“Ou Est La Maison De Fromage?” by John Cooper Clarke - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1978Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The debut album from the 29-year-old John Cooper-Clarke aka the Bard of Salford aka the Punk Poet. The posh double-barrell bit was deemed necessary to avoid confusion with, can you believe, another poet called John Clarke who was gigging the same routine in the same working men's clubs. In that environment, he'd been on the go for quite a number of years, and had only recently ventured into the new wave scene, supporting groups such as the Buzzcocks and The Fall.

“Où est la maison de fromage?” translates as “Where is the house of cheese?” Well, it's memorable, what more do you want? As with his debut 7" EP of the previous year it was released on Rabid, a Manchester indie ran by Tosh Ryan and Martin Hannett. The sleeve notes tell “This record comprises of twenty three tracks compiled from a selection of material recorded at performances and rehearsals in Manchester. These early tapes contain both previously unpublished poems and firm live performance favourites from John's extensive repertoire. It's an essential album.” Not convinced about the essential bit. It's a bit ramshackle, with just five of the pieces (A9 to A13) being recorded in the studio, and the rest being culled from live performances of varying fidelity.

An interview in the NME from the time gave some interesting insight into how the poet read his new working environment:

It's the nearest thing that there's ever been to the working classes going into areas like surrealism and Dada. Until now they've been the domain of the middle classes. You can look at things like Dada and surrealism and reject it for being a middle-class phenomenon. I think people in the New Wave have done the smart thing and walked into those areas. Now you've got a kind of working class vision of things. I don't think I've ever seen a punk rock group that didn't have something very imaginative about it. It's not being a traitor to your class to go into those areas. It only widens your perspective. I think the New Wave has revived an interest in words. Initially, because you couldn't hear them. You're always interested to find out words you can't hear. You get odd words jumping out of the mish-mash. If those odd words that jump out are potent, it gives you the impetus to find out what the rest of them are. I like punk rock because it allows the softness to come through. It's not like hard-rock - throwing somebody's crutch in your face. They're human beings singing about being human beings.

Unwittingly, he'd almost written his own manifesto; written works of everyday life with beautifully chosen words and surrealistic twists. Now, if he just work on that fidelity thing…

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [01:43] 4.1.png John Cooper Clarke - The Serial, Pt. 1 [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A2 [01:01] 3.8.png John Cooper Clarke - Letter To Fiesta [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A3 [03:46] 7.0.png John Cooper Clarke - Film Extra’s Extra [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A4 [01:41] 4.9.png John Cooper Clarke - Majorca [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A5 [01:09] 5.6.png John Cooper Clarke - Action Man [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A6 [01:48] 6.7.png John Cooper Clarke - Kung Fu International [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A7 [01:05] 4.4.png John Cooper Clarke - Sperm Test [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A8 [01:56] 4.8.png John Cooper Clarke - Missing Persons [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A9 [04:13] 5.0.png John Cooper Clarke - Split Beans (John Cooper Clarke) New Wave
A10 [00:50] 6.0.png John Cooper Clarke - Dumb Row Laughs (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A11 [00:33] 5.6.png John Cooper Clarke - Bunch Of Twigs (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A12 [00:45] 5.2.png John Cooper Clarke - Trains (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
A13 [01:18] 5.4.png John Cooper Clarke - The Cycle Accident (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B1 [03:01] 2.5.png John Cooper Clarke - Gimmix [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Avant-Garde
B2 [01:14] 4.7.png John Cooper Clarke - Readers Wives [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B3 [03:55] 6.5.png John Cooper Clarke - Ten Years In An Open Neck Shirt, Pt. 1 [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B4 [01:14] 7.0.png John Cooper Clarke - Nothing [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B5 [02:13] 7.5.png John Cooper Clarke - (I Married A) Monster From Outer Space [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B6 [02:37] 6.2.png John Cooper Clarke - Ten Years In An Open Neck Shirt, Pt. 2 [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B7 [01:29] 6.4.png John Cooper Clarke - Daily Express (You Never See A Nipple In) [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B8 [01:40] 5.8.png John Cooper Clarke - Ten Years In An Open Neck Shirt, Pt. 3 [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B9 [02:16] 4.7.png John Cooper Clarke - Salome Maloney [live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry
B10 [01:35] 5.0.png John Cooper Clarke - Psycle Sluts [part 1, live] (John Cooper Clarke) Poetry

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