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|HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT: Don't you forget us #3|
Third installment in my forgotten/dismissed/underappreciated Post-Punk bands list series: HMHB is an interesting precedent. They are at it since the 80s, but you'll find minimum change in their style. Sure, they got a little more into melodic and joyous territories towards the end, but there never was a turning point in their career. I found it to be a hard list to build as with each other album I had less and less to say. The band's strongsuit, that is the stability in their sound and resistance to change, turned out to be the hardest aspect to overcome for me. After a while you just forget all the synonyms for "This is more of the same, but fun as heck."
|18||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Some Call It Godcore
"So should we worry about the production?"
"Nah, it'll sort itself out somehow."
HMHB had their fair share of dull albums, but this is the first one that is dull by design. Its drowned and subdued sound is not doing the music any service. It's a strangely uninteresting album that largely consists of hardly anything above-emotionless. Even when it does try to sound more than odd, its messy production burries any indication of quality. How unfortunate.
Go-to tracks: Song for Europe, Friday Night And The Gates Are Low
|17||Half Man Half Biscuit|
"So how about we make a collaboration with someone?"
"Nah, let's just make people think we are."
A quadruplet of imperfect songs that the band never got around pushing outside demo quality and actually finding it a place on any album. It's not exactly bad, but when you think of it, there is pretty much nothing to look forward to, unless you are so obsessed with HMHB that even half-cooked b-sides will do for you.
Go-to tracks: Get Kramer
|16||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Trouble Over Bridgwater
"So do we just keep doing what we've always done?"
"Nah, let's make an album of all the different styles we could have mastered over the years, but didn't"
Finally there is a slip-up in the band's discography. For a distance, this album seems just like any other HMHB output, but upon further inspection it is more fitting to liken it to some kind of remastered b-sides collection. Sure, this album has a handful of great tracks, but there is also a lot of quite obscure and plain forgettable material on here too. There is an electronic track, there is a spoken-word ballad and a horde of distorted and unenthusiastically played obscurities. It's a strange offering and win spite of individual tracks being quite enjoyable, the overall product is easily one of their dreariest offerings.
Go-to tracks: The Ballad of Climie Fisher, It's Cliched to be Cynical at Christmas, Look Dad No Tunes
|15||Half Man Half Biscuit|
And Some Fell on Stony Ground
"So how about making a new album?"
"Nah, let's just put some singles and EP tracks on one disc and release it."
Somewhat remastered, reworked and polished recordings of their old EPs and non-album singles. It's a nice collecion, albeit not entirely necessary, unless you're dying to hear their old material in a somewhat different quality. On one hand, this compilation's importance is as high as any b-side/EP reissue's; on the other, it's nice to hear improved versions of older songs, even though it doesn't add a whole lot to their often subpar songwriting. After all, there usually is a reason that they are not included in a studio album.
|14||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Four Lads Who Shook the Wirral
"So are we going to be energetic on this one?"
"Nah, let's take a break from swift musicianship, otherwise some of us might collapse."
This is one of the more obscure and unnecessary HMHB releases. Its musical themes are often stiff and uneventful, but it's not like the band didn't pull off this kind of style before (or after) and didn't do it justice. But on here these instrumental largely emotionless musical influences and ideas don't necessarily compliment the band. For the most part it really feels like a more tired version of their previous work.
Go-to tracks: Four Skinny Indie Kids, Secret Gig
|13||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Voyage to the Bottom of the Road
"So do we like keep a specific focus on the flow of the record?"
"Nah, let's just record it however we record it and put it all on one thing."
This album is really unfocused. On one hand, there is a lot of plain acoustic near-singer-songwriter kind of tracks, but on the other it contains straightforward punk simplicity-galore tunes. As a whole album, its lack of organisation is somewhat discouraging, but all-in-all the songs individually are entertaining enough. And that is really what matters, innit?
Go-to tracks: Bad Review, PRS Yearbook - Quick The Drawbridge, Monmore Hare's Running, ITMA
|12||Half Man Half Biscuit|
"So do we finish these?"
"Nah, let's just do what we always do with these kinds of songs, release them in subpar quality as an EP."
Another collection of mostly unfinished songs or songs the band never followed through on pushing towards completion. It's a fairly decent EP, but one that lacks the band's energy. It seems that these songs were recorded without any particular enthusiasm. The band most likely had plans to rework and perfect these tunes for their future releases.
Go-to tracks: Bob Wilson - Anchorman, Worried Man Blues
|11||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Back In The DHSS
"So should we write some hooks and melodies?"
"Nah, we'll just do whatever fits these lyrics."
The worst thing about this series is revisiting the albums and finding out that they don't hold up as well as you thought or just plain aren't as good as you remember them to be. So is the case for HMHB's debut record. Although it is filled with snappy lyrics, cocky songwriting and that carefree attitude many young British lads possessed back in the day, it just doesn't have all that much to give outside nostalgia. It has nice riffs and the aforementioned lyrics can be hilarious, but there's just nothing much to hold on to and once it is over, it's over... and that's it.
