1 June 2008
Second Hand Record Dip Part 8 - Mr Angry with Steve Wright
Who: Steve Wright/ Mr Angry (With Grandmaster Maggott)
What: I'm So Angry
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
Year of Release: 1985
"Listen to Steve Wright In The Afternoon. Viewed from a certain angle the man is a genius. Find that angle and view. He is the most popular DJ in the country. He has been the heartbeat of the British psyche since 1985. You don't even have to like him to be awed by him. This... is not an attempt at obvious irony, it is for real."
Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - "The Manual - How to Have a Number One the Easy Way"
I really don't want this blog entry to turn into a giant dig at Steve Wright. Whether we like it or not, there is a certain degree of truth in Bill Drummond's claim that the man has a flair for broadcasting, and at one point had the nation completely under his spell. Whilst much of Wright's show seldom stood up to close comedy scrutiny (unlike Kenny Everett's), as a piece of background noise during drivetime or the early morning, it was frequently immaculately woven, with endless skits based upon rather peculiar English characters which were always familiar enough to be at least vaguely amusing. It also pioneered the zoo radio format without collapsing into self-indulgent chaos - it should never be forgotten that Chris Evans, the alleged "genius" of this format who could have learnt from Steve's lead, frequently waffled on about subjects of interest to absolutely no-one with his buddies for upwards of fifteen minutes without playing a record. Steve may not have played the best tunes, but he always seemed in control and aware of his audience at breakfast time. He knew how to pace his show. Evans frequently seemed like an arrogant sod waffling and winging it.
Now that I've stated my position, which I have no doubt will cause me to be mocked off the Internet, let me cruise in with the big "but". And here it is... Steve Wright blotted his copy book by making bad records, which Chris Evans was sensible enough never to try. In the eighties it seemed sickeningly inevitable that if you were famous in Britain, some record company executive would express an interest in releasing a novelty record with your vocals on it. If you were sussed enough, you knew that this wasn't your dayjob, and you left well alone. If you were Steve Wright, on the other hand, you presumably said "Well friend, I reckon we'll get a chuckle out of that at least. Hey, let's go for it! Catch ya later in the recording studio, bye!"
Very few of Steve's efforts on vinyl raise a smile, but "I'm So Angry" is breathtaking in its capacity to irritate. I always found his Mr Angry character interesting as a very recognisable little Englander, and when I worked in a call centre years later demented Home Counties customers were still referred to as "Mr Angries" by the management. The musical tribute, however, wobbles all over the road uncontrollably in search of a satisfactory hook, drowns in obsessive repetition of catchphrases, and has Steve Wright clearly almost struggling not to laugh in places at how damn hilarious the whole thing is. It's like the sound of a bunch of grown men with stupid voices tooling around to the tune from a whacky local radio advert.
Unsurprisingly, then, it failed to set the charts alight, but its B side the "Angry Rap" (which seemingly fails to feature Steve Wright and is credited to Mr Angry with Grandmaster Maggot - presumably not Maggot out of Goldie Lookin' Chain) is at least bearable, with a couple of halfway funny jokes. Then again, the B side doesn't throttle you screaming "I'm whacky! Laugh at me, laugh at me, please!" like its Alpha cousin.
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