Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pulp, "Common People" (1995)


Class warfare! Jarvis Cocker and mates, from across the Atlantic Ocean, craft a theme song for the eternal verities of the rich, but I'm not sure a good many people know about it even yet. I found out because a couple of my hipster pals were onto Pulp and Jarvis Cocker and Different Class. Otherwise I don't think it ever escaped far from the dance clubs of the UK until William Shatner came along and broke down the lyrics so starkly via the simple expedient of enunciating them clearly. So if I never exactly cottoned to the fine bent of the lyrics for many years, it wasn't like I noticed anything missing. This is a terrific song. I listened to the album on a daily basis for several weeks and have pulled it out since and it always sounds good, and so does this song, which is rousing and alive, throbbing and knowing, the kind of thing you might want to stand on a chair for and play loud. At six minutes it's got all the imposing presence of a dance song, and it's insinuating and physical in its attack, but it's also traditional verse-chorus-verse pop. Try it this way: Should we be surprised that Pitchfork a couple of years ago put it at #2 on their list of Top 200 Tracks of the '90s? Oh, right, and this: Cocker's reading of the lyrics is just fine, now that I know to hold off on all my flailing and kinetic pleasure and pay closer attention. His cartoon-dog Smedley way of sidling in with his croaking baritone may be almost soporific in the middle of all this gorgeous din, but once you know to follow along, why damn, hell, he's telling the story just as good as Captain Kirk too. It's caustic, biting, and very funny.

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