The Return of eLf ideas

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Long Live Lulu!

(a review of Flesh for Lulu's discography )
by aLfie vera mella

Flesh for Lulu was an English New Wave band formed in 1982 in London, England, by Nick Marsh (vocals, guitars) and James Mitchell (drums) with Rocco Barker (guitar, vocals) and bassist Glen Bishop, who soon quit to join Under Two Flags and was replaced by Kevin Mills of Specimen. (Both Under Two Flags and Specimen were also Gothic-influenced New Wave bands.) Flesh for Lulu was able to release four full-length studio albums during their existence: Flesh for Lulu, Big Fun City, Long Live the Flesh, and Plastic Fantastic. Soon after the release of their last proper album, they disbanded. 

Flesh for Lulu - Flesh for Lulu (1984)

1. Restless                        
2. Dog Dog Dog
3. Hyena             
4. Coming Down              
5. Jigsaw Puzzle               
6. Subterraneans             
7. Brainburst      
8. Peace and Love           
9. So Strong       
10. Heavy Angel

I got my first copy of this album in the 1990s, still in cassette-tape format. The joy of a New Wave enthusiast like me gets in listening to this album is I get to have a glimpse of the beginnings of Flesh for Lulu, way before this English band catapulted into popularity courtesy of the inclusion of their single "I Go Crazy" in the soundtrack of the 1987 John Hughes film Some Kind of Wonderful, a DVD of which I have a copy of and which I have watched dozens of times already, enough for me to memorize some of the most memorable lines and scenes.

Flesh for Lulu's eponymous debut album was released in 1984 on Polydor Records.

Catchiest tracks for my ears are "Restless," "Jigsaw Puzzle," and "So Strong."

Flesh for Lulu - Big Fun City (1985) + Blue Sisters Swing EP (1985) [2001 double-album reissue]    

1. Baby Hurricane            
2. Cat Burglar    
3. Let Go             
4. Vaguely Human
5. Rent Boy
6. Golden Handshake Girl
7. In Your Smile
8. Blue  
9.  Landromat Kat
10. Just One Second
11. Seven Hail Marys  
12. Death Shall Come  
13. I May Have Said You're Beautiful, But You Know I'm Just a Liar
14. Who's in Danger?  
15. Black Tattoo

Admittedly, I didn't notice this Flesh for Lulu album back in the days, simply because the popularity of the band began with their third full-length, Long Live the New Flesh, which contained their massive hits, "I Go Crazy" and "Postcards from Paradise"--which were also my first introduction to this English band. And this is another reason I thank the Internet--it allowed me to backtrack and rediscover half-forgotten or barely noticed gems and moments in the past.

Released in 1985 on Statik Records, Big Fun City, Flesh for Lulu's second full-length album, is nonetheless another gem for a completist like me.

Included in the 2001 reissue of the album was the EP Blue Sisters Swing, which was originally released in 1985 on Hybrid Records.

Standout tracks from this collection are "Baby Hurricane," "Let Go," "Golden Handshake Girl," and "In Your Smile."

In Blue Sisters Swing, the Lulus were at their punkiest.

This was a live performance of "Golden Handshake Girl," in 1985, during Flesh for Lulu's heyday.
Flesh for Lulu - Long Live the New Flesh (1987)

1. I Go Crazy  
2. Postcards from Paradise  
3. Hammer of Love
4. Siamese Twist  
5. Sooner or Later  
6. Lucky Day  
7. Sleeping Dogs  
8. Good for You  
9. Crash
10. Way to Go  
11. Dream On, Cowboy

Admittedly, my first introduction to the English Postpunk band Flesh for Lulu was via their song "I Go Crazy," which was included in the original soundtrack of the 1987 film Some Kind of Wonderful. In fact, it was that film and that song which catapulted Flesh for Lulu to commercial popularity. This was the reason the single "I Go Crazy" was inserted into the US release of the band's official third studio album, Long Live the New Flesh. (The original UK version of the album did not contain "I Go Crazy.")

One of the songs in the original soundtrack of the 1987 film Some Kind of Wonderful

Since then, several Flesh for Lulu songs have become favorites during many a party back in the New Wave heyday in the late '80s, at least in Metro Manila, Philippines, where I grew up.

Long Live the New Flesh was released in 1987 on Beggars Banquet Records. Standout tracks are "I Go Crazy," "Postcards from Paradise," and "Sooner or Later."

What New Waver could forget that harmonica melody in the intro of the Lulu song "Postcards from Paradise"?

