Juxtapozed with U” is the thirteenth single by Super Furry Animals. It was the first single to be taken from the Rings Around the World album and reached number 14 on the UK Singles Chart on its release in July 2001.
It was inspired by the Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder track “Ebony and Ivory” as well as the work of Marvin Gaye and Caetano Veloso. The track was originally conceived as a duet, with the band approaching both Brian Harvey from East 17, and Bobby Brown to sing alongside Gruff Rhys. Both turned the band down so Rhys sang the verses through a vocoder to imitate another person, something which he has described as a “very schizophrenic thing to do”.
Rhys has claimed his lyrics address social injustice and are about “house prices going up, and people being left behind by the super rich”. The song has echoes of the Philadelphia soul music of the 1970s as well as David Bowie’s “plastic” approximation of the sound on his 1975 album Young Americans. The group tried to make the song as “plastic” as possible: “if we’d tried to make it sound authentic, it would have been awful.”
According to Rhys the band were keen to challenge people’s opinions of them with the track which is a “shocking song, because you can’t shock with loud guitars any more” and, as a polished uplifting pop song, is “fairly subversive” when contrasted with the macho guitar music which the band felt was prevalent in 2001.
It’s a song that got a lot of critical acclaim and in reaching #14, it provided the band with their second biggest hit to that point in time (Northern Lites had got to #11 two years previously while Golden Retriever would later become the second-best performing single, hitting #13 in 2003).
Having said that, it wasn’t one which found much favour with our old friend and native of Wales, the Robster, who made the observation that both of its b-sides were better:-
Indeed, Robster included both songs in his Super Furry Animals ICA, which appeared as far back as June 2015. It was an ICA with a difference as it consisted solely of b-sides, all of which were top quality. Here’s what he said about the above two songs:-
Tradewinds : A cool funky reggae sound with a hazy psychedeleic bent. It was the b-side of what was at the time my least favourite Furries single. While the a-side has grown on me over time, I was always a fan of Tradewinds
Happiness Is A Warm Pun : Bowie circa Aladdin Sane could have written this. He’d have probably left out the Sasquatch though. Bit too strange for Dave, I reckon. Both b-sides of Juxtaposed With U are still better than the lead track.
I miss the Robster. He’s a great writer with a real love for his music, never afraid to offer an opinion that goes against the grain.
I’ve sent him a link to this posting in the hope that he reads it and perhaps gets him in the mood for another guest posting or two