The DENTISTS – ” Some People Are On The Pitch… “

Posted: November 4, 2021 in MUSIC
May be an image of 4 people

It’s been way too long since the Table Turned on the first album from The Dentists. Originally released in 1985 by the record label Spruck. The title is a reference to the famous BBC TV commentary made during the closing moments of the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final. What a spectacularly amazing album this is, with solid song writing and just the right amount of 60’s influence on the 80’s indie jangle rock sound.  The song “Strawberries Are Growing in My Garden (And It’s Wintertime)” was also released as a single; years later it was still the group’s best-known song.

As I recall, I have my old friend Gary Todd to thank for introducing me to The Dentists, as a Belgian friend of his had sent him a copy of their debut 7″ EP back in the mid-80’s and he played it for me while visiting him in his downtown LA loft as he was teaching me about these new fangled home computers that everyone was getting into. One listen was all it took for me to search out anything I could find from the band, and “Some People Are On The Pitch…” fulfilled every promise made by that 7″.

Sounding like they time-travelled in from 1966 or so, picked up a couple of tips from the Smiths, and were let loose in the studio with the legendary Joe Meek behind the board, the Dentists’ first record, “Some People Are on the Pitch They Think It’s All Over It Is Now”, was released on tiny indie label Spruck in 1985. It is an assured and exciting record informed by the sounds of the ’60s garage, folk, and psychedelic scenes (the raw sound and pounding beats, jangling 12- and six-string guitars, whimsical lyrics, and fuzzy edges, respectively), but thoroughly modern too (the Medway-inspired raw guitar sound, the at times fey and melancholic vocal stylings of Michael Murphy, the almost punk attack that the whole record has). The band plays with fire and fervor throughout, Bob Collins‘ guitar is like a live wire chiming sweetly one minute, drawing blood the next, the rhythm section is tight and tough, the vocal harmonies are spot on, and Murphy balances his moments of introspection with lots of light hearted and nearly jaunty warbling.

All of which would mean nothing without songs, and the group delivers there too. The up-tempo songs (“Flowers Around Me,” “I’m Not the Devil,” “I Had an Excellent Dream,” “Tangerine,” “Tony Bastable v John Noakes”) sound like the Byrds if they had formed in the wake of the punk explosion of the ’70s, hooky and exciting with the rough edges left on and the guitars bubbling and slashing all around. These songs belie the image of being quirky psych-fops that the band somehow ended up being saddled with. The ballads and mid-tempo songs are just as good; tunes like “Kinder Still,” “Mary Won’t Come out to Play,” and “Everything in Our Garden” have haunting melodies and Murphy does melancholy very well, some would say even better than a certain other ’80s singer whose last name begins with M. Indeed, place Some People up against the debuts of any ’80s guitar pop band and the match would end up knotted at least, the opponents trounced in most cases.

Against the best album of any ’80s guitar pop band even, because this is the best album the Dentists made. The blend of inspired songcraft performance and sound (and the fact that not too many people heard it) make the record a lost guitar pop classic. [Much of the album was reissued on Homestead’s excellent 1992 comp Dressed. Only “Everything in Our Garden” and “Back to the Grave” are missing.]

Every song is a gem, and if you like this sound and don’t have this album I suggest you search out a copy post-haste, though prepare to spend a few shekels in the process. Rev-Ola released it on CD in 2005 with the three 7″ tracks added as a bonus and I really should have grabbed a copy when it came out as it’s now an expensive out of print disc. According to Discogs the Trouble In Mind label in the US did a vinyl re-issue in 2013, but those are also out of print and even more expensive.

So, it would seem it might be time for another re-issue of this brilliant LP.

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