Uncle Murdoc's Story Time
There's plenty of questions in this life that you'll never know the answer to. Why am I here? What is the purpose of all of this? Why do so many people spend so long wondering whether a Jaffa Cake is a cake or a biscuit rather than just eating the whole bloody packet like a sensible person would? Why does 2-D have a hickey on the cover of Demon Days?
Ah, well, I might have some inside information there – just call me a veritable hub of gossip and celebrity bilge. All the news that's fit to be sued over. So you want the answer? Well, perhaps that's for me to know, you to ask me about, me to tell you I won't say and for you to bugger off, muttering under your breath that I was a bit of a prat to bring the subject up to begin with if I wasn't going to explain.
Fine! Fine! You raise a valid point, fictional person I am addressing. So here it is: a dip into the paddling pool of musical history. Sit back, eat a jaffa cake, don't think about whether it's a cake or a biscuit (...I think it's a cake. Otherwise the name doesn't make any sense... I'll have to look into that) and, most importantly of all: enjoy.
Oh and make sure you don't leave any suspect stains on the furniture, there's a good chap.
If I was compiling a list of unsexy places, recording studios would rank pretty high. That's not to say I haven't had sex in any, I'm just saying I wouldn't go out of my way to experience it, faithful reader. You're not missing out on much. I think I'd wedge it firmly between having a quickie in a lift (Co-Op lift in the '90s is a particularly bad idea – the otis didn't seem to appreciate it much, but maybe he just thought it was rude that he wasn't asked if he fancied a go) and having a sneaky shag in a bouncy castle (sounds fun, it's not).
It really stems from the fact that, visually, aurally and spiritually, the recording studio has a lot in common with some sort of padded cell for the more psychologically challenged among us. It's the spongy walls and the wailing sounds and the total cobblers everyone is talking that does it. Three o'clock in the morning and it "needs more cowbell". Chances are on a real "hardcore" sess you'll just be transported from one padded cell to another, hee hee har har, you'll have gone just a little more loopy than you ought to've.
Anyway, yeah. Think that sets the scene (don't say I don't spoil you, more-than-likely-Russell – p.s. if you are reading this Russ – PISS OFF! I don't read your personal correspondence with that woman with the rather clever trick involving the contents of a fruit bowl, do I? Also, her number would be much appreciated, cheers mate). You'll excuse me if I'm more of an "all killer, no filler" sort of a story-telling fellow. Just get this sorted in your brain-tank: me, in a chair, looking bored out of my poor little brain. Me, sat at a mixing desk, twirling that one little gain knob which doesn't seem to be connected to anything at all. I'm sat wondering vaguely if it's perhaps controlling the level of electric shocks someone in some other room is experiencing whilst looking just a little bit groggy. Not my usual gorgeous self, but rather more like I've been slapped around the face with an old fish. Tired, sweaty, smelly, not at all drunk. It was a horrible, horrible time for uncle Murdoc children.
So, yeah, there we are. Sat there, in the proverbial driver's seat with my eyes half open, mouth open in a zombie leer listening to some berk singing "Oh, good grief."
For the less astute of you, that's Mr 2-D of course. And, er, yeah I suppose I ought to furnish you with a few more details. "Oh Good Grief " was an early version of "O Green World". We're all not very sure how that lyric came to be or who's to blame for it. Perhaps me and Blue Hair were on a being British binge or something, I really couldn't tell you. Whatever the case, there was an undeniable vibe in the air that this was a particularly awful, steaming pile of musical shite on our hands. Worse still, we hadn't gotten the intro down yet. Y'know the bit I mean, I let out a goliath, biblical, old-testamentical bass line something like "Duh, der duh, der duh duh duh duh." That bit. We were lacking it and naturally things sounded like the aural equivalent of lettuce in a Boots sandwich that hasn't been snapped up by a secretary by 2pm: soggy, limp and pretty crap as far as being a decent pop song goes.
