Big Top Heartbreak: Deadbeat Ballads


An album we play quite often is Vincent Black Lighting’s Songs From The Underbelly Part Two (it’s 1,536,042 in music on Amazon). Musically it’s a kind of sedate punk rockabilly with fantastic lyrics about life in North West England (they were from Burnley or somewhere). It was never going to be a hit but they didn’t care, and you constantly wonder about them: who are they, where it’s all going, was there ever an Underbelly Part One?

Big Top Heartbreak have the same kind of eccentric Englishness, but where VBL remember their engineer days, BTH complain that Dogs Can’t Play Cards (45 seconds, long. Dogs can’t drive cars either, a heartbreaking state of affairs apparently).

“You’re the cheese to my pickle/The bubbles in my bath/ the Blutack for my posters” opens one song over mournful brass and piano. Or: “My love is high class and I am not/If I was a shop I’d be a Pound Shop/She’d be Marks and Spencer” opens another, backed by some kind of Cossack dance music.

We had the tracks sent via download and they loaded into the iPod in random order, so while Amazon has the poker playing pooches first, we get something else. The only songs we can identify are the obvious ones: My Breath Killed The Roses (“The human race are arseholes” opines this tune, ungrammatically) and Christmas In The Asylum, a piano ballad that opens: “They found me nude in the car wash/I was bathing and using the soap/I hadn’t quite managed to give up the booze and the dope”.

The narrator spends Easter in the asylum … “but after three days I arose up and I went down the offie”, possibly the best line in any song this year. It’s not a joke record, in that they are proper tunes with strings and all that, but it’s entertainingly bonkers.


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