I recall a time in the late eighties and early nineties where one could venture out to see a band and BOB were almost always the support act! One of the hardest working bands at the time (possibly only Mega City 4 hit the road more often), BOB toured everywhere on an endless crusade to spread the gospel of good old fashioned guitar pop.
Their overall sound was a blend of 60s song craft and bouncy indie pop but where bands like say The Housemartins crossed over into the mainstream with exuberant jangly songs like ‘Happy Hour’ it’s somewhat frustrating that the likes of BOB’s ‘Convenience’ didn’t also reach a similarly large audience. BOB had the songs, the loyal fan base, played hundreds of gigs and received enthusiastic support from John Peel (who loved them with a passion) and yet somehow despite all this they remained on the sidelines. Maybe the quirky band name and an occasional ‘jokey/student’ vibe to some of their song titles (see ‘Brian Wilson’s Bed’, ‘Trousercide’ or ‘Smelly Summer’) gave the wrong impression, perhaps making your average trend-seeking pop kid assume they were there just for laughs.
Whatever the reason for them remaining a cult concern the songwriting and playing certainly can’t be faulted, with a back catalogue packed full of supremely well crafted and effortlessly brilliant catchy pop. Possibly the most pleasing aspect about this ‘new’ album is found on the second disc of demos which highlights the fact that a BOB demo or B-side was often stronger than many other bands very best work.
This album was actually recorded back in 1992 but sadly shelved due to the band running out of steam and losing funds following the disastrous collapse of Rough Trade distribution. Even if it had been released back then it might well have been ignored as the music press were largely focused towards the remnants of grunge and shoegaze at that time. However if it had seen the light of day just a few years later I see no reason why this album couldn’t have successfully ridden the Brit-pop wave when the sounds of the sixties were once again back in vogue.
There are plenty of post baggy / pre Brit-Pop moments to be heard here and many of these songs could have been chart fare if released at the time….perhaps not as huge as ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Common People’ but surely as big as say ‘Staying Out For The Summer’ or ‘Wake Up Boo’ as many of the songs here share a similar uplifting exuberance to those aforementioned one hit wonders. But true success shouldn’t be measured by chart placements and from an artistic point of view BOB’s music stands as testament to the quality complimentary songwriting talents of Simon Armstrong and Richard Blackborow (a writing partnership as well matched as Lennon / McCartney or Morrissey / Marr). Across the 28 songs found here almost every one could be a single in it’s own right and the album as a whole should go a long way to proving BOB were a force to be reckoned with.
This album is certain to make long standing BOB fans very happy indeed but if you discover them with this release then do make sure you also seek out the superb reissues of the debut album ‘Leave The Straight Life Behind’ and the ‘Singles And EPs’ compilation which came out on 3 Loop Music a few years ago. They’re similarly packed with quality songs which you’ll never want to let go of.