Who: Buster Gobsmack Eats Filth (aka Grant Baynham and Adrian Mills off TV's "That's Life")
What: We Wanna Be Famous
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street, London
Cost: One pound
Ah, BBC Records and Tapes... so much to answer for...
Readers of a non-British origin may require me to brief them with some background about this single, and I'll do my best. "That's Life" was a British consumer programme which thrived in the seventies and eighties with its absurd and jarring approach of highlighting members of the public who had been wronged by bogus companies, spivs and ne'er-do-wells, then juxtaposing them with "light hearted" segments where they'd show clips of talking dogs or old ladies yodelling in the street. I'm not making any of this up or exaggerating for effect, incidentally - they really did. The shades of light and dark within the show were so extreme that it was a wonder the format succeeded for one series, much less the countless numbers which were eventually commissioned. Clearly somewhere out there a demographic existed for people who wanted to hear stories about people who had been left brain damaged after being run over by an articulated supermarket lorry and watch meerkats do some skateboarding. In essence, the show occupied the same kind of territory that the numerous oddball 50p grief-magazines which occupy newsagents shelves do now, and it's actually quite surprising that it hasn't been revamped and relaunched on that basis.
In 1988, towards the show's twilight years, one of their investigative items focussed on a dubious character who was apparently ripping off bands in Manchester by directing appalling videos for them for unreasonable amounts of cash (and in case you're wondering, the videos for The Inspiral Carpets "Joe" and The Stone Roses "She Bangs The Drums" were self-produced band efforts, so whoever he was, we can't blame him for those). To show the gentleman up for the rogue he was, presenters Grant Baynham and Adrian Mills promptly went forth and formed a dreadful punk band to highlight his activities. "Eats Filth" were born (being an anagram of "That's Life", in case this needs to be highlighted), a terrible video was created, and the man was humiliated and shamed on national television, with John Peel joining in by making his annoyance known. Job done. Or so we thought...
The story didn't quite end there, although it really should have done. It would seem that somebody at BBC Records and Tapes decided that the deliberately dreadful record - all one and a half minutes of it - should be issued as a charity single for MENCAP. As executive decisions go, the weakness of this one should not be understated. "Buster Gobsmack Eats Filth" were essentially a satirical parody of a struggling punk band, which in terms of humour was ten years out of date by 1988. A modern equivalent would be a joke band set up to parody the Teen C movement now. It's true to say that the "That's Life" audience still seemed to find punks disproportionately hilarious in the late eighties - the shrieks of laughter from the studio audience whenever a London punk was vox popped by Mills or one of his cohorts proved a baffling noise to hear - but they really weren't going to bother their stereograms with this nonsense. It sold next to no copies, and as in my opinion this is probably one of the worst songs ever committed to vinyl, it deserved to, charity or no charity. After all, there are very few people who would even give a homeless man making this sort of noise any cash.
Because let's not forget that the song in question is so utterly, mindlessly bad that it may be a work of genius. It's a squawking piece of drivel with scattergun lyrics a petulant six year old could have penned which starts and stops very quickly and without having made any particular kind of melodic point. To all intents and purposes, this is the celebrity equivalent of The Legend's singles for Creation Records - it's that atrocious.
The B-side "The Toreador From Japan" takes a different tack, but seems quaintly racist instead - you sense that all concerned probably thought they were having a light-hearted laugh, and that no harm was done, but ultimately the fake "Japano Spanish vocals" will cause people who dwell in the year 2010 to cringe (indeed, they probably caused quite a few people living in 1988 to blush as well). And please don't ask me what the B-side was connected to in the world of "That's Life", if indeed anything. I don't know, and I don't know if I want to know.
Still though - at least you can all now see what I meant when I said a few entries back that Kenny Everett's World's Worst Record Show should probably be updated and relaunched by someone.