Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Legendary Girlfriend

This is what you get when Sheffield misfits curious about acid house music attempt to imitate Barry White. And yet, this is also much, much more than that.

I’ve probably been moving the goalposts throughout this blog but, really, this is the first (quint)essential Pulp song. Somehow, by combining throbbing dance beats, cinematic synths, funky wah-wah guitar and a Jarvis monologue/vocal for the ages, the band found their modus operandi, created the first epic, and even finally attained a small bit of mainstream attention, when the NME gave the song its Single of the Week award. Even the song title is perfect, evocative and yet tantalizingly open-ended.

That’s what makes this song so compelling – its unknowingness. Why, for example, does Jarvis alternate between referring to the Girlfriend in second and third person? And yet, through the lyric’s strange mix of desire, seediness and poetry, it achieves a real meaning beyond the literal, a compelling sense of intrigue against the backdrop, as always, of Jarvis’ hometown.

Pulp released two versions of the song. Of course, there’s the original, single, also found on Separations (And here’s the low-low budget video.) But the band also released a limited-edition single with a soundcheck version of the song on Caff Records, a tiny label run by friend-of-Pulp Bob Stanley, also a member of St. Etienne. This version gives a good idea of how the band performed the song live. There are no programmed beats, just hard-charging drums, bashes at the Farfisa and here-goes-nothing guitar. Jarvis’ vocal is similarly unhinged, with plenty of asides and non-sequiters; at one point, he even lets out a Flavor Flav-like “Boyeee!” Needless to say, the Caff single is very rare now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you got a link for the Caff single??