Shady Whims and Obstacles
published: 12 /
In the latest in our 'Re : view' series in which our writers look back on records that they feel deserve a second evaluation, Tommy Gunnarsson examines Norwegian indiepop band the Tables' debut album, 'Shady Whims and Obstacles'
For most people, Norwegian pop music is just three young boys and a great music video, but for me, there is so much more. In the beautiful capital of Oslo, there is a wonderful record label called Perfect Pop Records, who releases… well, perfect pop. Most of the time, anyway. The manager of that label is a man who goes by the name of Bartleby, and until about a year ago, he was the singer with the Tables, a band he co-founded in the late 80’s, before Perfect Pop was even an idea in his head (I presume).
In 1990, the Tables released a fabulous 7” EP with four tracks, among them the infectious 'Electricity Bill' and the stumbling 'Diary, the latter of which featured a very basic flute solo by Bartleby himself. The time had come for their debut album. 'Shady Whims and Obstacles' was released by the band themselves on a label called Schtooopid Records, and came in a sleeve showing a photograph of some penguins at the Bergen Aquarium. It appeared in a very limited edition of 1000 copies, and just a year after its initial release, it was seen for sale in London at £45!
The album kicks off with some weird radio sounds, with someone browsing the stations on offer. The songs played on these stations happens to be some of Bartleby’s favourite ones. After that we are treated to the first real tune, 'Larry', a song about Bartleby’s older brother. From here, the fantastic pop songs just keep on coming After listening to this album, it doesn't come as a big surprise that the band likes the Television Personalities. Some of these songs would have fitted perfectly on albums like 'And Don’t the Kids Just Love It'!
With their eloquent lyrics about cartoon characters, marrying a space monster and hanging on to your beloved things, the Tables always puts a smile on my face, any time of the day. Sadly, the band split up at the end of 2002, after recording what would be their swansong album, 'Never Mynd the Hillocks (Treble without a Cause)', which was released in early 2003.
The Tables weren’t a very productive band, and only managed to record three albums during their 15 year-career. The second offering, 'Holiday at Wobbledef Grunch', came in 1997, and in 1991, the band released a split-LP under the name Monsters Of Doom. The songs on that album was added to the CD-release of 'Holiday'.
Apart from these album releases, they also gave birth to a bunch of singles and EP’s, among them two tribute-7”s, one for Pink Floyd ('See Emily Play'/'Arnold Layne') and one for The Idle Race, containing a fabulous recording of 'I Like my Toys'.
If you want to know more about this great band, check out www.perfectpop.no.All three of their albums are currently available on CD, so you know where to spend your money now…