Palace Music, Little Blue Eyes b/w The Spider’s Dude Is Often There 7″, 1996

In 1993 Oldham toured Europe with several other musicians as Palace. They recorded four songs at a Peel session. Two of those were released three years later on this 7” single. Oldham must have written a lot in the early days of Palace because there seem to have been several singles emerge from that period as the 90s wore on. These two are both odd little pop ditties, the second of which is even … joyful. What’s unexpected is how assured of voice Oldham sounds for 1993, so much more confident than on his debut album.

Little Blue Eyes… is crisply, recorded, almost piercingly so, with a wonderful violin sound which complements Oldham’s voice well, along with the gurgly sparkly guitar notes. It’s got a thumpity-thump beat and a chorus that can only be described as pure pop resting on the phrase “little blue eyes,” which gets repeated by the backing band three times in a rising motif; it sounds positively sunny. Pity the song’s so short, barely over two minutes. It’s sung to a “you” figure, addressed as “little blue eyes,” a sad little number that begins and ends in loneliness borne of disconnect between a pair of lovers. Let’s say the singer-perspective is that of a woman singing to her “little blue eyes” whose attention, heart, love, she cannot get inside; “I could not be you / I couldn’t look at you and see you.” This has caused her to follow him around and “snap” at him. Once she’s snagged him however, he tells her that he “felt safe and good” with her, but now complains that she’s in love with another man. Alas, she sings, “you would not see me / I held your hand, you could not see me.” And that’s about it. They’re out of sync with one another, or at least from her perspective, “little blue eyes” is incapable of loving her. “I need to rest your soul so quietly” the Oldham-female-narrator sings, in the end admitting, “I’m all alone.” Occasionally there’s an unpleasant blip, like a microphone problem, or feedback from the violin or something, which interrupts this concise little pop song.

The Spider’s Dude Is Often There… is less pop-melodic, slower, but recorded with much the same tones and instruments as the A-side. That violin is back, more moody and soulful this time, adding a yearning quality of desire to the song, while making it sound vaguely Scottish. Lyrically it’s one of Oldham’s more openly lustful efforts, with soft lines like “I love to see a milky white angel / Getting her deserved rest / Drooling into my chest hair / And softly saying our love nest.” We can be thankful there’s a singer in the world willing to come up with lines like these, which are then followed by the sexually suggestive; “She humored my softness, recognizing good intentions / I’ll let your spider eat my fly / If I can scratch your bone.” No need to explain that. The syntax is familiar enough that we can grasp intuitively the sense and meaning. It gets more pungent—here’s the chorus: “Sweetheart couldn’t do better / I eat much like a ramrod / I got a whale of a wild heart now.” And the metaphorical allusions keep piling up: “If heaven’s tits were gleaming up to tease me / I’d tumble down the basement stairs / To live amongst the dog beds and the piping …/ You’ll howl with all your doors closed / And you watch me stumble past / A golden gilded stumbleweed / A husband that will last.” Finally, the chorus again, finishing one more time with “I got a whale of a wild heart tonight.” He seems like a pretty satisfied husband. I feel like a voyeur listening to this, like, too much information. This song’s fairly short too with a simple, affecting melody.

Strangely, “Little Blue Eyes” was included on the first Lost Blues And Other Songs collection, whereas the oddly titled B-side is included on Guarapero: Lost Blues 2.

The next 7″ single was the very soft “Patience/Take However Long You Want” released in 1997.

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About Alan Bumstead Vinyl Reviews

Alan Bumstead is a music fanatic who humbly adds confusion to the world with a string of album reviews written during real-time-listening in a stream-of-consciousness style, then edited for spelling, punctuation, flow and grammar. Apart from an additional introductory paragraph, the writing is improvised in time with the music. There is no re-writing. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In his book Moving To Higher Ground Wynton Marsalis says, "Because jazz musicians improvise under the pressure of time, what's inside comes out pure. It's like being pressed to answer a question before you have a chance to get your lie straight. The first thought is usually the truth." I like to think that's what Alan Bumstead's all about.
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