Monday, January 22, 2007

 

Peel Sessions 38

I probably first heard his voice and word play on Peel, that all important first EP on Rabid records, without doubt I had already read about him in the NME, I was lucky enough to have seen him perform on numerous occasions, the first of which being an opening slot at London's famed Marquee Club. I am talking about noneother than the Salford word slayer, John Cooper Clarke for whom I have been a big fan since '77. It was therefore very much to my surprise and pleasure to see an interview with the man known as the punk poet in the February issue of Mojo. The article was apparently instigated at the request of Artic Monkeys singer, Alex Turner, who we are to learn, studied JCC's works at school, is this proof of how education has changed since my day or was the young Turner just lucky? True the interview is not the most soul searching piece that I have read though I must admit that regardless it is nice to see JCC having some of the attention that he merits. There is very little that we don't already know that is revealed, though I did learn that Phil Harris was a big influence, he was the man who provided the voice of Baloo in the Jungle Book (the first film I saw at a cinema). Also of interest is that he was not to fond of the musical backing for his three CBS albums as produced by new wave legend, Martin Hannett, claiming that they were not punky enough. The good news is that a new album is planned next year (2007/2008?), that will be the follow up to 1982's 'Zip Style Method' that is itself being re-released in expanded version today! There is also an autobiography 'Slim Volume' that has recently been completed and awaits publishing.
As already mentioned JCC's first vinyl outing was picked up my Peel and this resulted in two sessions one in November 1978 from which the following two songs/poems are taken and a second session in May 1983 which I believe provides the bonus tracks on the CD reissue of 'Zip Style Method', another good reason to buy it.

Readers' Wives
make a date with the brassy brides of britain
the altogether ruder readers' wives
who put down their needles and their knitting
at the doorway to our dismal daily lives

the fablon top scenarios of passion
nipples peep through holes in leatherette
they seem to be saying in their fashion'
I'm freezing charlie - haven't ya finished yet?'

cold flesh the colour of potatoe
sin an instamatic living room of sin
all the required apparatus
too bad they couldn't fit her head in

in latex pyjamas with bananas going ape
their identities are cunningly disguised
by a six-inch strip of insulation tape
strategically stuck across their eyes

wives from inverness to inner london
prettiness and pimples co-exist
pictorially wife-swapping with someone
who's happily married to his wrist

HEALTH FANATIC
AROUND THE BLOCK - AGAINST THE CLOCK
TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK
RUNNING OUT OF BREATH - RUNNING OUT OF SOCKS
RUBBER ON THE ROAD... FLIPPETY FLOP
NON-SKID AGILITY... CHOP CHOP
NO TIME TO HANG ABOUT
WORK OUT HEALTH FANATIC... WORK OUT!

THE CRACK OF DAWN HE'S LIFTING WEIGHTS
HIS TELL-TALE HEART REVERBERATES
HE'S HIGH IN POLYUNSATURATES...
LOW IN POLYSATURATES...
THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH'S AWARD AWAITS
IT'S A MAN'S LIFE
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC... SO WAS HIS WIFE

A ONE-MAN WAR AGAINST DECAY
ENJOYS HIMSELF THE HARD WAY
ALLOWS HIMSELF A MARS A DAY
HOW OLD AM I - WHAT DO I WEIGH
PUNCH ME THERE... DOES IT HURT... NO WAY
RUNNING ON THE SPOT DON'T GET TOO HOT
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC, THAT'S WHY NOT

RUNNING THROUGH THE TRAFFIC JAM - TAKING IN THE LEAD
HYPERACTIVITY KEEPS HIM OUT OF BED
DEEP DOWN HE'D LIKE TO KICK IT IN THE HEAD
THEY'LL REGRET IT WHEN THEY'RE DEAD
THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN FUN
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC - HE'S GOT TO RUN

BEANS GREENS AND TANGERINES
AND LOW CHOLESTROL MARGARINES
HIS LIMBS ARE LOOSE, HIS TEETH ARE CLEAN
HE'S A HIGH-OCTANE FRESH-AIR FIEND
YOU'VE GOT TO ADMIT HE'S KEEN
WHAT CAN YOU DO BUT BE IMPRESSED
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC... GIVE IT A REST

SHADOW BOXING - PUNCH THE WALL
ONE-A-SIDE FOOTBALL... WHAT'S THE SCORE... ONE-ALL
COULD HAVE BEEN A COPPER... TOO SMALL
COULD HAVE BEEN A JOCKEY... TOO TALL
KNEES UP, KNEES UP... HEAD THE BALL
NERVOUS ENERGY MAKES HIM TICK
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC... HE MAKES YOU SICK

I'm not quite sure whether he ever played live with a band or not as every time that I saw him his was on his own, just like a real poet and in many ways that was how I preferred him, in his own word crowd pleasing. 'You Never See A Nipple In The Daily Express' is taken from the 'Ou Est La Maison de Fromage' album and is all the proof you need concerning his stage presence.
I'll leave the last words to poet himself who said about his works, "it's reality but it's cranked up a couple of gears. Real reality's quite dull. It's not really that interesting, is it?"

Comments:
Thanks for the JCC. I'd forgotten how clever his poetry is. Wish we'd done him in school instead of Robert Browning.
JCC performed recently in Australia at some big outdoor shows but I've heard no reports on how it went. Anyway, thanks again for the post. Cheers. JP
 
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