Best EP ever?

After enjoying John Peel's Record Box yesterday, I'm currently half watching at The Story of Pulp's Common People. It's quite diverting, if somewhat revisionist in its approach to the history of Pulp (implying that they had virtually no success before Common Pulp, when several of the singles off His 'n' Hers started to bring them to people's attention).

It does remind me a lot of late Summer '95, in that crucial time between leaving school and starting university, and in particular the release of possibly the greatest EP ever. It was August, and I was slumming it in the IT department of the county council. Pulp had already saved the summer by stepping in for the Stone Roses at Glastonbury, and bringing the 25th anniversary festival to a unifying conclusion. They were releasing their follow up, a double-A side: Mis-shapes, and Sorted for E's and Whizz. As was the trend at the time, there were a couple of versions released. The one I bought also had Parent-Teacher Association *and* Common People Live At Glastonbury on it. All that for 1.99 in the first week of release! ("Hatched in the minds of men, Who stack singles for one ninety-nine, Get the fucker in the chart! Charge three ninety-nine!" -- King Bing, Babybird). I'd say that was a better combination than pretty much anything else released ever. I must have played it over and over all summer, fifteen minutes of pure indie-pop perfection.

"Sorted" also attracted a mistaken controversy. Not least because of the cover design which featured instructions on how to fold your own "wrap". Of course, since there were multiple covers for the different versions, the one I had didn't feature this graphic. But it was enough for the Daily Mirror (apparently led by one "Kate Thornton") to proclaim boldly on their front page "Ban This Sick Stunt!" I remember eagerly watching the performance on Top Of The Pops (this was the end of the era when you would still watch Top of the Pops), which began with Jarvis reading the paper over his glasses, before tossing it casually to one side. One story is that Jarvis was originally quite upset by the fuss, after mishearing the last word of the headline.

Anyway, it was a single of its time. I never bought that many singles. The ones I did buy were carefully chosen, based on what I was most enthusiastic about at the time. And thanks to the wonders of modern technology, instead of gathering dust on a shelf three thousand miles away, I get to hear it quite regularlary on shuffle through my ever present winamp. And, of all the singles I own, those songs evoke those times -- particularly Sorted and Common People live at Glastonbury, bringing to mind two very different festival experiences. So, yes, best EP ever, as far as I'm concerned.


Matthew said...

Ah yes, I still have most of the Pulp singles of that era. I thought Ansaphone and PTA were really good songs.

Aged 16, it felt cool to be different and stay out of the interminable Blur/Oasis arguments by nailing my colours to the Pulp mast. Nowadays, I think I was right. Blur were better post-Britpop, Oasis were never that good anyway, but I still listen to Pulp.

plentyofants said...

I didn't have that one, but I was always quite fond of The Sisters EP (confusing for having His 'n' Hers, the song, on, whereas His 'n' Hers, the album, didn't). I thought it functioned well together as a complete EP. I haven't listened to it in a while, though, as it was, quite literally, my sister's EP.