6 April 2009

Marvin - Marvin The Paranoid Android (b/w "Metal Man")

Marvin the paranoid android
Label: Polydor
Year of Release: 1981
There are two songs I know of which reference a "paranoid android" - one features the line "kicking screaming gucci little piggy", the other "you know what really makes me mad?/ they clean me with a brillo pad". Guess which one this isn't?
The mania surrounding the television programme The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in the early eighties was decidedly odd and almost unprecedented for a BBC2 show which only managed one measly television series, and the enthusiasm for its most popular character Marvin the terminally depressive robot lead to this particular spin-off single. Whilst this failed to get inside "the only chart that counts" on Radio One, it did pick up a surprising volume of airplay and became a favourite during my childhood. I recently rediscovered it in a second hand store in Walthamstow, and upon getting it home was astonished by how geriatric it sounds now. What originally seemed like a piece of synthesiser wizardry with jokes thrown in now sounds like a rather creaky b-grade version of Landscape. I also had a false memory of it using parts of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" in the mix, but in actual fact the chorus only bears a faint resemblance to that particular tune, although one has to wonder whether it's coincidental.
For all my carping, this single is far from being the worst spin-off effort I've ever heard, managing to perfect the balancing act between humour and an engaging tune, the net result being a fair imitation of a Gary Numan record with lyrics by Douglas Adams, which surely any sensible person should wish to hear. It certainly dumps from a big height all over rival robot Metal Mickey's vinyl drek which dogged the same decade, although he too would have to be remembered in a song title by somebody else - in this case Suede - before getting a mention in the big Top 40 rundown. It's a peculiar old world.
Life, don't talk to me about LIFE....

6 comments:

Cocktails said...

I have psyching myself up to listen to this since you posted it, and well, it doesn't disappoint. It's decidedly weird, especially that 50s style synth guitar sounding riff that appears at random moments. Would you ever get a robot saying 'happiness has been destroyed' on a record these days?

And was there really a Metal Mickey spin off single? Are you going to post it??!!

23 Daves said...

I'm glad you got something out of it! It's probably only fair that you got to hear it, anyway, since it was a Wood Street Market buy out of their "new stock" - and I've no doubt you'd have snapped it up if you'd seen it first.

As for Metal Mickey, I'm sure a few singles were issued and that I actually heard one of them and thought it was awful, but I can't find any evidence of this online. I don't own any copies, either, so unless this turns up at some point, I'm afraid I won't be uploading...

FeedbackReport said...

There were two Metal Mickey singles - a full version of the theme tune, and an earlier 'Mickey's Boogie' or somesuch, issued while he was still naught but a humble prop on Saturday morning Bill Oddie vehicle Saturday Banana.

Both are horrid.

Cocktails said...

You've no idea how disappointed I am to hear that the Metal Mickey songs are not up to scratch.

garrysclater said...

Does anyone know where I can get the other song Metal man on the b side of the oringinal paranoid release

23 Daves said...

It's part of the zip download above - choose Megaupload, and away you go.