Go-to tracks: 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd, I Hate Nerys Hughes
|10||Half Man Half Biscuit|
MacIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt
"So are we still on that 'cocky/nonchalant' stage?"
"Nah, let's do something a little more accessible."
One of their most traditionally post-punk albums is also one of their most intriguing from the songwriting perspective. It's a straightforward, but also a little hard-to-digest effort. Each track seems to try its hardest to be quite unlikeable. They all have that slightly dickish attitude to them, but they also present some of the strongest, albeit often dysrhythmic songwriting in a while.
Go-to tracks: Outbreak Of Vitas Gerulaitis, Christian Rock Concert, A Lilac Harry Quinn, Everything's AOR, Ordinary to Enschede
|9||Half Man Half Biscuit|
90 Bisodol (Crimond)
"So will this album have any particular musical focus?"
"Nah, let's mix up the pretty with the ugly, cause why not?"
They don't try to impress with their raw and careless attitude, they go out of their way to make this sound as reinvented as possible, while still being true to themselves. But unlike their other records, the melodies on here seem to be much more bittersweet and even romantically charged. But this album also has a strange dose of thematic dissonance. Half of the songs are absolutely beautiful, but the other as if tries to be as reminiscent of the band's old, old sound they started off with, in that that it is a little rougher and doesn't try to evoke any emotions whatsoever.
Go-to tracks: RSVP, Excavating Rita, Left Lyrics In The Practice Room, Fix It So She Dreams Of Me, Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
|8||Half Man Half Biscuit|
The Trumpton Riots
"So are we making another album?"
"Nah, nobody has time for that, release whatever we've got so far."
Much livelier than its periodic predecessor, especially in its last two tracks. This is the HMHB I grew to love: the fast, snarky, blithe and instrumentally sprawling. From this point onward, the songwriting was also a concern for the band. Cool nonchalancy is fine, but there needs to be a grip.
Go-to tracks: 1966 and All That, The Trumpton Riots
|7||Half Man Half Biscuit|
"So do we try to reinvent ourselves finally?"
"Nah, let's just stay true to ourselves."
How long a time has passed, how little have they changed. They display their usual combo of playful instrumentation with more satirical, overly cynical lyrics. The band is as consistent as they can be, delivering a handful of fun, memorable and easy to listen to tracks. Not a lot of bands can show off this kind of record consistency.
Go-to tracks: Evening Of Swing, Bad Losers On Yahoo! Chess, Totnes Bickering Fair, Little In The Way Of Sunshine, National Shite Day
|6||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Cammell Laird Social Club
"So do you take anything seriously, when you write about it?"
"Nah, once it rhymes, it's silly."
I genuinely doubt I can keep on writing these. It was easy with And Also The Trees, because they had different phases I could compare to one another. It was easy with New Model Army, because they had different influences you could dissect. It's hard with Half Man Half Biscuit, because they stay true to themselves. Even though this album is virtually nothing like their earlier work, I see it as a natural progression. They still keep the same attitude, the same sarcastic lyricism and the similar not-too-many-emotions-showing kind of instrumentation/vocal interplay. It's different, but still the same. What am I supposed to say about it?
Go-to tracks: The Light at the End of the Tunnel, She's in Broadstairs, 27 Yards of Dental Floss
|5||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Back Again In The DHSS
"So are we doing this just like the previous album?"
"Nah, let's make it a little more lively."
Although still not fully realised in their sound, HMHB have moved forward with confidence and an utter positivity that would later go on to define them as artists. There is a natural joy this album reeks of, even though from a songwriting perspective it doesn't show a whole lot of variety or even particularly exciting artistic themes. It's just a decently put-together album with snarky lyrics and engaging enough instrumental side. As far as HMHB's discography goes it doesn't fit into the echelon of their most exhilarating experiences, but is still a good enough time-spender.
Go-to tracks: The Best Things in Life, Reasons To Be Miserable, Rod Hull Is Alive - Why?, Dickie Davies Eyes, The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman, Arthur's Farm
|4||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Urge for Offal
"So do we like keep it the way we've always been?"
"Nah, let's actually make the tunes pretty."
Their instrumentation is a little more intense than usual and they finally fully embrace the traditional Punk-ish songwriting, but stylistically and atmospherically, it's still the same old HMHB. The slow, but steady transition into more catchy and gentle on the ears melody structures is at its peak here. This album is easily one of their most melodically striking and memorable. It's not the cockiness of their earliest work or the raw straightforwardness of their 00s outputs; it's calmer, but much prettier in its songwriting.
Go-to tracks: Westward Ho! Massive Letdown, This One's For Now, Baguette Dilemma for the Booker Prize Guy, The Bain of Constance, Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride, Urge for Offal, Mileage Chart
|3||Half Man Half Biscuit|
Saucy Haulage Ballads
"So do we do what we alwas do with EPs, which is that we throw underproduced b-sides on it and just go with it?"
