What: Grahame Lister – Fish ‘n’ Chips In Spain
Year of Release: 1988
Where: Reflex Records, Albert Road, Portsmouth
Now, there are two Graham Listers in this world I am aware of – one spells his first name with an ‘e’ on the end and co-wrote “Star Trekkin’” and “Arthur Daley” by The Firm, but predominantly works in the genre of country rock. The other is a comedy character created by Vic Reeves who is on concessionary benefits. Guess which one this record isn’t by (although you’d be correct in thinking that I bought it in the vague hope that it was some rare, undiscovered early Vic Reeves single)?
Before I begin my little critique of this novelty record, I feel duty-bound to emphasise the positive aspects of it. I get the distinct impression that a boardroom full of marketing executives really didn’t come up with the idea for this, and as such it has a certain naïve appeal. Well, let’s be honest, can you imagine Simon Cowell* coming up with the idea of producing a country rock tinged record about people getting pissed and going out on the pull in Spain? He would never sanction it. I’m no expert myself, but the guesstimate I would give as to how many people that combination would appeal to is approximately fifty. There are no all-night line dancing parties on the Costa Del Sol. I’ve looked online and checked.
Really though, that’s as far as I’m prepared to go with my praise. This record is breathtakingly, gobsmackingly, teethgrittingly, cat-murderingly f__king irritating. I say this as somebody who actually thought “Star Trekkin’” was quite amusing before it got overplayed, and felt that “Arthur Daley” was charming enough in its own way – but if I was planning to become a fan of Mr Lister, he let me down here. This is an incessantly chirpy bug-eyed monster of a single, combining what sound like the worst aspects of a Billy Ray Cyrus disc with cockney lyrics about holiday romance, “chatting up birds”, having “summertime fun”, and (obviously) fish and chips. The funniest line is “Si Si Senorita, Monty Pyfon is me bruvva-in-law”, but by the time the record gets to that point you feel like shattering the pissing thing. It Is Utter Guff, but it’s so unspeakably bad it’s actually a small achievement. It feels like he’s designed this deliberately as some kind of finely tuned sonic weapon. Not only do you hate the thing, but one play of it and you find it lodged in your brain, immovably, for the next week.
Grahame Lister (pictured above, LOOK AT HIM SNIGGERING) is a respected country musician in his native Australia, and I know for a fact he doesn’t usually produce music of this foul nature. His partner in crime here, Brian O’Shaughnessy, has produced Primal Scream, Saint Etienne, Denim, and Misty’s Big Adventure, and as such is automatically elevated into my own personal rock and roll producers hall of fame. The pair of them, however, should at least be given a mild ticking off for this. Whenever I’m asked to name my least favourite song of all time, it’s always somewhere near the top of my list – and if only I'd strode past the bargain section of the second hand record store on that fateful day, I may have remained utterly ignorant of its existence. The fact this never made its way on to the summer Radio One playlist is also proof that there may well be a deity of some kind looking after the human race.
(*That said, early on in his career Simon Cowell was daft enough to dress up in a dog costume to promote a record he’d released of canines tunefully barking. That would be a prime candidate for inclusion on this blog were it not for the fact that the thing miraculously scraped into the top 40 – so perhaps he’s not so daft after all).
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