Spurned on by Ed’s Pigbag comment in his recent Out On Blue Six piece, I figured the premier exponents of wurzel-funk were well overdue a good skanking, so today we rummage through their jumbled output of loose-limbed disco jams and punk-funk tomfoolery to unearth their one off reggae re-imagining.
It’s unlikely you’re not aware of Pigbag’s brief dalliance with the top ten when their debut 12″ Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag topped the Indie and pop charts in 1981, and again in 82, not to mention being revamped for uncomplicated house audiences once a decade by the likes of Paul Oakenfold and co.
As is often the case with such pop anomalies, many have written this band of horny pranksters off as one hit wonders, yet a quick flick through their back catalogue offers up a farrago of funk, calypso, disco and swinging jazz, all held together by a central quartet of brass. Add to the equation a barrage of percussion, round it all up with ex-Pop Group bassist Simon Underwood, and you’ve got post-punk’s answer to a good old fashioned big band; a feral free-funk big band, more like Art Ensemble than Art Blakey.
Today’s choice stems from their 2nd LP sessions which found them moderately more focused, with Underwood’s production leading Lend An Ear in a stripped down direction, favouring hypnotic calypso rhythms over their previous episodes of jazz madness ala Carrie from Homeland.
Central to this new direction was vocalist Angela Jaeger, who’d recently jumped ship from Drowning Craze via a brief tenure with Bush Tetras. The result was sparse and and at times melancholy, yet still offered up a few club classics. Sadly not enough to appease fans of their frenetic dancefloor workouts, and Pigbag were no more come the summer of ’83.
Which brings us to their final release, the Hit The ‘O’ Deck single, a 12″ that bows out with the blistering b-side Six Of One, a plucky reggae rocker, replete with a rousing horn section at times conjuring elements of Also Sprach whatever it’s called from 2001, and on that note Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
Obviously we couldn’t leave without sharing the hit, so here’s Pigbag ushering in 1983 on Top Of The Pops with Papa’s Got A Brand New Pig Bag, and please excuse the child molester…
And here’s a video from their transitional point between albums, marooned with a monkey and fending off sharks in calypso territories with The Big Bean…
Finally, kind of unrelated but here’s one of the more creative uses of their classic horn riff as sampled by British hip hop legend, Overlord X in 1989.