Half Man Half Biscuit – Epiphany (Peel Session, 2004)
In what probably counts as the most important find in any field anyone will make in 2009, the John Peel archivist MP3 blog ”The Perfumed Garden“ actually upped a complete set of Half Man Half Biscuit Peel Sessions last summer, which I only discovered in the past 48 hours. Go here to download nothing but bangers from the greatest band England ever produced, or go after the cut to see me pontificate about one song in particular..
In an ideal world, IchLugeBullets wouldn’t be a one-stop shop for me impotently raging against bored music hacks and c+ping Wiley’s message board spiels. No, it’d just be me talking about Half Man Half Biscuit at innumerable length, in the manner of those fucking oeuvreblogs that a bunch of douches with nothing better to do with their time briefly undertook two summers ago.
Best British folk band ever, best novelty band ever, best band ever. The final one. Not folk (only insofar as they Tell Stories For The People, maybe) and not novelty (seriously, fuck off). “Epiphany” is the only track from HMHB’s final Peel Session (recorded before Johnny Boy’s death, transmitted after it) that didn’t make it onto the “Achtung Bono” album, and resultantly I didn’t hear it after its original broadcast for something like three years. It doesn’t really get played live, it doesn’t really get talked about amongst the fanboys, but I’ll go to bat for it. I’ll go to bat for a disturbed folk narrative journey into the mind of a murderer who writes songs about how much he likes hospices.
So much to enjoy here. The opening third stacks mundanity after mundanity after mundanity: Martin Jarvis, Countdown, grooming agitators, the village of Parbold from just outside of Wigan. Blackwell spitting out the name “Helen Fielding”, the correct encapsulation of the sense of mild excitement you get upon a crossed line. And then it turns into the jaunty hospice tune, complete with music’s second finest declaration of “big up” outside of “Gimme The Loot”, the use of the phrase “high days and holidays”, the line “I’ll be busking this at Embankment” which, out of context, comes across as nothing but in song sounds like the perfect ending to the previous three minutes’ incongruity, and, of course, Billing Aquadrome. Being as this is one of the few times a Northampton landmark will ever get shouted out in song (and possibly the last unless someone feels the need three-cycle opera based around the Express Lifts Tower), I’m never going to doubt it. Fun fact: Billing Aquadrome has over 400 electrical hook-up points.