Sunday, April 5, 2009

We're Gonna Sing Along, to a Brand New Denim Song, About the Summer

I'm keeping the oddest hours these days, so forgive me if this post seems a bit pointless, and without focus. Sometimes though when faced with the instance of having about an hour to kill before reasonably cleaning her way out of the place where she has been house-sitting, with the laundry already going, and most of the dishes drying, a girl is left with no choice but to write something about the all around marvel that is Denim.

I heard Denim for the first time on July 4th of last year. We were driving back from lunch in Yvonne's car and this song came on that sounded like pure, sonic sunshine. This probably had a lot to with the fact that the song we were listening to was called "Sun's Out." Even so far as the opening lines are, "The sun's out. In the sky. The sun's out, everyone's happy cause the sun's out, children are smiling cause the suuun's in the sky, oh it shines for you and I." It sounded like the most exuberant, cheesy, fabulous, synth and drum machine driven Euro-pop ever. Of course, based on the vocals, and many of the lyrics it was clear that the song was of English origin. Since I must have been clearly expressing my enjoyment of the song (smiling is involuntary when it's on, and usually there is involuntary dancing as well) Brian turned to ask me if I knew what it was. When I said that I didn't, but that it sounded great, Brian giddily exclaimed, "This is Denim, Lawrence's band after Felt!" I was pretty surprised as I had never hear anything from the Felt vault that sounded like it would lead to what we were listening to at that moment. Of course, having heard more from Felt, and from Denim subsequently it all makes perfect sense as a testament to Lawrence's odd genius. Any one of Lawrence's projects had the potential to thrive beyond the highly regarded cult status they achieved, and it does seem as though they all came so close. Why Forever Breathes the Lonely Word wasn't the thing that (at one point or another) made people utter "Lawrence/Deebank," in a similar manner to the way in which they utter, "Morrissey/Marr" is beyond me. Why the single "Primitive Painters" didn't make them a wildly successful pop band also boggles my mind. And, of course, in a world with more justice in it "Sun's Out" would have been precisely what the A-side of the single it shared described, a "Summer Smash." Actually that song itself should have been a giant hit as well. Allegedly EMI shelved it due to the fact that it's release would have coincided in poor taste with the somber air that was permeating Britain around the death of Princess Diana... due to a car crash... that happened late in the summer of 1997.

Pretty sad really, as this song along with pretty much every other Denim song that I have managed to hear qualifies as giddy pop perfection. Every Denim song that I own is currently creating the perfect soundtrack to morning of tidying up as I have finally begun to anticipate the arrival of summer. Now if only my anticipated bedtime set for about noon (seriously) would arrive just a bit sooner.

Once again, allow me to direct your attention to a post on Fire Escape Talking where you can download "Summer Smash" (The link for "Sun's Out" doesn't appear to be working at the moment), and also read a much fuller (and more sharply written) version of the story behind the single.

Here's a video for Denim's song "Middle of the Road" Enjoy!


FireEscape said...

Maurice Deebank had left Felt before Forever Breathes The Lonely Word, so didn't write or play on any of the songs!

Primitive Painters was a massive indie hit in 1985; Lawrence once said in an interview that it was the biggest-selling indie single of the year (I don't know if it was, as he never let the truth get in the way of a good story, but it was very popular).

If there was a platform for Felt to break out of the underground, then the success of Primitive Painters was it. However, much of that single's success was down to Liz Fraser's fame.

Crucially, the following album, Ignite The Seven Cannons, wasn't as strong and, I suspect, failed to satisfy new fans that they'd picked up. The central problem with that album is Robin Guthrie's production which swamps the songs.

Lawrence has claimed that ITSC is the only thing Felt did wrong, but for a different reason: it was asymmetrical with 5 songs on side 1 and 6 songs on side 2.

Marion said...

Yikes, I think I did know that about Forever Breathes the Lonely Word, and that will teach me to post anything before double checking my research!

So I guess the credit for Forever Breathes the Lonely Word's guitars being so incredible belongs to Marco Thomas then?

I did know that Primitive Painters was quite an indie hit. I suppose I just meant to say that I don't understand why that song never quite reached the classic single status that it should still maintain today, not too many people on this side of the pond seem to be all that interested...

Though the time-line you pointed out of it being followed by Ignite the Seven Cannons makes sense. I'd had never gone back and quite put that together.

And I'm sure that anything I knew about the success of the song was something that I read either from you in the first place, or the Tangents archive.

This is all further proof to establish what I've always suspected to be true... I am not at all informed/intelligent enough to write anything about Felt, or anything Felt related! Lesson learned!

Though I suppose it was worth the embarrassment to get such essential information. Thank you very kindly for that!

FireEscape said...

You raise an interesting point about being "informed" enough to write about a band; enthusiasm, which you obviously have, is itself enough to write interestingly about an old band.

I have a feeling that the reason Primitive Painters hasn't reached classic status is because it's a little too of its time with that slightly overbearing sub-goth atmosphere.

I think Felt made many more much better singles than PP, but they've not entered the canon either and sold far fewer copies than PP.

Lawrence told Smash Hits in 1986: "I think we're a band for future generations, really. Our songs are probably too wordy for people right's a sad fact." With hindsight, the truth might be that there will be a small minority in each generation who gets Felt, but mainstream success will always be elusive.