"Oh good grief," the studio wailed again and I fiddled with my knob (the console one, don't get ahead of yourself, reader), "Oh good grief."
"Oh pissing good grief," I muttered in agreement. Really, that song was terrible. All evidence of it, bar Mr 2-D, has been burned. I'm working on him, give me more time. Well, by some truly bizarre stroke of fate a man who has been known to miss minor details like the fact that he's forgotten to put on shoes actually noticed me muttering that through the glass. He gestured and I turned the channel on so we could hear each other, me in the studio, him in the booth.
"Wot's wong wiv u thin ey-Oh, you know what, fuck it. He has a stupid accent but I'm not writing it. Fill in the gaps for yourself everyone. Get creative, make him Welsh or Jamaican if you want, you have my blessing.
"What's wrong with you then? Sounded alright on my end," he said with what I suppose an author would say was a petulance air (not just pretty, girls, there's a brain in here as well, oh yes. It's the complete package with me), "What'm I doing that you don't like?"
I remember tilting back in my chair and shrugging at the ceiling and the dodgy rust coloured stain up there.
"Nothing, nothing, s'alright."
"S'what I thought!" he said, with an extra dollop of petulance.
"Just a bit very shit," I conceded, "Slight issue with it being very shit."
The bloke's shoulders slumped enough to the impression he was a traffic cone.
"So what am I supposed to do about that, exactly?" he said, doing that one eyed squint he does sometimes, like he's a geezer or something. I can assure you he isn't, his mum still buys his underwear for him, pops him little parcels of them in the post and sends them to Kong, "Am I supposed to rewrite it as well as sing it?"
"Oh for-" In despair I got up and shoved open the adjoining door. At his look of surprise I gave him a pointed look, grabbed my bass, slung it on, struck a pose - a sweaty, tired, sober pose so it's unlikely to have one of my classics – and started messing about.
"You," I barked, getting in touch with my inner lieutenant, "Keyboard. Startling tickling."
"Ivories. Tickling-oh fuck just plaaay the keeeeyboard," I begged. By this point I already had "duh, der duh" so we were cooking on gas alright. 2-D on the other hand had started poncing around, plonking the keys with those gigantic fingers of his with less success. Seriously though, have you seen that bloke's hands? Get him to hold them palm up and you've got two functioning dinner plates right there. Bit of a freak if you ask me.
Anyway, like a really classy author I'm going to cleverly sneak in a theme I laid down earlier. I'm very talented like that, you know. I once won a school prize for a dirty limerick I wrote on a desk top so it doesn't come as a shock of course. The theme, naturally, is that of recording studios being hell holes and very much like confinement cells. I can't stress that point strongly enough so I'm going repeat myself to make sure there's no confusion: they're hell holes. Smell a bit too.
When it's the crack of dawn and you're stood in one full well knowing you're going to be there for at the very least a few more hours, it's particularly shitty, believe me. There's no sound other than you and whoever else is there breathing, the amps coughing – oh I'm coming over all Tom Waits. The air is just dead and dusty and hanging there, there's no natural light. It is calculated to crack your mind in two like a nutcracker. And, after a few more minutes of plonking around that's what happened with us two.
Luckily going briefly insane worked wonders, as it so often does in the music industry. 2-D, in a classic show of lead singer hissy-fittery slammed his hand down on the keyboard and made a resounding...
This is where stories are a bit shit, really. Shame I can't attach a sound file somehow. It was sort of a KLEEEEE but more angry, a bit KRAAAAEEE but not so sharp. Look, okay, better still, listen to the intro of O Green World, or watch Psycho. I'm trying my damnedest to recreate the sound of getting stabbed in a shower. EEE KREEE EEE KREEEE – sort of. Well, whatever 2-D decided to slap worked. Our heads both shot up.
Now, again, don't get carried away, readers. Use a bit of logic: that can't be the end of the story because 2-D is hickey-less and I haven't gotten a blow job yet-OH CRAP. Sorry, gave the game away. But yes I do. And I clearly haven't yet, so, let's move swiftly onto that lovely finale.
