1980 and all that: 2004

Earnest Cox

You won’t, I suspect, have heard of Earnest Cox.

Unless you were living in Gloucester in the early noughties, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t have heard of them. Even if you were living in Gloucester at that time, I’d wager a fair bit of money you wouldn’t have heard of them.

But you should have done.

For a fair old while I wrote music reviews for BBC Gloucestershire’s web pages. Earnest Cox were one of my first discoveries and I fell hopelessly in love with them immediately.

Their first EP, Hello There, Stranger, knocked me sideways. Lead singer, La Windo (formerly of as seen on Top of the Pops fame Apple Mosaic), belted out a rasping vocal which was relentless in both the title track and the second offering, the utterly funktastic ‘Talk of the Town’.

He – and the rest of the band then toned it all down beautifully for ‘Oh Happy Day’ (not the gospel classic) whose chorus the band kindly transferred onto a T-shirt I would wear with pride till it fell apart: “All we want is to be missed”.

Incidentally, ‘Hello There, Stranger’ was responsible for my favourite musical mishearing. Somehow the Chinese whispers involved in Windo’s voice transferring to a microphone, through recording equipment, landing on a CD and then playing through my Walkman (ah, Walkmen – remember them?) through to my ears, translated the line “you kind of lit my fuse” into the far more questionable utterance of “you’re gonna lick my pubes”.

But I don’t want to tell you about that.

It’s a later offering by Earnest Cox that is closer to my heart – mainly because I was present for its recording. The laying down of ‘Shit Off My Shoe’ remains the only time I’ve ever witnessed the magic of a recording session.

Magic, of course, is probably too much of a – magical word. What happens in a recording studio can appear quite laborious – especially if you’re not contributing anything at all towards the creative endeavour. There’s lots of setting up, repeated takes, adjustments, false starts and goofing around.

There was also a fair bit of muttering about the engineer, as I recall. He was more of a metal head and the sensitive indie types that Earnest Cox were didn’t find themselves gelling entirely with his approach.

Earnest Cox’s output could generally fall into one of the two categories: angry songs for the dumped (or dumper) and forlorn songs for the broken hearted. As you might expect from a song bearing the title ‘Shit Off My Shoe’, (as in “you ain’t fit to lick the…”) this song fits very much in the former category.

It may start off all jangly and hand-clappy, but the arrival of distorted guitars and a megaphone enhance vocal – together with the vulgarity of the title which emerges and re-emerges throughout the tune – soon fling the song towards the outer reaches of organised chaos.

Tragically, the song doesn’t appear to be preserved on the internet at the moment. The best I can offer you is the B-side, ‘No Joke’ which is equally angry and blistering in its delivery.

Try it. You will like it.

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