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PULP – His N Hers / Different Class / This Is Hardcore   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Thursday, 14 September 2006

Yet more reissues! Hoorah!


Now the dust has settled and the great Britpop wars are over, we can see in the wreckage what really happened. Oasis became a great singles band built on a love/hate dynamic much like the Rolling Stones. Blur have become yet another alias for Damon Albarn’s ego to indulge himself. Pulp faded gracefully whilst Jarvis Cocker became Britpop’s lost poet laureate.


This timely reissues – presumably to kickstart Jarvis’ solo career – offer the usual “Deluxe Edition” treatment of b-sides, unreleased demos and other oddities. The albums themselves are intact in their original beauty. “His N Hers” is a frustratingly uneven and strangely sequenced exploration of the riches of the poor (whomever thought placing a song called “Do You Remember The First Time?” anywhere other than first on the record needs a big pointy black hat with a white ‘D’ on it). “Different Class” is as sublime and perfect as ever : an romantic evocation of class war disco that instantly appealed to those bored of Oasis’ laddish swagger and Blur’s cockneyisms. “This Is Hardcore” is the perpetually under-rated hangover album.


At the time of it’s release, many people jumped the Pulp ship. Time has proven that “This Is Hardcore” meanwhile is a far stronger proposition than 1998 made you think – an exhausted and hopeless realisation of the aftermath. From the way of thinking that maybe it’s not the survivors are the lucky ones, but those who fell in battle were lucky.  The women, as Larkin wrote, clubbed with sex - bored of their men boring into them. The men tired of the supremacy of romance.


The bonus tracks are the selling points of these releases. An assortment of  bsides, bafflingly unfinished demo tracks, and the occasional live oddity, the bonus tracks are a comeptent but frustrating glimpse. The demos presented are only ever unreleased songs : no chance of hearing an embryonic version of “Disco 2000” or a different approach to any known and loved song. And whilst this provides an excellent chance to get dozens of new songs, it also seems to be shortchanging the common people : unlike the recent Cure reissues, each disc has around twenty or thirty minutes of spare space at the end. 


“His N Hers” bristles with new stuff : “Live On” and “The Boss” are the missing link between the bands earlier work and the later pop stuff. Quite why songs like these never came out at the time is a mystery. The b-sides (such as “Your Sisters Clothes”) show an often discreetly hidden OMD influence. “Different Class” meanwhile, offers the couldve-been-a-smash-hit-single “We Can Dance Again” as an absolute highlight. As well Nick Cave drawling over pub rock take of “Disco 2000”.The last disc meanwhile, has the laughable “My Erection”, which sounds like the risible “That Boy’s Evil”, all shapeless vocodering and pondering rhythms that jettison melody at first opportunity. Of the other new songs, meanwhile “You Are The One” and “It’s A Dirty World” are the equal of almost anything on the parent record.


Finally, the absence of a reissue of “We Love Life” seems a little odd. It’s well known that there are numerous unreleased songs from this time that the band finished, and there’s no absence of material : presumably the lack of a MegaUltraInevitableReissueEdition must stem from the lack of sales at the time of release. Overall, these reissues are worthy additions that should answer the prayers of their now 30 Something fans, but still fall short of the benchmark set by Robert Smith. It still seems that there is something in there yet to come out : the absence of demos of known songs, live recordings, even the multitude of remixes to fill out the package overall provides the feeling that, compared to the industry standard, these tasteful and uncluttered reissues fall somewhat short.


But Pulp on a good day – and they had many good days that decade – were better than almost anyone else at their best.If in doubt, ask The Charlatans.


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