Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Denim - Denim On Ice

Denim's second and final album Denim On Ice was released by Echo Records in 1996. The band's first album, 1992's Back In Denim gets amazing praise, Denim On Ice doesn't seem to get the same plaudits. This is a pity because for me, Denim On ice is the better album. 

For those who don't know or have long forgotten, Denim was the band formed by Lawrence after he had completed Felt's "ten albums, ten singles in ten years" mission. Denim mixed glam rock, synth and guitar with Lawrence's cutting satirical lyrics. Back In Denim was both rivival and critique of the 1970s music scene. Denim On Ice ploughed the same furrow as its predecessor but the sound also referenced early synth-pop acts such as Devo, Gary Numan and Ultravox - needless to say Jarvis Cocker was a huge fan and Denim supported Pulp on their 1996 UK tour. 

Denim - Denim On Ice (Echo Records, 1996)

Opening track The Great Pub Rock Revival took splendid aim at the Britpop era:

"And there's a headband over the ocean
A beermat over the sea
Everybody believes what they're told to
Everybody believes what they read in the NME"

The album's filled with classic Lawrence songs: Glue and Smack, The Supermodels, Job Centre and Council Houses are all fantastic vignettes offering an alternative history of late 20th Century Britain - at some other time these could all have been huge hits - but not in the summer of 1996 while the UK hosted the Euro '96 football tournament and the media was obsessing over 'Cool Britannia'.

Novelty Rock, a compilation, came next in 1997. Summer Smash was to be the next single. Luck was never on Lawrence's side and when Princess Diana died in August 1997, EMIDISC pulled Summer Smash from its release schedule. EMIDISC was a short-lived label set up in 1996 by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne with EMI UK as a sub-label for new talent. EMI felt the song title was in bad taste given the circumstances of Diana's death and withdrew the single. Some copies of Summer Smash did get distributed to Ireland, including my ltd. Yellow 7'' pictured below. It's a fantastic song that duly died a quick death. The third album Denim Take Over was shelved indefinitely and Lawrence moved on to his Go Kart Mozart project.   

A trailer for the Paul Kelly directed 2012 documentary about Lawrence, titled Lawrence of Belgravia is below and also do yourself a favour and listen to the Denim tracks further down.

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