Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not So New Release Tuesday: Pulp "Different Class"

Tuesday is the day to release everything into the consumer world, DVDs, books, and music. Well, in honor of the day of new releases, it's time to revisit the good, the bad, and the ugly of releases from the past in this new weekly feature.

To kick off the inagural run, I selected an album that I am sure many people have heard of, but never heard the whole thing from start to finish, one of the most underappreciated albums of the mid-90s, Different Class by Pulp.

The whole album is superbly written by front man Jarvis Cocker and band mates Russell Senior on guitar, Candida Doyle on the keys, Steve Mackey on bass, Mark Webber on guitar (and former fan club president), and Nick Banks on drums. Lyrically it is down and dirty, nothing lost in translation. They paint a picture, then make sure you don't forget it. Musically, it is Brit-pop at its best, and Cocker's vocals soar to heights then resonate into low growls in a matter of seconds, but never once losing the emotion necessary to make one feel the lyrics.

Track-wise, this album is solid from start to finish, but the starting 5 make this album what it is. Starting with a call to arms of the lower class in Mis-Shapes, the album turns away from the social upheaval and dives right into seduction and sex with Pencil Skirt. (Lyric: Oh, It's turning me oh, oh, on.) Placement seems to be everything as another commentary on the differences in class appears in the widely popular Common People, a narrative about a socialite who wants to live like the working class, but not without Cocker delivering a scathing litany of lyrics on what the lower classes deal with on a day to day basis and how the upper class does not understand. Mixing the two previous themes is I Spy, the musings of Cocker and how he will avenge the social class he has been dealt by sleeping with and corrupting an upper class wife. Finally, getting away from the class warfare and seduction, Disco 2000 is a pure pop song, telling the story of a boy and his school years' crush and how he never let go. Any other artist would have made this into a weepy acoustic arrangment or a power ballad, but Pulp livens its up with disco beats and upbeat tempos.

The rest of the album mixes up the themes a bit. It continues with sexual overtones in Live Bed Show and Underwear and life with no direction in Monday Morning, but then throws in what can be labeled as a love song in Something Changed and how love can screw your world up in F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. Sorted For E's & Wizz is a blistering commentary on the rave scene, while Bar Italia deals with the hang over from such party excess.

The album as a whole is so diverse in vocal quality, instrumentation, production, and lyrical content, that almost anyone can find a song that is worth listening to. Commercially, it is Pulp's most succesful album, and I believe musically it is their best as well.

Pencil Skirt
Common People
Disco 2000

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