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John Cooper Clarke – "Où est la maison de fromage?" 1978

John Cooper Clarke – “Où est la maison de fromage?”
Released 1978
Genre Spoken word / Pop / Punk
Label Epic
Producer Martin Hannett

‘I’m freezing Charlie – haven’t ya finished yet?’

From the bard of Salford, the wonderful John Cooper Clarke, comes his amazing debut album LP, titled “Where is the Cheese House?”, chock full of post punk and surreal poetry. And cheese too, obviously!

Like a cross between Luis Bunuel, Spike Milligan, Bob Dylan, Hank Bukowski and Joey Ramone, Clarke was – and still is – a truly unique and magnificent talent!

Yes, it’s “Johnny Clarke, the name behind the hairstyle”!

This LP was produce by Martin Hannett of Factory Records (Joy Division et al) fame.

Liner Notes:

This record comprises 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 These early tapes contain both previously unpublished poems and firm live performance favourites from John’s extensive repertoire.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.
Make a date with the brassy brides of Britain
the altogether ruder readers’ wives
who put down their needles and their knitting
at the doorway to our dismal daily lives

The fablon top scenarios of passion
nipples peep through holes in leatherette
They seem to be saying in their fashion
‘I’m freezing Charlie – haven’t ya finished yet?’

Cold flesh the colour of potatoes
in an instamatic living room of sin
All the required apparatus
too bad they couldn’t fit her head in

In latex pyjamas with bananas going ape
their identities are cunningly disguised
by a six-inch strip of insulation tape
strategically stuck across their eyes

Wives from Inverness to inner London
prettiness and pimples co-exist
Pictorially wife-swapping with someone
who’s happily married to his wrist

This issue of John Cooper-Clarke’s very first album is nothing less than a riot – and shows how well Salford’s best Bob Dylan lookalike was able to handle an audience and make poetry into a popular art form again.

His stylistic masters are the Liverpool poets of the ’60s, and their influence is apparent in pieces like “Film Extra’s Extra” or the hilarious social comment “Daily Express (You Never See a Nipple In).”

Plenty of his best-known poems get an early airing here (before a relatively welcoming audience), including “Kung Fu International” and “(I Married A) Monster From Outer Space,” in addition to his very first single, “Psycle Sluts (Part 1).” For all the humor, though, there’s plenty of acute social observation going on in the words once the wit has grabbed the ear. A mix of live performances, demos, and rehearsals (all largely unaccompanied, without the Invisible Girls, who’d accompany him on his later studio albums, although tracks like “Spilt Beans” actually have fairly accomplished, if minimal, backing).

Maybe it’s ultimately for completists, but given the small amount of Cooper-Clarke material available, every little bit is to be grabbed at. And this is definitely not the sound of a barrel being scraped. A joy and a shambles, but still a hoot.

– Chris Nickson, All Music Guide


  1. “The Serial, Pt. 1, – 1:43
  2. “Letter to Fiesta, – 1:01
  3. “Film Extra’s Extra, – 3:46
  4. “Majorca, – 1:41
  5. “Action Man, – 1:09
  6. “Kung Fu International, – 1:48
  7. “Sperm Test, – 1:05
  8. “Missing Persons, – 1:56
  9. “Split Beans, – 4:13
  10. “Dumb Row Laughs, – 0:50
  11. “Bunch of Twigs, – 0:33
  12. “Trains, – 0:45
  13. “The Cycle Accident, – 1:18
  14. “Gimmix, – 3:01
  15. “Readers Wives, – 1:14
  16. “Ten Years in an Open Neck Shirt, Pt. 1 – 16:44
  17. “Nothing, – 17:44
  18. “(I Married A) Monster from Outer Space, – 18:44
  19. “Ten Years in an Open Neck Shirt, Pt. 2, – 19:44
  20. “Daily Express (You Never See a Nipple In), – 20:44
  21. “Ten Years in an Open Neck Shirt, Pt. 3, – 21:44
  22. “Salome Malone, – 22:44
  23. “Psycle Sluts, Pt. 1, – 23:44

All tracks written by John Cooper Clarke except where noted

Here be the big cheese!

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September 8, 2008 Posted by | John Cooper Clarke, Music_Pop, Music_Punk, OTHER_SPOKEN WORD, _POETRY | Leave a comment