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Jun 11

RIGHT SAID FRED – “Deeply Dippy”

Popular123 comments • 8,021 views

#675, 18th April 1992

Right Said Fred were a rum proposition – solid light entertainment values in leather pants, with the mildest dash of sauce added. Jobbing musicians, no great shakes as singers but likeable chaps, so people gave them the benefit of the doubt and let them sweat a novelty hit into two or three years of genuine fame. The Fairbrass brothers were everywhere for a while – the NME embraced them, Smash Hits lapped them up, the red-tops loved the silliness, the public seemed to enjoy the tunes, they bagged an Ivor Novello or two. Right Said Fred enjoyed a remarkable level of goodwill, which didn’t really fade until their second album came out and people realised there actually wasn’t room in their life for Black Lace with an extra member and half the hair.

But that was winter ’93, a world away from summer ’91 – particularly if you peddled the kind of family-fun pop “the Freds” did. Their comeback coincided with Matthew Banister’s arrival at Radio 1 – the moment the station stopped chasing reach and started pursuing influence – and Right Said Fred feel like the end of something: a band built for Radio 1 Roadshows in seaside towns, the kind of group Smashie and Nicey would love.

Does that make them awful? Not inevitably – though the line between dreadfully British and Britishly dreadful is a thin one. “Deeply Dippy”‘s problem isn’t being a silly, happy pop song. It’s never hitting the kind of swing its structure needs it to – that big brassy climax ought to be a joyful communal lift-off but even the group don’t sound like they’re having much fun as they try to gee the rest of us up. Fairbrass’ “See those legs, man.” is perhaps the least excited ad lib ever recorded. Like Shakespears Sister, there’s a feeling of a band playing with dynamics, trying to do something a bit different with their three minutes – and that’s admirable, but Right Said Fred can’t pull it off. “Deeply Dippy” ends up sounding more like forced jollity than good clean fun.

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Comments

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  1. 91
    wichita lineman on 2 Sep 2011 #

    Re 88: Soz.

  2. 92
    weej on 2 Sep 2011 #

    Re #87 – Christ, that has to be one of the worst pieces of writing I’ve ever read in a professional publication.

  3. 93
    MarkG on 2 Sep 2011 #

    #90, typo of the week?

  4. 94
    23 Daves on 2 Sep 2011 #

    I don’t normally mind a bit of sacred cow slaughtering – even if it focuses on an artist whose work I love – provided a bit of effort is put into it. It’s fascinating for me to be able to understand how something which is generally held in high esteem can really push entirely the wrong buttons for somebody else. That review is a classic example of how not to do it, though. I appreciate that ES’s word count restrictions are probably challenging, but there’s no focus to the review at all, and the end result is almost a bullet-point list of provocative insults which seem to have been taken raw from the critic’s notebook.

    In particular, you can’t just briefly dismiss ‘Common People’ without explaining yourself, clearly expecting the readers to agree. That’s like writing “Of course, that ‘Blue Monday’ was a load of old shit, wasn’t it chaps?” before moving swiftly on, as if that viewpoint is the common consensus. I can’t decide if he’s just deliberately trying to be provocative in a trollish manner, or the critic was otherwise occupied for most of 1995 and 1996 and failed to notice how significant the band were for that period of time. If a review makes you suspect ignorance on the critic’s part, that’s no good thing.

    It’s also interesting to see that “We Love Life” is becoming increasingly more frequently referred to as the “fanbase killing” album now rather than “This Is Hardcore”, which was what everyone seemed to believe four or five years ago. There were several good reasons why WLL flopped, but the overall quality of the album itself isn’t among them – or not in my view at least.

  5. 95
    punctum on 3 Sep 2011 #

    #93: haha yes, I’ve only just noticed it! Nothing Freudian about it (at least I hope not).

    #94: well this is a twofold thing; firstly, Aizlewood in the ES is not writing for music buffs/geeks, he’s writing for what you might call “passing trade,” i.e. Standard readers with an average/less than average interest in music who will glance at the star rating for two seconds and then move on to the sport. No space or call for extended exegeses about why such and such is or isn’t worth your attention.

