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Half Man Half Biscuit - Urge for Offal

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 22 / 2 / 2015

Half Man Half Biscuit - Urge for Offal
Label: Probe Plus
Format: CD


Exhilarating combination of skiffle punk and wit on latest album from Half Man Half Biscuit

On their latest album Half Man Half Biscuit merge twanging skiffle punk rock and topical urgency. Half Man Half Biscuit never dissolved and thus never reunited, unlike many of their contemporaries of unfathomable lesser importance. Half Man Half Biscuit are the best original punk act around. Half Man Half Biscuit simply backed off when they weren't in popular demand, and returned to form when further need for their blunt eloquence proved necessary. Put simply: they have always done what was required by the state of world politics. You only get three free articles a week from 'The Economist' on-line and those are only half as true as Half Man Half Biscuit's lyrics. On top of that, 'The Economist' doesn't know punk. 'Westward Ho!', the ferociously rocking opening song on this latest collection of down-to-earth pun tunes,ought to win the band their first ever number one hit in docile ole Blighty. The influence of Half Man Half Bisuit can not be joked with. Shortly after their cover of the korfbal classic 'Joy in Leeuwarden (We Are Ready)' on '90 Bisodol Crimond', their 2011 previous album, the proud Frisian capital was awarded with the 2018 European Capital of Culture status. "Got a jet lag from kicking myself/Letting our friendship fade away," sings vocalist Nigel Blackwell, but the formidable musicianship on 'Urge For Offal' pushes these satirical punk crooners, both in their music and words, to a level of exhilirating greatness. HMHB do an ironic little square dancing tune on 'Theme Tune For Something Or Other', before going back to DHSS blues with the lyrics "While waiting for a kidney/We were waiting on a bus." This is followed by "Cupcakes and clichés" on 'False Grit', which isn't to say that the Half Man Half Biscuit have all of a sudden gone hipster. There are other finger-on-the-pulse moments which continue to disclose more anecdotal brilliance. 'Stuck Up A Hornbeam' manically echoes 1970's glam rock days, and is a fabulous sidestep to Mud's 'Cat Crept In'. 'Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride' drops nasty rocking beats and rips up riffs for another display of lyrical wit and wisdom, We enter the Nigel Blackwell world with even wittier crossword puzzle mayhem and headline philosophies. It is a song that would bring about John Peel's resurrection. Imagine Half Man Half Biscuit at a smashing party with The Fall, the Nightingales and Levellers 5. It sums up all the strengths of this band. "Your brutal numerals appal me," sings Nigel Blackwell on it, but perhaps the best pun on the album ("Climage change (..) Mileage Chart") comes with the last track, 'Mileage Chart'. Rolling together with elements of the Inspiral Carpets and Charlatans, 'Mileage Chart' could be regarded as a mockery of the Californian footloose lifestyle, though Beck probably doesn't wear the mentioned "platform shoes". On such moments, fine wit melts into a topical need of tripe. On 'Urge For Offal' you get it all.

Track Listing:-
1 Westward Ho! Massive Letdown
2 This One's for Now
3 Baguette Dilemma for the Booker Prize Guy
4 My Outstretched Arms
5 The Bain of Constance
6 Theme Tune for Something or Other
7 False Grit
8 Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride
9 Urge for Offal
10 Stuck up a Hornbeam
11 Adam Boyle Has Cast Lad Rock
12 The Unfortunate Gwatkin
13 Mileage Chart

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