Friday, June 02, 2006

Pulp Discography - Part Nine: Different Class (1995)

Other parts in this series: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven / Eight / Ten / Eleven

So here it is folks. Pulp's most famous, most successful, and if we're honest, best album. I think sometimes people tend to look over it a little now because the five songs released as singles were all over the radio for such a long period, on every indie compilation around, and because Different Class was such an incredibly listenable album that i'm sure i'm not the only person who listened to it far too much when it came out. In fact i'd say I probably listened to it most nights for about a year, and I still play it very very often now. As far as I can remember (bar embarassing stuff, and Michael Jackson), Different Class was the second proper (ooh i'm so rockist) album I ever bought. I got it from my local Tescos about a week after Blur's Great Escape, and about a week before the Eels Different Class. Those three records, along with the Manics' Everything Must Go a few weeks later, were what really inspired an obsession with music that will probably last for my entire life. Different Class had everything you need in a great album. A fantastic frontman, who writes amazing lyrics. Incredibly catchy songs, without one duff track. Great artwork. An overall impression that you're hearing something that comes from a specific world (and for me, one in which I could completely relate) rather than being a bunch of disparate songs. Really any of the songs from this record could have been singles. For any other band, even the album's worst song would be a career highlight. There aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe how good this album is. In years to come (and right now for some oe us), it'll be seen as the defining Indie album of the 1990s, in the same way that The Queen Is Dead was for the 80s.

Album opener Mis-Shapes is a total manifesto for the band, and one which when I heard it I felt totally described my life. I was in a shit all boys inner city comprehensive, surrounded by people whose sole purpose in life was making sure everyone knew how ignorant, and thus supposedly impressive they were, and so Mis-Shapes really meant something to me at the time, and to some extent still does. Pencil Skirt showed that even though Pulp were now household names, Jarvis wasn't going to stop writing stuff that was as filthy, if not filthier, than what had come before. Common People doesn't need describing. A recent BBC documentary about the song was quite enlightening, and for me revitalised a song that i'd usually skip due to overplay. Songwriting doesn't get much better. I Spy is Cocker in his best fantasizing narcissist mode, with some of the album's best lyrics: Yeah, it's just like in the old days. / I used to compose my own critical notices in my head: / "The crowd gasp at Cocker's masterful control of the bicycle skillfully avoiding the dog turd outside the corner shop." / Imagining a blue plaque / Above the place I first ever touched a girl's chest.

Disco 2000 is another instant classic, and a song that Cocker thankfully had banned from radioplay in the year before the millennium. I think if he hadn't done that it would have started to take on the same light as a Driving Home For Christmas, i.e. a song that's always on the radio, and will be forever, but nobody actually likes. As it is, it's a bit odd to hear it now, considering when it came out the millennium did actually seem to be in the far distant future, and now we're on our way to 2010. Live Bed Show is one of the albums more underrated songs, and it's the one i've chosen to put up as an mp3. As heartbreaking as the Sisters EP's Seconds, it's just so good. The album works because it never gets too bogged down with the seediness, and when it does go there, it's usually done with a sense of sympathy rather than mocking. I'm guessing it's a song a hell of a lot of people could relate to. Something Changed is the most pure love song Jarvis' has ever written (except perhaps My Lighthouse), and another great choice for a single. The same can be said for Sorted For E'z and Wizz, which in my eyes holds the mantle for the greatest song about festivals ever written (well modern ones anyway, i'll let Joni's Woodstock have pre-1980s ones). The single actually caused some controversy when it was released, as the sleeve explained how to make a paper wallet to smuggle drugs into clubs. This led to a lovely Daily Mirror frontpage headline of 'BAN THIS SICK STUNT.' Happy days.

F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. is the album's only monologue, but it's a bloody fantastic one, and i'd probably pick it as my favourite song on the record. This might be down to the fact that I can compare the details of the track to my own experiences, but it's also down to just how good the vocal performance is. Underwear is another typically sad and wonderful track about modern living and lust, and Monday Morning is another underrated classic in which Pulp somehow manage to use ska elements without sounding like idiots. Hurrah. Album closer Bar Italia is anthemic, sad, uplifting, funny, and never gets old.

Common People hit the number 2 spot in the singles chart in May of 1995, only beaten by evil TV stars Robson & Jerome's cover of Unchained Melody. History has shown which of the two songs is best remembered. However Common People did keep Michael Jackson's Scream single at the number 3 spot, and it wouldn't be long before Jarvis and Jackson would face each other on a slightly different stage. The Mis-Shapes / Sorted double A-side also hit the number 2 spot in September 1995, only beaten this time by Mick Hucknall's Simply Shit with Fairgrounds. Urgh. Different Class came out a month later and hit the number one spot on the album chart, and stayed in the UK top 100 until the release of Pulp's next album two and a half years later. The Disco 2000 single came out in November 95 and hit number 7 in the single chart. It featured the lovely bside Ansaphone which i've put up for download below. The album's final single was Something Changed, which hit number 10 and featured the bside Mile End (previously featured on the Transpotting soundtrack), which is also up for download.

More info on Different Class at wikipedia or Bar Italia. Videos for the singles can be seen on YouTube: Common People / Mis-Shapes / Sorted / Disco 2000 / Something Changed. There are live videos galore on there too, but i'll let you find them yourself. Enjoy.

Download: Pulp - Live Bed Show - MP3 2.4mb

Download: Pulp - Ansaphone - MP3 2.7mb
Download: Pulp - Mile End - MP3 3.1mb

Discography: (click to buy @

It (1983)

Freaks (1986)

Separations (1992)

Intro (1993)

His 'N' Hers (1994)

Masters Of The Universe (1994)

Different Class (1995)

This Is Hardcore (1998)

We Love Life (2001)

Truth And Beauty


Ultimate Live


Blogger liz o. said...

Interesting, I didn't know that Cocker had "Disco 2000" banned for a year. Here in the States, that song reached its zenith from 1999-2000. Like Pulp's other work, it never really got played on the radio, but it was all over the clubs. I'm pretty sure that I got no fewer than five requests for it every night I DJed during those two years. By 2001, I hoped that I would never have to hear it again. Now, I won't running screaming if I do hear, but I don't think I could ever play it again (never say never, though).

4:49 pm, June 02, 2006  
Blogger Chris Brown said...

Apparently Pulp withdrew the public performance licence for the song in the UK for 1999, which is an incredibly rare thing to do but they clearly didn't want it to become insufferable: Island did rerelease the single though.

I can understand why some Pulp fans prefer to think that other albums are better, but I certainly agree that it's their definitive work - even if it doesn't have all their best tracks on it, it's consistently impressive and about the right length too. With more than a decade's hindsight, I think it has a very strong claim to be the best indie album of the decade but history seems to have determined Definitely Maybe as the defining one, and look where that's got us. I think the comparison with the Smiths makes some sense, but this album is a lot more fun than any of theirs.

9:53 pm, June 05, 2006  
Blogger liz o. said...

I find it odd that Definitely Maybe would be considered the defining album of the 1990s in the UK. Then again, in the US, there isn't even room for discussion that something from the 1990s might actually be more significant than Nevermind. I see Pulp (and Elastica, alongside a handful of others that were considered cult artists in the US) as sort of a bridge betweenthe post-punk/new wave/whatever sounds of the 1980s with what is going on now with the British groups that are big Stateside (Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, etc) and the American counterparts.

1:31 am, June 06, 2006  
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