Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ansaphone

Since this is quite possibly Pulp’s slickest, most facile song, they deserve some sort of credit for perversely letting it languish as a b-side. Or maybe they were just too aware of how tossed-off the song is. True, it’s the b-side of one of their most commercial singles, “Disco 2000,” but that song is a truly glorious pop moment, filled with aching emotion alongside its big production and bigger hooks. Conversely, “Ansaphone” sounds thin and just a little too eager to please to be a truly worthy moment from the band. Sure, the frothy keyboard arrangement has charm, and Jarvis sounds almost sweet, listening forlornly to an ex-lover’s answering machine, hoping one day she’ll leave a message on his. But ultimately this is as close as Pulp ever got to the more soulless end of Britpop.

Perhaps this is why, on the 2006 double-disc Deluxe Edition of Different Class, the demo version of “Ansaphone” is featured instead of the commercially released one. The two versions don’t differ all that much, but at least the demo feels considerably less fussed-over.

“Ansaphone” also brings to mind the Different Class paradox. The sessions of His ‘n’ Hers and This Is Hardcore yielded many grade-A quality b-sides. Different Class, not so much. I think this is mainly because the band saw DC as their do-or-die moment; therefore, all the best songs from that era are on the album itself.

2 comments:

Martijn said...

That last statement rings very true, and interestingly it can be applied to Blur too. "Parklife" was their big breakthrough, many consider it their best album, and yet its b-sides, overall, kinda suck. (though it may partly be because that album was released so fast after the last one...)

I too prefer the demo by the way.

The best thing about their reissues, though, must be "It's A Dirty World". Can't understand why that wasn't on the album, let alone why it was never a b-side either

Mike said...

Good points. I'm not too familiar with Parklife b-sides, but it sounds like I don't need to be!

"It's a Dirty World" grew on me. I really love it now. As great as This Is Hardcore is already, you could easily construct alternate versions of the album using b-sides and outtakes. Don't know if this blog is the proper forum for that kind of thing... well coming from me anyway. Commenters are more that welcome to brainstorm!