Nov 15

Pulp singer given honorary degree

The singer studied at the institution when it was Sheffield Polytechnic

Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker has been given an honorary degree in his home city of Sheffield.

The singer picked up the doctorate at Sheffield Hallam University.

Cocker, who has also had success as a solo artist and radio producer, studied at the institution when it was Sheffield Polytechnic.

Receiving his certificate at a ceremony at City Hall, the 46-year-old said: “I’m called a doctor now. Don’t worry, I won’t open a surgery.”

He added: “But I guess if you are a songwriter maybe I could have some kind of musical surgery.

It’s a great honour to be given this, especially in my home town
Jarvis Cocker

“If you had a song with a swollen chorus, or a varicose verse, or if you need a little bit of help I could try and heal your song for you.”

Cocker did an access course at the poly before winning a place at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design in London.

The singer had his big break with Pulp at Sheffield Polytechnic in 1981 when they handed over a demo tape to John Peel, and he invited them to record a session for Radio 1.

The band went on to be nominated for a Mercury Music Prize in 1994 and the following year their single Common People reached number two in the charts.

In the past decade the singer has launched a solo career and also moved into film-making and art.

He told graduates at City Hall, who were there to collect certificates, that he had done most of his learning outside formal classrooms.

“Sometimes people call it the university of life,” he said.

“The only trouble with the university of life is the graduation when you’ve checked out, so it’s nice to actually have a graduation whilst I’m still here to enjoy it.

“It’s a great honour to be given this, especially in my home town.”

Wooo!! Now to get him on the Sheffield Walk of Fame next to Def Leopard!

Oct 10

Im a synth whore, so this is a great article to see (especially with the iconic Gary Numan being the lead picture *swooon*) and one of the reasons why I so adore British pop from the late 70s and early 80s (and why I have had an obsession with Sheffield since I was about 18) Enjoy.

One nation under a Moog

As new BBC4 documentary Synth Britannia shows, the synthesizer first dehumanised then re-humanised British pop, fulfilled the DIY promise of punk, and changed how bands looked forever

Photo of Gary NUMAN

Numan nature: Are ‘Friends’ Electric sent synth-pop overground, changing the face of British pop Photograph: GAB Archive/Redferns

The synth-pop era really kicked off in June 1979, when Tubeway Army’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric? hit No 1. The sound and visuals owed a substantial debt to David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and his stranded alien in The Man Who Fell To Earth. Chuck in some Europe Between The Wars atmospherics and you had the recipe for Visage’s Fade To Grey and The Damned Don’t Cry; Japan’s Nightporter and Ghosts; Ultravox’s Vienna And bringing up the rear were the pioneers, the chaps who’d coined the whole mittel Europa/Mensch-Maschine shtick in the first place: Kraftwerk, No 1 in February 1982 with their 1978 tune The Model. But synthesizers in popular music actually go back much further than the mandroid melancholy of Gary Numan. All the way back to the psychedelic 60s, when American groups like Silver Apples and The United States Of America ditched guitars for oscillators. In 1969, George Harrison put out a whole album of Moog doodles called Electronic Sound. German cosmic rockers Tangerine Dream gradually streamlined their Pink Floyd-wannabe grandeur into a minimal, darkly pulsing, all-electronic sound. Floyd themselves forayed into full-blown synth-rock with Dark Side Of The Moon’s On The Run, whose brain-searing wibbles anticipated acid house. Other proggers like ELP’s Keith Emerson and Yes’ Rick Wakeman performed behind massive banks of electronic keyboards, but tended to use their synths as glorified organs, hamming it up with Bach-style variations and arpeggiated folderol. Far more unearthly electro tones could be heard on the telly via science-fiction series like Doctor Who and The Tomorrow People or at the cinema, courtesy of dystopian movies like A Clockwork Orange, The Andromeda Strain and Logan’s Run. Black music also had its share of visionaries besotted with the synth’s cornucopia of otherworldly tone colours, from fusioneers Weather Report and Herbie Hancock to funkateers Stevie Wonder and Funkadelic.

The British groups who took over the charts were catchy and concise

Photo of KRAFTWERK Kraftwerk Photograph: GAB Archive/Redferns

Black or white, these precocious knob-twiddlers all had a freakadelic, proggy mindset: they dug synths for the “far out, man” noises they generated, so they let rip long, noodling solos or oozed out abstract dronescapes. None stood a chance of troubling the hit parade. In some ways the crucial word in synth-pop isn’t “synth” but “pop”. The British groups who took over the charts at the dawn of the 80s were catchy and concise. Here they followed the lead of Kraftwerk, who were not only the first group to make a whole conceptual package/weltanschauung out of the electronic age, but were sublime tunesmiths. It’s righteous that Kraftwerk’s long-awaited remastered catalogue is getting reissued at almost the same time as the long-awaited remastered catalogue of the Beatles, because Hütter & Co rival the Fab Four for both their transformative impact on pop and their melodic genius.

