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

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: I Should be Proud (1970)

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: I Should be Proud (1970)

On Anzac Day I was invited onto National Radio to talk about songs from the era of the Vietnam conflict and rather than going for some of the more obvious ones (Universal Soldier and so on) I... > Read more

Park/Kaiser/Moyes: OO-AA-YI (1984, extract only)

Park/Kaiser/Moyes: OO-AA-YI (1984, extract only)

Does anyone release albums like Invite the Spirit, from which this extract is lifted, anymore? This expansive double album came through Celluloid out of New York and was a live recording of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

VOLUME, MAKING MUSIC IN AOTEAROA at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

VOLUME, MAKING MUSIC IN AOTEAROA at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

This is the article I wrote for Metro magazine about the Volume exhibition which is currently running at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. People say it a lot: As you get older you can't... > Read more

Neil Finn and Jim Carter: Blue Smoke (2015)

Neil Finn and Jim Carter: Blue Smoke (2015)

When the recording of Blue Smoke by the Ruru Karaitiana Quintette was released in February 1949, the Second World War had only been over for around three and half years. The memories of loved... > Read more