Friday, October 01, 2004


You know, it's been really bugging me for weeks what it sounded like, but the penny's finally dropped: "Love Machine" by Girls Aloud is actually "Cyber-Insekt" by The Fall.

Here's how it works: The Fall are holed up in some scuzzy, smoke-filled studio in Salford, half-way through recording an entire LP in three days when MES unexpectedly stands up and puts his jacket on. "Right," he says, stubbing his fag out on Jim Watt's nose, "I'm off out for a curry with the missus..." He checks his watch, then narrows his eyes as he scrutinises the band: "You lot'd better behave yourselves while I'm out. If I come back and find anyone's fooking dicked around with the EQ on that last track I'll give 'em a kickin' they won't forget." He slaps Ben Pritchard around the ear. "An' that means you, cloth-ears. You think I didn't spot your guitar was in tune just now. You must think I'm fookin' stupid, cock. That's comin' out of your wages..." He lights another fag and shuffles towards the door, slapping Elina's ass as they exit the studio.

"All clear," yells Grant Showbiz and he jabs a button on the mixing-desk. Lights flash and an alarm sounds: Arooga! Arooga! The studio reconfigures itself like the living-room on Tracey Island: walls swivel round; old nicotine-stained pictures and wall-fittings disappear into alcoves; an extractor-fan removes the blue fug of smoke; crushed lager-cans, whisky miniatures and (gasp) Mark's 'lucky' Safeway carrier-bag that contains all his recent lyrics are swept away by a metallic robot-hand that comes out of the wall. Members of The Fall shake their hair down into blonde-highlighted designer-haircuts and 90's style pony-tails to reveal that they're actually quite good looking session-players; jackets and shirts are turned inside-out and are now seen to be expensive, preppy-looking gear rather than cheap polo-shirts and walking-boots from Millets.

Girls Aloud slide down fireman's poles in impossibly tight dresses from a hidden hatch in the ceiling as Grant Showbiz temporarily mixes out the discordant guitar overdubs, Mark's mumbled dictophone rants and backing vocals by The Frank Chickens. He carefully re-EQ's everything so that it sounds normal to human ears. Girls Aloud nail the vocals to "Love Machine" in one take and the mix is burnt onto a CD while The Fall sit around drinking champagne and talking in Thames Valley accents about their recent rhythm work on the last Craig David LP until...

Arooga! Arooga! The alarm sounds. "Quick!" yells Jim Watts, "He's on his way back..." On an overhead CCTV monitor the shadowy form of MES is visible lurching his way up the street outside. The room reconfigures itself in reverse: cigarette ash and Stella empties are dumped on the carpet; the walls revert to chinese takeaway-splattered magnolia; expensive haircuts are mussed and Girls Aloud are mechanically hoisted back up through the ceiling seconds before Smith enters the room. He is incredibly pissed. His jacket is rumpled and covered in food stains and cigarette burns. He waves the remains of his dentures at the band. "Whash you fookin' lookin' at, eh?" He tries to light a cigarette, but sets fire to his ear. "Ach, Foook!"

He randomly changes sliders and knobs on the mixing-desk. "Fookin' musiciansh. I'm a fookin' Profeshional, me. Better buck yer ideash up, lads, or I'll get in those blokesh I met in Ladbrooksh... " He grimaces as he taps the side of his head: "Got soundsh in me head, see? An' only I can hear 'em..." He hits the play-button: a raucous, discordant cacophony comes out of the battered old speakers on the wall and Grant Showbiz winces.

"Don't fookin' remember that bit about the negligee, tho'," mutters Smith to himself as he punches Ben Pritchard in the face for the fifth time that day.