Half Man Half Biscuit – Every Time A Bell Rings

• “Every Time A Bell Rings” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to Half Man Half Biscuit.

9.4 “Classic Indie from England”

From their album “No-One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut” released in May, 2018. As ever, it’s on Probe Plus, continuing one of the purest relationships in the bizzo, theoretically deserving of around 8 testimonials, but settling instead for an ineffective but nonetheless sincere blog post on the last great record.

That’s them 35 years working for the council now, cutting hedge action all the way although, after 8 albums with an unchanged line-up since the mid-90s, it was a bit of a shock to see the much-loved versatile guitarist Ken Hancock depart halfway through 2017, reportedly due to ill health. Thankfully, the new lad, Karl, has slotted in like a seasoned pro, what with him being 20 years a seasoned pro, and Half Man Half Biscuit duly maintain their quite incredible consistency on album #14. They line-up: Nigel Blackwell (founder, vocals, guitar, master wordsmith extraordinaire), Neil Crossley (co-founder, bass, vocals), Karl Benson (guitar) and Carl Henry (drums).

Ever since I bought my first HMHB at HMV, “ACD”, in ’93 (only kidding it was ’89 but it didn’t rhyme shurupp) I’ve been thoroughly hooked on them, to the extent of making sure the latest album is acquired almost instantly upon release. That said, demands on my time mean that I haven’t got ’round to actually rating and reviewing this one yet but, since I’ve been doing a mini Festive 50 2018 round-up this week, I’m seizing the opportunity to give a debut blog appearance to, quite simply, one of the greatest groups of all-time.

They made 4 appearances in the 2018 Festive 50 all-told (“Knobheads On Quiz Shows”, “Harsh Times in Umberstone Covert” & “Bladderwrack Allowance” being the others) signifying all is well in Post-Peel-ville. “Every Time A Bell Rings” almost gave them their first Festive 50 #1, but just lost out in a fair fight with the politically charged Idles. The album itself gave them their first Top 40 entry in the proper pop chart (#33) and went Top 20 (#16) further up North ya bass; Scotland’s miles better.

The featured 5 minute track is particularly impressive; some kinda folk-rock jangle leads into some Fanclub-esque levels of powerpop, and ends with some properly intense Joy-Division-like guitar sonics. In-between, Nigel’s Biscuitification cuts-like-a-knife – I feel like he’s having a go at me on this one, what with this very blog being a creative hub and the fact that I enjoy a good cycle; apparently I should be more focused on reality. Like the guy in Wonderful Life says, “You know me feller?” I can laugh at myself though and, to be fair, I wouldn’t be seen dead in full Sky replica kit and always have a cheery disposition when ringing the bell and deftly negotiating your unpredictable pedestrian. The rabble-rousing finale “Everytime the bell rings, I hate you some more” (a clever lift from Wonderful Life) reverberates like the green-cross-code when I’m out for a cycle, so I suppose it’s a case of job done Blackwell. Now for that hedge…

With thanks to the good folks of The Half Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project:

Ground Control to Monty Don
The testimonial silver’s gone
The circumstance here’s pretty thin
The sun comes out when I go in

On the way home from spinning class she pops into the deli for artisan gossip. He stays in the car leafing through a high-end coffee bean catalogue. Their dream is to open up a roastery in the Keswick area…

Get your hedge cut
Get your fuckin’ hedge cut
Get your hedge cut
Get your fuckin’ hedge cut
Stop meeting friends
And cut your hedge

Why can’t you say “orangutan”?
Why can’t you just say “Ku Klux Klan”?
Who needs the library or the pub
When we’ve got your creative hub?

He got a Boardman bike on the Cycle To Work scheme, discovered he really enjoyed it. Started watching the Tour de France highlights on ITV4, worshipped at the altar of Wiggo and Froome-dog. Goes out every Sunday in full Sky replica kit…

Get your hedge cut
Get your fuckin’ hedge cut
Get your hedge cut
Get you fuckin’ hedge cut
Stop analysing Strava
And cut your hedge

It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s a wonderful film, but the more I watch it the more I want Potter to succeed. Not least when that lot up the road come out into the street every New Year’s Eve, drunk on Ptolemy’s hock, hugging each other and going “Hee-haw, hee-haw”…

Every time a bell rings
I hate you some more
Every time a bell rings
I hate you some more
Every time a bell rings
I hate you some more
Every time a bell rings

2019-11-30