17 January 2013

Reupload - Marvin The Paranoid Android/ Metal Man

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 led 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....

(This blog entry was originally uploaded in April 2009. When the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy was remade as a film, a spin-off single involving Zooey Deschanel and Marvin would have been nigh-on perfect, but for some reason nobody was tempted. Spoilsports.)


Ben Baker said...

Although the dreadful 2005 film did have a re-recording of "Reasons To Be Miserable" done by Stephen Fry, giving large credence to the possibility he was the original Marvin and swapped to The Book later. But more importantly, after seeing the film, I couldn't give a flying fuck either way.

23 Daves said...

The film was a let-down, but I hadn't been aware of the work of Zooey Deschanel beforehand, so unfortunately I was transfixed by her for the duration. Her sparkly blue eyes, her lovely skin, her smile.... her sparkly blue eyes, her lovely skin, her smile... all while my wife kept repeating "This is a let-down. It's shit".

KL from NYC said...

Thanks for this one.
I'm from the US and had never heard of it.