Mick Ness - The Joy of Pop

The Joy of Pop reveals itself to be an absolute gem; immediately putting your weirdometer at ease; mixing Pop Group against chamber folk, (or chamber punk) with a dash of Kid Strange and early Cure for good measure.

(Out of Print Records)

 

Unless you're in your 50s, most probably Dutch, and someone who was into the Dutch underground of the time it's very unlikely that you'll have heard this record before. That's fine, of course; that's what the interweb is supposed to do, break down barriers, and trust us, Incendiary doesn't purposely look to involve itself in any Big Data conspiracies.

And; don't let the opener put you off! The similarity of Open Rooms to Joy Division's 24 Hours is too close for comfort at times; despite the "Play at Home" vibe that the sax and the semi acoustic strumming brings to the song. Ach, it's either a very brave pisstake or an over serious sonic tributary. Maybe (given this LP is from 1981) the latter. If so, the conceit hasn't really aged well.

However once we're past that, The Joy of Pop reveals itself to be an absolute gem. Walk on Heads is a deranged track and immediately puts your weirdometer at ease; mixing Pop Group against chamber folk, (or chamber punk) with a dash of Kid Strange and early Cure for good measure. Mick Ness's strangulated vocals and odd phrasing techniques work really well here; it's incredibly sleazy throughout, and the funky, raggety looseness of the sound (as also noticed in Burn Me Out Again and Ants) really works a treat. Ness's vocals are a puzzle mind, you're never sure when he's going to turn up in the song, and it does sound like he's sneaked in to wreck his own recording by dicking about. This attitude really makes the difference to the record though; in that it has a puckish element that also keeps the sound evergreen. Listen to Remind Of here for proof; it could sound bloody annoying but it's somehow really refreshing.

A word for  the extra tracks on the CD version of this re-release as they are possibly better (in places) than the album proper. Really, You In Me is tremendous, a sonic gargleblaster, a groovy Motherload. Whereas Cathy is Amusement - merely because of the vox  treatment - sounds like Haircut 100 after a heavy dose of LSD 25.
How has this stuff not seen the light of day for 30+ years?

I'd check this out.