I, Ludicrous form a sort of Holy Trinity with The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit, and it warms the cockles that all three bands are still going strong. I’ve been following the Luds since I first heard Preposterous Tales on John Peel in 1987. I was hooked instantly, and it is still the best song ever written about someone called Ken. This is the first I, Ludicrous album since 2003’s Museum Of Installation; prolific, they are not. Brilliant, they certainly are.
Often wrongly dismissed as a comedy band, I, Ludicrous – though funny – are far more than that. Their songs chart the lives of normal people, with a particular focus on football, and the targets of their satire are the rich, the famous and the pretentious. Past classics include Three English Football Grounds, Stuck In A Lift With Noel Edmonds, Moynihan Brings Out The Hooligan In Me, Argument In The Launderette, and I’ve Never Been Hit by Mark E. Smith. Singer Will Hung (not his real name!) is, or was, a civil servant (in DWP I think), and Clerking Till I Die, included here, will ring bells with anyone trapped in a boring dead-end job. ‘The knowledge that my salary on the 28th is guaranteed and I have no dirty habits to feed means I’m clerking till I die’ drones Hung over a backdrop of clanking drum machine, rumbling bass and spiky guitar.
The rest of the album explores themes of work, celebrity, academia and politics. Opening track We’re Signed is a bouncy number in which Hung throws in his job because his band has just signed with a record label, a scenario which has the ring of truth about it. Second track and single Cheer Up is a fantastic pop song which would be No. 1 in a parallel universe. ‘Come on everyone let’s twist and shout – and there’s a new Stooges album coming out!’ George Jenkins is a mellow, touching, barbed ballad about the sad plight of an ex-miner. Hacky’s Wine Bar, a live favourite for decades, is a hilarious rant about a seedy drinking venue where ‘the blue neon sign may not look appealing and when it rains it drips through the ceiling.’ And if you want to know what happened when Amanda Knox met Oscar Pistorius, the tale is told in Opportunity Knox via a series of ‘deplorious’ rhymes.
The album’s centrepiece is the spoken-word 6-minute Old Professors Vs Young Professors, in which I, Ludicrous reveal the not very surprising truth behind the science industry. Later in the album the Global Business Man is accused of creating the recession via a very Fall-like track, and the whole thing ends with a suprisingly angry (and extremely rough) live cover version of Third World War’s Ascension Day. Overall, a brilliant, mordantly funny album. Sleaford Mods? PAH!