Friday, 7 December 2012

The ever popular Denim

Not many people write about Denim as they do about Felt. These are bands by the way – not fabrics. I haven’t changed the nature of the writing. It’s still about music. Lawrence – as it simply is - gets all fawned over for the Felt beauty whilst the throbbing and bubbling glam stomping pure rock n roll of Denim is seen as an aberration – a record that poured scorn on the sensitivity and style of Felt. Saying that it’s not as if Felt get written about a lot. Although recent ‘media’ interest in a film with Lawrence (of Belgravia) made a few headlines in the back pages of music magazines. This is of course not true because music magazines don’t put those sort of things in the back of the papers. And if I’m honest I don’t read music magazines – or as they were called in my day – the music press – the papers as avidly anymore. So I may have missed a six page feature on the Rise and Fall of Lawrence. I somehow feel that I haven’t – but you never can tell.

Paul and me used to buy the music papers – you know - read it in the press.

There was a lot of them back when we wore donkey jackets to protect us from the cold on our walk into town. Broke and on the dole. Just hanging around. Uptown. We would buy nearly all the music papers every week – there was writing in there. Lots of words about records and that - it was relevant and irreverent.

We would only buy Sounds if we had too. It was a bit metal in the eighties. We weren’t metal. But each to his own. Paul did once own an Iron Maiden picture disc and I bought Gillian’s New Orleans on 7 inch in Boots. In the precinct – just down from WH Smiths – I think you can say that made us ‘metal’ for a week or so. But I never could take to the clothes. You need creases in your trousers – give it an iron and that – and the denim is so faded – I like mine dark.

I couldn’t get enough of Denim when I first heard them. The excitement had been building for months in our Scunthorpe bedroom - as Paul (my brother) and I read of Lawrence’s plans to form this group, this rocking behemoth of a band. Two drummers. Synthesizers and guitars and Lawrence’s studied coolness. Denim were so much more Britpop than any of that unnecessary nonsense that came out in the nineties. They were British and they made pop music. Not eccentric or located in the past. Pop music for the day which referenced their youth. Arppeggiated synthesizers and theme tune melodies wrapped in a disdain for the eighties – beautiful really. And again if I’m being honest - sounding so much better than Felt.

I had a wonderful friend at university – who loved Felt. You know - felt Felt – if you get me. I admired his patience – his integrity. You either get it or you don’t. He formed a wonderful band – part in his head – part in real life – Bellevue – they would have been brilliant. They had a master plan – like Felt did.

Except theirs and Felt’s never came off.

Saying that I wanted Denim to be huge – but it wasn’t to be.

If I remember rightly – and I seldom do. So I’m told. We ventured to town – along Ashby Road – past The Beefeater and over Howden’s Hill to Record Village. The home of ‘smart. music – this wasn’t their slogan – I just made it up. But you get my drift – you could buy those alternative sounds of the underground there. You could find good music (if you liked good music – do you like good music?) And we wanted to buy the long player by Denim all bright blue and 70s fonts.

It was the song title ‘I’m against the eighties’ that had chimed with us all. It was everything we had felt in this disposed decade – Thatcher’s ruin. The running down of every public service and any act of collectivism – of organising and protesting – was the norm. You know you’re a teenager and you’re growing up feeling fairly hopeless. Just as she had wanted. Because you can be crushed then – and we are now. This was being left out in the cold and Lawrence channelled all of that into a fix of pop. I took a look around there was nothing going down in the ‘80s. As I have stated previously – music cannot change the world but it can chime with a thought and a feeling. I’m sick of winklepicker kids - mary chain debris. Lawrence achieved that on Back in Denim – this reflection on things past as ‘Robin’s Nest’ synths bubbled and squelched and guitars riffed. Or Middle of the Road that challenged all that coolness and being hip.

I hate to be hip – I want to be square. So there.

I wish I could have seen them perform live. I remember video tapes at the ready for a performance on ‘Later’. They were wonderful. This was what Denim had sounded like in my head. They were making glam rock for a modern age – they were taking a bit of care. This was a band that signed to Boy’s Own at the time. Taking the idea that they were a dance band – rock music was finished – this was about doing it differently. You need different strokes for different folks.

Yet Back in Denim cost so much to make that Boy's Own went bankrupt. Or so they say. Denim were never going to hit big. That was until EMI said they would sign Denim if Lawrence came up with hit material. I mean imagine that – the band already had an album’s worth and here were these A&R fuckers asking for the hits. So he gave them one – a bubblegum pop called Summer Smash.

EMI loved it. It was Radio 1's single of the week.

"It was all set to come out on a Monday," remembers Lawrence. "Then Princess Di died on the Sunday before. EMI melted all the singles down."

Cursed – some might say.Lawrence would go on to form Go Kart Mozart. They're brilliant too. Lawrence tends to add that touch of magic.

So here’s to a Denim revival. It’s 2012. Let’s all have a bit of Lawrence in our lives.

Oh and stick with the clip – I think the beginnings some programme on Spanish television but suddenly Lawrence appears. You can look up the recorded version on line – if you like the beauty and soul in this performance.