May 30 2008, 04:26 PM
Half Man Half Biscuit. Or HMHB, for short. Either you've heard of them or you haven't.
But now you have, which sort of renders the above statement pointless.
These guys hail from Liverpool and have been around for a long, long time. They've written lots of great songs, with a mixture of lyrical genius, sharp humour and plenty of namedropping. But due to their lack of mainstream exposure, they still remain an enigma to many.
A lot of people have never heard of them, probably because they never went to university, or to a gig at their local, or perhaps never got to hear John Peel on the radio. Which is a shame.
Well, it's time to put things right. I, with the help of my loyal sidekick and nemesis Inky (whose idea this thread was, to be fair) aim to redress this injustice and give Nigel, Neil and the rest of the gang their much deserved recognition.
Go here to their website
Download their music
You may want to start with their earlier stuff, so you can get a feel for their musical style without the production values. Permit me to suggest "Back In The DHSS", their first album and the one I was introduced to all those years ago in that grotty house in Sheffield. Ah, halcyon days indeed!
I may, given a little time and much coercion, put some samples somewhere which can be listened to. As you'd expect, these will be lo-fi versions which you can get an idea from but couldn't possibly use in favour of the properly encoded full length super clear versions you can buy. And buy you must, because this is how the lads can achieve their required and deserved status.
Now go. Go forth into the world, safe in the knowledge that your life will be enriched by the presence of Half Man Half Biscuit within it.
May 30 2008, 05:14 PM
All of the above seconded with much alacrity. Their early stuff is excellent in a dingy, post-punky way - they have more than once been referred to as 'The Comedy Fall', a description that is both accurate and a little unjust - whilst the later stuff is a mite more polished, but still with the trademark scathing lyrics that are at once hilarious and thought-provoking.
I'm still awaiting my copy of their latest album - 'CSI: Ambleside', which has been on special order with HMV for an age, but I know it'll be worth the wait...
Jun 2 2008, 10:56 AM
Okay, so has anyone been enlightened yet? Tell me your HMHB tales.
Jun 2 2008, 12:08 PM
Just me and thee, looks like. Oh well...
Given that I was late to the HMHB party - my first purchase was the 'Saucy Haulage Ballads' EP - a lot of my favourite tracks are of a later vintage. In fact, top billing goes to a track from the aforementioned EP - 'Tending The Wrong Grave For 23 Years'. Everything you need to know is in the title - hilarious, yet oddly touching. Otherwise, I love 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' and 'New York Skiffle'. That said, I've yet to hear a Biscuit tune that I don't like.
Jun 2 2008, 12:31 PM
So it does, Inky... oh well, here's a thread just for us!!
It looks like our HMHB paths are the complete opposite; I'm more into the older stuff, largely because I haven't kept pace with the newer output. This seems to tie in with the same sort of time I got fed up of trawling through second hand record stores because I'd already accumulated the back catalogues of every band I actually cared about.
I'll never forget my induction to HMHB; one of my housemates had their first album (Back in the DHSS) on vinyl and he played it for me. Hearing the opening lines of the first song, "God Gave Us Life", I was immediately hooked to the glory of HMHB:
What did God give us, Neil?
God gave us life, Nigel.
John the Baptist knows the score
Later on, in one of his leaner financial periods, he sold me this record for two quid. It still sits in my record collection to this very day, alongside the follow-up "Back Again In The DHSS".
Jun 2 2008, 01:46 PM
Two quid Biscuit? Bargain!
Part of that lyric reminds me oddly of the stupid/genius outburst of "can you hear Talvin Singh?" in 'Blood On The Quad' (from 'Saucy...'), a triffic number about shooting over-priveledged Oxbridge students, which ends with the disclaimer "this sounds like a class rant, but it's really because/I am the landlord of the pub that gets the cemetary trade". Darkly amusing.
Jun 2 2008, 02:10 PM
I love the way that Nigel Blackwell works his lyrics, sometimes dark, sometimes vicious, but always funny. Is there later stuff as biting as their earlier work though, Inky? They do get rather vitriolic:
I heard an ugly rumour that Bette Midler had a tumour,
So gleefully I went to tell my friends.
