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More Songs About Buildings And Feud,
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This review is from: The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death (Audio CD)
This 1987 follow-up to their pop masterpiece, 1986's debut album London 0 Hull 4, finds Paul Heaton's (and Stan Cullimore's) song-writing not quite at its peak (as on the previous record), but TPWGTTD is still a fine example of politically-inspired pop, featuring some typically incisive and witty lyrics from Heaton. There are also signs on this album of a transition to a more mellow sound, that was to characterise Heaton's next venture, The Beautiful South, as well as good (but, sadly, rather sparing) use of backing brass, including Heaton playing trombone and renowned jazzman Guy Barker on trumpet.
As is to be expected, Heaton's lyrical targets are many and varied (if, I guess, relatively predictable) here taking in air-headed, trendy, (probably rich), young things (the sinuous I Can't Put My Finger On It and Heaton's hilarious Enid Blyton tribute, and one of the album's highlights, the vibrant Five Get Over Excited - both songs featuring a girl named Fifi), capitalist exploitation (another album highpoint, You Better Be doubtful), Apartheid reform in South Africa (the beautifully affecting ballad, Johannesburg), showbiz excesses (The Light Is Always Green), religion (The World's On Fire) - and then perhaps less predictably - farming (another vibrant effort, Me And The Farmer) and (what appears to be ) outdated working practices (We're Not Going Back).
However, my personal favourites here are the album's bookend songs. The (notorious) title song which opens the album really does make The Pistols' God Save The Queen looks like a walk in the park (or maybe in Buckingham Palace grounds) - OK, I am joking (slightly) but Heaton's lyrics here are (even for him) sharply vitriolic ('And even when their kids were starving, they all thought the queen was charming'). Regardless of one's political views, however, the song is a pulsating pop gem, making good use of the brass. Then, rounding off the album is one of my favourite ever Heaton tunes, the sublime ballad Build, with a vocal and melody to die for, and whose target appears to be an excessively expansive building industry (which I guess could be regarded as rather ironic given the current housing shortage).