29 August 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 41 - Harry Enfield - Loadsamoney (Doin' Up The House)

Harry Enfield - Loadsamoney (doin' up the house)
Who: Harry Enfield
What: Loadsamoney (Doin' Up The House) (B/w "The B side")
When: 1988
Label: Phonogram
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
Cost: 50p

This single came out with a flurry of press hype at the time. Harry Enfield's comedy career had just taken off in Britain, aided chiefly by his Loadsamoney character, a brash, arrogant, boastful plasterer whose primary hobby appeared to be bragging about his wage packet and mocking the poor. It was, in fact, a pretty well observed satire of southern working class treachery. All around London and the Home Counties during the eighties, young men and women on the make were heard to sneer at their less fortunate unemployed peers. "I've done it, why can't they?" appeared to be the mantra of the times, even though the disparity of job availability between the south and the north of the country clearly helped matters none.

Sociological and political lessons aside, Enfield's character rapidly became popular with the very characters it was supposed to be mocking, and far from being wounded by Loadsamoney, they ended up shouting the slogan at people themselves. It was at this point, probably at the peak of the character's popularity, that this record was conceived. Produced by Beth Orton's boyfriend and (perhaps more notably) studio mainstay of many a Madonna record, William Orbit, the press were quick to have high hopes. "It's a comedy record that will actually be good!" many predicted, ignoring the fact that there have been plenty of good comedy records, it's just they either don't register with the mainstream (most of the Bonzo Dog Band's output) or if they do, they become over-exposed and the jokes wear thin and become irritating (Spitting Image's "The Chicken Song").

What did we get out of the collaboration, then? Not a lot, if the truth be known. Orbit contributes a basic repetitive riff he clearly found down the back of his keyboard, whilst Enfield shouts various things obnoxiously over the top for four minutes. The closest thing on the entire single there is to actual humour is the line "All this scratching's making me rich!" Even that isn't particularly great.

You've got to wonder what both parties make of the collaboration now - it certainly doesn't seem to get mentioned much by anybody anymore - and whether it was regarded as a giant mistake. The popularity of the character ensured that the single became a hit, but although I'm usually reluctant to use the phrase "it's dated badly", the fact the central riff sounds suspiciously like a Garageband loop now means that by 21st century standards, you're left to marvel at the fact that you could probably just as easily have created a similar track yourself within an hour.

The B-side is a dialogue between Enfield and Paul Whitehouse as his "Lance" character, who would later re-emerge in his TV series. This is interesting for comedy fans who can hear the beginnings of one of his characters emerging, but again, the jokes are few and far between. Fortunately, Enfield would continue his comedy to the present day with much better ideas, and wouldn't bother a recording studio again. William Orbit would be forgiven and would continue to have a fine career, the track didn't get played so frequently that it became too much of an irritant, and all was generally well with the world.

Now, if only I could find Mark Williams' "I Wanna Be Together" ecstasy comedown single... which does exist, by the way. I saw a copy of it once in a secondhand store, but by the time I'd returned with enough money, the bloody thing had been bought...


Simon said...

"With the right material Enfield could probably have shot into the top five"? Says here it got to number four.

Harry is, I believe, proud of it, and there were plans for a follow-up Stavros Christmas single which evaporated as soon as the label heard his plans.

23 Daves said...

I just checked Chartstats, and lo and behold, you're right... even though my other source says otherwise. Entry duly corrected.

I've got to admit, I'm amazed it did that well.