Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Oliver!: Moe Tucker - Too Shy [Peel Session] (3 April 1992)

Spoiler alert - she isn’t doing a cover of this - more’s the pity.

If I had been looking to buy a car in the late 90s/early 00s then I can categorically state that I wouldn’t have gone near either a Mercedes Benz or a Hyundai.  My stance had nothing to do on either mechanical or ethical grounds, but solely due to the fact that their advertising campaigns caused me to reach for the off switch whenever they came on TV.
In the case of Mercedes, I often wasn’t in the mood to have Janis Joplin bellowing at me over my TV dinner.  However, I’d often want to throw said dinner at the television when they used the ad that replaced Janis with grannies, shepherds, bricklayers and sundry others all having their own crack at the tune.

The worst offender though was Hyundai which used the Moe Tucker sung half of The Velvet Underground out-take, I’m Sticking With You in its advertising for a while.  I loathed the song with a passion finding its apparent whimsy irritating in every respect - words, tune, Tucker’s vocal, the backing vocals.  You name it.  One of those pieces that will charm some and provoke others; it certainly got my slapping hand twitching.  Having heard the thing in full I’m (only) slightly more charitably disposed towards it.  It doesn’t surprise that it was unreleased for so many years - it doesn’t sound fully sure or formed in Lou Reed’s half - at least not in comparison to Tucker’s half at any rate.  I do wonder what pushed whichever marketing agency had Hyundai’s account to licence such a twee sounding piece of crap to market their vehicle.  If they had gone with something from Tucker’s solo career, they may have uncovered music similarly idiosyncratic, but a lot more convincing.

On 18 February 1992, Moe Tucker went into a BBC studio and laid down some tracks for a Peel Session which was broadcast on 3/4/92.  The tracks were in support of her third solo album, I Spent a Week There The Other Night.  On the recording I heard only this track, Too Shy, was available.
The whole session is available and I would draw your attention to the opening track, Blue All the Way to Canada in which Tucker plays our Chrysler based tour guide diverting our attention from the Cheyenne to the families enjoying the peculiar hell that is long distance car journeys. Trains though is the banal rubbish of I’m Sticking With You transposed to the 1990s.

As for Too Shy, it’s less the sound of 1967 and the Velvet Underground, and closer to the kind of girl fronted power-pop stuff Peel played circa 1978 as Tucker, whose voice developed far greater power as she got older, reflects on her lost opportunity when it comes to approaching the boy of her dreams.

Had I been listening to the Peel Show on this night, the track would have had some resonance for me as to what not to do.  With production week for Oliver! imminent, I was all set to ask out a girl that I had become attached to within the cast over February/March 1992.  Unlike Moe, I wasn’t going to die wondering.  However, I was headed off at the pass in the event.  Whether the girl got wind of my intentions, I never discovered, but as production week rolled around, she got very distant with me - almost an overnight change and not one which looked like it could be reasoned with.  I skulked away, a little saddened and a little more attuned to female psychology.  “Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye” as a great lady once put it... I wish I’d had the chance to say more than Hello though.

Video courtesy of Vibracobra23Redux.

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