Burning Badgers Vinyl 4: Lost Albums 1 – The Italian Flag – Prolapse (1997) (Radar Records)
A few pieces ago I mentioned that I once lived with a chap called Irish Mike, who wasn’t actually Irish. Well, here’s why… he was called Irish Mike because he once dated an Irish lass called Orla and went all the way to Ireland to see her one Easter and she dumped him in the bar of her local which was somewhere in the middle of the Dingle Peninsula, about six miles from civilisation and a hundred miles from the ferry port in Dublin. So Mike sits there wondering what to do, he had nowhere to stay and no way of getting back to the ferry port from whence he came. A bloke walks into the bar, who was a little worse for wear, it turns out he’d just won the Irish Lottery, couple of million punts apparently.
Chappie buys drinks for everyone all night and at the end of the evening, gives Mike his car, which was a two-year-old Opal, which Mike, sleeps in that night and then at ten am the next morning drives to the ferry port, extremely hungover (and probably still very over the limit, kids) and was still driving it around in when I knew him. When Mike retold this story in a smoke filled room one miserable November evening, he became forever Irish Mike.
All of which fun and games brings us to this weeks record from Badger Box.
There are a bunch of albums in Badger’s box. I have selected five in particular that I am going to call ‘Lost Albums’ not because they are particular rare or uncommon but because you hardly ever read about them these days.
Number one in this series is The Italian Flag the third and finest album from Leicester’s dual singing, art-rock champions Prolapse.
I thought at first that Badger had somehow managed to get his hand on an Italian version of this album. It is adorned with a sticker that reads ‘Edizione Limitata’, then I realised it was something to do with the title of the record. It’s a lovely thing, this record though, double vinyl, flashy cover, lyrics inside that separate the boy vocals and the girl vocals, brilliant glossy vinyl that actually shines when you play it. It’s marvellous. Again I had no idea that Badger was a fan of the band. Man, I would have loved to gone and seen Prolapse live with Badger.
I saw Prolapse live a couple or three times back in the day, they were shambolic and unpredictable, I loved the way that their male singer, “Scottish Mick” kind of lumbered and raved away, on one side of the stage in a thick (and, often for my fey English ears at least, impenetrable) Scottish accent (I’m one of those idiots who appreciated the subtitles in Trainspotting). Whilst over on the over side, female singer Linda Steelyard stood quite still and sang in this beautiful sweet very English lilt. The pair of them almost trading blows as the bassline rumbled like all good basslines should and the guitars thrashed away majestically.
‘The Italian Flag’ was released back in 1997 on Radar Records and it was probably as close as Prolapse got to breaking through. This was largely due to the pure pop brilliance of the single Autocade which very nearly pushed the band into the Top 40 if memory serves me right (yup, I know what I did there).
mp3: Prolapse – Autocade
But its not just ‘Autocade’, the first four tracks (or side one of the double vinyl) is pretty much flawless, as good a first four tracks on a record that I can think of right now.
mp3 : Prolapse – Slash/Oblique
This is a startling track and perfectly illustrates my earlier claim about Scottish Mick ranting and raving – the way he shouts ‘Alberquerque, Mercatata’ (or whatever it is he shouts) is one of rock’s truly menacing moments.
Which probably should have been a massive hit, and probably didn’t get the airplay it needed, largely due to Scottish Mick telling everyone that something, hair, music, clothes, everything ‘was crap’. It is infectiously brilliant, even if it is the sound a middle-aged crisis unfurling on a record right in front of your ears.
If the first two tracks on ‘The Italian Flag’ are angry, shouting ripostes to life and all its problems, Cacophony No A is almost the complete opposite. Where, Linda Steelyard sounds almost angelic, like an Enya it is ok to like. If that is even possible.
Side A finishes with the single Killing The Bland which was the lead single for the album and was my first introduction to the ban – although I have a 12” in my collection by Prolapse of a single called Flexed that I have no idea where it came from but it predates ‘The Italian Flag’ and which would have been released in my final year as a student. I also seem to remember Drew Barrymore raving about this song in some magazine somewhere.
It is indeed the first time Prolapse have featured on this blog…a band that have been recommended to me by a few folk over the years, none more so than Hammy, a very good friend of both myself and Strangeways, but the name has always put me off!! It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, and I’ve now picked up a second-hand copy of The Italian Flag.