From The List, 12 March 2013:-
Glasgow indie-popsters The Plimptons have finally decided to call it a day after 13 years together. The band originally hail from deepest, darkest Lanarkshire; given their skewed social commentary and sardonic wit, you would believe was a post-industrial teenage wasteland that could give Bruce Springsteen’s provincial struggle a run for its money.
The band eventually relocated to what, in comparison, seemed like the bourgeois backdrop of Glasgow, often loitering around the West End. This cosmopolitan milieu let them rub shoulders with some of the great cultural minds of our time including John Cooper Clarke, almost as a reaction to the preppy Americana student lifestyle that was dominating much of the city’s landscape at the time. Their debut album The Songs of Ignorance and of Inexperience, featuring an iconic image of William Blake on its front cover, hinted at an irony and self-awareness which turned the prevalent working class agenda on its head. With its finger placed firmly on the pulse of popular culture it strayed from the elitist view and perceptions surrounding attitudes towards pre-existing cultural traits.
The central pairing of Martin and Adam Smith was The Plimptons’ strong point. Adam presented a shambolic stream of consciousness that mused on life’s absurdities, while Martin’s response was often delivered in a Nick Cave-esque baritone hinting at the monotony and anti-climactic nature of our own mortality (albeit with tongue firmly placed in cheek). Having gone on to work with Brendan O’Hare at the helm (Teenage Fanclub, Mogwai) on second album Pomp, they were pulled further into the ‘melodic sunshine pop’ slipstream. This was the perfect antidote to their raw DIY ethic previously reminiscent of The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit; it simultaneously instilled a sense of working class nobility not seen since the advent of Pulp and The Specials.
To coincide with their forthcoming farewell gig at Stereo on the 30th March, the band are releasing a retrospective compilation titled The Life and Death of Colonel Plimp, which spans the length of their career. Notable stand-out tracks include ‘Drink Y’Self Sober’, which comes across as a wistful lament to the headiest of hangovers soundtracked by Buzzcocks; and ‘Could I Be Loved’, a hilarious attempt at teenage angst, contrasting a plaintive desire to be of value to society with a sense of entitlement (‘World debt it cannot be cleared / I need the money to subsidise beer’). With the additional 4 tracks from their final EP, ‘The Plimptons Are Dead’, also included, this is a great introduction to a band who sadly basked in the shadows too long before the next John Peel could fall in love all over again.
Many of The Plimptons subsequently went on to form GUMS!, a combo I’ve mentioned a couple of times previously, commenting that in the live setting at a gig back in 2016, they delivered a set which musically reminded me of my teenage love for the sorts of fast and energetic post-punk/new wave pop that came from the likes of Buzzcocks and The Undertones but that lyrically was as amusing and enthralling as the great Aidan Moffat at his most playful and wistful best.
The Plimptons, as you’d expect, are cut from a similar cloth. The debut album contained a song about politics and with which they closed their final show back in 2013:-
mp3: The Plimptons – John Major
Here’s the opening track from the same debut album, and you can get a good idea why folk always come out of their live shows with a smile on their face:-
mp3: The Plimptons – We R Franz Ferdinand 2