15 February 2009

Elvis DaCosta/ Pinchers/ Neil Hannon - Need Your Love So Bad


Label: Redbridge
Year of Release: 1998

What's fantastic about the internet - or thoroughly grim, depending upon your point of view - is that the odd slips artists make when traversing the rocky road of fame are no longer locked in the record company vault forever. If musicians have a skeleton in their cupboards anywhere at all, which most of them do, it only takes one person to submit the mp3 to Sharebee and it ends up becoming common knowledge.

There again, I've never really quite understood why people are so ashamed of their pasts. Does a twenty two year old man permanently grit his teeth at night, unable to sleep about some dreadful piece of juvenile trash he wrote aged twelve? One would hope not. And when we come to listen to this oddity from Neil Hannon recorded ten years ago, I hope we don't poke the finger at him for a whole number of other reasons besides. For one thing, "Need Your Love So Bad" was a one-off experiment recorded as a seven inch single that hurt absolutely nobody's pockets that badly. The vast majority of us probably bought it purely because we wanted to hear would it would be like to hear Neil Hannon singing a reggae track (It sounds exactly as you'd expect it to, I'm afraid - a bit of an out-of-place mess).

For quite another thing, this appears to have been recorded out of the kindness of Hannon's heart. Elvis DaCosta did some live work with him, and asked if he could be repaid by having Hannon guest on one of his records. As a result, he flew over to Jamaica to do it, and this was the end result. For as much as such collaborations are talked about in the news section of the music press seemingly every week, very few artists at their commercial peaks actually bother to record limited singles with friends or up and coming musicians, not unless they're given financial incentives to do so. Neil Hannon really had nothing to gain here, and was probably always going to come out of the whole affair sounding like a skinny Irish man fiddling with an alien genre.

At best, "Need Your Love So Bad" sounds sweet and naive, at worst it sounds uncomfortable - and whilst this surely can't have been the intention (although who knows?) it frequently sounds as if Elvis and Neil are singing a love song to each other. But - and this is an explosive, rule-breaking, sentence-beginning "but" - at least it showed a willingness on his part to try something new and risk seeming like a fool in the process, something far too few musicians attempt, sticking with ideas which only exist within their limited comfort zones.

As a footnote, you're not the only person wondering about the sloppy label-glueing work on the photo above, or the incorrect spelling of "Niel" - I thought the same when I purchased the single myself, and probably loudly tutted to myself.

Download here.

Footnote number 2: The more eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed that I've changed the description of this blog slightly so that it's now a lot broader in its aims, allowing the odd flop by an established musician to slip into the mix. It continues my very laidback attitude to blogging - I was never mad keen on setting up a site which focussed purely on one era of music in the first place, as I'm sure you've noticed. There's tons of hidden goodness out there from all eras, and if you want a blog that focusses purely upon glam rock or psychedelia, or even punk, the Internet is your giant virtual oyster.

The narrower the definitions for what qualifies for inclusion on LOTB are, the less fun it is for me, the less material I'll actually find, the less frequently I'll update it, the less anybody will read it, the less the whole damn thing will actually have a point in existing. So yes, there will be more sixties and seventies offerings uploaded soon. And more flop bits and curios from established artists. And more besides. It's just more interesting to me to have a regularly updated blog than one which crawls to a halt as soon as one particular area seems temporarily exhausted.

Or: It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. Thanks.

1 comment:

swishyhair said...

I don't think this is bad at all, after all, it's more 'lovers' rock' (which I personally prefer) than hard reggae. I love to see or hear people doing things outside their comfort zone.

Incidentally, I didn't find this track through your blog post, I found your post through this track, having bought it on CD from eBay. A sticker on it gives different story of the collaboration:

"This is how it happened - Neil Hannon goes to Jamaica on holiday and meets Jamaican singer Elvis DaCosta who asks him to record a track with him. Simple as that. Here is the result of that session."