countdown (Radio Edit) (12”, Fire BLAZE 51T)
Countdown (Radio Edit)/Death Goes To The Dsico/Countdown (Extended) (CD, Fire BLAZE 51CD)
OU (Unedited Verson)/Space/OU (Radio Edit) (12”, Gift GIF 1)
OU (Radio Edit)/(Unedited Version)/Space (CD, Gift GIF 1CD)
My Legendary Girlfriend (Live)/Sickly Grin/Back In LA (Mail Order 7”, Caff CAFF17)
Babies/Styloroc/Sheffield Sex City (Vocal)/(Instrumental) (CD, Gift GIF 3CD)
Razzmatazz/Stacks/59 Lyndhurst Grove (7”, Gift 7GIF 6)
Razzmatazz/Stacks/Inside Susan/59 Lyndhurst Grove (12”, Gift GIF 6. Some copies I believe were issued in a die cut sleeve, not a picture sleeve)
Razzmatazz/Stacks/Inside Susan/59 Lyndhurst Grove (CD, Gift GIF 6CD)
Lipgloss/Deep Fried In Kelvin/You’re A Nightmare (12”, Island 12IS 567)
Lipgloss/Deep Fried In Kelvin/You’re A Nightmare (CD, Island CID 567)
Do You Remember The First Time?/Street Lites/The Babysitter (12”, Island 12IS 574)
Do You Remember The First Time?/Street Lites/The Babysitter (CD, Island CID 574)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (7”, Island IS 595)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (Casstte, Island CIS 595)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (12”, Island 12IS 595)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (CD, Island CID 595)
Common People/Underwear/Common People (7” Edit) (Cassette, Island CIS 613)
Common People/Underwear/Common People (7” Edit) (CD1, Island CID 613)
Common People/Razzmatazz (Acoustic)/Dogs Are Everywhere (Acoustic)/Joyriders (Acoustic) (CD2 in “Night Time” p/s, Island CIDX 613)
Mis-Shapes (Edit)/Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/PTA (Parent Teacher Association)/Common People (Live at Glastonbury 24.6.1995) (AA side CD1, Island CID 620)
Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/Mis-Shapes (Edit)/Common People (Motiv 8 Club Mix)/(Vocoda Mix) (AA side CD2 in “Wrap” p/s, Island CIDX 620)
Disco 2000 (7” Mix)/(Album Mix)/Ansaphone/Live Bed Show (Extended) (CD1, “dance floor” p/s, Island CID 623)
Disco 2000 (Album Mix)/(7” Mix)/(Motiv 8 Discoid Mix)/(Motiv 8 Gimp Dub) (CD2, Island CIDX 623)
Something Changed/Mile End (Cassette, Island CIS 632, “Girl” p/s)
Something Changed/Mile End/F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E (The Moloko Mix)/(Live London Brixton Academy 21.12.1995) (CD1, Island CID 632, “Girl” p/s)
Something Changed/Mile End/F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E (The Moloko Mix)/(Live London Brixton Academy 21.12.1995) (CD2, Island CIDX 632, “Boy” p/s)
Help The Aged/Tomorrow Never Lies/Laughing Boy (7”, Island IS 679)
Help The Aged/Tomorrow Never Lies/Laughing Boy (Cassette, Island CIS 679)
Help The Aged/Tomorrow Never Lies/Laughing Boy (CD, Island CID 679)
This Is Hardcore/Ladies’ Man (Casette, unique p/s, Island CIS 695)
This Is Hardcore/Ladies’ Man/The Professional/This Is Hardcore (End Of The Line Remix) (CD1, unique p/s, Island CID 695)
This Is Hardcore (Album Mix)/(4 Hero Remix)/(Swedish Erotica Remix)/(Stock, Hausen And Walkman’s Remix) (CD2, Island CIDX 695)
A Little Soul/Cocaine Socialism/Like A Friend (CD1, Island CID 708)
A Little Soul (Alternative Mix)/(Lafayette Velvet Revisited Mix)/That Boy’s Evil (CD2 in diff p/s, Island CIDX 708)
Party Hard (Radio Mix)/We Are The Boyz/The Fear (The Complete And Utter Breakdown Mix) (CD1 in “Candida” p/s, Island CID 719)
Party Hard (Radio Mix)/(Stretch N Vern’s Michel Lombert Remix)/(I Hardly Part Mix) (CD2, Island CIDX 719)
Sunrise/The Trees/Sunrise (Fat Truckers/Scott Free Mix) (AA side CD1, Island CID 786)
The Trees/Sunrise/The Trees (Felled By I Monster) (AA side CD2, unique p/s, Island CIDX 786)
Sunrise (All Seeing I - Middle Of The Road Mix)/The Trees (Felled By I Monster)/(Lovejoy The No Jazz Mix) (AA side 12”, unique p/s, Island 12IS 786)
Bad Cover Version/Yesterday/Forever In My Dreams (CD1, Island CID 794)
Bad Cover Version (Video Mix)/Disco 2000 (By Nick Cave)/Sorted For E’s And Wizz (By Roisin Murphy) (CD2, “zoomed in” p/s, Island CIDX 794)
Bad Cover Version (Video)/(LP Version - Audio) (DVD, “Band Aid” p/s, Island CIDV 794)


1996 REISSUES

Lipgloss/You’re A Nightmare (Red Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 567)
Do You Remember The First Time?/Street Lites (Brown Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 574)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (White Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 595)
Common People (7” Edit)/Underwear (Yellow Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 613)
Common People/Underwear/Common People (Motiv 8 Club Mix)/(Vocoda Mix) (12”, Island 12IS 613)
Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/Mis-Shapes (Edit) (AA side Blue Vinyl 7” in “Wrap” p/s, Island ISC 620)
Mis-Shapes (Edit)/Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/PTA (Parent Teacher Association)/Common People (Live at Glastonbury 24.6.1995) (AA side 12“, Island 12IS 620)
Disco 2000 (7” Mix)/Ansaphone (Orange Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 623)
Disco 2000 (7” Mix)/Ansaphone/Disco 2000 (Motiv 8 Discoid Mix)/(Motiv 8 Gimp Dub) (12”, “dance floor” p/s, Island 12IS 623)
Something Changed/Mile End (Pink Vinyl 7” in “Boy” p/s, Island ISC 632)
Something Changed/Mile End/F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E (The Moloko Mix)/(Live London Brixton Academy 21.12.1995) (12” in “Girl” p/s, Island 12IS 632)

Note: buy the deluxe “His N Hers” and you get all the B-sides from the “Lipgloss” and “First Time” singles, which in doing so makes the original “non extended play” singles worth looking out for. Both singles appeared on 7” (IS 567 and IS 574) and Cassette (CIS 567 and CIS 574).

Most other “original” releases are already listed above, but the original “Mis-Shapes”/”Sorted” AA side Cassette single is also worth looking out for if you are a completist (CIS 620), as the extra tracks from the original CD singles can be found on the 1996 “Common People” and “Mis-Shapes” 12-inches, although it does come in the same sleeve as the “Mis-Shapes” 12”. The “Disco 2000” cassette comes in a slightly differently designed cover as the “Part 1” CD Single, but otherwise is of little interest as the other formats that house the “missing” B-sides from this release also include the two tracks from the cassette as well.

Pulp have also contributed numerous tracks to various compilation albums, the Pulp Wiki site should detail all of these. Party hard.


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