My memory tells me that while this seemed a good album on its release, it didn’t really get much attention or acclaim. The ever-reliable Wikipedia suggests my memory may be about right, as it assures me it reached number 6 in the album charts before disappearing from the charts all together after just 3 weeks. (Of course, I could have made that up, and edited Wikipedia to make it look like my memory was backed up by some other source. I didn’t. But I could have)
Anyway… This album regularly veers between life-affirming optimism (The Birds In Your Garden, Sunrise) and spirit-sapping realities of life (Bob Lind, The Night That Minnie Timperley Died), and a few points in between (I Love Life, Bad Cover Version). Although at odds with a prominent pastoral feel throughout the album, this perhaps captures the mood and atmosphere around the band at the time, culminating in their ‘hiatus’ (in effect an unofficial/unconfirmed splitting-up) soon after this release.
Two personal highlights; firstly the opening two tracks, Weeds and Weeds II (Origin Of The Species), which give us Jarvis Cocker’s take on immigration and the fine British attitude to it, through the metaphor of plant life (“Make believe you’re so turned on by planting trees and shrubs / But you come round to visit us when you fancy booze and drugs”), and an initially rolling, uplifting tune, which becomes spectral in part II (sadly I’ll be damned if I can find any audio of part II online).
Secondly, Wickerman: a meandering, wandering tale which follows a river through Sheffield, taking in such sights as a burnt-down Trebor factory, “courting couples naked on Northern Upholstery”, and drunken Saturday night leaps off a viaduct – a fine example of Cocker’s story-telling, set to a haunting, orchestral-tinged soundtrack…