25 February 2013

Pam & The Paper Clips - Typing Pool/ Dear Katie


Label: EMI
Year of Release: 1980

Joining the ranks of "flop seventies and eighties singles which sound faintly like The Scissor Sisters" is this peculiar cut from the beginning of the decade which always seems to be illustrated by Rubik's Cubes by unimaginative arts editors and album sleeve designers. Information on this one has been difficult to come by, but there is one notable factor that makes it of particular interest to comedy fans - Nigel Planer (aka Neil out of "The Young Ones") co-wrote the A-side and certainly sounds as if he's handling some of the vocals.  Additionally, rumours have persisted for some time that the "Pam" here is Pamela Stephenson, and while it certainly sounds as if it could be her, there's no concrete evidence to prove this.

Sonically this disc is surprisingly acceptable, consisting of a collision between disco basslines and new wave quirk, two things which were highly in favour at the point of its release.  Comedically, however, it's a tad too bitter and scathing to actually be funny, and largely consists of Pam sneering angrily at her lecherous boss, complaining about sexism, glass ceilings in the workplace and the drudgery of a dull administrative job.  "Such a stupid little man/ How I wish that he was dead/ Don't wanna sit upon his knee/ I'd rather trample on his head" she snaps towards the end of the record, and it sounds genuine despite the rather "dopey secretary" voice she puts on mere moments before.  Any chirpy Lene Lovich styled oddballness is punctured by the vitriol of those lines.

Whilst it's not surprising that this flopped in 1980, it's surprising that this disc has fallen so much by the wayside since, purely because anything involving a member of "The Young Ones" team would usually be avidly snapped up by collectors.  The only conclusion I can sensibly draw is that Planer decided to tipp-ex it from his CV, which is a strange thing to do given that it's actually a lot better than the solo single ("Hole In My Shoe") he'd put out as Neil some years later.



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