I’m off my game. Hammy, gun-loving actor Charlton Heston died a week ago and this fitting tribute only hit me now.
Stump were one of the stranger bands signed to a major label in the late-’80s. Lumped in the with the C86 scene (they were on the cassette), this quartet from Cork, Ireland had more in common with Captain Beefheart than anything else. We played a lot of kooky stuff at my college radio but I remember Stump’s album, A Fierce Pancake, as one of the most hated records in rotation at the time. (Absolutely most hated during my tenure was Get Out of School by pre-tween punks Old Skull.) And that time was dominated by R.E.M., the Replacements, Morrissey, the Mighty Lemon Drops, Love & Rockets, etc.
But I always kind of liked it. Not the whole thing, mainly two songs. The first was "Buffalo," their UK indie chart "hit" that was on the C86 cassette and then rerecorded twice (on their EP Quirk, then for the album) in hopes of a bonafide hit. The song’s chorus was frontman Mick Lynch shouting "How much is the fish! How much is the chips! How much is the fish! Does the fish have chips!" It was the 80s. Anything seemed possible.
The other song was an ode to the making of The Ten Commandments that featured sampled frogs as the main percussive element. It also rhymed "Charlton Heston" with "put his vest on" which I thought was totally brilliant. The video, directed by Tim Pope and featuring 1000 live frogs, was pretty good too:
MP3: Stump – Buffalo
Weirdly, while doing some research for this post, I learned that A Fierce Pancake has just been reissued as a three-disc deluxe edition, including their first two EPs (never before on CD) and a bunch of tracks recorded for Pancake‘s follow-up that never happened.
I’m by no means an expert on Stump, though I figure I’m one of about 100 people in America who owns original A Fierce Pancake CD. If you’re interested in learning more, bassist Kev Hopper’s website has an informative and entertaining biography of the band full of the sad and rediculous stuff labels do to bands in an attempt to score a hit.
As for Chuck Heston, the Onion really said it best.