    But secondly if you’re talking about providing an alternative point of view to the kind of lazy thinking that just ASSUMES that “Common People” or “Blue Monday” or anything else is great, or still great, or was ever great, then your tabloid/broadsheet options are few or non-existent. Does “CP” still mean anything, or the same things, or different things, to people sixteen years on, or did people grasp at substandard work because (a) it fitted in with the times and/or (b) the frontman gave good chat? The implications of that – and the converse arguments – rove far beyond the scope of any newspaper but ES readers, like most newspaper readers, want the quick judgement, the snappy provocation, because it saves them time and money and makes their lives easier.

    This doesn’t mean that good work isn’t possible – if you read Aizlewood’s assessment of the new Example album in yesterday’s paper, for example, he’s far more on the mark than Alexis P in the Guardian (and Alexis’ fatal flaw, like too many music critics – because criticism is, unhelpfully, their “business” and A business – is that he erects his prefab cases and then fits whatever he’s reviewing around them so that, presto, he is the provider of both premises and conclusion; i.e. he puts self-service ahead of service to the music) and if you read the Pulp review more closely it’s not as if he’s being uniformly unkind towards their later output. So just because the critic doesn’t agree with you, or with anybody else, doesn’t IN ITSELF make the critic “wrong” but then again ES isn’t Jazz Monthly (nor is Jazz Monthly for that matter).

  6. 96
    hardtogethits on 3 Sep 2011 #

    Astonishing, really. I’ve read this review and, as someone prepared to declare themselves a Pulp Fan, I really don’t think it’s bad at all.

    At first, my love of Pulp and my irritation at the simplify-exaggerate-sneer technique that prevails in music criticism made me steer clear. Punctum above, however, made me want to at least examine whether Aizlewood was expressing a point of view which was challenging, prevocative and worthy, and I really think he is.

    Furthermore, as I think I’ve said before my irritation at that approach to journalism / criticism is caused by the fact that it has inevitably become victim of its own standards – it has itself been simplified and exaggerated. It is now ok to falsify-exaggerate-sneer, or if all else fails to disregard whether something is or isn’t in the realms of the true or false. Aizlewood’s review has none of that – what he says is either right, or his opinion, and fair play to him.

  7. 97
    Alan on 3 Sep 2011 #

    I don’t recall “this is hardcore” being fanbase killing – it put off the fans who picked up from Common People and the britpop halo effect, but that otherwise it was seen as pretty awesome. WLL tho was a massive disappointment all round

  8. 98
    weej on 4 Sep 2011 #

    My objection to the article isn’t that it criticises Pulp (which is of course perfectly fair) but that it gets basic facts wrong – for example Pulp were never “a septet” and the “new surge” in Disco 2000 was always there – and more importantly it’s so badly written that it’s almost unreadable. For example;

    “…He brought genuine warmth and the sense that we were gossiping over the garden fence by sharing wine with the front row like a genial Yorkshire Messiah as he read out fan letters. On the other, he hurled…”

    The first sentence is a clause-car-crash, and the second starts with a “on the other” when we haven’t had so much as an “on one hand” to pair it with.

    Re#97 – WLL is probably my favourite Pulp album, and I’m very surprised by all the hate it gets these days.

  9. 99
    23 Daves on 4 Sep 2011 #

    #98 – That’s one of the main sources of irritation for me – the fact that it causes you to doubt the fact that Aizlewood is really that aware of the band’s history or output at all. There are quite a few obvious mistakes in the review which I notice other people commenting on the website have also pointed out. I take punctum’s point that ES is catering for a different audience to music buffs, however.

    As for WLL and “This Is Hardcore”, the media did go through a phase of blaming the latter for Pulp’s diminishing returns. I distinctly remember Jarvis being on Jonathan Ross’s show around the release of “We Love Life” and saying, completely unchallenged (even by Cocker himself) “Of course, nobody liked ‘This Is Hardcore’, did they?” The view seemed to emerge that whilst it was a critically acclaimed piece of work, it was far too experimental, moody and awkward to meet with the approval of the “His N Hers” and “Different Class” loving fanbase.