What actually happened was this: we both looked up and looked even more enraged at what is the equivalent musically of getting hit in the head with the business end of a claw hammer. I kept playing my bass line over and again, although I made a point of walking over to the amp and kicking the distortion knob so it started to sound like a Rottweiler was trapped in the speaker somewhere. Meaty, if you get me.
And we kept playing our little bits, 2-D trying to rattle any loose screws right out my head and my trying to blow away all the cobwebs in his, until at last I'm stood as near as I can be to the man without actually standing on the keyboard.
Then, well, s'a bit of a blur. Musical foreplay will do that to you though. There was just something of a silent exchange. 2-D might look as expressive as a piece of plyboard but honestly you can make out emotions in his eyes if you know him well enough and the dialogue went something along the lines of:
"Yeah go on then."
And next thing the lucky sod has his arms full of Stoke-on-Trent's finest son and said son's mouth getting to work. The keyboard made matters bloody difficult, we must have been a bit barking and more than a bit horny to have not managed to even side step the thing to start with. Cut right into the family jewels, which was particularly unpleasant as you can imagine. Anyway, there I am giving a leech a run for its money and D was doing his best impression of a Mills and Boon heroine. Dunno how long it'd have gone on for like that, possibly indefinitely or until loss of feeling in the genital area reached crucial levels perhaps but whatever the case D sped matters along by apparently clutching and fumbling at the keys for support.
"Oh!" he said, and here the lips detached and I pulled back and so retained my bits and bobs, "That's it!"
And, well kiddies, y'know what? It was. "It" being that little odd tinkly bit between the bits that sound like we're trying to murder you via the airwaves. O Green World: sorted. Job's a good un.
So we played it through quickly (oh, yeah, forgot to mention didn't I? Slung my bass over my shoulder before I decided to sexually assault my singer. Naturally), it sounded as beastly as it does to this day and that was that. Another fine, crowning moment for the Gorillaz. Another addition to the barricade against the incoming tidal wave of mindless shit from the hit factories.
2-D gave me his toothy toothless grin. I gave him a grudging look of, well, not admiration but an expression you might give a puppy when it surprises you by not pissing on the new carpet and we both de-instrumented and wandered into the recording studio to sprawl out on those plush leather chairs they have for a bit.
"There. Perfect," the Southern pansy said.
I gave a slow, satisfied, smug, punchable sort of grin but it caught halfway through.
"Wait. What about "Oh good grief"?"
Now, I will hand this much to D – having a broken head means he comes up with some handy and totally arthouse sounding bollocks at times. He sat there for a moment, head tilted to one side then, with the most natural of shrugs said "O Green World."
Who was I to mull it over? Hand scratching my belly button, I nodded my assent.
"Sure, why not?"
We sank back into our chairs with a contented sighed for a moment before again I felt myself frown and D slowly begin to hunch up in his own chair. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him touch his neck, which, naturally, was a very nice shade of reddish purple.
"Oh yeah," I piped up again, "I'm still horny. How about it?"
And that, kiddies, is how uncle Murdy got his blow job. Aw, top notch. A happy end to a happy story with a moral tucked away in there somewhere, no doubt.
Oh. But hang on. Was that the point of my telling this story? I can't rightly recall. Wasn't there something to do with Jaffa Cakes at the beginning? Oh, I dunno. The hour is late, I am drunk and you just got a story about me getting off. Sounds like a result.
So, nothing else for it, is there, but to say: "the end".
Scrawled on the bottom of the type-writer'd copy:
"What the fuck Murdoc? Is this part of you're memor (crossed out), memory (crossed out), autobograph (crossed out), book you're writting? Take that out or I'm fucking sewing (crossed out) suing the backside offa you.
P.S. Dont suppose you've written anything about that night in the Winnybago with the tequila and the sombreros, have you?"