Half Man Half Biscuit: Time Flies By (When You're the Driver of a Train) (1985)

 |   |  1 min read

Half Man Half Biscuit: Time Flies By (When You're the Driver of a Train) (1985)

Never let it be said Elsewhere doesn't listen to its constituency. When the cry went up, "Why no Half man Half Biscuit at From the Vaults?" the solution was obvious.

(The answer however is, because they're pretty awful -- but that's neither here nor there)

For those who have lived happy and fulfilled lives in the absence of any knowledge of this often hilarious, satirical and willfully cultish group out of Birkenhead, Liverpool their story is rather fascinating.

Formed in the mid Eighties by brothers Simon and Nigel Blackwell, Neil Crossley, David Lloyd and Paul Wright, they enjoyed early success with their album Back in the DHSS (Beatles references are rife, see the photo) and they promptly broke up.

They reformed but avoided anything like a stable line-up around writer/singer Nigel Blackwell and bassist Crossley, were invited onto The Tube (they didn't go, their local team was playing that night) and continue on their eccentric way to this day.

Song titles tell you they don't take much seriously: on Back in the DHSS there are  Sealclubbing, 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd, Time Flies By (When You're The Driver of a Train), Venus in Flares and I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves).

They recorded an album with the title Achtung Bono and the single from it was Joy Division Oven Gloves. Other tracks included Shit Arm Bad Tatoo, Asparagus Next Left and We Built this Village on a Trad. Arr. Tune.

Half Man Half Biscuit are a very English phenomenon -- in the absurdist, parody tradition of Spike Milligan, Peter SellersMonty Python, the Soft Boys and so on -- and their followers are . . . . let's just say "loyal" and leave it at that.

I don't want to offend and have them come round the house waving umbrellas and penguins and threatening to sing Architecture, Morality, Ted and Alice outside my window. 

Share It

Your Comments

The Riverboat Captain - May 4, 2011

If you ever need advice on the cultural references (though I guess reading this that you might not be all that interested), drop me a line :)

"Time Flies.." is a parody of a song from the late 60s childrens stop motion animation series Chigley.

megan Stunzner - May 4, 2011

Time Flies - the roll call at the beginning (Pugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb) is from Trumpton, another stop animation childrens' TV programme from the late 60's.

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Bob Dylan: Pretty Saro (1970)

Bob Dylan: Pretty Saro (1970)

Perhaps this is cheating because this song/clip (below) doesn't come from Elsewhere's voluminous Vaults, but from Dylan's own. In about 10 days Dylan will release another installment in his... > Read more

Gregory Porter: 1960 What? (Opolopo remix, 2012)

Gregory Porter: 1960 What? (Opolopo remix, 2012)

When singer Gregory Porter won best jazz album at the Grammys in January 2014 for his Blue Note abum Liquid Spirit, it threw attention back onto his two previous albums. Far from being a... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Otis Taylor: Clovis People Vol 3 (Telarc)

Otis Taylor: Clovis People Vol 3 (Telarc)

First, there is no Vol 1 or Vol 2, but this addition to Taylor's catalogue of "trance blues" which follows the excellent Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs of last year is certainly a... > Read more

The Heptones: Sweet Talking (Studio One)

The Heptones: Sweet Talking (Studio One)

Produced by the legendary Clement Dodd and fronted by the sweet voice of Leroy Sibbles, the Heptones were one of the great Jamaican vocal trios who brought in soulful harmonies borrowed from 50s... > Read more