    “We Love Life” itself is an odd one. I love it, and know other Pulp fans who would place it in their top three Pulp albums, but I’ve met others who remain bemused by its appeal. It seems to be a fanbase divider, but I’d stop short of saying it caused everyone to lose interest or it was universally dismissed as a disaster. The first single issued from it (“The Trees”) was, for all its strengths, an absurd choice for a comeback track after a long time away, and both Radio One and the general public had lost total interest in all things alternative/ Britpop/ indie in their stylings at this point (even Oasis released their lowest selling studio album a year before “We Love Life”). WLL was always going to be a hard sell, but by all accounts a combination of band decisions and record label decisions seemed set to make matters trickier still.

  10. 100
    Ed on 5 Sep 2011 #

    @98 Most of what is wrong stylistically with that piece looks like the result of hasty cutting by pressured sub-editors who needed to fit a slot and hit the ES’s morning deadlines. The hanging “on the other” is a dead giveaway.

    Among the reasons why music writing is generally much better on blogs than in the press is the lack of a) word limits and b) deadlines.

    For people who are doing those newspaper or magazine pop critic jobs, it comes down to the old line from Pascal (or Twain, or Johnson), about writing a long letter because he didn’t have time to write a short one. It is harder to be concise than expansive. Chuck Eddy is the only music writer I can think of who is consistently brilliant at 200 words.

    If you get it wrong – describing ‘Common People’ as shallow and sneering, for example, without any argument to back it up – then you just come across as trolling.

  11. 101
    punctum on 5 Sep 2011 #

    It is not “wrong” to say that “Common People” is “shallow and sneering”; it is somebody else’s opinion. The Evening Standard isn’t Scientific American; what do you expect, a twenty-page paper with an abstract and copious illustrations and footnotes?

    Saying that there being a “new surge” in “Disco 2000” as they perform it now as opposed to the original recorded version (as Aizlewood makes perfectly clear) is an observation; “it was always there” is opinion, not fact.

    The term “trolling” belongs to internet messageboards and has no place in a music writer’s vocabulary.

  12. 102
    MarkG on 5 Sep 2011 #

    “Common People” *is* “shallow and sneering”, it’s a whole bunch of other things as well. The review was a snidey piece of writing, I would say (I saw it in the paper, and as #87 says, the “right said Fred” comparison somewhat jumped out).

    I couldn’t work out whether the reviewer actually liked Pulp but the paper had decided to slag them off, or that the reviewer disliked them but was trying to toe the line and give them a positive spin. Conflicted, certainly.

  13. 103
    wichita lineman on 5 Sep 2011 #

    Re 102: Aizlewood never “got” Pulp at the time, for the record.

  14. 104
    punctum on 5 Sep 2011 #

    I think the writer was trying to be honest with himself and find good in (his) bad, as most of us writers do. Perhaps if he had more space it would have been more useful to work out why Cocker has done almost nothing worthwhile in the decade since Pulp split (please note the “almost”).

  15. 105
    Cumbrian on 5 Sep 2011 #

    Almost is noted.

    Haven’t heard Relaxed Muscle. Haven’t seen any of his forays into TV arts programming. But I do quite like both his solo albums (though I’m not convinced Steve Albini’s production suits him, I still think Further Complications is pretty good – I detect a certain self flagellation in there, perhaps due to his divorce, that I find quite affecting – turning his own caustic wit on himself, though I think This Is Hardcore is Pulp’s best record too, largely for the same reasons).

    I’d say he was doing pretty decently, in a low key sort of way, if it weren’t for the fact that reforming Pulp seems to suggest his solo career hasn’t gone that well (or at least he’s run out of cash).

  16. 106
    MarkG on 5 Sep 2011 #

    It’s the usual “people pay no notice unless the old name is involved” that has forced Echo&Bunnymen, PinkFloyd, WeddingPresent, and many others to reconvene as ‘working units’ (as opposed to ‘lets play all the hits and nowt else’ restorations)

  17. 107
    weej on 5 Sep 2011 #

    Re:101 – I know exactly what he’s referring to – the “new surge” is from the 7″ mix (and the video) but for some reason the album mix has become the famous one.

