Year of Release: 1981
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.)