Archive for Phil Parfitt

Your Snow Day Soundtrack: Phil Parfitt’s “Mental Home Recordings”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 16, 2020 by johnbuckley100

Phil Parfitt was the leader of the great British band The Perfect Disaster, whose late’80s/early ’90s run produced two of the best post-Velvet Underground albums of the era, Up, and especially, Heaven Scent. While the Perfect Disaster are perhaps remembered more as the band that introduced us to Josephine Wiggs, who went on to play bass for The Breeders, we still listen to them regularly, beguiled as ever we were by their chugging beat, by Parfitt’s vulnerability as a more sensitive singer/songwriter in the spirit of Lou Reed.

In the mid-’90s, Parfitt returned with a solo album under the band name of Oedipussy, and in these very pages, we asked, “Is Oedipussy’s Divan the great lost album of the ’90s?”

We wrote that in early 2009, and nearly 12 years on, we can answer authoritatively, Yes, yes it was. But while Oedipussy’s album may have been lost, happily Parfitt wasn’t, releasing, in 2014, a quietly gorgeous record entitled I’m Not The Man I Used To Be. Now, saying you’re not the man you used to be can either indicate a belief you’ve been diminished or that your character has improved. From a rock’n’roll standpoint, Parfitt’s record was less than his work with The Perfect Disaster or Oedipussy. But in terms of his contribution to the world of music, an argument can be made that his album’s impact was even greater than what came before it.

And now we have, in this year of Covid when so much work has been done quietly at home, away from the hurly burly, Mental Home Recordings. These recordings are, in a word, gorgeous. An entry into the pantheon of quiet, acoustic-based but thrilling music from the U.K. — think Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, the less jangly, dare we say sincere side of Robyn Hitchcock.

These songs may have been recorded at home, but the strings that have been added to the sound of Parfitt and his acoustic guitar attest to a studio. “I Saw There Beside Me” really could have been recorded in Tupelo by Van the Man. There are hints throughout of Big Star’s Sister Lovers, and I don’t mean that in terms of his cracking up, even though the album’s title might allude to tough times. I mean that in terms of the spare, but beautiful arrangements, the little off-kilter touches, such as on “John Clare.” It’s about the British Romantic poet who finished up his years in an asylum, living in his mind — and it’s absolutely stunning and affecting, its afterglow lasting. Only “All Fucked Up” asserts itself as a more up-tempo pop song, for this is an album of quiet gems, gleaming on a velvet pillow. “Bones Cold” may be the prettiest song I listened to this year not performed by Fenne Lily. “My Love” is certainly the least sappy clutcher of heartstrings we’ve ever heard.

Phil Parfitt is not the man he used to be, if by that we mean he’s produced a second solo album to put on while sitting by a crackling fire, and not — as was the case with both his prior bands — an album to dance and dream to, propelled along like the Velvets were by Maureen Tucker’s drumming.

For those today on the East Coast of the U.S., watching the snow fall and preparing to stay indoors, here’s how to entertain yourself: listen to the gorgeous songs from these Mental Home Recordings. Listen to a mature and thoughtful songwriter work in the full prime of his talents.

News From Tulip Frenzy: The Perfect Disaster’s Phil Parfitt Writes To Declare New Album Out In 2011

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 8, 2011 by johnbuckley100

Phil Parfitt of The Perfect Disaster and Oedipussy posted a comment on Tulip Frenzy last night indicating that, in 2011, for the first time since 1994, he will have an album of new music out.  Summoning all of our critical and hipster faculties, we have one thing to declare: yippie!

Some may remember in 2009 Tulip Frenzy posed the question of whether Parfitt’s album, Divan, which he released under the band name of Oedipussy,was the “great lost album of the 1990s.”  Some may also remember Parfitt’s original band The Perfect Disaster, which put out a pair of brilliant albums earlier in that distant decade.  Not much has been heard from Phil for a long, long time, and it was a great loss for music.

Then, last night, came this comment: “thank you ladies and gentlemen. I am well.its very very lovely that people appreciate my work. i’ve not stopped writing or recording since Divan, just haven’t got ruond to releasing much; I am though planning to get a new album out this year 2011. there! I’ve said it!
one step follows another step, even when you are walking backwards;

So perhaps 2011 will deliver us a new album from a long-lost and absolutely brilliant voice.  Yippee!

Is Oedipussy’s “Divan” The Great Lost Album Of The 1990s??

Posted in Music with tags , , , on January 3, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Sure sounds like it.

At last I have it in my hands, well, deep in my computer, its sounds emerging from speakers.  Phil Parfitt’s post-Perfect Disaster solo album, and maybe the last thing to be heard from the guy.  (Wherever he is now, he does not seem to be making music…)

Some background: The Perfect Disaster  were an interesting, sometimes thrilling late ’80s British band headed by Parfitt, with the glorious Dan Cross on lead guitar, what had to be Mo Tucker’s illegitimate son Jon Mattock on drums and, before she left for The Breeders, Josephine Wiggs on bass and vocals.  Their album Up is what got me started, especially “Time To Kill.”  They had a chugging, Velvets sound, had spent plenty of time listening to the Buzzcocks and Modern Dance-era Pere Ubu, and Parfitt was a wonderfully sneering front man, limited in vocal range, but of course that made sense, since the model was Lou Reed.  Heaven Scent came out in 1990, and to my ears was stronger than Up (though britcrits seem to prefer the former.)  It had a little less urgency than its predecessor, but by now Parfitt’s songwriting craft had more facets and dimensions, yet was more contained.  Great things seemed in store, and … poof.  They disappeared.

It was only recently that, through the miracles of the Internet, PayPal, and free trade, I got a lead on Parfitt’s 1994 solo album, Divan, put out under the band name Oedipussy.  It picks up right where Heaven Scent left off, minus Dan Cross’s canny lead guitar, but by now utilizing loops and longer song formats. British music sites refer to Divan as “the great lost album of the 1990s,” much the way Henry Badowski’s Life Is Grand is the great lost album of the 1980s. But lost, evidently, Divan isn’t.  Great, I can say on the basis of a morning’s listen, it genuinely is.  “Free” takes the same principal of found-art that Eno applied to “Help Me Somebody” and puts it on a long, loping dance riff that reminds us of “Time To Kill.” “Too Late” sounds like Luna being chased down and then run over by My Bloody Valentine. “Do It Right” has such a contemporary  swamp groove (don’t play it ’round the kids) it could be the Golden Animals.

If you think back to ’94, it was such a dull time in music, when Oasis came on the scene they were greeted like the second coming.  Too bad Oedipussy couldn’t have gotten a proper hearing.  Worse still that we don’t have Phil Parfitt around today.  Maybe he’s off with Howard Devoto recording the Great Lost of The Naughts. 

All’s I know is I’ve waited years to hear Divan, and thanks to a happy hand off from the Royal Mail to the USPS, 2009’s getting off to a great start musically, even if the source of fascination is an album that’s 15 years old.

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