Mike Tyler ‘Money Grows On Your Knees’ (Single)
In probably one of the best pieces of music presentation I’ve seen for a long time, the second single from Mike Tyler’s delicately titled album ‘Erection’ comes packaged as a clear green 7” Vinyl, CD Single and jigsaw puzzle… yes, you read that last one right. In the days of digital laziness, presentation is becoming a lost art. It’s a refreshing change to see a single packaged in this manner, and the jigsaw puzzle offers a rare level of engagement with the product, something tangible to get your hands on and get involved with. It’s a stroke of utter brilliance.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Mike Tyler, he is a poet and musician from New York, sitting firmly in the vein of Lou Reed. He was mentored in a bar by the poet Delmore Schwartz, Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine of Television. Interestingly, the stand out moments of Tyler’s career have been catalysed directly by his way with words. World famous graffiti-smith Banksy stencilled his words “only the ridiculous survive” outside Paddington Station in London; a fitting quote, and arguably a true one – given that it could be said one has to possess a certain degree of insanity or quirkiness in order to avoid fading into the background in today’s society.
Still, shoegazing philosophical comments aside, on to the single itself. As you would expect from a man who describes the sound of popular music as that of “mutts barking”, it’s not exactly a conventional verse-chorus-verse affair on offer here. Opening with a simplistic, dry bass and closed hi hat rhythm, before a simple piano chord sequence kicks in simultaneously with Mike’s spoken word vocals. This instantly puts you in mind of John Cooper Clarke, a man who also lets his words do the talking. There’s a real cut-the-crap vibe to this kind of delivery which somehow lends the words more power than if they had been sung; and throughout Tyler switches between a Lou Reed-esque drawl and a sort of caricatured excitement. Musically, there’s very little change throughout; save for around two minutes in, where the song has a one note rest and kicks straight back in again with the same instrumentation – although here it’s joined by a comically upbeat lo-fi keyboard.
The B side, ‘Corny Song’ is the Ronseal of B sides – it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s all jaunty na na na’s and hilariously over the top vocals, sitting atop a jaunty sixties pop drum track and bassline accompanied by a cheery guitar arpeggio. Superb stuff; like Liam Lynch but funnier.
Thanks to Ellie Clarke at Prescription PR for providing the single package for review.