Thursday, November 16, 2006

Songs To Learn And Sing #16

If you've lost track of all this at any point, by the way, there's a full set of links over there top right. Meanwhile, guest number fifteen (we did the first one, remember) stepping up to the plate is about as close as we've come so far to making this a celebrity feature - games journalist of specialist infamy, Plan B contributor and currently putting words to paper in the form of the acclaimed Phonogram comic, Kieron Gillen:

Rhoda & The Special AKA - The Boiler

The Boiler is a song that everyone really needs to hear at least once.

After that, it’s your call.

Things to note about the Boiler before you listen. This was released by the Specials at the height of their powers. It received - unsurprisingly - no airplay. It was still a Top 40 hit. I’ll repeat the last one, as it floors me almost as much as the record: this was a hit single.

With those facts in mind, go listen to it. I’ll wait here.







Back?

Yeah, I know.

You’ve listened to it once. As I said, now it’s your call. It’s not exactly one which lives on anyone’s ITunes playlist. It’s not one someone’s gone down the aisle too. It doesn’t get dropped at five to two for the hands-in the-air crowd-pleaser. It’s an unforgettable record, and as a pop artefact, unique.

The Boiler’s a difficult record to write about, because it says just about all that needs to be said. A confessional first-person narrative from the eponymous Boiler over an obviously jolly little ska-lounge beat.

Musically and lyrically, it’s phenomenally clever and phenomenally obvious. Put simply, it fucks with you. Juxtaposing that beat with the portrait of this downbeat woman you may think it’s another one of the Specials' quasi-misogynist pieces a la Too Much Too Young. You think that maybe you’re meant to find her stupid, funny, laughable.

Yeah. You unspeakable shit.

The morphing of the music from this initial start into something more macabre, a sort of lounge-goth, while the narrative is going increasingly to a bad place is expertly done. I first heard the Boiler about a decade before it came out, but writing now I can almost twin it with the Miike Takeshi film Audition. You know that something is wrong, and the sense of dread accumulates until it’s impossible to breath. And then it releases.

While a 'favourite' bit isn’t really the right words, the section I think about is when the potential is thickest. Rhoda’s monologue’s been keeping a similar vocabulary throughout, and it’s here where it twists. "There were all this little alleyways and... railway bridges." A gap as isolated as the pair of them before the payoff. "Stink of piss." And from there on, it’s no longer the question of whether it’s actually going to happen. Our Boiler’s too far down that alleyway.

And over the screams, the beat races away, the arpeggiated keyboards blurring like someone making its escape.

It’s one of the bravest pop records ever released by a major British band. Next time someone talks about how challenging their new direction is going to be, compare and contrast whatever they’ve done to this. I suspect it’ll be lacking.

13 comments:

mike said...

I first heard it on a John Peel session... bought it on 7" when it came out... and probably haven't listened to it again in the past 24 years. Because I just couldn't face it. Until now.

Jesus.

If anything, it sounds more powerful now than it did then.

Colonel Knowledge said...

This song has got to be a shoo-in for "Best song about being raped up a piss-stinking back alley, ever!".

SwissToni said...

bloody hell. they aren't pissing about, are they? I'd never heard that before now, and that's a *powerful* record.

Good choice. Not sure how well it works on my playlist, but it's going to stay there.

ST

Simon said...

Turns out both Kieron and ourselves may have heard this for the first time on the same Best Of 2-Tone compilation. Certainly we're not sure we ever got through it without fast-forwarding again.

(Hello, Mike, by the way. Love your work.)

David said...

Sheesh. Good song but I don't think I ever want to hear it again. Can't recall another time that's happened.

Anonymous said...

Uneasy listening, definitely. On the other hand, the instrumental B-side is a thing of spooky beauty. (Don't suppose you'd know where it could be obtained?)

-Robin (rheath@mail.com)

Kev B said...

I was filmed dancing with Rhoda for the Video of this record. It was in a nightclub in Coventry called 'Busters'and it was just her and me.
I don't know if it ever got made, or if it did whether it was ever shown anywhere, but if it does I would love to see it now.

mrflip said...

The Onion AVClub's "26 Songs that are just as good as short stories." made me dig up this song and in turn your post. Thanks for writing about it -- it's a really powerful song and you characterized its artistry well.

Chris Brown said...

Sorry I never commented on this at the time, but it's an interesting article.
And 'Theme From The Boiler' is on Stereo-Typical (As, Bs & Rareties).

shrimplate said...

I never heard it back in the day when we were all doing college radio, so I first got hold of it on the 2-Tone compilation.

I played it once and was stunned. I played it for my spouse and they vowed never to listen to it again.

Since then I've given it another listen, years ago.

It's a great song, but... not easy listening, as was said.

shrimplate said...

I never heard it back in the day when we were all doing college radio, so I first got hold of it on the 2-Tone compilation.

I played it once and was stunned. I played it for my spouse and they vowed never to listen to it again.

Since then I've given it another listen, years ago.

It's a great song, but... not easy listening, as was said.

Anonymous said...

I was just casually listening through The Two Tone Compilation while messing about with some custom game mapping when I got to The Boiler.

Sweet Jesus.

Had to stop what I was doing and google it to find out the context and reception of the song etc.

Amazing song, but not sure what kind of mood I'd have to be to ever want to listen to it again.

BTW on first listen I think you're mistaken to think that you're initially meant to laugh at or mock the narrator. She sounds so despondent and down on herself that it quickly got me into a very reflective mood and I realised it was going to be a very "different" kind of song regardless of the upbeat backgound music.

look said...

成人電影,情色,本土自拍, 美女交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人貼圖, 成人電影, A片, 豆豆聊天室, 聊天室, UT聊天室, 尋夢園聊天室, 男同志聊天室, UT男同志聊天室, 聊天室尋夢園, 080聊天室, 080苗栗人聊天室, 6K聊天室, 女同志聊天室, 小高聊天室, 情色論壇, 色情網站, 成人網站, 成人論壇, 免費A片, 上班族聊天室, 成人聊天室, 成人小說, 微風成人區, 色美媚部落格, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人論壇, 情色聊天室, 寄情築園小遊戲, AV女優,成人電影,情色,本土自拍, A片下載, 日本A片, 麗的色遊戲, 色色網, ,嘟嘟情人色網, 色情網站, 成人網站, 正妹牆, 正妹百人斬, aio,伊莉, 伊莉討論區, 成人遊戲, 成人影城,
ut聊天室,
免費A片, AV女優, 美女視訊, 情色交友, 免費AV, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 色情影片 成人影片, 成人網站, A片,H漫, 18成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網,
日本A片, 愛情公寓, 情色, 舊情人, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 情色交友, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 色情a片, 一夜情, 辣妹視訊, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊, 視訊美女, 美女視訊, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, 情人視訊網影音視訊聊天室, 視訊交友90739, 成人影片, 成人交友, 本土自拍, 免費A片下載, 性愛,
成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人電影, 成人, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊美女, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, a片下載, aV, av片, A漫, av dvd, av成人網, 聊天室, 成人論壇, 本土自拍, 自拍, A片,成人電影,情色,本土自拍,