By Skinny Lister
Fun (n): 1. A source of pleasure. 2. Enjoyment; amusement ("have fun in the abattoir") 3. Playful and often noisy activity. (adj. Informal) "You're an incredibly fun dog." Novelty Music: Something that's shit.
Plagued by misoneism, I step back from the CD player and breathe heavily. It's looking at me funny. "Ready for the next song?" it asks, the witch's cackle seemingly just a few spins away. I begin to sweat. We've all laughed at and loved our Grandma's 'Best Of Irish Pub Songs' LPs, but have we ever looked at anything that would only be on the main stage at Leeds Festival before 1:30pm with anything other than hungover disdain for fun and novelty? Lord knows I've tried in vain to find THAT exact version of 'How Are Things In Glocca Morra' that appears on my Granny Blanche's LP but I'm only ever met with hideous baroque versions sung by air breathed females that Walt Disney would hire before you could say "Donald Duck". Then there's 'Whiskey On A Sunday', a waltzing chugger of a jive that conjures up images of drunken Irish charmers at 1:30pm in a smoke filled Dublin bar in 1982, bemoaning their lack of income. The students dance, the students sing. The music lovers crawl into a dark corner and pray for the next Panda Bear record.
And then, calm descends. Why? Because Skinny Lister have found a niche that nestles nicely into the space between the gutter and joy. To call them novelty might seem rather perverse, almost insulting. It may on the other hand make me look quite the cock, the uneducated hipster lost in a stronghold bastion of folky fortress. Either way a "rip-roaring folk stomper" is pretty much that in my book, a world away from the existential miserablists I'm used to. But there you go. We're all learning, all the time. And Skinny Lister have taught me that good 'novelty' records didn't stop with Chas & Dave.
'Forty Pound Wedding' is loosely reminiscent of banal charm of The Coral's 'Skeleton Key' and erm, pretty much anything that's shouty folk and a bit mad. Lyrically, it's similar to the more lighthearted moments from Dylan's back catalogue, for some reason I'm thinking the marvellous 'Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat'. As you can probably guess from the title it's about trying to win over some bird with a budget wedding ("As I walked down the mettled road with all but forty pounds/ All in a belt around my waist, the cut-throats to confound/ No sharp eyed rogue would rob me, no vagabond likewise/ And I bet my hide I'll win my bride with the flashing bright blue eyes"). The other song is 'Seventeen Summers', a slower number about moving to London from a quaint Northern town, something that conjures up images of the Hovis advert been murdered by multiculturalism*. It sounds a bit like Demis Roussos, which as far as I'm concerned is more than okay. Following that pretty little ditty there's a couple of remixes that the world doesn't really need, but at least they keep hard-working finger plinkers from the dole queue.
All in all then a very tidy listen for something that on the outside seemed so shambolic. Consider my phobias cured. I'll look forward to the sequel, 'Fifteen Grand Divorce', where misery will reign supreme once more.
*DISCLAMIER: multiculturalism is great, I have black friends and go to Mexican restaurants.