(MacMillan, 1995)

Pulp book jacket 2


The first, and still most comprehensive, biography of Pulp, Sheffield’s premier tourist attraction.

When Pulp’s Common People crashed into the singles chart at number two – charting above Michael and Janet Jackson’s long-awaited Scream – the Sheffield five’s success belatedly confirmed what fans had known about for over a decade – a classic, unique British band fronted by the most charismatic, individual and sartorially elegant pop star the country had witnessed since Morrissey.

Few would have had the persistence and courage to keep their dream alive for as long as 15 years but Jarvis Cocker did, through a disarming number of line-up changes, record company disasters, periods of numbing hibernation and numerous mundane daily tragedies that don’t usually find their way into song. But since Cocker makes known the sexual frustrations, the suburban dramas and the social despair if not the weekly trips to the Oxfam shop, so Pulp equally candidly joins the dots, taking you from Pulp’s first incarnation when Cocker was but 16 years old to the present as the band challenges Blur and Oasis for the Top Band in Britain slot with more hugely successful singles like ‘Mis-Shapes’ and the number one album Different Class.

While Damon Albarn and Oasis’ Gallagher brothers may be superstars in their own right, Jarvis Cocker is unquestionably the Man Of The Moment, a success on a multi-media level, a fact reflected in the enormous range of interest in him, from Radio 4 to the Richard & Judy Show, from Smash Hits to The Guardian, from presenting Top Of The Pops to requests from fashion houses for catwalk appearances. At 32 and old enough to be the father of some of his fans, Cocker isn’t your average thrown-to-the-lion’s-den pop star but a sage-like wit and raconteur as well as hip-swivelling supremo, part Alan Bennett, part Alvin Stardust. By simultaneously being one of the ‘common people’ in his National Health specs and second-hand wardrobe and one of those classic old-fashioned stars that British pop has thrived on, Jarvis Cocker and Pulp are altogether a Different Class.

Martin Aston knew this back in 1985, when he first reviewed a live Pulp show (in Melody Maker) before having Cocker over for tea and a chat, plus some photos on a bridge in West Hampstead. That interview was published in Underground magazine, and he’s since interviewed Cocker for Attitude and Radio Times.

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