28 July 2008

The Brilliant Corners - Brian Rix/ Teenage

"Not another YouTube update!" I hear you cry incredulously, and my answer is "Yes, I'm afraid so". I was originally going to post this much later on this week, but it's unbearably hot outside, and I fear that if I dig any vinyl out to upload it will simply melt to the turntable. And also, I've been struggling to unearth any facts at all about the single and artist I was planning to upload today, so I'll put it on hold for a bit on the offchance that there's some titbit of information out there somewhere...

But back in the here and now, let's take a look at Bristol's Brilliant Corners, shall we? Unsurprisingly, they were loved and despised throughout the eighties in almost equal measure. One regional magazine I wrote for gave a compilation of theirs nought out of ten on one occasion, and the resulting copy read like the gnashing fury of a man who had been locked into a very bad student comedy revue.

The jangly/ shambling/ C86 scene (call it what you will) may have been many things, but the fans did tend to take their feyness and sensitivity rather seriously, which is why I found the Corners so downright refreshing. Rather than hide behind their fringes and sing about holding hands with girls whilst reading Penguin paperbacks (or insert a preferred stereotype here if you want), their lyrics celebrated their awkwardness with humour. "Brian Rix" has one of the best lines in eighties indie history - "We fumbled around in front of the budgie/ she started to laugh - what was so funny?" followed by one of the most ridiculous choruses ("It's just you remind me of Brian Rix/ when you pull down your trousers it sends me in fits") Eddie Argos would kill for this song. And this video, in fact.

It just about scraped the Top Hundred in 1986, which considering how damn hard it was for indie bands to chart in those times was no mean feat - but then behind the scoffing mockery also lay a top pop song I still play now, over twenty years after its release.

Also worth a view is 1988's "Teenage", which doesn't really show a great deal of progression, but follows the same ridiculous theme exceptionally well.

How well you get on with many of their singles really does depend upon your tolerance levels for humour or at the very least sledgehammer wit in music. For me, lead singer Davey Woodward was the prototype for every self-depracting indie humorist to come out of the British scene since, whether that is Eddie Argos or, spinning further back, the likes of the Sultans of Ping (who I have to confess do irritate the hell out of me). Whether you would like to hang him from the gallows for that or buy him a beer is up to you.

As an aside, I could add that I had a housemate in the nineties who knew him, and said he was managing OK with lots of royalties from Japanese sales. I hope he's still getting the odd windfall here and there to this day.

1 comment:

Simon said...

I imagine he did quite well for PRS out of at least two XFM DJs at the turn of the decade using the Experimental Pop Band's Bang Bang You're Dead as backing/theme music.