By Evangeline Jennings
As far as I can tell, the Talulah Gosh retrospective “Was It Just A Dream?” is officially released today. Although I have a substantial collection of Talulah Gosh recordings and ephemera, I’ll be buying it as soon as my next cheque clears. But how to explain my love for Talulah Gosh?
It’s certainly not the faux childishness which began with their original demo tapes – with hand-crayoned inserts and phoney names – and has been carried forward to the current retro-Gosh t-shirts*
And it’s not the Thank You notes written in a painstaking childlike scrawl in which a future Chief Economist at the Office of Fair Trading says things like “thanks for the review it was dead good.”
And it’s not the allegedly classic single “Beatnik Boy” released in 1986 which was utterly godawful.
It’s the fact they turned punk rock on its head by ENDING a song (“Sunny Inside”) with the eternal one-two-three-four!
It’s “Be Your Baby” – possibly their best moment – in which Amelia Fletcher said No, and said it loud. “Listen, if I’m going to be an indie kid, then I’ll be independent in my choice of clothes, thank you very much.”
You took me out and showed me all the records I should buy
It’s the bleached blonde skinhead haircut that provoked some twat at a music paper into labeling them Nazis when in fact the brother and sister at the core of the band were Jewish.
It’s the fact that Mathew Fletcher was fifteen and fitting the band in around school exams when he wrote that song.
It’s Eithne Farry’s always wonderfully tuneless vocals providing the perfect deadpan counterpoint to Amelia’s lead – never better than when the band hurtle like lemmings towards the edge of the cliff on “I’m In Love For The Very First Time”.
It’s the knowing twist in the tale of “My Best Friend” …
I’ll give you my heart if you’ll give me yours … but I know that you won’t because you’re selfish that way.
It’s also “Bringing Up Baby” – the single Eithne sang lead on – and “Testcard Girl”, the perfect cartoon punk rock song.
Maybe she will marry the newspaper man or the one with the dinosaur missing
It’s the fact that Half Man Half Biscuit referenced them in a song called “Tour Jacket with Detachable Sleeves” – more of a spoken word piece, truth be told.
It’s the smarts and musical maturity of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Thank God)” and the equally splendid cover by the Softies.
It’s the way they ended their final concert – at the London School of Economics, how uncanny – with a cover of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Well”.
But mostly it’s the live tapes and the way Talulah Gosh actually – point of interest – matter of fact – rocked their little white socks off in the most charming way.
People will tell you that the reason to love Talulah Gosh is because of What They Stood For, Who They Influenced, and Their Legacy – which includes the lovely Heavenly, Marine Research, and Tender Trap (but not Cerise. Never Cerise) plus some glorious guest appearances by Amelia with bands as fine as The Wedding Present and Pooh Sticks.
However a thing is what is and not blah blah blah. And so, for anyone who isn’t middle-aged or older, Talulah Gosh are their music, nothing else. And you can make up your own mind by buying the brand new Talulah Gosh retrospective today. It’s everything they ever did – good, bad, and indifferent – plus an extra bonus live concert recording. It’s one I don’t already have, so I’ll be on it like green on red.
*Yeah. I’m getting a bunch for Xmas.