WEA 1984 / Esoteric 2014
Adorably comical TV hippie’s weighty overdose of progressive power’s parody.
Back in 1985, “The Young Ones” became one of the first non-musical series to air on MTV, but who remembers the pull of that channel today, let alone the comedy show that had had its run in the UK the previous year? Still, there was a musically-minded character on the screen: Neil Wheedon Watkins Pye, a long-haired dude played by Nigel Planner, whose take on “Hole In My Shoe” followed TRAFFIC’s original to the Number 2 chart spot and caused the pessimistic insomniac, aghast at its success, a lot of headache. Cue this cure of a record – a miserabilist’s delirium laced with his fave tunes and the songs written especially for the project, all interspersed with spoken word.
Delivered by Planner, with a backing from the genuine art-rock force, and produced by the Canterbury scene stalwart Dave Stewart, classics such as Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” based on a Steve Hillage template, or CARAVAN’s “Golf Girl,” where Pip Pyle and Jimmy Hastings appear, aren’t as much given a novelty slant by sharp cultural remarks as they are reinterpreted with reverential gusto – although not without an occasional lyric change. The inclusion of “God Save The Queen” is no comic, if a cabaret-style, coincidence, of course, as Johnny Rotten was always rather vociferous about his love for clever prog, so for every “No Future” sentiment there’s a dance spin on TOMORROW’s “My White Bicycle” and the “Bad Karma In The UK” rap. So much for the innocence, spoilt in Neil’s version of PINK FLOYD’s “The Gnome” and in a “Cassette Jam” routine which makes its context debut on this reissue, “Lentil Nightmare” can still give any metal band a run for their riffy money, while taking the piss out of KING CRIMSON drama… with a future KC frontman Jakko Jakszyk on guitar, SPOOKY TOOTH’s Bryson Graham on drums and Stephen Fry as a narrator.
This peculiar kind of serious merriment – yes, oxymorons are part of the game here alongside connoisseur’s riddles like “The Amoeba Song” extracted from the INCREDIBLE STRING BAND’s “A Very Cellular Song” – plus multiple references, culminating in a mighty chord to finish the record in the “Sgt. Pepper” vein, make Neil’s effort a pleasurable treat of a trip. As a result, what could have been forgotten, or cherished as a period piece, has stood the test of time and still is funny – unlike MTV.