Are there really people who do not know this album? Every track could have been a single. It's brilliant. I had it when it first came out - with 12 different covers. When I first heard "Mis-shapes" I thought, "the revolution has arrived". My Jarvis Cocker impressions were famed at school. I always thought it a shame that the B-sides were hidden away. There's a certain weirdness in a 14 year old getting excited at "PTA", which is about a teacher wanting an affair with a student. For me this album defines an era, and I can't put my feelings into words. I think it is fresh-sounding, well-crafted, strong and vibrant, and Pulp's most commercial sounding album.
Whilst Pulps previous album, the wonderful "His N Hers", concentrated on life in and around Jarvis's home town of Sheffield, taking in sleazy assignations, sordid sex and parochial ennui and frustration, the follow up "Different Class" turned their forensic eye on London. The surface glamour/ subterranean desperation, class snobbery, and the tragi-comic swirl of its hedonistic lifestyle are all sprinkled liberally in amongst the albums cast of characters.
Primary of which, and represented by no less than three different versions (the single, vocoder and Glastonbury versions which is a bit of overkill) is the protagonist at the heart of Pulps most famous song, the middle class tourist slumming it with the proles in "Common People". Sagaciously eloquent but brimming with what renowned left wing columnist Paul Foot called the pick me for all socialists indignation "Common People" is that ultra rare thing- a tremendous pop song that taps into a moment in history to perfectly encapsulate the times and provide biting social commentary. (See also "Ghost Town "by The Specials") Remarkably it's not the only song on "Different Class" to do this. "Sorted For E, s And Whizz" is as articulate and ardent dissemination on drugs culture as will ever be committed to a simple pop song. That sweaty moon faced tosser Pete Doherty may be some sort of anti -hero for many of today's youth but this song adroitly summarizes why the biggest (though by no means only) loser in a life like his is him. "Disco 2000" has become a little over familiar but is still a cracking tune pinioned around that flippantly superb riff while fellow single "Mis-Shapes" is another terrifically arranged Pulp moment on one of Jarvis favourite themes, social exclusion. The real surprise here is "Something Changed" a genuinely classy (different classy) string based song that highlights a burgeoning maturity to their song writing. "Pencil Skirt", "Bar Italia", "Live Bed Show" and especially "Underwear" (which has a marvellously poignant dip in the melody) are all further proof of this bands fusion of drama/humour and tremendous grasp of effulgent melody. As ever the other musicians are unsung though it is possible to discern a slight reduction in Russell Seniors influence which no doubt hastened his ( in my mind) sad departure from the group.
Unlike a lot of re-release with bonus discs this is well worth owning for the bonus disc alone , though of course the original album is essential if you don't own it already , which if you don't should lead to questions in Parliament like err why? Anyway this mix of demo's b-sides and bonus tracks while not as good as the one included with the deluxe edition of "His N Hers" still contains plenty to captivate. From the soundtrack of "Trainspotting "comes "Mile End" and there is a never released before type of thing from France "Whiskey I n The Jar" which yes is a cover of the old Thin Lizzy song which in turn was an interpretation of a traditional song. "Ansaphone" and "We Can Dance Again" are both excellent while "Catcliffe Shakedown "is a primer for the darker more morose direction the band would take for "This Is Hardcore". While "Don't Lose It All" warns against those who will "Suck you dry", a cautioning on the perils of celebrity.
"Different Class" was Pulps second bona fide classic in a row, and proved that they above all the other perceived Brit -pop bands were the ones worthy of sustained attention and further examination and the only ones who could possibly take unexpected detours in the future. That they went further into the heart of social (and potential commercial) darkness for their next album proved this band were inconvertibly not just about the fame and the good times music afforded them. Different class? You bet.... and then some.
Ok, so you know you have this record somewhere..? But, where is it? Maybe you left it in a friend's car? Or your sister stole it and never gave it back? Maybe you lost it in your last move? Or maybe it's all scratched up from too much wear and tear?
Well what a perfect opportunity to re-acquaint yourself with the glory of Pulp! Not only do you get the finest record of the 90's, you get a bonus disc that actually manages to be even better. What are you laughing about? I'm serious! "Common People" might be a great song, but its no "Catcliffe Shakedown," Jarvis' masterful, comic commentary of life on the edges of modern civilization. And sure, Disco 2000 is a great club track, but it has nothing on PTA. There is so much goodness buried away on the bonus disc you won't even know what to do with yourself.
There would be a better CD this year, and there won't be a better CD next year either. Hell, this is it. If you are in a band, you might as well retire, because you'll never make a better record. Nobody ever will.
Don't believe me? Try. Go ahead. Let's see you find a better record?
I keep losing and buying this album, thank goodness for cloud player! It's such a good album that I don't really care. My favourite track is Underwear, it just captures the spirit and storytelling nature of the whole album.