KID SHIRT

Sunday, August 24, 2008

THE OVERCOAT



He's funny, is ol' Gogol; seriously damn funny. Laugh-out-loud funny (and I don't laugh-out-loud much at things I read, except when evangelists get caught with hookers or that time that Doonesbury aimed an antibiotic-resistance jibe-joke at believers in Intelligent Design; I'm a former microbiologigist, so I find things like that funny. Poor me.) Gogol: he's loads funnier than that Tom Sawyer.

Everyone pre-assumes he was some sort of serious miserablist cos of the Joy Division association ("Dead Souls"). Sure, he burnt the second part of his novel and blamed it on The Devil, but who amongst us hasn't done that at one point or another? Falling into a deep, deep, depressive, existential crisis? Been there; done that.

Weirdly, I always associate "The Overcoat" with PIL's "The Suit". But I've no idea why, beyond the fact that they sound similar. The titles, I mean...I wasn't suggesting that Gogol's novel made any sort of noise...

I stumbled over an old Kris Need's piece on PIL a few weeks ago and was kinda taken back by their Avant cred around the "Metal Box" era; I hadn't been aware of the fact that they had originally wanted the LP to be a lot longer; like an hour longer (or something similar) and that they'd ditched a whole raft of tracks (anyone know what became of the unreleased Metal Box Sessions; or was that just self-myth-making? Seems strange that they didn't just use them to pad out some of their future albums when they hit artistic/creative problems/differences later on. (Or maybe they did!) Or maybe it's because they also featured Wobble, who had left/was sacked, (depending on who's telling the tale)) They also claimed that they were originally going to release the album without any track-titles whatsoever, but Virgin wouldn't let them (which makes commercial sense obviously; tho the band obv. relished railing against their label; it certainly made them look like badass musical outlaws or avant-pop pioneers. Still, it really felt like they were on a roll at that moment). Yeah, I really like the idea of a titleless album. I also like the hints dropped by the group that they had intended to pepper the album with a bunch of one/two-second noise interludes. PIL: they certainly sounded like an old-fashioned "collective" for a while, back then - like a younger version of the old Rock in Opposition crowd; everyone on equal wages, even the backroom folk - and all that dicking around with emergent video-technology, etc; it sounds incredibly exciting reading about stuff like that now (I must re-read that Wire interview with Levene from a few years back; and would be great to maybe interview someone like Jeanette Lee (she's a co-partner in Rough Trade and apparently manages Duffy these days)) - such a lost opportunity when it all collapsed due to differing drug preferences or whatever. Ah, never mind.

I'm listening to "Close to the Edge" by Yes as I'm typing this. Side One, in fact.

Bet that made you laugh out loud.