Album Of The Week - The Blow Monkeys - She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter
We move on from one political poking to another as this week's 'Album Of The Week' comes courtesy of The Blow Monkeys with She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter and the new-wave sounds of 1987.
I've been a fan of eighties music for a long time and The Blow Monkeys are a band I grew up on from their singles releases and it's only been recently that I've delved into this classic on recommendation. Much like last week's American Idiot, She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter is politically-driven, but this time focuses its attention on then Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Opener It Doesn't Have To Be This Way is funky and typical of the time with its brilliant saxophone solo and whilst the song may seem a little simplistic in structure, it's catchy and a brilliant one to sing along to. The same can be said for the following Some Kind Of Wonderful with its Nile Rodgers-esque guitar backing and crisp, soulful vocal from lead singer Doctor Robert (real name Robert Howard). His soulful voice carries on throughout the whole album and becomes increasingly passionate as it unfolds.
How Long Can A Bad Thing Last? is a particular highlight with its sound being somewhere in-between a Michael Jackson solo-effort and with the opening echoes a little bit of the Pet Shops Boys. It describes "that woman on the TV" in its refrain, a blatant referral to Margaret Thatcher and the title possibly refers to her tenure as Prime Minister which would culminate just a couple of years later. The song earns added bonus points for a fantastic lyric in "You think you’re free and you’re so fucking groovy" - it's a line that'll stick in the head of the listener for a while and bears resemblance to a similar line from John Lennon's Working Class Hero. Along with this, Checking Out is brilliantly infectious with the slap-bass backing aiding in painting this funky picture that is lined with yet more political reference to Mrs. Thatcher - "If she gets in again/Well, people that would be the end", implying that the re-election of her as Prime Minister could cause mass turmoil, in the eyes of Doctor Robert.
There are a couple of solemn, more emotional numbers such as the tremendous Beautiful Child that happens to feature the brilliant Curtis Mayfield on vocals too. Unlike the songs above and most of the rest of the album, Beautiful Child's main backing is through a piano and strings. The song is a lot more traditional in nature, echoing some of Paul McCartney's earlier work off of the back end of The Beatles' success - see Maybe I'm Amazed as a point of comparison.
In short, She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter is fantastically satirical and masks its political attacks and references with groovy guitars, powerful vocals and some cracking saxophone solos. For those who love eighties music, there's not really a better place to start than with this, or possibly Turn Back The Clock by Johnny Hates Jazz, but that's for another week!
More musical magnificence to come next week!