THE PARACHUTE MEN
A-side: Every Other Thursday
B-Side: Quiet Life
I can't tell you much about The Parachute Men. I know they were one of a number of indie bands of the period that had a female singer (almost always blonde) backed by 3 blokes (probably in well-worn, creaky leather jackets) on guitar, bass and drums.
I remember seeing The Parachute Men live at the Gloucester Guildhall - for a short while there was something called the Banana Club, where, (once a month maybe - can anyone else remember?), they'd have a couple of indie bands on - one or two usually someone with an actual record deal touring the provinces, plus extra support from unsigned local entities. The Parachute Men were either a headline act, or supporting Carter - USM, (of whom more will be spoken at a later date).
The Every Other Thursday of the song title refers to the day of turning up to the job centre to sign on and get your dole money. You might expect that given this subject matter, the the song would be grim and dour, but it's not. It's an upbeat, even jaunty, piece of jangle pop. The lyrics don't dwell on the miserable side of joblessness, or even try to make political comments on the situation, but instead focuses on the relief, and pleasure that getting the fortnightly dole money brings. The vocals are strong, but unlikely many contemporaries don't get all sweet and girly, and there is a wistfulness to the voice, that brings an edgier counterpart to the upbeat feel of the tune.
Turning the record over we find Quiet Life, a song which lives up to its name. It's slower and quieter, with an almost folky acoustic sound. For me two things provide an unexpected texture to this song, and stops it from being just pleasant and lifts it into the very good category. I mentioned the singer's voice for Every Other Thursday, here there's an odd catch to it which brings you in. The second thing that elevates this song is, surprisingly, the drums. The drum patterns are unusual, and more than just keeping time.
Before I listened to this single I was expecting something pleasant but bland and unmemorable, what I got surprised me by being lighter and more textured than I could have hoped for.
Next time alternative new wave stalwarts try for the big time...