Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RAVES!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 26/06/19

Half Baked

When Half Man Half Biscuit split up in 1987, they released an album collecting together a few tracks which had only seen the light of day on singles or which had featured in their sessions for John Peel (though not, alas, the storming version of Dickie Davies Eyes which they laid down in the BBC's Maida Vale studios)

The LP's second side (yes, little ones, albums were called 'LPs' in those days, and they had sides; usually two, although you could be unlucky and get four or even six from bands whose sense of pomp outstripped their sense of shame) opens with The Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman which - in typical Blackwellian style - name-checked the New Jersey songsmith with the whiny voice who had had a few minor hits in the late seventies with songs like Ariel and Lucky Stars.

YouTube logo

(Nigel Blackwell has recently changed the lyrics for live shows so that he no longer appears to be wishing serious illness on The Divine Miss M., in the same way that he has also expressed regret at having written a line in another song of similar vintage - 99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd - which dismissed Marilyn Monroe as "just a slag")

(Oh, and am I alone in thinking that they sound a bit like The Pogues here?)

Fast forward a couple of decades, and Dean Friedman happened to be in Edinburgh at the same time as HMHB were playing one of their desultorily-scheduled gigs. A friend of his took him along (Friedman by this time almost certainly being aware of the song). To his immense credit, he took no umbrage at what some of his more precious contemporaries would have deemed a damning slight; indeed, he was heard to say, "These guys really know their genres!", which must have broken the ice nicely when he was taken to meet the band backstage afterwards.

That was in 2009. The next year, Friedman issued a new album, Submarine Races, which included his long-awaited riposte, A Baker's Tale:

YouTube logo

Some Biscuiteers (as we don't call ourselves) took some offense for ridiculously po-faced reasons. They were perhaps mollified when, at a gig at the Robin in Bilston a couple of weeks after Dean's album was released, the man himself appeared in the middle of it to give a recital of his song to an enthusiastic reception.

(At this point, I would have liked to have given you some footage of that seminal event, but although there are a couple of clips out there, they're both missing the beginning).

So, here's to a good songwriter and a damn good sport to boot.