Equally inspiring to the synth-pop artists was Kraftwerk’s formality: their grey suits and short hair stood out at a time of jeans and beards and straggly locks, heralding a European future for pop, a decisive break with America and rock’n'roll. Perhaps even more of a portent here was Giorgio Moroder’s Eurodisco, whose clockwork-precise sequencers and icily erotic electronics forged the connection between synthesizers and the dancefloor, as opposed to the early association of Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze-type music with getting stoned and supine on your sofa. Released in 1977, Donna Summer’s Moroder-produced I Feel Love and Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express divided pop time in two as profoundly as Anarchy In The UK. The 80s begin there.

Bands seized on the cheapo synth as the real coming of do-it-yourself

Conveniently, these singles arrived at a time when synths got vastly more affordable, portable, and user-friendly. As the BBC4 doc Synth Britannia reveals, what once cost as much as a small house (and therefore stayed the preserve of prog superstars) became something you could buy for a few hundred quid, or cheaper still if you mail-ordered a build-your-own-synth kit and were prepared to spend weeks assembling the bugger. Groups who’d been inspired by punk’s confrontational rhetoric and sartorial provocations but who found the actual sonic substance of punk rock to be too ye olde rock’n'roll seized on the cheapo synth as the real coming of do-it-yourself.

Synth-pop went through two distinct phases. The first was all about dehumanisation chic. That didn’t mean the music was emotionless (the standard accusation of the synthphobic rocker), but that the emotions were bleak: isolation, urban anomie, feeling cold and hollow inside, paranoia. In the post-punk underground, that meant Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, both of whom ironically used a fair bit of guitar but treated it heavily with electronic effects. On the pop overground it meant John Foxx and Gary Numan. Gaz also used guitar prominently on his early hits under the name Tubeway Army. The secret of his success was that his music, for all its majestic canopies of glacial synth, rocked. Even when he dropped the guitar along with the name Tubeway Army and went fully electronic on Cars, he kept his flesh-and-blood drummer.

The second phase of synth-pop reacted against the first. Electronic sounds now suggested jaunty optimism and the gregariousness of the dancefloor, they evoked a bright, clean future just round the corner rather than JG Ballard’s desolate 70s cityscapes. And the subject matter for songs mostly reverted to traditional pop territory: love and romance, escapism and aspiration. The prime movers behind synth-pop’s rehumanisation were appropriately enough the Human League (just check their song titles: Open Your Heart, Love Action, These Are The Things That Dreams Are Made Of).

Suddenly pop was packed with duos who divided labour neatly between the composer-operator, and the singer-lyricist

Marc Almond with Dave Ball of Soft Cell in 1982 Marc Almond with Dave Ball of Soft Cell in 1982 Photograph: Eugene Adebari / Rex Features/Eugene Adebari / Rex Features

Soft Cell were also crucial with their songs of torrid passion and seedy glamour. Their lineup – male diva Marc Almond, keyboard wiz Dave Ball – set the template for the first half of the 80s. The new compact synths resembled an orchestra in a box; you didn’t need to have a whole band of instrumentalists. Suddenly pop was packed with duos who divided labour neatly between the composer-operator, and the singer-lyricist: Eurythmics, Yazoo, Tears For Fears, Blancmange, Pet Shop Boys. The shape of a synth-pop outfit was subversive, or at least enough to make rockists uneasy: the rock band’s gang-like structure replaced by same-sex “couples” plus the occasional female diva plus male boffin partnership.

Yazoo were a classic example of this fire-and-ice combo: Alison Moyet’s proto-Joss Stone soulfulness matched with Vince Clarke’s pristine perkiness. Clarke had been the brains behind Depeche Mode, or so everybody thought. Yet he went on to commit a spree of cultural crimes under aliases like the Assembly and Erasure, while it was Depeche who unexpectedly grew into major artists, leaving behind dinky ditties like Just Can’t Get Enough for the musically sophisticated, politically engaged/enraged Construction Time Again and Some Great Reward. The anti-monetarist smash Everything Counts caught the melancholy of that moment after the re-election of Thatcher, while Master And Servant combined an S&M-inspired personal-is-political allegory about power. (”It’s a lot like life”, so “forget all about equality”) with a pop translation of Einstürzende Neubauten/Test Dept-style metal-bashing. Best of all was the haunting Blasphemous Rumours, a jibe at the Almighty which suggested “God’s got a sick sense of humour.”

One running theme in Synth Britannia, voiced repeatedly by Daniel Miller, the founder of Depeche’s record label, Mute, is the notion of electronic music being essentially un-British. But that would seem to beg the question of why the UK became the world’s leading nation for synth-pop, and later the major force in electronic dance music all through the 90s. The truth is that the real kingdom of synthphobia was the United States. But this also meant that American misfits could express their deviance by spurning standard high school fare like Mötley Crüe for “faggy” English electropop. Depeche’s cult following in the States expanded as they turned out to be surprisingly kick-ass live performers on the arena circuit, peaking with a 1988 show at the Pasadena Rose Bowl that drew 70,000. They were bigger still in Europe, almost Beatles-level in Germany, where to this day there are Depeche raves that play Mode music all night long.

