Antonomasia's Reviews > Mother, Brother, Lover: Selected Lyrics

Mother, Brother, Lover by Jarvis Cocker
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's review
Dec 30, 14

really liked it
bookshelves: music, poetry, 2012, decade-2010s
Read from March 12 to 15, 2012 , read count: 1

Why only 4 stars from a big fan of Pulp and Jarvis, and who likes the design of the book?

I would have liked more explanatory notes and background stories, mostly. There are some of course, but far more about a few songs than about most of them - 38 pages of notes for 70 songs (including several pages of a story Jarvis wrote for Time Out).

Also, the lyric selection, whilst generally good, sometimes misses the mark. Apparently Jarvis doesn't like a lot of his earlier material even though many others - collaborators and fans - disagree; perhaps this is why some fantastic older Pulp lyrics aren't here, such as Death II, Death Goes to the Disco, Live On and Styloroc: Nites of Suburbia. And there are a few very weak later ones, such as Help The Aged, which really shouldn't be in this collection.

In the introduction, Jarvis describes his own relevatory experience, listening to Pink Floyd as a teenager, of the way in which reading lyrics can diminish a song. Occasionally this happens here, for example with This Is Hardcore a song much of whose sense of dread and deadness comes from the music and the delivery of the words.

But more often than not, I've found that reading these lyrics added to the songs. The dense story of the Inside Susan trilogy comes into its own on paper, for one.

Unlike everyone else of my age in Britain, I've never been that keen on most of the Different Class album (nor am I that into Pulp's subsequent work). But, wow. The lyrics from that album stand alone as poetry. They are serious five-star stuff. Common People has an insight and almost painful bite which is easily concealed in the poppy tune that became an indie-disco cliche. I prefer the Different Class lyrics without the melodies. The lack of sound - of the singer's own voice - also makes Jarvis' character songs from throughout his career easier to discern and understand.

The era of His N Hers (and its B-sides) and Different Class still read like the artistic high watermark, with most great lyrics uninterrupted by lesser ones - but the development and change of Jarvis' artistic voice as he grows older is still very interesting. There is a dark and self-deprecating awareness that comes in from This Is Hardcore onwards. A commentary on the id underlying the public persona of Jarvis Cocker the national treasure. (The nation's favourite ... dirty old man?). And perfectly encapsulating facets of pop music and entertainment media itself, Fuckingsong: "every time you play it I will perform the best I can. Press repeat and there I am, and there I am, always glad to be your man. And this way, oh well there won't be any mess, As I assure you that there would be in the flesh".
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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Sarll You're not the only one who isn't in love with Different Class. Some great songs on there, but I'd heard 11 of the 12 songs before the album even arrived, so to me it always felt like a Greatest Hits, whereas part of what I love about Pulp is their understanding of the grammar of an album qua album.

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