“In a 21st century littered with dour sourpuss and earnest confessional, Martin Gordon stands alone as a beacon of comic genius, melodic incisiveness and lyrical intelligence. He is truly the last great British songwriter left standing”.
Dave Thompson / Goldmine 2009
The clock is set at 11.59. OK, 23.59 if you use the European 24-hour clock but, as we all know, the UK is not part of Europe. So it’s 11.59, then. We have less than one minute before Armageddon finally arrives. Metaphorically speaking, of course – we don’t mean that before you get to the end of this sentence, it will all be over, of course not. Are you still there? You see?
Humanity is rapidly approaching the end of its allotted time on the planet. Society descends into a whirlwind of casting TV shows, attention-deficit disorder and ill-informed opinions about
matters of no importance whatsoever. Global warming means that your country will disappear beneath the waves within a matter of days. Innocent children dress up warmly and go outside to play in the snow, to wake up the following morning and find palm trees growing where only yesterday, a genial snowman cheerily waved.
Enormous clouds of industrial pollution drift around the planet, asphyxiating entire tribes of midget pygmies who never even had the chance to take part in a reality TV show or meet Bono.
Genetically-modified food ensures that future generations of rosy-cheeked club-footed cripples will spread like a bacillus across the face of the earth. Rejoice as the human race enthusiastically supports this headlong stampede towards the apocalypse with its inane and persistent idiocy, as detailed in the accompanying CD.
Oh, yes, the CD; Martin Gordon’s latest contribution to the zeitgeist, his savage yet oddly caring indictment of the human condition which he calls, evocatively yet economically, ‘Time Gentlemen Please’. Propping up the bar in the Last Chance saloon, he tries to get a last metaphorical round in before the cosmic chucking-out time.
Is this the end of civilisation as we know it? Probably. But in every cloud there’s a silver lining, and here it is. Prevent Armageddon by buying this CD, then everything will work out OK. It’s up to you, the choice is yours. The future of the human race, the future of this wondrous, bountiful planet upon which we live, rests in your hands. Please take time to think carefully. Buy this CD or else humanity gets it.
And mine’s a large one. Perhaps you do not wish to know that. Time, gentlemen, please!
Thrashing guitars, thrumming ukelele, raucous brass, double bass and bar-room piano provide the sonic back-drop. The sterling vocals of Swede Pelle Almgren are once again to the fore, and
his glorious trademark harmonies are a career-best, especially on the über-ballad ‘21st Century Blues’. Live performance is key, and studio trickery is either reduced to a minimum or is transparent. In correspondence with the bigger picture, each song has an ending, with not a fade to be heard. From faux big-band swing (‘If Boys Could Talk and Girls Could Think’) to breakneck amphetamine-pop (‘Interesting Times’), from dramatic big-hair ballads sung in Latin about the perils of celebrity (‘Incognito Ergo Sum’) to pub-piano sing-alongs bemoaning cheap flights (‘I’m Budgie (Don’t Fly Me)’), from crunching pop decrying the actions of the Almighty (‘Come Out Come Out Whoever You Are’) to the quasi-Floydian epic ‘You Can’t See Me’ which closes the set, Gordon spans the gamut.
The sonic melange includes flocks of bleating sheep (‘I Have a Chav’), the gentle splashing of waves around the protagonist’s canoe (‘Panama’) and the uncertain countdown of the flight controller at the Kennedy Space Centre (‘Houston We Gotta Drinking Problem’). Take the blueprint of popular song, redesign to serve the purposes of rock, add a leavening of George Formby and the anarchic absurdities of Stanley Holloway and the Bonzos, and file under ‘new music-hall’.
Martin Gordon, irritatingly described by Classic Rock as ‘like Brian Eno fronting 10cc at a cleverness convention’ releases the fifth and final part of his Mammal Trilogy. Beginning his career with Californian oddboy-band Sparks for their seminal album ‘Kimono My House’, he moved on to form ‘glam-supergroup’ Jet and punk pranksters Radio Stars before twigging that working for other people is far more lucrative. He spent a long while as jobbing bass player, keyboardist, co-writer and producer for a long list of fascinating, sensitive artists and dull idiots (including the Rolling Stones, Kylie Minogue, George Michael, Blur, Asha Bhosle, Primal Scream, the Tiger Lillies and Sezen Aksu) before embarking upon a solo career in 2003 with his solo debut ‘The Baboon in the Basement’. The Mammal Trilogy continued with ‘The Joy of More Hogwash’, ‘God’s On His Lunchbreak’ and ‘The World is Your Lobster’, and this release brings the Trilog to completion. After this fifth and final outpouring of bile and spite disguised as good-natured entertainment, there will be no further parts. That’s basically it.
THE SUPPORTING CAST:
Pelle Almgren sings, as ever. A one-time rock star in his native Sweden, he turned his back upon the world of rock’n’roll to pursue financial stability in the world of real estate. Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah. Well, he could have been a banker …. He lives a lonely hermit-like existence in a monastery in a remote red-light district of distant Stockholm, emerging only to slaughter caribou with his bare hands, and to participate in Martin Gordon’s deluded solo ventures.