(from The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman
Halfway up the Wrekin with an empty flask of tea,
A fog descends and takes away my visibility,
Yet in this Helen Keller state I'd still quite like to know
Why is Rod Hull alive and getting paid as well?*
(from Rod Hull Is Alive - Why?
But I love all that nastiness when it's done so tongue in cheek. Especially on "I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)", which goes on about walking skeletons making a nuisance of themselves before wading into a rousing chorus of "I hate Nerys Hughes!!" shouted several times, completely non-sequitously.
Speaking of non-sequitirs, you can buy a replica Dukla Prague away kit here
. This is the one that Nigel would have been referring to in the song.
*Incidentally, this is no longer true, as Rod Hull passed away a few years ago after he accidentally fell off the roof of his house whilst trying to fix his TV aerial. How ironic that, after spending years dying on television, that it would be television that killed him...
Jun 3 2008, 06:56 AM
Yes, they have spite and vitriol in the later stuff. They've mellowed slightly, but they still have time for nuggets such as this:
Your stupid bastard!
How was I supposed to know
That you were turning to the left?
I'm not a mind reader!
You shall be cast away into the fiery pit
And in the fiery pit
There are eternal sleeping policemen.
('Twydales Lament' from 'Achtung Bono')
More often, though, there is some good old British moaning, like this one that made it partially onto my sig a while back:
Is your child hyperactive or is he perhaps a twat?
Sometimes I like to watch wave rage down on Fistral Beach.
Last Ash Wednesday I had tantric sex and it was shit.
Next Ash Wednesday I may strive to lick my elbow.
('Surging Out Of Convalescence' from 'Achtung Bono')
(For the confused and other Americans, Fistral Beach is a location in Newquay famed for its surfing. As you may expect, every second resident is an Australian, and every second Australian works in a bar.)
Jun 3 2008, 09:49 AM
Sounds to me like they've mellowed a bit. But on the moany front, they've always been able to manage that:
One day I knocked upon his door and said that I was passing,
Charlie launched a scathing attack.
When I asked him what I'd done he said, "You stupid bastard,
We live in a cul-de-sac".
("The Best Things In Life", from Back Again In The DHSS)
But you have to love the humour - These nuggets robbed from classic TV commercials of the eighties:
If you ever wondered how you get triangles from a cow,
You need butter, milk and cheese, and an equilateral chainsaw
("99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd" - from the Dairylea advert)
If eight out of ten cats all prefer Whiskas, do the other two prefer Lesley Judd?
("99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd" - Whiskas cat food)
A million housewives every day, pick up a can of beans and say
What an amazing example of synchronisation
("Venus In Flares" - Heinz Beans ad)
Jun 3 2008, 04:34 PM
Another thing I like about them is their deft method of inserting the names of (often obscure) bands and musicians into their work, such as:
Trying to be Mansfield's very own Steve Malkmus
I could've been like Lou Barlow
But I'm more like Ken Barlow
I've been here and I've been there
In my Joy Division oven gloves
I've been to a post-punk postcard fair
In my Joy Division oven gloves
(Joy Division Oven Gloves)
Some say, one day, one of these fine nights
The council's going to ask Radiohead to turn off Blackpool lights
(On Passing Lilac Urine)
And various others that I fail to remember. It's all good...
Jun 4 2008, 12:33 AM
So I went ahead and took a listen.
Then I spent some times considering the depths my life has been missing.
Then I decided the music was a little pop-ish for me.
Reccomend me a song, so I feel better about myself.
Jun 4 2008, 09:11 AM
QUOTE (monkey_called_narth @ Jun 4 2008, 01:33 AM)
Then I decided the music was a little pop-ish for me.
What? You think the Biscuit are too pop-ish?? Are you raving mad???
Oh, no, you aren't. Oh well, looks like I've blown that gag...
Perhaps your style is more starting at punk and working out to the indecipherable growling and multi-limbed drumming antics of thrash. In which case I point you at the noisefest that is "I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)" or perhaps "Trumpton Riots", or even the wall of sound that is "I Left My Heart In Papworth General".