"Nah, let's actually put an effort into it this time."
HMHB's EP offerings have a less-than-pleasant tendency to reach from somewhat subpar to quite inexcusably redundant. However, Saucy Haulage Ballads might actually be a first of its kind in the band's discography that is an EP, because the band actually wanted to make an EP and not because they had too many unused material they needed to sort somewhere. On the other hand, the record's natural brevity leaves a lot to be desired as you realise that the band had an actual chance of pulling off a really good full-length album.
Go-to tracks: Jard Armani, Tending The Wrong Grave For 23 Years, It Makes the Room Look Bigger, Blood On The Quad
|2||Half Man Half Biscuit|
"So do we like, y'know, start implementing some concepts or go ambitious?"
"Nah, let's just have fun."
There is virtually no indication that this album was made as late into their career as it was and that that point was in 2005, because on here you'll find a handful of that "not too heav to be regular Punk, not too ebullient to be Pop-Punk" attitude spread all across every track. Even though there is no real overarching message or theme underneath all this, it's still just and purely an outstandingly fun album.
Go-to tracks: Restless Legs, Corgi Registered Friends, Surging Out Of Convalescence, Joy Division Open Gloves, Asparagus Next Left, Depressed Beyond Tablets
|1||Half Man Half Biscuit|
This Leaden Pall
"So should we sharpen our sound a little?"
"Nah, only the bass."
This album has a near-perfect production, as far as these lo-fi albums go, from the striking bass that leads the entire album to the pumping drums. But mere instrumentation is not all there is to this album, because it also has some of the band's strongest melodies and most memorable hooks. Take that in combination with the aforemention instrumental work and you have one of their easily strongest offerings ever. There really isn't a lot of depth to analyse with HMHB's releases, so the only real deciding factor in their ranking is how much does their music entertain. And this one entertains like nothing else does.
Go-to tracks: 4AD3DCD, Whiteness Thy Name Is Meltonian, This Leaden Pall, Turned up Clocked on Laid Off, 13 Eurogoths Floating in the Dead Sea, Whit Week Malarkey, Malayan Jelutong, Footprints
|Next stop: Tuxedomoon|
|I challenge butcherboy (or whoever is willing to take on this task) to rank all 100 (or how many do they have now) Guided by Voices' studio albums.|
but I believe that if there's anyone who can pull this off, it's butch
|i could do GBV.. this is a beauty, Unique, just read until Cammell Laird so far (my favourite of theirs..) never fancied Tuxedomoon much, but these write-ups are gold.. continuing reading!|
|Why haven't any of these been featured yet? Too busy checking other stuff to look at post punk right now but these are pretty useful lists. Maybe add your ratings of the albums?|
PS: your taste in rap is absolute trash. Why'd you have to make me listen to that entire piece of crap?
|This band are the absolute tits. Normal lads making world changing tunes.|
You haven’t lived until you’ve heard National Shite Day.
‘There’s a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets‘
Real deal. List is the greatest thing ever and needs to be featured. Nice one Uni.
|bgil: you... you didn't like EazyE? You strange, strange man.|
|And I don't really like numerical ratings, so I avoid them if I can.|
|He’s sitting on a so-called Soccer Sofa|
On a Saturday morning
Having the so-called banter with the Preston
Touching base with fellow guest Heston
How cool does he appear?
And how cool is his career?
He’s gonna talk about his songs
And his favourite footy teams
That’s England, Chelsea, Accy Stanley
“And all the band love watching Barça”
But then, disastrously
They ask him casually
“You come from Leigh-On-Sea,
Do you ever get to Roots Hall?”
Which to him means fuck all
|Oh I was walking round my local store|
Searching for the ten pence off Lenor
When suddenly I bumped into this guy
On seeing who it was I gave a cry
"Fuckin' 'Ell, It's Fred Titmus!"
|Just reading the lyrics and I love this band already|
|Don’t tell me you’ve never delved into the biscuit doof dude?|
|Nah, they're on my current rec list. Missed them somehow, I'd heard the name though.|
|There was a bloke who worked with me dad, late 80s early 90s who loved them. |
I remember a kids tv drama early 90s where one of the characters while on a train heading to Manchester said she was going to buy ‘the new half man half biscuit album’ I distinctly recall laughing and thinking ha, good girl.
Band are a national treasure.
|She's in Broadstairs on repeat as coffee making music this morning.. |
|Should I announce all the future episodes I'm working on or would you rather find out one at a time? Or maybe keep it a secret and let the new episodes surprise you?|
|Keep them surprises is my vote|
|Well I doubt more people will take a vote, so surprises it is.|
|Hey, is that like biscuits... and like gravy. Half humanoid like half biscuit. I don’t get it man. |
It’s biscuits like digestives and it’s proper you slags.
|I think it's just a really sweet dude.|
Corgi Registered Friends
This Leaden Pall
Urge For Offal
27 Yards of Dental Floss
Whiteness Thy Name is Meltonian
Bob Wilson - Anchorman
1966 and All That