21.5.12

DENIM : Summer Smash EP (EMI, 1997)

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It must be "a sign". The sun came out this afternoon - for the first time in weeks it seems - & then this prescient pop gem randomly popped up while I was shuffling through iTunes. So it's only natural that I should post it here, right?

I'm sure you're au fait with the whole agonising story by now. Back in August 1997, Denim were poised to unleash their surefire "top 10 with a bullet" masterstroke, the radiant "Summer Smash" 45. The band had recently completed a highly successful tour support with Pulp (themselves at the peak of the notoriety, Jarvis having wittily clambered onto the Brits' stage a few months earlier), & Radio 1 had added "Summer Smash" to their all-important daytime schedule. Thousands of coloured vinyl 7"s, CD & (I've been led to believe) cassette singles had been pressed & were stacked in EMI's warehouse, ready to be shipped out to the country's record shops (& there were still rather a lot of those back then remember). At which point... Diana, Princess of Wales' chauffeur driven limo slammed into the Pont de l'Alma underpass at high speed & EMI, in an incongruous display of "good taste", cancelled the record's release for fear of further upsetting the grieving nation. All copies of "Summer Smash" were recalled & swiftly incinerated, & the band's completed 3rd album - the elusive Denim Take Over - was subsequently aborted, while Lawrence unceremoniously dropped. Rumour suggests that - actually - EMI had been wanting to off load Denim for some time, & opportunistically used The Queen Of Hearts' untimely passing as a convenient excuse (surely not!). Having vanished overnight, "Summer Smash" became an instant collector's item (copies now fetch £50+ on eBay), while the Denim Take Over master tapes were spirited away to a maximum security vault, several miles beneath Abbey Road (though glitch-ridden mp3 are available online if you know where to dig). A handful of "Summer Smash" EPs fortuitously escaped the rout however, & Lawrence himself claims to have liberated a box of each format before they were junked, so perhaps he's allowed a few to leak out over the intervening years for posterity's sake, & to help perpetuate the myth?

It's strange to think that, if "Summer Smash" had made it onto Top Of The Pops, we might now fondly look upon Lawrence as an eccentric one hit wonder, a momentarily amusing 90s equivalent of 70s chart chancers Sailor or Chicory Tip, rather than the Lieutenant Pigeon-inspired Syd Barrett figure he's since been idly painted as? And it's chilling to consider that he may have become a staple of those ghastly "100 Hit Songs Of The 90s"-type compilation shows that have littered the nation's t.v. schedules for the last decade as a result - a narrow escape, sir! (It's a tragedy that Lawrence's proposed appearance on Ant & Dec's show, driving a dodgem in Mozart attire, never transpired though.)

So then, here's "Summer Smash" in all it's sunburnt splendour, backed with the "Sun's Out" (bed & breakfast weirdness in Paignton with Little & Large) & a wholly appropriate Moogie cover of Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaur's "Seaside Shuffle". As usual, I've tossed in a couple of interesting, contemporaneous extras: the instrumental edit of "Internet Curtains" (b-side of "It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry" & employed throughout the current Lawrence Of Belgravia documentary), the promo-only "Glitter All Over Again" (recorded with The Glitter Band - Lawrence must've been in Glam Rock Heaven!), & the unreleased "Lorra Laughs Cilla". The latter is taken from the suppressed Denim Take Over tapes, but has since been rehashed as "At The DDU" for Go-Kart Mozart's Tearing Up The Album Charts LP. It took me a l-o-n-g time, but I warmed to the gloriously absurd Go-Kart Mozart ("the world's first b-side band") eventually, despite Lawrence's reckless attempts to sabotage the affecting pathos of his lyrics with teeth-grindingly garish & contradictory "novelty rock" accompaniment - "He made The Smurfs sounds like The Blue Nile", as the NME once put it. In case you haven't been taking notes, almost all of Denim Take Over has been plundered for the Tearing Up The Charts & the imminent On The Hotdog Streets albums, albeit with a careful few lyrical amendments ("Denim Take Over" becomes "Lawrence Takes Over", "City Of The Dead" becomes "Mickie Made The Most, etc). Lawrence's songwriting remains stunningly poignant on occasion, bleakly hilarious (or downright barmy) on others, further proof that he didn't senselessly scupper his muse after Back In Denim, it was merely downsizing & self-medicating. That said... I'll always prefer The Splendour Of Fear to Denim On Ice, OK?

13 comments:

  1. I always sensed a bit of last chance desperation with his post Felt stuff but Summer Smash is sort of fun in an inane way.

    Would have been amusing to see it on Now That's What I Call Summer or something but it would have undermined that absolute classic line 'Ain't got no money, ain't got no fame'...

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  2. I think that was Lawrence's ultimate intention with Denim - score a hit single, even a minor one, & then licence it to as many K-Tel style compilations in obscure foreign territories as possible to ensure his pop immortality!

    I bought Denim's stuff at the time (most of it anyway) but only really started to appreciate it a few years ago - I honestly think, on reflection, that some of their stuff is better than Felt's (their Creation period anyway). Scarily, having recently seen the Lawrence Of Belgravia documentary, it seems quite probable that many of Denim On Ice's seedier lyrics are semi-autobiographical... blimey!

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  3. Didn't realise it was actually pulled and thought it had come out much earlier but that'll be my dope addled mind. Denim were supporting BADII (I think) at Mcr's Boardwalk around 1990 (?) but I missed them...

    Hope Occultation will be putting the new June Brides stuff in the post soon...

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  4. It appeared on a couple of pre-release industry comps (for radio, etc), but never made it to the high street. It's not my favourite Denim moment by far though - have you heard Denim On Ice, it's amazing? A bit squalid in places though!

    Ditto Brides/Occultation. They're rapidly becoming a really fine label, simply by keeping their heads down & following their own path. That Opposite Sex CD is bloody marvelous, one of my favs of the year so far. Are you not inspired to kickstart your own imprint again, there's obviously a market out there for the kind of "adult indie" NME steers clear off?

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  5. Just like Denim, V-Sign is currently on ice... Would love to put more stuff out - especially the Toronto compilation that didn't make it but no fucker wanted to distribute anything. It's like 1979 didn't happen...

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  6. whoa, i did not expect this (have never heard of this) [thanks]

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  7. Give Denim On Ice a listen if you've not heard it... Or Instant Wigwam & Igloo Mix... fucked up masterpieces both!

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  8. Mark P22.6.12

    Summer Smash was definitely made as a cassette single, I picked one up at a car book sale a couple of years later.

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  9. Morcheeebus24.6.12

    Does anyone have this CD single as FLAC?

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  10. Answers on a postcard, folks...

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  11. I bought the cassette version off Terry Miles a few years back. Not previously heard the bonus tracks before.

    Someone on the Felt Forum recently posted a link to the unreleased Denim Take Over LP. Here t'is:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?i5ufwadyw25bb6m

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  12. Aha, thanks for that! I've been listening to a glitch-ridden rip of Denim Take Over for AGES now... I see that somebody has posted "Talk Like Noddy" as well - now the cat's REALLY out of the bag, etc!

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  13. Anonymous25.10.13

    Wow ... thanks for this and to Sterling for DTO. Both links still working over a year later!

    Paolo

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