A curious thing that comes through watching Synth Britannia is how the futuristic-ness of this music is largely irrecoverable to us, precisely because we live in the future that the synth-pop era helped to bring about. Electronic tonalities are omnipresent to the point of banality, thanks to 90s techno rave and noughties R&B, videogames and ringtones. “Electro” in the early-90s meant cutting-edge, the future-now; nowadays “electro” refers to the kind of sounds that lit up hipster bars in east London through this past decade and then went mainstream this year with La Roux and Lady Gaga, which is to say synthetic pop that doesn’t use the full capacity of the latest digital technology, and is therefore almost as quaint as if it were made using a harpsichord.

With the future-shock aspect depleted, what comes through now is the pop in synth-pop: OMD’s pretty tunes, the aching plaintiveness of Numan and the Human League. Oddly, what’s made this music last are the same things that made the Beatles and Motown immortal: melody and emotion

Nov 26

Mr Cocker came home tonight..

DJ Jarvis after the set finished..

Im trying to upload video and when I get a moment will sort out the setlist I wrote down from the show.. stay tuned for this post here..

Edit 2:

Okay I’ve just woken up and though the show was BRILLIANT! (okay I might be a slight be biased because I’m obsessed with Jarvis, but thats besides the point) Played a great mix of old and new (those songs sound GREAT! if anyone loved Jarvis, youll love the next record!) and told a few stories.. Gave a lecture on Take Thats writing skills and his opinion of their new single as well (why put the emphasis on ‘oh’?? you generally emphasize what you want like ‘Can I have a LAGER mate’, not ‘Can I have a lager MATE’ or something like that.. the vodka is clouding my brain) and showed a few pictures of this great city (me stupidly shouting ‘Thats Sheffield’). Such a good time and such a great performer.

He was on stage for about an hour and a half and then DJ’d the remainder of the night until the venue turned into a club night.  WE stayed for most of it, but my friends wanted to get a few drinks in before the pubs closed, so off to Division street we went. I had an awesome time, and it was just as brilliant as when we saw him at the .plug last year

I still need to grab my phone and upload some video.. I dont have many pics of the performance because we arrived a little later than we wanted to and we had to stand far back underneath the over hang. The camera kept focusing on THAT instead of Jarvis. Stupid technology, not knowing what *really* matters.

Edit 3 – the Setlist:

Further Complicationsr* (thank you Mr Travers)
All Caucasian Band*
Girls Like Today*
Big Julie Rules the World
I Will Kill Again
Big Stuff
Black Magic
Encore 1
Fat Children
Another Fucking Song*
Cunts Are Still Running the World
Encore 2
Dont Let Him Waste Your Time
Cover song (disco he said, but cant find the right lyrics to match)
DJ set for 45 minutes or so

*New Tracks from the upcoming record


First video:

Black Magic

Big Stuff

Ranty Jarvis before the start of the new track, ‘Angela’

Nov 25

No Sleep ’till Sheffield

Great little documentry from circa 1995 about Pulps rise to fame after Different Class’ release.

The ‘real’ story of the song that made Pulp from BBC3

Nov 21


look like everyones blogging!!

mr jarvis cocker has posted a blog as well…

Friday, November 21, 2008

RT 30th Competition & a New Blog

You may be skint, you may be unconvinced, you may just like the thrill of the unknown – if so, why not enter our on-line competition to win free tickets for the up-coming “Looking Rough at 30″ shows? All you have to do is e-mail Mr Ryan McCann at (stating your venue of choice) & he will randomly select 8 lucky winners. What have you got to lose?

Ok,ok, ok – if you were my child you would have been taken off me, due to neglect. I never told you about South America, I never told you about North America, I never told you about Greenland, I never told you about Scott (Walker) Land. But I CAN tell you this: the new era is beginning.Oh yes. Something is happening isn’t it? Things feel different – like we all just woke up after a particularly bad dream. It’s not time to punch the air just yet but it IS time to get out of bed & get dressed. And put some decent clothes on will yer? Concerts in a week’s time; a chance to meet up face to face & breathe the same air. The physical realm DOES exist. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen but I know I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us.

mmhmmhmm i can not wait until tuesday night to meet up at the Disco 2000!!! yayaya

Oct 7

i do, i do. been obsessed with it as long as i can remember and even before i met mike. the human league, abc, heaven 17, cabaret voiltaire, pulp and now with the arctic monkeys… some of the best music in the world comes from this city and more people need to know about it..

dont believe me? well check this out

Also if you enjoy that, you might enjoy this:

made in sheffield: the birth of electronic pop

the full film is available for purchase by going here:

its only £11 for the dvd with shipping.. not a bad buy!