Monday, January 28, 2008

We Are The Pipettes

The day We Are The Pipettes was released in the US I made a trip to a record store to pick up a copy. I haven't done something like that in years. I had intended to write a track-by-track review, in fact I did just that. But then I read it, and saw that It Was Not Good. So this is more of an overview, hopefully better than my first go at it. But before we look at the contents, we need to look at the album.


I don't care for the cover. It features an image of the group towering Godzilla-style over the skyline of a city no doubt cringing in fear. The blue cover art on the UK release is much more appealing, just a basic group shot. The US cover art does play into the B-movie vibe of our first track though ...

And that first track is the aptly named "We Are The Pipettes". Every album should kick off with an anthemic statement of identity this good. The song has a strong sense of motion to it, something I really like. Lots of handclaps too, another good thing in my book, and a nice nod to the groups musical predecessors.


Reviewers trip over themselves in a bid to label the Pipettes as early 60s girl group for today. To an extent they are correct, although the 'standard' story of that genre is at best full of enough holes to make stuffing the group in to it a bit of a chore. At any rate, the Pipettes are pretty forward about who and what has influenced (or not influenced) them, from the Spectoresque opening drumbeats of "Sex" (borrowed from the Ronettes' "Be My Baby"), to a controversial non-Beatlecentric attitude towards pop. The group draws freely from the well of early 60s pop, but is not enirely bound to it.


Keeping with its early 60s pop heritage, most songs on this album are about either dancing or relationships. Or sometimes both ("It Hurts To See You Dance So Well"). "Judy" is the exception that proves the rule. The story-song has nice vocal work but is confusing. It is a story about the "good girl" who befriends a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Or growing older. Or family trouble. Something.


My favorite song on this release is "Because It's Not Love (But It's Still A Feeling)". A very danceable near-ballad. For second favorite I am torn between "One Night Stand" and "ABC". "ABC" is the oft-told tale of unreturned "geek love". In the movies it often takes the form of geeky guy falling for an unatainable girl. In "ABC" it is the girl pining for an oblivious guy who is more interested in science books than the ecstasy (or "XTC") of romance. "One Night Stand" is the song that actually made me in to a Pipettes fan. One part of it anyway. The transition between the first verse and chorus works almost like a motion picture crossfade. As the last line of the verse trails off ("warning ...") the sha-la-las kick in. It sounds absolutely gorgeous. Which is fortunate, because the second verse suffers from ...


Sometimes Pipettes lyrics sound clunky - to be charitable. Examples include "One Night Stand"'s "baby did it hurt when you fell from heaven" and "It Hurts To See You Dance So Well"'s "they know that I wanna kill them". Urrgh. Shoo-be-doop or something would be better sounding.


Overall a worthwhile listen. Lots of nice touches for enthusiasts of early 60s pop. Handclaps and harmony abound. A bit of attitude too - this ain't your daddy's girl group (but neither was your daddy's - but that's another topic for another time.)

I had to rewrite this mini-review numerous times (and am still not happy with it). I listen to portions of this album near-daily. Makes any kind of critical perspective difficult. Too busy humming along to be very objective.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Past, Present, Future

March 26, 2001 was a wacky day if you were a pro wrestling fan. At that time there were two major national organizations, WWF and WCW, each with a Monday-night show in heated competition the other.

On March 26 the shows were partly simulcast. In a feed shown on both programs at the same time, WWF owner Vince Mcmahon announced the purchase of WCW by WWF.

No doubt this is fascinating to my readers. But why am I mentioning it here and now?

This is the 160th post on my personal blog Big Blog O' Dave Stuff. It is being 'simulcast' as the first post on my new music blog Big Blog O' Music Stuff. Trying to have a go at a blog with an actual theme. Will I succeed? Well, so far I've spent more time on pro wrestling than music, but we'll see.

Less time on-topic, but not no time. See, this post is named after a song title. "Past, Present, Future" is not the most famous song the Shangri-las ever did (that'd be "Leader of the Pack"), but it is still an interesting song. Worth being familiar with.

Especially once you learn/realize that it is about the aftermath of rape. (In the English lit community we call this sort of offhand comment "foreshadowing". Don't say I never told you!)


Don't need to go back to the very beginning, listening to "oldies" on an 8-track in the family car. Don't have to look back that far. Until last year I has been a fan-in-hibernation for a while (following a few decades of pretty hardcore interest ...). Let's face it. Dave was not being a good little fan. I still paid a little attention, still kept my ears open somewhat. But I was content to just listen to stuff I already knew for the most part.


Well, I feel compelled to blog on this, so that SHOULD indicate I'm back in a groove and showing active interest again. Whereas I was listening to nothing new, now I am actively looking. I got an emusic subscription. I had resisted the urge to jump on the mp3 bandwagon previously. There are a handful of areas I am actively trying to know better. Some - girl group, hardcore - I already have pretty strong knowledge of but can always learn more! Others are a whole new game - folk metal being an example. So what my past to change in to my present? For that, we need to look at the future ...


I have seen the future. And it is wearing a polka-dot dress.

Probably overstating things a bit there. What happened was this:

We Are The Pipettes from (duh!) the Pipettes finally came out in the US. I had listened to a few tracks on a whim, and got hooked in a major way. I actually took the day off at work so I could pick up the release the day it came out. Record companies take note: make something I feel strongly about and I'll go to some length to encourage it. (Hey, more foreshadowing!)

Not that the Pipettes are perfect or my favorite band of all time. They are neither. But I do enjoy them quite a bit, something I'll go into more when I do reviews of We Are The Pipettes and other pipettey goodness.

Just about enough foreshadowing for today. Although that last bit isn't so much foreshadowing as just flat out saying what is coming up.

Also coming up: "They're Not The Pipettes", "I'm Not Getting Back On The Bus Until You Say We're Heavy F&@#in Metal", and the long threatened (on BBODS) missive on "What's A Girl (Group)". And why we should care.

See ya. Think this is gonna be fun.