Album review: Chris Morris – “Blue Jam”
When ee heads fall tails a thousand times, so call heads tails both. But coin then lands on third side… the inside… Inside…
When you fly, so wingish speed. Then thwack. Ee path be glass, and broke-beak slump on ground, all quiver-pigeon. While rattus rub hands in the shadows.
And when ee sing so full with bursting soul, ee heart fly out of mouth! And then bashed be bit by all with ears, who cry “shut, shut, shut it up, oo cackamuffin…”
Mm, oo vuf welcome, in Blue Jam…
Throughout all of the 67 minutes of this CD you never know whether you should laugh, or cry, or throw up in disgust, or scream like a prepubescent girl because of the horror you’re experiencing. This album compiles some of the better sketches from the “Blue Jam” radio series, created by Chris Morris and aired on BBC Radio 1 in 1997-1999. Thoroughly confusing, at times downright frightening and alternately gutbustingly hilarious, “Blue Jam” combined themes like acupuncture with nails 9-14 inches long and 0.5 inches thick and ejaculating oneself to death with a disorientating ambient/downtempo soundtrack. The effect, needless to say, was… singular.
Anyway, the twisted genius of Chris Morris is on full display here, with the rambling, disturbing 12-minute monologue “Suicide Journalist” as the standout. A very detailed and twisted tale of a party gone wrong and a writer who couldn’t deal with his fanatic supporters (the titular “suicide journalist”), it starts out weird and gradually spirals out of control toward the end. Also of note are: “Bad Sex 2”, which is absolutely batshit (“whack my bonobo!.. push your balls up my nose!”), gruesome and creepy “Fixit Girl” (“four years and three months. chopped up man, chopped up man, chopped up man…”), but “Little Girl Balls” arguably takes the cake. In just over a minute, it makes its point swiftly and leaves an absolutely indelible impression – you are mortified to the extent that you don’t know if you should roll on the floor, laughing hysterically, or scream in shock.
Though, of course, there is more to “Blue Jam” than just that. The “Doc” sketches, that is, “Doc Phone” and “Doc Cock”, are the most comical of the bunch (read: the ones you can laugh at and not feel guilty for doing so), and the sketches are also interspersed by so-called “stings”, that ridicule the Radio 1 DJs at the time – all of them equally absurd, loaded with disproportionate retribution and made with AppleTalk (choice pick: “I can see Steve Lamacq / as a frail old man in a wheelchair / trying to shake hands with an elephant”. No offense to Steve Lamacq).
And, naturally, the music selection: absolutely brilliant throughout. Funki Porcini’s “Going Down” and “Luv Bungalow” by Kensuke Shiina are now forever associated with the respective sketches they soundtrack in my mind. A couple of tracks from Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works Volume II” is also a nice touch, as well as one by Brian Eno (“Deep Blue Day” if you’re interested). And, to wrap it up, the actors for the series transmit Morris’ message perfectly well: don’t know the names, unfortunately, but the titular “doc”, the little girl in the “Fixit Girl” portion and the woman in the acupuncture section are perfect – and Morris as the man who reads the intros, monologues and conducts interviews with the sole aim to humiliate his opponents as much as possible is as great as he was in his previous series, “The Day Today” or “Brass Eye”.
Check it out, at all costs, but beware: you already should know from reading the review that this isn’t your Saturday Night Live fare. This is as dead baby comedy as it gets, and I can’t surely be held responsible for whatever you feel after hearing it. There is also the TV version, called just “Jam” – it adapts many of the sketches here, with even more disorientating visuals that heighten the impression that you’re high on something. You may give it a try, but not before hearing this. Good luck, and welcome in Blue Jam…
Highlights: “Suicide Journalist”, “Porn”, “Acupuncture”, “Fixit Girl”, “Little Girl Balls”
– What about, um, what about you signing a copy of the book, dedicating it to William and Harry, and we could send the book to Eton to be presented to the boys by a Diana lookalike?
– Well, I mean that’s… I really can’t…