The Importance Of Sounding All Wrong
Shop Around Ö part 43

I found a fantastic quote on the great Spectropop site from Reparata about the recording of the astonishing 'Iím Nobodyís Baby Now' which goes ďthe whole song will depend on the way I say the words Ďanybody elseíĒ. Itís that attention to detail that is so important in pop.

Iíve just got a copy of Richard Whiteís book on Dexys Midnight Runners. I have not had a chance to do more than flick through it, but I really want to like it. I hope it captures the extraordinary lengths the group went to in paying attention to the detail.

I suspect the book will dwell upon the soul. The liner notes say Richard White is a huge soul devotee. I am sure he will be sharing my delight at recent salvage operations like the Kim Weston Motown Anthology and the budget Spectrum set of Lyn Collinsí recordings. They are wonderful records. But of course Dexys would argue soulís about more than that, more than ticking all the right boxes, and often soulís all about sounding very wrong. I mean, you canít get more soulful than Link Wray singing 'Falliní Rain' in cracked tones on one of those great Three Track Shack recordings. Itís an astonishing song.

Thereís been a lot written recently about Jamie Lidellís surprisingly soulful voice. Some on The Wire side of the ship have been making much of it in the context of some ersatz Prince pop with the bonus of being on Warp. Some others have been making Jamieís Multiply set sound like Joss Stone for the Artificial Intelligence generation. I kept getting it confused with Jamie Cullum, so kept my distance.

Then I heard the title track on the radio. It really was surprisingly soulful. As in surprisingly southern fried soulful. It could be Eddie Hinton or somebody I am sure Barney Hoskyns has written several books about. So I bought the CD. I bought it cheaply of course. Just in case several of the songs sounded like Prince. Iíve never really got Prince. And some of the songs do sound suspiciously like Prince. Rather like Jack Splashís Plant Life sounds incredibly like Prince. And all those other guys like Sly and Jimi and Bootsy and Michael Jackson weíre all supposed to love so much, and probably would if it wasnít so obvious. But The Wire doesnít really rave about people like Plant Life.

Some songs on Jamie Lidellís Multiply donít really sound like Prince (or Terence Trent DíArby ≠ come on letís be brave!). Thereís a suite of songs that are really sweet. Right at the heart of the record, thereíre three or four brilliant songs that just sound better and better each time they are played. Perhaps predictably 'The City'ís got me all caught up because itís less Princely and more like Mark Stewart or Cabaret Voltaire circa 'Diskono'. In my world Mark Stewart and Cabaret Voltaire are bigger pop stars than Prince. In my world Jamie Lidellís Multiply is a multi-million selling success. It may yet be. But Annieís Anniemal is not the multi-million selling success it should be, so somethingís wrong somewhere with the pop that sells.

Someone else who sounded something like Cabaret Voltaire was Eric Random. I donít know how excited people will get about that statement, but they ought to. For anyone interested in the activities and creativities beyond punk, Eric Random is a name to get very romantic about. Certain of his activities and creativities are captured on the superb LTM collection, Subliminal 1980-1982. If you like pre-Virgin Cabaret Voltaire and early ACR, Thomas Leer and Robert Rental, even PiL or This Heat, then you will want this salvaged set.

Random is one of the cooler peripheral figures of the punk-era Manchester, often moonlighting with Pete Shelley in the Tiller Boys, often heading across the Pennines to link up with the Cabs (he appeared on 2x45 among other recordings). I remember seeing him perform in the mid-Ď80s and recall banks of TV screens. He looked great and threw things up in the air at a time when things could be settling down to dull rigidity. But I guess like the Go-Betweens once sang, the old way out is now the new way in, and Throbbing Gristleís back catologue is going for a fiver a time in Fopp next to Tracy Chapman and Janis Joplin.

I hope LTM can do something with the buried Tiller Boys recordings though. They really were a joy and sounded wonderfully wrong. I canít take too many polished surfaces.

© 2005 John Carney