Lucifer Over Lanarkshire : Seminal Pop Moments

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Orville, doyen of deep-rooted depression, crispy duck fried in his own self-loathing. And you thought he was just a cute, somewhat grating green puppet. YOU WERE WRONG.SO WRONG. Orville’s songs are the very epitome of existential angst,on a par with Joy Division and Jacques Brel at their bleakest. In Orville’s Song,he trilled:”I wish I could fly/right up to the sky but I can’t”. Except he didn’t, not really. Puppeteer Keith Harris, he of the be-curled, perma-cheery disposition was singing this to his hand, countering, “Look Orville/Who is your very best friend?/I’m gonna help you mend/your broken heart”.

Fuck, I’m all for self-awareness, but this was Harris saying, not just on record, but on a spin-off record from a kids’ TV show, no less, that his alter-ego was his own best friend. That is quite a dark statement of intent.He couldn’t fly. He wasn’t even real-none of us are really, and reality? That is something ultimately unknowable.

Another of his smash hit singles (the 80s were a strange time indeed) Come to my Party had Orville team up with another Harris creation, Dippy the Dinosaur, a simpleton. To a deceptively jaunty, uke-driven tune,the lyrics are an exploration of the ephemeral. “When we’ve played all that we can play”, he sighs, knowing that this moment will soon be over,”Then it’s time to put me toys away”. Casting aside childish things.

It’s devastating.

(Lorna Irvine)

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