Thursday, February 21, 2008

PUB ROCK WEEK

“I Love You So You’re Mine” / Dr. Feelgood


There was nothing country about Dr. Feelgood—just a super-charged R&B intensity that must have torn down the house at every performance. They qualified as pub rockers because they played the same venues, but trading in plaid shirts for mortician-like black suits and skinny ties, they definitely moved the scene into a new direction.

Feelgoods frontman Lee Brilleaux apparently had a riveting stage presence; I only wish I could have seen him (sadly, he died of lymphoma in 1994, only 41 years old). His voice had a dangerous rasp and snarl to it, and his material played into that, dwelling on the darker side of human emotions – jealousy, possessiveness, suspicion, revenge, the really juicy stuff. The main character in “I Love You So You’re Mine” is a compulsive egotist and misogynist, and Brilleaux plays him with zest.

There’s a great vein of dramatic irony running through this song: This guy is so determined to get his girl, he refuses to recognize that she may feel differently. I’d love to hear her side of things, but all we get is his bullheaded certainty. “Well honey I ain’t buying what it is you’re trying to sell,” he insists, “Cause when I look into your eyes now, I can see just how you feel / Forget about the lies now, Cause I know our love is real.”

I suspect those "lies" he's talking about may have something to do with the fact that she's interested in somebody else, damn it. Yet he chafes against having to stand in line, and he gets more and more flagrant with every verse: “One and one is two now, / There ain’t no room for any more / I don’t wanna make you blue now, / I’m about to lock your door.” This isn’t pleading or begging; it’s coercion. A threat of physical violence is right under the surface, underscored with a menacing harmonica and scolding guitar line (not to mention the smack-around drumbeat.)

And yet, round about verse three, his insistence actually begins to be a little intoxicating: “So what’s all this I’m hearing / About the way it’s gonna be? / Cause when the dust is clearing, / There’s only you, there’s only me.” There's something pulsing and immediate about that image; my defenses begin to crumble. "You better get it right now / Get your feet back on the ground/ I’m taking you tonight now, / You know I don’t mess around.” Well, all's I'm saying is, you can see how a girl might give in in the end.

Granted, this Feelgoods track comes from much later in their career, in the mid-80s. Unlike the earlier pub rock bands, Dr. Feelgood landed a major label deal and continued to tour in various incarnations until Brilleaux’s death. But while the later albums may have layered in a horn section or two, the sound stayed essentially the same – visceral, adrenaline-charged R&B with a cynical view of the war between the sexes. The sound may have been vintage but the sensibility put a whole new neurotic spin on things. Could New Wave be far behind?

I Love You So You're Mine sample

3 comments:

Londinium said...

the Feelgoods *and* the Flyers! Pure pub paradise....

Will Birch said...

I had the pleasure of producing this recording for Dr Feelgood. I must say that I was sold on this Larry Wallis song as soon as I read the title, 'I Love You So You're Mine'. Although the demo was rocking,it was such a great title and suited Lee so well, it almost HAD to be recorded. I'm glad you enjoyed it. W.

Holly A Hughes said...

So it's you we have to thank for making this song so brilliant, eh Will? Well, you've every right to be proud of this one -- as well as all your other work with Dr. Feelgood. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been to be on the front lines when all this fantastic music was being made. BTW Your book No Sleep Till Canvey Island is must reading for anyone interested in this era.