Flesh for Lulu - Plastic Fantastic (1989)

"Seems like yesterday, we just flew away
I have done my best
Against the odds and then..."

1. Decline and Fall  
2. House of Cards  
3. Time and Space  
4. Every Little Word  
5. Slowdown  
6. Highwire
7. Slide  
8. Day One  
9. Choosing You
10. Stupid on the Street  
11. Avenue
12. Plastic Fantastic  

Just as when Grunge was starting to brew in the late '80s and Metal was making a commercial comeback, at least in the Philippine Rock music scene, Flesh for Lulu emerged with the singles "Decline and Fall" and "Time and Space."

Whereas the previous Flesh for Lulu albums were more fun-filled and happy-strum-lucky and the Lulus seemed more of being observants of what was happening around them than of expressing what they were deeply feeling, in Plastic Fantastic the Lulus were more soulful and introspective. At least that was how most of the songs affected me.

Vocally, there were moments when Nick Marsh sounded like Billy Idol, mostly on the fast tracks, in a good way of course.

Released in 1989 on Beggars Banquet, Plastic Fantastic was to be Flesh for Lulu's final album; and then they disbanded soon after.

My favorite tracks from this album are, in this order, "Time and Space," "Day One," "House of Cards," "Slide," "Plastic Fantastic," and "Decline and Fall."

In an era when many New Wave fans had turned their backs on the genre just to be able to embrace Grunge and Metal, there I was--still the same passionate nest-haired New Wave enthusiast.

Just into the first strums of "Time and Space,” and I could already get excited and sweet nostalgia!

Flesh for Lulu - Gigantic (2007)

1. Spanish Nightmare Vendetta
2. Tame Me  
3. In Your Hair  
4. Disenchantment  
5. To Die For  
6. Throw You Out My Window
7. She Was Always Mad  
8. Enemy  
9. She's from Heaven  
10. Hypermania  
11. All You Need  
12. Killing My Buzz  
13. Psycho Fiasco

After the commercial "decline and fall" of Flesh for Lulu in the early '90s, Marsh and Barker with musicians Dave Blair (bass) and Al Fletcher (drums) formed a group they named Gigantic. In 1996, under this moniker they released an album entitled Disenchanted, on Columbia Records. Unfortunately, the album did not chart, prompting the label to drop them and disbanding the group for good and consequently sending the album into oblivion.

In 2007, the "lost" album was reissued by the label Corporate Risk, repackaging and retitling it instead as Gigantic, and crediting it to the Flesh for Lulu name.

The influence of the genre Grunge, which had its peak in the mid-'90s, was obvious in the overall sound of Gigantic; and this was inevitable, considering that it was originally recorded in 1996. The resulting music is guitar- and bass-heavier, but for a completist and Lulu fan like me, I could still decode the Lulu factors in most of the tracks. Some bands that came to mind when I listened to the album were The Black Crowes, Electrafixion, The Cult, and Mudhoney.

My favorite tracks are "All You Need," "Tame Me," and "She's from Heaven."

Unfortunately, I could not find on YouTube any song that came from Gigantic; so I decided instead to accompany this review with my most-favorite Lulu song, which I dedicate to myself!

Final Note
In 2006, Marsh released a solo album, entitled A Universe between Us, on Corporate Risk. The music in this album is kind of slow and loungy with flavors of Spanish flamenco and a bit of calypso.

Nick Marsh and Rocco Barker

1. Destiny Angel
2. Devil Child
3. Girl on the Roof
4. A Universe between Us
5. Red Hot & Ready
6. The Smokin' Gun
7. Best Shag in the World
8. Don't Give Up on Me
9. El Deludo
10. Some Velvet Morning
11. Organized

This is the official video of the hauntingly beautiful title track off Marsh's solo album,  highlighted by  the cello, violin, and trumpet.

"Don't Give Up on Me" is one of the double-sided single off Marsh's solo album. 

"Destiny Angel" is the flipside of the double-sided single off Marsh's solo album.

Soon after the re-release of Gigantic in 2007, Marsh and Barker re-recorded several classic Flesh for Lulu songs as well as a couple of new compositions for a planned new album, Rear View Mirror; although I'm unsure if this project is the same as the album that came out in 2009 as Best Of (Re-Recorded).

I got to "befriend" Nick Marsh recently on Facebook so I was able to personally dedicate to him this article that I wrote about his band Flesh for Lulu. A few days after giving him a heads-up about the article, he wrote me a short message:

"Thanks for the piece, Alfie; ' love it! ...I'm still waiting for my royalties from Corporate Risk though. Ha-ha-ha."


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