    As for Jarvis, he’s done a fair bit in the last decade, but it’s safe to say it’s been a major step down for him. The first solo album wasn’t bad, but “Further Complications” is the first thing he’s done that I just plain didn’t like. Relaxed Muscle was patchy, but with a few particularly good highlights. Constantly producing A-grade material for decades on end seems to be beyond almost anyone’s talents though, so we can surely cut him some slack.

  18. 108
    thefatgit on 5 Sep 2011 #

    Aizlewood is far from consistent. Today’s ES Red Hot Chili Peppers’ gig review, is positively glowing and not a single mention of “nostalgia circuit” (although he does mention Anthony Keidis’ age) anywhere.

  19. 109
    punctum on 5 Sep 2011 #

    JC’s work on the Charlotte Gainsbourg 5:15 album was excellent and I thought he should have gone much further down that line, as a writer and/or producer for others.

  20. 110
    MarkG on 5 Sep 2011 #

    Well, he can do that, and has done. Bring back (together) the All Seeing I, I says.

  21. 111
    Conrad on 5 Sep 2011 #

    108 – “nostalgia circuit”? they are promoting a new album, not reforming to play old hits

  22. 112
    thefatgit on 5 Sep 2011 #

    #111 I see your point. It would seem then, that Aizlewood was asking Pulp to bring something fresh to the table. Or maybe he doesn’t care for anything they bring to the table.

  23. 113
    anto on 5 Sep 2011 #

    re 104: Even as their fame peaked there was a tendency to look upon Pulp as a vehicle for Jarvis’ talents but on closer inspection you came to realise how important the rest of the band were.
    In terms of shaping their sound Russel Senior seemed to be the one who pushed their intense atmospheric side while Steve Mackey was the member who picked up on dance music. Also let’s not underestimate the contribution of Candida Doyle who was of course the first to hear the early sketch of Common People as a potential hit.
    For me at least that’s what is missing from Jarvis’ solo efforts – the Pulp sound. I would say something similar about Elvis Costello.
    Of course working with the Brodsky Quartet/Burt Bacharach/Paul McCartney are all part of his accomplishments but the Attractions music is always his ideal setting.

  24. 114
    DV on 29 Nov 2011 #

    I was going to say something about how this is a great example of a well crafted love song blah blah etc. but then realised that that would make me sound rockist.

  25. 115
    punctum on 1 Dec 2011 #

    Fuck rockism. Say what you think.

  26. 116
    Mark G on 1 Dec 2011 #

    and Rock Fuckism: Feel what you .. um..

  27. 117
    malmo58 on 14 Jan 2012 #

    While this was #1 I met a fellow student named Melissa at a party and was smitten with her. Told the others on my course, whom I hung around with most days, next morning; by the end of the day, and for weeks afterwards, they kept singing at me “Deeply dippy about Melissa, her name’s not Roger, her name’s not Clarissa”.

    And after all that, my (tentative, I admit – sheer nerves) attempts to woo her went unrewarded…

  28. 118
    daveworkman on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Not sure if anyone has seen this – they live!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lKYPp2Kp6s

  29. 119
    hectorthebat on 3 Apr 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    Face (UK) – Singles of the Year 18
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year 22
    Select (UK) – Singles of the Year 43

  30. 120
    Tommy Mack on 11 Nov 2015 #

    Just watched an old TOTP2 on Tivo while trying to get a teething Baby Mack to take a nap…RSF on doing I’m Too Sexy: I’d never noticed that during the first instrumental break, Rob Manzoli is playing the riff from Jimi Hendrix’ Third Stone From The Sun!

  31. 121
    Keith Barker on 9 Apr 2021 #

    A pleasant stroll of a song. I like the Rockingbirds’ version as well. 8/10

  32. 122
    Gareth Parker on 1 May 2021 #

    An amiable strumming sing-along from the Fairbrass boys. I’ll be generous and go with a 7/10.

  33. 123
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    The final week of Deeply Dippy’s run at #1 coincided with the first of 3 weeks at #2 for SL2. What an excellent chart topper ‘On a Ragga Tip’ would have been.

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