Claps, Clicks & Whistles #3

Some Swedish pop this week, courtesy of I’m From Barcelona.

Yes, despite the name, they really are Swedish, the name is a homage to Spanish waiter Manuel from Fawlty Towers, who, whenever he got or did something wrong in front of a customer, would have his ineptitude explained away by either Basil or Sybil with something along the lines of “Sorry about him, he’s from Barcelona”.

I’m From Barcelona seem to be the only band in direct competition with The Polyphonic Spree for most band members on stage at any one time; at one of their early gigs in 2005 there were either 28 or 29 of them, depending on which report you read.

Pleasingly for a Scandinavian band, one of the members appears to be called Johan Viking.

The band are not only known for their pleasant brand of Scandi-pop and the rather large ensemble, the breadth of different instruments played is worth a mention too: accordion, mandolin, synthesisers, glockenspiel, drums, piano, guitar, saxophone, banjo, trumpet, omnichord, tuba, bass and clarinet (actually, now I’ve written that, it doesn’t seem quite so impressive…) along with an awful lot of backing vocals.

This is as close to a theme tune they’re recorded:

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I’m From Barcelona – We’re From Barcelona

That track features on their “Don’t Give Up on Your Dreams, Buddy!” EP from 2006, and also on their 2005 debut album “Let Me Introduce My Friends”. Yes, all 27 of them.

On the difference between a friend and a good friend, American comedian and scowly grump-faced inspiration for The Simpsons‘ bartender Moe, Rich Hall once said:

“They say that a friend will come over to your house and help you move, and a good friend will help you move a body. I have two good friends.”

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

When was the last time you heard a record by The Housemartins being played out that wasn’t “Happy Hour”?

Apart from when “Caravan of Love” gets its annual outing in department stores on the run up to Christmas (so, anytime from early September onwards), I mean.

Take nothing away from “Happy Hour”, it’s a bloody great tune. At the end of the video, there are three of the four members of the band dancing solo (drummer Hugh Whitaker doesn’t strut his stuff; in 1993, he was jailed for for assaulting his former business associate with an axe and setting fire to his house on three occasions, so he probably had other things on his mind at the time); when we were at college, me and my mate Keith would emulate guitarist Stan Cullimore’s moves (not be confused with former Ulrika botherer, dogger and professional footballer Stan Collymore) performing what we used to refer to as ‘The Wacky Stan Dance’.

It’s odd that’s pretty much the only record by The Housemartins that gets an airing; they were a consistent singles band, but only ever released nine, so it’s not as if there’s too many to choose from.

Rarely, for example, do you ever hear this one, an absolute rip-roaring belter, which was written on the same day as “Happy Hour”:

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The Housemartins – Me and The Farmer

Oh go on then, here’s the “Happy Hour” video, just so you can check out that dance:

More soon.