Thursday, November 29, 2007


“Countdown” has received more attention than most indie-era Pulp. That’s probably because it served as the title track to a well-publicized, double-disc anthology of early Pulp that came out in between Different Class and This is Hardcore. But “Countdown” is also a handy compendium of some of Jarvis’ most potent and resonant themes. Synths and programmed beats dominate, but with an extra dramatic edge. The lyrics convey a palpable sense of anxiety, commemorating Jarvis’ anguished decision in the late-‘80s to put the floundering band on hold while he went to London to study film. There are references to an unattainable woman, but it’s all a metaphor for the rapidly fading dreams of a career in music. All of his fears are cataloged; chief among them are the twin ideas that not only has he peaked at the age of 26, but because of a decision (to become a professional musician) he made nine years previous. “You’ve got to understand that I was 17!” he cries, incredulous that a decision he made at such a young age could possibly doom him to a life of impoverished obscurity and terminal unhappiness.

There are three mixes of the song. There’s the Separations version, an eight-minute single mix, and a radio edit of the single mix. If you hear Russell’s wah-wah guitar, it’s one of the single versions. The video here features the radio edit, which is probably my favorite.

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