Published: September 25th 2011September 25th 2011
In the days before downloads, albums had inner sleeves with lyrics, pictures, credits and sometimes witty little notes. Above the lyrics on the inner sleeve of Pulp’s classic, ‘Different Class’, was the note ‘N.B. Please do not read the lyrics whilst listening to the recordings’. It was one of many touches that set Pulp apart from so many other bands of the time. Can you imagine Oasis asking you so politely to sit down and read the words they had written? Can you imagine anybody wanting to sit down and read Oasis lyrics? Different class, however, was different. Every song was a tale, a glorious re-enactment of the life of the average man. The characters on those songs were people we had all seen, sometimes even been. And if you had sat down and read the lyrics to its closing song, Bar Italia, you would already know where we were going. The song doesn’t just hint at the places we could go if we were to be influenced by it, the song gives us the directions. As Jarvis Cocker puts it towards to end, ‘it’s round the corner, in Soho’.
There wasn’t, in fact, a need to go as far as sitting down and reading the lyrics to Bar Italia. While the directions were deep down in the last three lines of the song, if you go around the corner in London’s Soho, you will find a bunch of drinking establishments. One of them is called Bar Italia. And so, like the song, it seems fitting that we should end up here after a night’s drinking in the capital. I’m not going as far as suggesting we should go on an all night bender and grab ourselves an early morning coffee there while the rest of the world goes to work, but a few drinks never hurt anyone, surely?
While we are on the subject of ‘Different Class’, it seems almost rude not to mention its lead single, ‘Common People’, one of the greatest songs ever written, and probably more influential to me than almost any other song as it was released just at the time that my musical tastes were expanding beyond what some executive in a smoky office decided I would like at any particular time. The video featured Pulp playing out their hit on a proper retro disco dance floor, one that still exists today at Stepney’s Nightclub, also, as luck would have it, in London. Sadly, Stepney’s closed down in 2008, but the dance floor remains, and there have been so many celebrity-endorsed petitions to re-open it that I am living in hope that maybe it is back to its former glory. Surely, while we are in London, we can’t miss the opportunity to at least find out? Everybody hates a tourist, especially one that thinks it’s all such a laugh, but while we are there with a concept, why not?