MP3 Interlude: McCarthy’s Marxist Loveliness

Second and final week of training at the new job. I’m enjoying the discipline of having to properly take in the world’s press every day, rather than just reading the stories that interest me. I feel like a kind of flaneur sans loisir: a detached but attentive observer, strolling through the day’s boulevards of Fact.

According to the BBC News site, Marxism is back in fashion thanks to the ‘credit crunch’ (a phrase that I promise to never, ever use again).

Amid all this talk of collapsing economic souffles and self-raising unemployment, it seems fitting I’ve managed to suddenly get myself a job, at this time, and in the City too. Fitting also that I’m commuting to Bank on the rush hour Tube, hemmed in by men and women of the fiscal cloth, while I listen to one of my favourite ever bands, McCarthy, on my iPod.

Sample McCarthy song titles:

‘And Tomorrow The Stock Exchange Will Be The Human Race’

‘Use A Bank I’d Rather Die’

‘The Home Secretary Briefs The Forces Of Law And Order’.

‘Can The Haves Use Their Brains?’

‘The Drinking Song Of The Merchant Bankers’

(The iPod’s an obsolete model – but then, aren’t they all, a split-sigh after you’ve left the shop. Cue an HM Bateman cartoon set at Apple Headquarters – ‘The iPod Development Engineer Who Said “If It Ain’t Broken, Don’t Fix It”‘.)

McCarthy were a UK indie group from the late 80s, who married charming & jangly 12-string guitar tunes with viciously satirical Marxist lyrics, often with a dash of roleplay and irony.

I pretty much adore everything they did, but have plumped for offering you this, Dear Reader:  ‘I Worked Myself Up From Nothing’, from their final album ‘Banking, Violence & The Inner Life Today’. The sentiment might be sardonic (an Orwellian take on self-help), but the sheer loveliness of the melody has the very effect that eludes the narrator. A kind of ‘let them eat cake and have it’: 

The track features Laetitia Sadier on Nico-esque extra vocals, perfectly complementing Malcolm Eden’s fetchingly epicene trill. Much as I love Stereolab, the band Mlle Sadier and McCarthy guitarist Tim Gane formed the year after this was recorded, I can’t help wishing they’d stuck with this line-up just that little bit longer. 

‘You have it in you / though there are holes in your shoes’

Actually, there IS genuinely a hole in my shoe, too. I’d fixed it a few weeks ago with Super Glue, but today’s rain made short work of said adhesive’s fabled ‘super’ powers. I need new shoes. Hence, yet again, the job.

[Buy two sublime albums’ worth of McCarthy, via official download, from Cherry Red Records.]

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