Tuesday, 1 March 2011

100 LPs Shortlist #1 - "'Cos Life Hurts" - Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-men - 'Cos Life Hurts

In 1985, singer Brian Mannix and his band of mulletted musicians The Uncanny X-Men were inescapable. They were huge on the pub circuit, popular on Countdown, hit singles left right and centre. It seemed like they could do no wrong.

"'Cos Life Hurts" was mainly a standard rock album for its time - front-loaded with hits ("Still Waiting", "Work"), the ballads to make the girls cry tucked away towards the end ("50 Years"), fair-to-middling pop tunes in the middle, and a solid rocker at the end to close up shop ("Best Looking Guy").

Like most things from the 1980s, this has dated quite a lot. The production, while tasteful, is very much of its time - processed drums, heavily reverbed yobbo-group-backing vocals and benign party-fest lyrics. These days it sounds quite thin - I'm sure this sounded much heavier and thumping back in when I played this up loud in 1985/6...but I guess that's how perspective changes things in 25 years.

Their two biggest singles "Still Waiting" and "50 Years" were, for my money, some of the greatest Aussie songs released in the decadent 80s. The scary thing was that in 1985 you could get away with recording and releasing a song like "Best Looking Guy" and not have the politically-correct-police hunting you down. Even so, it's still a bit embarrassing to hear it now, with its blatant racism and misogyny, even if it does raise a sly smile once it's finished.

So it appeared they could do no wrong, but soon after they did. Their follow up album "What You Give Is What You Get" in 1986 was a trainwreck of a record, drowning in bad synth sounds and fake keyboard brass, and just generally crappy songs. They wisely pulled up stumps after the relative failure of the album and were never heard from again.

Check out their finest 40 minutes or so for yourself below. Cheers.

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