I personally think of pop music as being a keyboard and drum machine, with samples from superior recordings, and lyrics being half-arsedly "sung" by young, vivacious (and quite likely precocious) people who are deemed "attractive" by the media, before being flushed through a vocoder to make it sound like they can sing. For me, any artist who can pick up a guitar and actually play it, can sing and is actually able to write their own lyrics, automatically transcends the definition of "pop". And that includes McFly.
But I congratulate you on your use of the suffix ISH.
Jun 4 2008, 07:39 PM
Not so much. I tend towards more of 'plot to blow up the eiffle tower', 'house of heroes', 'channels', 'form follows failure', or 'peggy sue and the pirates'.
I said they were a little pop-ish, not that they were bubblegum bastards. I only got to listen at random tho, but thats why I asked for song reccomendations. A list of five really good ones would be pleasent.
Then I don't have to listen at random.
Also there was a song I liked a great deal, but for some reason... I can't find it again. Somthing about perservatives on a table?The plot- noise/punkChannels- them f*ing around, no good sound clip of songs.FFF- this band is local to me. these videos all sound like crap.peggy sue
Jun 5 2008, 10:08 AM
To be honest with you, Narth, the Biscuit aren't really about the music anyway, it's all in the lyrics. For me, it's like watching movies in high definition; if you're busy counting the wrinkles on Harrison Ford's face, you clearly aren't enjoying the film. It's the same with HMHB, if you're concentrating on the sound then you're most likely missing the barbed comments about some celebrity or other.
Jun 5 2008, 09:43 PM
Hey! I liked the lyrics I've heared so far! Which is why I'm asking for good songs. O.o
*refers to post ask abouting the name of a song above.*
It's not always about sound. Mind you, I dig prince myshkins, whitch is saucy polka music.
Jun 6 2008, 11:13 AM
Well, to be honest, musically they aren't that tight in the earlier part of their career - I'm sure my learned friend Inky could assist with later tunes which may be more polished, but I'm not as well versed in those as I've only very recently come into possession of any of the later stuff and I've not had chance to listen to them.
If you can get hold of a copy of "Back Again In The DHSS", I'm sure that will go some way to sating your needs. It's a fine album, not as rough cut as it's predecessor.
Jun 9 2008, 09:49 AM
I got it! I finally got it! 'CSI: Ambleside' plopped onto my welcome mat on friday morn, allowing me a full weekend of listening before returning here.
It's good. It's odd, though. They seem to have decided to tackle a wider musical brief. There's familiar stuff where they mix a folky aspect with a punky racket - 'Evening Of Swing (Has Been Cancelled)' and 'Blue Badge Abuser' being prime examples - and a couple of more straight-up folk numbers - 'Lord Hereford's Knob' and 'Petty Sessions', the latter being some top mithering to the tune of the Hokey Cokey.
There's also a tune that wouldn't have sounded out of place during The Fall's classic 'Hex...' days that goes by the name of 'National Shite Day', and which simply begs to be heard.
Oddest of all though, is 'Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show'. Whilst it takes the crown for best title, it also represents a real departure, with a bouncy, bass-heavy tune and what must hesitantly be referred to as a rap vocal. No wait, don't go - it's actually surprisingly good, with a couple of prime Biscuit lyrics.
Jun 12 2008, 10:15 AM
Ahh, managed to get my mitts on some of the back catalogue. Specifically Godcore, Four Men Who Shook The Wirral and Achtung Bono. Unfortunately they are all in the M4A format and since my music streaming devices don't support the fruit-based codec, I've got to re-encode them all into good old MP3. Arse biscuits
Jun 16 2008, 11:56 PM
Lenny Henry! Lenny Henry!
You're FUNNY! You're FUNNY!
Jun 18 2008, 09:30 AM
Jenny Eclair! Jenny Eclair!
You're dead funny too.
Skinner, Baddiel, Anderson, Brand!
Oh, nurse, soothe my sides
Oh, what a funny old world it can be
Can't help thinking there's a hint of sarcasm in there...
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