Ahh, Pulp. One of my favourite bands. What I love about their music is that it is quite relateable, even if the actual song is quite outlandish. So, what best way to honour this band then to list my favourite song from each album…except we’re not doing that.
Yeah, I would do one song per album, but the problem is that there aren’t as many studio albums as ELO or Queen, who have all recieved that treatment. Between 1983-2001, they have released 7 studio albums. So, how are we going to go around it. I will first do the albums, in chronological order, and then I will be documenting some of the rarities from the deluxe albums (though a lot of that stuff will be from the first 4 deluxe albums), I will also be recommending some of the songs from ‘The Gift Recordings’ and ‘The Peel Sessions’ albums.
THE STUDIO ALBUMS
So, our first track is the first track from the first album. Why I picked this one is because it is so markedly different from the sound that they would have from their glory days. The acoustic guitar is just charming, and because it is so different, I just like it very much. Would recommend this song if you’re going to chill out on a warm day with a glass of lemonade or something, it is a relaxing tune.
1986- FREAKS ( Ten Stories About Power, Claustrophobia, Suffocation and Holding Hands)
THEY SUFFOCATE AT NIGHT
Honourable mentions: Master of the Universe, Life must be so Wonderful
Now this is more like the pulp you will recognise. This was released after many changes to the bands lineup. The band had been going since 1979, when they were still in High School, so you can imagine that the lineup would change over the 7 years they were together at this point. This song is really an example of how the band had matured between the two albums. While It had a pretty mellow, and cheerful sound, the songs on Freaks, with their themes and their compositions, are a lot darker. They still have a fairly mellow sound, but there is a dark tone throughout the album, a bit like teen angst. I chose this song as an example of the angsty sound this album has. You can here from this song the band developing into what they’d become…
LOVE IS BLIND
Honourable mentions: She’s Dead, Death II, My Legendary Girlfriend, This house is Condemned
This is probably my second favourite Pulp Album. It is a weird thing I have. I always tend to like the album before a band’s big hit. And this album, recorded in 1989 and released in 1992 was technically the album before their big hit, Razzmatazz which was released in 1993. The Pulp release schedule is kind of confusing at this point, but we’ll pull through. This album I like is that the band has all the tools that made them popular in the mid 90’s, the quality and production was there. And this track, first one on this album, is an example of this. The album has a mix of acid house style tracks and more conventional pulp songs, and it works pretty well, in my opinion. It gets that patented pulp sound across well that would become popular with Razzmatazz.
1994- HIS ‘N HERS
Honourable mentions: Do you remember the first time?, Have you Seen her lately?, Babies, Joyriders
And the development that the band went under during the 80’s shows in the 90’s.His n Hers is Pulp’s first truly popular album. And Happy Endings is is the culmination of the band’s climb to the top of music. Its such a triumphant song, with all the trimmings we expect of Pulp. That sound of the band who represents the views of the 90’s British youth so well. Its a good album, and this is such a good song. If His n Hers is the climb to the top, then the next album has to be the flag on the top of the mountain…
1995- DIFFERENT CLASS
Honourable mentions: All the album
The first album you think of when you think of this band is perhaps this one, and I don’t blame you. It is their best album, in terms of how popular it is. Common People, Misshapes, Disco 2000 were all big songs that were released by the band that grew to become very popular. But as these are my picks for my favourite songs from each album, I have to choose I Spy. It is such a good Bond song that isn’t a Bond song. It really could be. I spy is 5 minutes of adulterated awesome. The orchestra is what gives this the sound of a Bond song. And it really is great. Listen to this album.
1998- THIS IS HARDCORE
Honourable mentions: Help the Aged, This is Hardcore, The Day after the Revolution
Underrated album. That is a shorthand review of the album, which deserves its own Track by Track in its own right. But for now, I choose one song as my favourite from each album, and I choose The Fear. This song touches me, because it is about anxiety. Admittedly, my anxiety isn’t based on drugs, or coming off a high, but the feelings are all the same. And production wise, this is one of the best songs, and albums, that Pulp released. A nice touch is at the start, you hear the strum of a guitar, which is from the end of the pulp song ‘Bar Italia’ from the previous album. This is Pulp’s darkest album, and trumps Freaks in that matter. The lyrics here are the best, the music is the best. And it is truly underappreciated.
2001- WE LOVE LIFE
Honourable mentions: Weeds (Parts one and two), Roadkill, Bad Cover Version
Compared to ‘This is Hardcore’ this is a bit of a change in everything. It is still a solid album, but after listening to This is Hardcore, it is a bit of a change in tone that takes getting used to. It’s quite a fresh, natural sound, and this song (about Trees) is the best example. The Pulp Sound really has evolved into what this album, and what this song is. It was produced by Scott Walker, who’s a famous musician in his own right, and it feels like Pulp came full circle by choosing him. Pulp were so obviously inspired by him, that it is a little funny to know he produced the album. I like this song, and I like this album. I don’t love it, but it is a solid like.
DELUXE ALBUM BONUS TRACKS
Besides the albums, the Deluxe Editions also offer a good selection of the B Sides, Rarities, Demos, and other goodies that some might not have listened to before. These are 4 of my favourites.
Aborigin(e)- Freaks Deluxe Edition (2012)
Good song, builds up over the course of its run, and is a good listen.
Death comes to Town- Separations Bonus Track (2012)
Good, positive energy that combines both sounds that the album makes.
Your Sister’s Clothes- His ‘n Hers Deluxe Edition (2012)
Sequel to the song ‘Babies’, and follows on from the story told by that song.
Cocaine Socialism- This is Hardcore Deluxe Edition (2012)
A song not released until the deluxe edition was released. Singer Jarvis Cocker had an addiction at the time, so I can see why the band decided not to release it.
And then there are all the songs released on compilations. The following songs are neither on the deluxe editions, or on the albums themselves.
1993- INTRO- THE GIFT RECORDINGS
OU, OU GONE
Honourable mentions: Razzmatazz, Inside Susan, 59 Lyndhurst Grove
This album is a compilation of B Sides, and singles not released on the first 3 Pulp albums. Babies would be on this album, but it would be remixed and put on His ‘n Hers. Intro is a strange compilation, as it is all 3 of the singles the band released for the Gift label, and packaged into the album. I don’t mind, I didn’t buy the singles, so convenient for me. OU OU Gone is a good song because it bridges the gap between Separations and His ‘n Hers. You can hear a bit of both in their, and it is a good song collection. I don’t normally recommend compilations, but I will recommend this. Get this compilation.
2006- PULP: THE PEEL SESSIONS
TURKEY MAMBO MAMMA
John Peel was a British DJ who often brought in up and coming bands to perform on his radio show. This live album has all these recordings, and this song was the earliest Pulp song recorded, back in 1981. I’d listen to it just because it is so unlike 90’s Pulp. This is like listening to your High School friend’s band being professionally recorded. It is interesting to listen to in that respect. The whole album is good for its live recordings of the band too.
Pulp I admire for the content of their lyrics. The stories they tell in their songs are about a lot of relateable themes. The word relateable really does describe their music, and that’s why I like them. I think we live in a world that is very delusional, songs like ‘Royals’ are about what people aspire to be. Pulp did that, except they switched it. A rich girl who wanted to be like ‘Common People’. That’s why Pulp is awesome. Give them a listen.