Ralf Leeman plays ukulele and guitar. His grandfather, who lived in a trailer park in Arkansas, composed hillbilly tunes which were stolen by rich European musical entrepreneurs and sold to rock groups. Ralf performs rock chestnuts such as ‘Highway To Hell’ (bought by Australian transvestite band AC/DC) and ‘Money’ (bought by British dance troupe Pink Floyd) in their original guise as banjo-pickin’ polkas for the inbred. Like most Berlin musicians, he is studying to be a dentist.
Steve Budney plays drums. A member of Boston band Tristan da Cunha, he is a multi-instrumentalist. He invited Gordon and Almgren to perform in Boston in 2007, and has not
looked back since, in fact he dares not. Recently, using only a rubber inner tube and a latex camel, and you may not believe this, he (removed to protect miners).
What has everybody got against fat girls, that’s what I’d like to know, I love ‘em, especially if they are rich… if fact, only if they are rich. I’m dependent upon your wads of plastic – baby, you’re elephantastic!
2 Houston We’ve Gotta Drinking Problem
The crew of one of the Challenger space shuttle flights were pissed when they took off, according to NASA flight regulations. But it wasn’t a big deal, and the pissed astronauts kept flying.
3 On and On
Well, it’s a good job she’s got flat rate, innit. Just when you think she’s got to the end of it, it turns out she’s only breathing, and there’s another chapter coming up. In some ways, it’s surprising that the human race hasn’t died out completely. In many ways.
4 21st Century Blues
An apocalyptic blues for the turn of the century. Down to my last pair of wearable trews, we can only hope that Scotsmen will survive to propagate the species.
5 Come Out Come Out Whoever You Are
Plagues of flies and frogs – doesn’t He have anything better to do with His time, instead of just sitting on His ass, waving fronds and putting the fear of Himself into people? Senator Ernie Chambers (D Chicago) got it right when he tried to sue God as a terrorist in the US courts.
6 I Feel Fine
The female of the species is essentially a treacherous character, and her counterpart is also not to be entirely trusted, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. What exactly does he mean by ‘fine’, anyway?
7 If Boys Could Talk and Girls Could Think
The solution to the battle of the sexes is of course the increased intake of How-To books, as any fule kno. If all else fails, you can always take the How-To book and smash it upon the head of the beloved, increasing the force of your argumentative position and also the likelihood of stunning her (or him, but usually her) into immediate submission. Another victory for common sense.
8 Talulah Does the Hula From Hawaii
Some countries have a list of acceptable names for children, some don’t. New Zealand, for example, doesn’t – Talulah was so-named in a fit of homesickness by her obviously deluded
parents when they moved there. So she took them to court, and it all ended happily ever after when the judge removed her from their custody.
9 Shoot The Women First
Despite the fact this may also seem like common sense, we in fact refer to the 1991 book by Eileen MacDonald, which was concerned with ‘the international recommendation to security and police personnel that when they arrested a terrorist cell, they should shoot the female members first’ as they ‘would be the first to open fire on their adversaries’. Although under other circumstances, one could certainly think of various candidates without too much effort… This song is in fact a tribute to the innate strength or, to put it another way, stupidity, of women.
Men of course do not escape lightly, and certainly not this particular one. ‘Canoe Man’ John Darwin, for it was he, escaped to central America, but forgot that one step essential to all who would forge a new life under a new identity – he didn’t change his name. After some preparatory years living in his wife’s cupboard under the stairs and hiding when the family came round, the proof of concept came when he canoed off to the new world, shortly followed by his wife, and even more shortly by Interpol. He eventually handed himself over to the British police, saying that he had unfortunately lost his memory and had they seen it? Alas, this ingenious ploy didn’t work, and he is now languishing at Her Majesty’s convenience.
11 Incognito Ergo Sum
The illegitimate offspring of Rene Descartes and Julia (‘You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again’) Phillips, or a justifiable reaction to the reality that’s it’s celebrities what make the world go round the bend? You decide. You wanna be a celebrity? Well, what can you do? Nothing? Step right this way, sir (or madam).
12 I Have a Chav
‘Chav’ derives from the Romani word for ‘youth’, an inevitable stage of development for some. In the UK, a large proportion of the GDP is devoted to nurturing the craze for a chav-of-your-own. Hugging a hoodie doesn’t go far enough; bring a chav home for tea.
13 Interesting Times
Not a reference to the Chinese curse but a heartfelt plea addressed to one of their local number. Have they actually GOT a local number, it would be a lot cheaper… Anyway, let’s hear it for Gantt.
14 Passionate About Your Elevator
Alas, he fell in love with a lift, and then decided that he could write advertising slogans in English, despite being not-English, and also despite running the not-English department of the
world’s biggest lift company, not based in England. It takes all sorts. If I were you, I would not take the slightest bit of notice.
15 I’m Budgie (Don’t Fly Me)
How marvellous that cheap flying has now become endemic, not to say mandatory, and similarly the ritual abuse that attends the ritual. ‘Hurry up and sit down!’ shriek the Essex-trained cabin staff as hapless passengers attempt to avoid the electric cattle-prods.
16 You Can’t See Me
Well, he’s very small, of course you can’t.