18
Jul 02

BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 6: THE MARMALADE – O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da

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BREAKFAST OF BANALITY 6: THE MARMALADE – O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da

Strike one agains this record is a that it is a Lennon & McCartney song. Not only that but a Lennon & McCartney song that they were initially too embarrassed to record. Its naivity and simplicity (and its attempt at ripping off reggae) smacks more of Macca that the poor stand-up comic of the group but nevertheless it is the Marmalade version which is laughably definative. McCartney was no stranger to breakfast songs of course, writing Scrambled Eggs which later got a lyrical overhaul – to no great improvement – to become Yesterday. But to The Marmalade…

The Marmalade were typical of your British psychedlic tinged rock groups of the late sixties. Spurred by Seargent Pepper, such bands would knock together loosely concepted singles and albums mainly on the theme of taking too many drugs. The problem is that the research needed to make such songs would involve taking lots of drugs and as anyone who has read my drugs poll recently – drugs do not make a good songwriting partnership. So much so in The Marmalade’s case that their first album had no less that seven cover versions on it. In 1968 did the world really need another version of Hey Mr Tambourine Man? Any tambourine men knocking around in 1968 must have thought they were the most popular men in the world – what with all this heying going on. Imagine being a tambourine man called Jude. You would be heyed to death.

O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da was recorded with the incessant pop chirpiness of a band who really did not understand what the song was about, and more importantly had never met a black person in their lives. Nearly all trace of a skank is airbrushed out of it, not that McCartney skanked much in the first place, and this song about Desmond and Molly Jones was turned into a nonsense kids song. I’m not saying there was an awful lot of significance to the minor trials and tribulation of Des and Mol’s lives (Desmond sees Molly, he buys her a ring, they have kids, they live happily ever after, whilst still being relegated to working in a market for twenty years) but all the Marmalade got out of it was singing “O-Bla-Di O-Bl-Da life goes on” as some kind of meaningless hippy mantra. Infact the song represented a cruel indictment of the plight of the Windrush generation in inner-city England. Put upon, forced to work in the market, Desmond and Molly put up with it all just with the release of singing in the evening. A story of no stupider saps in my book, if you live for singing then you might as well be dead.

The Marmalade lived for singing, and despite this one hit with this anaemic cover, were no longer heard from and careerwise were dead. Life goes on: hey?

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