This is a review of "Fun and Games" recorded by Being 747. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2004.
On a bar-full of chemically dubious sweetiepops and bilious lagers here stands a single malt of geological integrity and permanent joy.
Dave Cooke has outfaced the Beelzebub of coke-head industry squalor, and the Devil blinked first. So Being 747 have left the A&R bar and fly a deliberate course to another place altogether. David now takes on the pissed up and pissed off Goliath of The Audience, with none but the trusty Morricones at his side. It’s a fight/flight to the death.
On the evidence of "Fun and Games", my money's on Dave Cooke. A first listen-through confirms the wonderful vocal range; the intricate melodies; the simple, subtle and sometimes inspired accompaniment; and, above all, the excoriating vision of a man on the very outside of the outside. The second listen through raises doubts about the ability of this particular music to survive the addled marshmallowland of the industry.
But after that, WOO HOO!. Who gives a shit about all that market-placement demography nonsense anyway? It is a fine and rewarding album of lyric gems and musical treats. We came in with a distillery-linked metaphor. We will continue with the conceit that this is a spirituous unction which has been thrice distilled and matured in smoky casks since the beginnings of pop. Every single wrong note and careless whisper has long since evaporated and what we're left with is a concentrated glass of amber perfection. Sip gently and savour. Leave the Jack Daniels to the bemused children of advertising's wasteland.
The liner notes claim that most of this album was recorded a single night's session followed by some more hours of mixing and video construction fun. It's hard to imagine such a complex set being despatched with such speed. But there is a classically consistent sound that, of course, you could only achieve with the set-up constant from end to end. And maybe, too, with musicians and an engineer who knew each others (and their own) minds as well as this bunch. "I'm Easy" stands apart: being recorded in a different place and time with its dream-like separation from the rest.
If you haven’t heard any Being 747 before, then sort yourself out. To summarise, Dave Cooke writes and sings and plays guitar. Steven Morricone does bass and various keyboards (and some very cool un-credited saxophone I believe). Paul Morricone does drums. The songs are classic pop tunes with a twist of the darkness about them, throwing in unexpected notes and killer riffs with angry and/or vulnerable intensity.
I want to ramble on now about all the great bits ... the syncopated guitar/bass riff in "Swingball"; the slow-burning denunciation of that line in "Use your friends" ("and flower like mistletoe upon their stems"); the elegant poetry, the organ break and subtle vocal harmony of "Target Practice"; the monster sized drum in "That Look Again"; the savage cack-handedness of the wannabe-band practice impersonation of "Make Things Happen" (it only lasts a bar); the triumphant sci-fi comic intro to "The Music of The Clones"; the sweet 'n' sour contrasts of jolly tune and bitter lyrics in "Pressure to Perform"; the deep echo and guitar lusciousness of "Time Talent Continuum"; the madhouse yelping and face-pulling of "I move too fast"; the gargantuan orc-march of "Advice of the Golden Couple"; the noodly heartbroken fantasy world of "I'm Easy"; the Dave Cooke hallmark seductiveness of the tune to "The One We Did Last Monday"; the dazzling invention of "The Girl Who Fell Asleep Watching Her Life Flash Before Her Eyes"; and the brilliant video on the glorious pop of "Weathergirl". I could go on.
Cooke's inspiration is his own restless and compulsive involvement in a stupid enterprise that habitually suffocates the treasure it is supposed to guard and nourish. His music is full of regret and despair, but it’s coloured and embellished with great pop moments done in the uncopyable Being 747 way. One fine example is the three note riff in "Use Your Friends" ... the very same notes beloved of Holland-Dozier-Holland and other classic luminaries ... but glitched in a Frank Zappa kind of transformation that is utterly irresistible. Singing about being a rejected pop star is a dangerous way to have fun and games, but it never sinks to being self-obsessed. We've all got our lives to lead, and we've all got the idiocy of other people's attempts to stop us. So this stuff will connect with anyone with a brain and an incurable love of the best of pop music.
If anyone else in Leeds is planning the album of 2004, they'd better get a move on.