"Trouble is these days you never see a dog on the pitch."
Although it has remained one of their least celebrated albums, Some Call It Godcore occupies an important part in the Half Man Half Biscuit discography. You see, HMHB are almost unique in the fact that they officially split up, only to come back and release a body of work which was the equal of, if not actually better than, their initial output. Free managed it for a couple of albums and Van der Graaf Generator arguably pulled it off, but HMHB are a rare example of an act whose post-comeback work enhanced their reputation rather than detracted from it.
McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt was the long awaited return album and This Leaden Pall was confirmation that there was a lot more where that came from. However, Some Call It Godcore was where Half Man Half Biscuit started to pace themselves and settle in for the long-haul confirming that their comeback wasn’t going to be a temporary thing, instead this was a considered return with the emphasis on re-establishment rather than the usual cynical money-grabbing whirlwind.
Yet again cultural references are everywhere on this album. “Sponsoring the Moshpits” alone manages to include references to both Peter Gabriel (apparently a good friend and fan of the band) and David Prowse, “Sensitive Outsider” is an analysis of moody indie-kid attitudes and “I, Trog” is the middle-age-loner-living-with-his-mum’s equivalent of Weezer’s “In The Garage”. Probably best of all though is “Faithlift” which pokes fun at born-again religious types, while almost imperceptibly pointing out that it’s better to have faith in something than having no faith at all.
Some Call It Godcore does have its minor failings though. HMHB’s usually infallible quality control slightly drops about midway through and the second half is only saved by the largely spoken word closer “Tour Jacket With Detachable Sleeves”, and aside from “£24.99 in Argos”, it’s one of the band’s plainer albums musically. With it’s songs of music and sports fandom, Some Call It Godcore is perhaps HMHB’s ‘everyman’ album, however nowhere is this more celebrated that the aforementioned “£24.99 in Argos”, which proves synth-pop can be done on a shoe-string budget and rendering the careers of Oldfield and Jarre obsolete in a little over 90 seconds.
For too long Half Man Half Biscuit have been terminally undervalued, and Some Call It Godcore is among their most undervalued albums. However, history has proven it to be by far and away the best album by a guitar band from the North West of England in 1995, so perhaps it is time to convert your loft back into a loft, wear your rugby shirt signed by Justin Hayward and discuss whippets with Sylvian & Fripp. Just make sure you’re not sitting at the front of the top deck of the bus if it goes down Bridge Street…