24 June 2008

Lieutenant Pigeon - Goodbye

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1976

The AMG music website incorrectly states that Lieutenant Pigeon are a band that were broken by the "eccentric loving" English. Allow me the opportunity to correct that statement here and now. "Mouldy Old Dough" was initially a horrendous flop in the UK, selling a few hundred copies on its original issue. A Belgian television station then began using it as the theme music to a current affairs programme, resulting in the single climbing up the Belgian charts, resulting in it getting reissued here, resulting in a freak success which occurred across the world, not just Britain. Are we clear now? Good. If anyone's to blame for the Pigeon, the Belgians are. The band themselves have even confessed that had the single not taken off there, it's likely there would have been no follow-ups.

For all that, though, it's admittedly hard to imagine another country which could actually have produced the band. Featuring Nigel Fletcher, Rob Woodward, Rob's mother Hilda on piano, and an ever-present stuffed pigeon, they were bizarre even as the average novelty act goes. The above clip shows them fannying around with The Arrows on television, and is an extraordinary oddfest, utilising split screens, sailors marching up and down, and Hilda Woodward grinning rather too enthusiastically into the camera. It's so overblown it's nearly incomprehensible, like some disquieting last vision you have before shuffling off this mortal coil. They look like merry court jesters playing at the gates of the afterlife.

"Goodbye" was the band's penultimate release for Decca. By the end of the decade they'd end up shunted on to various indie labels, putting out other records in the same formula but failing ever to have another hit. They've since been lionised by the likes of Lawrence out of Denim and Jarvis Cocker, but in this particular blogger's opinion it's best not to go overboard in praise for them. They are a lovable curiosity, and across a 45rpm disc can cause enormous entertainment - heard too frequently, though (and especially across a whole album), they can drive a person demented. Trust me.

On the plus side, the proto-Earl Brutus, one note glam rock track "The Villian" (the b-side of "Mouldy Old Dough") should be heard by everyone.


Simon said...

Mouldy Old Dough as the theme to a current affairs show? It's not exactly harbouring the urgent qualities one expects from a topical roustabout, is it?

23 Daves said...

Somebody obviously thought it worked. I can only assume (and hope) that they left the groaning vocals of "MAWWWLDY OLD DOUGGGH!" off the opening credits, though, because that would seriously have undermined the programme's authority.