15 May 2022

K'nuts In May - Living On A Giro/ Round The Edges

Pals of Jona Lewie make a song and dance about signing on

Label: Ritz
Year of Release: 1983

Songs, poems and comedy about the perils of looking for work and signing on were common fare from the early to mid-eighties - perhaps unsurprisingly so given the difficulties many young people encountered finding work. Equally though, living on the dole was a not uncommon way of pursuing creative ambitions without the distraction of a nine to five job draining energy and gumming up the thought processes, which probably inspired a lot of people to write about it as well. 

Keef Hartley, ex-member of pub rockers The Thunderbolts, certainly seemed to know the topic well enough, singing here about searching the small ads and dreaming of a decent little earner. The song itself is surprisingly bouyant and catchy given the despondent subject matter, stuffed with brassy flourishes and swinging rhythms, coming from the same oddball New Wave corner of the music business as The Piranhas and Splodgenessabounds. "Join the army!" suggest some children, only for Trussell to sigh "I don't think they'd 'ave me..." wearily, only for the chorus to push all negativity to one side with more feet-kicking.

Trussell had previously played percussion on Jona Lewie's LPs "On The Other Hand There's A Fist" and  "Heart Skips Beat", and Lewie repays the favour here by picking up the accordian on the A-side (though it's not really a prominent feature of the track). The group otherwise appear to be a cast of thousands, with Tony O'Malley on piano, Malcolm Hine on guitar and bass, Chris Smith on drums, Bobby Henrit on percussion, and Ken Butcher and Andy McDonald on saxes. With a line-up like that, it's a wonder the group managed to earn much money between them, meaning a trip to the DHSS would have been nigh on essential to stay afloat. 

The appearance of the single on the Irish label Ritz is also peculiar, as it tended to specialise in folk and middle-of-the-road Irish artists not chaotic, parping pub rock. Still, it was probably a case of any port in a storm for a group keen to get a record into the shops, but it did them little good and copies are seldom chanced upon these days.

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