Apr 09


FT + Popular36 comments • 4,284 views

#504, 3rd July 1982

So here’s one destination for punk: a jokey cover version of an old show tune, knocked out at the record company’s request and pushing Captain Sensible firmly down the woeful career path of the professional eccentric. Look more closely and there’s a little bit more going on: backing trio Dolly Mixture are as much a part of the record as the Captain is, and what could be more DIY than giving some mates the chance to be on a number one hit? And I’ll forgive “Happy Talk” a lot for inspiring Dizzee Rascal’s delightfully goofy “Dream”.

But honestly, this isn’t very good. Dolly Mixture lend it some charm, Sensible attacks it with his usual honking gusto, but the record never feels like more than a jolly piss-up – hip-hop pastiche “Wot” (“Well, HELLO ADAM…”) meshes these qualities a great deal better, and shows that the Captain could seem invested in his material when it suited him.



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  1. 26
    LondonLee on 15 Apr 2009 #

    I liked this a lot, not enough to buy it but still, I liked it. Puts me in mind of Nick Park’s line that “you can’t write charm” it’s just something that comes natural, like, and I think this record has lots of it.

    I posted a Dolly Mixture song on me blog the other day, probably considered the “famous” one but I’m no scholar of their oeuvre.

  2. 27
    rosie on 15 Apr 2009 #

    The Captain is taking a poke at something bigger and considerably less absurd than he is, n’est-ce pas? A pointless piss-take, I thought at the time, and I don’t feel enlightened for being rteminded of it now.

    The South Pacific soundtrack, along with those of Oklahoma!, Carousel, The King and I (and probably others, but mainly those) were part of the wallpaper of my formative years. I won’t hear a word against any of them! The first song I ever learned to sing in French was not Frère Jacques, nor even Sûr le pont d’Avignon but

    La vie est belle
    La vie est gai

  3. 28

    i don’t actually think CS is mocking the song and its heritage so much as mocking the idea of himself singing it, seeing it just as a vehicle for him to be silly and sappy with — he is and ever was an amiable fellow

  4. 29
    John on 15 Apr 2009 #

    Yes, like #20 I was a bit dismayed that the old posts were seemingly closed to new discussion. You would obviously know if there was something new and it does show up new comments now, though you feel silly posting in older threads. It’s good to know that all the old commentary remains open.

    Don’t think I’m able to offer up much in the way of meta analysis in the context of the era, but I’ve been following it for a while and have been very pleased with the dizzying pace it moved last year, great to be up to the 80s already.

  5. 30
    intothefireuk on 17 Apr 2009 #

    Being aware of both The Damned & South Pacific this single didn’t bother me at all. He’s so obviously taking the piss that it negates any irritation caused by the naffness of it. I enjoyed ‘ Wot’ and ‘Glad It’s All over’ a good deal more though. Not enough parrots on shoulders in pop now !

  6. 31
    чaтЪлaн4ик on 24 May 2009 #

    Да таков уж наш современный мир и боюсь наверное с этим ни чего не поделать:)

  7. 32
    rosie on 9 Jun 2009 #

    The Damned were playing at The Canteen in Barrow last night. There was a double-decker bus with blacked-out windows parked in Michaelson Road all day, the sort of bus that football teams travel together in. When I was coming home I could hear them play, though didn’t recognise anything, and even on the far said of the road one could smell the sweet fragrance of burning herbal su… oh my goodness, those clouds were really freaky!

    How art the mighty fallen!

  8. 33
    Mike Atkinson on 15 Jul 2010 #

    This seems like the right place to mention that a limited edition Dolly Mixture box set has just been issued, featuring “CAMBRIDGE 1978 – I WAS THERE!” sleeve notes by yours truly. (Originally written as a blog post in 2003.)

  9. 34
    wichita lineman on 16 Jul 2010 #

    …and “Croydon 1982 I was there (a bit later)!” notes by me. It’s a beautiful looking thing, pretty much everything they recorded, though it doesn’t include the Dolly Mixture Theme which used to start every gig. Bah.

  10. 35
    Mike Atkinson on 20 Jul 2010 #

    Well now, there’s a thing. My blurb was used on the mock-up of the booklet which is used on the website, but “sources close to Dolly Mixture” tell me that the blurb was never actually used on the printed version. But it’s good to see wichita lineman’s more all-encompassing essay in its place!

    (Note to wichita lineman: Curiously, I also saw Orange Juice at The Venue in Victoria, but with The Bluebells supporting. Fairly sure it was August 1981, not long after Poor Old Soul came out.)

  11. 36
    phil6875 on 15 Apr 2015 #

    ‘Happy Talk’ wasn’t even in the Top 50 best selling singles of the year, a distinction it shared with ‘Beat Surrender’.

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