Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

And now a word about Pulp

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Reader Sinjin Smith writes: "While reading over your year in review lists, I was struck by your inclusion of Air's latest 'Pocket Symphony' among you top 10. I'm not as fond of it as you are, but that's not the point. I was more intrigued by your thoughts on 'Pocket Symphony' collaborator Jarvis Cocker. I've been reading your columns for years, and I've found nary a mention of Jarvis or Pulp amongst your writing... I'm curious to hear your opinion on them, whether you've even given the band proper consideration, or if you've simply written them off as also-ran/wannabes."

To this I say: Pulp rocked, Cocker rocks, and I've said so plenty of times!

I gave the last Jarvis Cocker solo album its props with a three-star review shortly after its release, and it actually grew on me more as the year progressed. In fact, I will now admit that it definitely deserved a spot on my Top 50 list -- say, somewhere between 20 and 30 -- and because I am a bonehead, I simply forgot to include it. Doh!

I also attacked Pulp's exclusion from The London Observer's list of "The 100 Best British Albums of All Time" when they asked me to give "the yank's perspective" in 2004, and ranked "This is Hardcore" on the list of my favorite albums of 1998. I know I love and gave positive reviews to several other Pulp discs, too, as well as its first live performance in Chicago at the Riviera, but I'll be damned if I can find those articles/links at the moment.

Anyway, I hope you'll grant that I've done Pulp right. The group was certainly light years better than, say, Oasis. Though Blur remains my choice for the best of the Britpoppers.

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I think you might have listed their album Different Class as one of the best alternative albums in your book Milk It.

You are absolutely right, Richard! Thanks for reminding me!

I DID list "Different Class" as one of the 90 Best Alternative Albums of the '90s in MILK IT! (a list I'd be happy to run here, if anyone cares), and it made No. 5 on my list of the 10 Best Albums of 1996 (and ditto with that). AND, I finally succeeded in finding my review of it -- which follows below.

Thanks for keeping better track of my writings than I (sometimes) do!

Pulp, “Different Class” (Island)

Too smart, too British, too kitsch, too precious--naysayers could come up with plenty of reasons to diss the best album by Jarvis Cocker's long-running sextet. But the dozen songs on Different Class were ultimately undeniable, not because of their critiques of the English class system or the campy New Wave-meets-music hall sensibility, but because their abundant hooks and humor never failed to make the day a little brighter.

"Please understand, we don't want no trouble. We just want the right to be different, that's all," reads the manifesto on the back of the CD booklet. Like a lot of great rock 'n' roll, songs such as "Mis-Shapes," "Common People," and "Underwear" celebrate individual idiosyncrasies political, physical, sexual, you name it. But Cocker and pals aren't preachy: They just think freaky people make the party a lot more fun, and in that regard and others, they're the British B-52's.

I couldn't help thinking that if the kids in "Trainspotting" were listening to this album instead of all that retro proto-punk smack-rock (fine as it was in its day), they might have been inspired to explore alternatives to the nine-to-five other than the ubiquitous needle.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on January 3, 2008 2:12 PM.

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