Get Smart

The first Cinerama song for this blog to tackle and it’s a largely forgotten album track from the otherwise remarkable Torino. It was premiered a year earlier in a John Peel Session that was first broadcast on the 24th May 2001 alongside three other songs that went on to be singles. Likewise on Torino it’s track 12, sandwiched between the magnificent Get Up And Go  and Health and Efficiency. So it’s understandable if not many fans talk about it much, added to the fact that it’s rarely been played live so it’s not really built up much of a following. The title doesn’t appear in the lyrics although it is obliquely referencing the theme of the song. The title was probably influenced by the American TV show of the same name from the late sixties (see below, I was right!). It was a spoof spy series created by Mel Brooks and starring Don Adams. Certainly not the only Gedge song to have a spy-influenced title.

The song is told from a rather weird angle as the narrator is talking to his partner telling them that if they want to keep having an affair, that’s fine, just be more discreet. The slightly confusing thing about all this is that he doesn’t seem all that angry or upset by the conversation. After all, he tells them not to “flip”. Is he just so in love with this person that he will put with anything as long as it isn’t made obvious? It’s not an argument that seems rational by any means but I guess love can do funny things to people. My favourite lyric in the piece comes in the form of the wonderful couplet: “This hanging up without him saying a word / Was maybe fine just once but it’s becoming absurd”. Accurate, funny and a joy to hear. Vocally, Gedge set his sights (and his vocal chords) high here with some falsetto notes in places. Not sure it works to be honest but I love his bravery in trying.

Gedge co-wrote this song with Simon Cleave and his distinctive playing dominates the instrumental sections with some lovely Spanish guitar twanging. There are some beautiful strings that swing us along and Kari Paavola added his flare to the percussion. Please note: there are also bongos! A really nice addition to the Torino  version were the haunting backing vocals that Terry de Castro does in the final chorus before the flute kicks in to take us to the end.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Why is the song called ‘Get Smart’? 

DLG: It’s my little nod to the classic 1960s American TV comedy series of the same name. It was a James Bond spoof, created by Mel Brooks, which I adored as kid.

The Torino version changes a fair bit from the earlier Peel Session.

DLG:  Well, of course, we used Peel Sessions as a way of recording ‘works in progress’ [as Peel himself used to call them] so I was bound to use the opportunity to improve the arrangement in between the BBC and our own sessions. I remember that we hadn’t thought about adding backing vocals to this when we were at Maida Vale, but the main thing I wanted to add, when we recorded the Scopitones version, was a feeling of 1960s ‘grooviness’, if there’s such a word! So we brought in Mat Pharaoh to play bongos and Duncan Bridgeman to add a killer flute solo over the end section. Both were colleagues of one of Cinerama’s go-to recording engineers, Dare Mason, but Duncan’s actually a renowned record producer in his own right. Neither Simon Cleave [or John Peel!] shared my affection for a good flute part but I think it really transforms the end section.

Any general thoughts on the song?

DLG: I’m fond of the little details in the lyric… like the hair in the bed and the credit card receipt… which lead you to believe that the narrator is slightly obsessive… as well as being a bit pitiable!

Is there anything you would change about the song now?

DLG: I think I could have been slightly more sparing with the amount of falsetto singing I use.

The song comes from a very unusual viewpoint of a man wanting his partner to keep her affair hidden better. Do you know anyone that’s ever actually acted like this?

DLG:  I never discuss lyric sources but I do think this to be a thought-provoking scenario… purposely turning a blind eye, so to speak. And I think we’ve all turned a blind eye!

Official Lyrics

I heard exactly what you said but I know that he slept in our bed
You should really take more care because all it took was a single hair

How would you, how could you not think that I’d realise?!
You must know you’re just so terrible at telling lies

And did you really think I might not find out where you were last night?
Believe me, darling, it wasn’t hard, when you paid for the meal on your credit card!

No, don’t flip, here’s a tip: all it needs is a little thought
This will surprise you but I don’t want you to get caught

That’s a price that I’ll pay to stop you going away
Keep telling your lies
I won’t criticise if it means you will stay

And you should probably tell him not to ’phone unless you’re sure that you are going to be alone
This hanging up without him saying a word was maybe fine just once, but it’s becoming absurd

No, don’t flip, here’s a tip: all it needs is a little thought
This will surprise you but I don’t want you to get caught

That’s a price that I’ll pay to stop you going away
Keep telling your lies
I won’t criticise if it means you will stay

That’s a price that I’ll pay to stop you going away
Keep telling your lies
I won’t criticise if it means you will stay

That’s a price that I’ll pay to stop you going away
Keep telling your lies
I won’t criticise if it means you will stay

Written and by Gedge [whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV] and Cleave [Complete Music].

Studio Versions:

1 – Peel Sessions: Season 2 [SCOPITONES TONE CD 014] recorded 13/05/2001, broadcast 24/05/2001 TIME: 3:27

Recorded by David Gedge (guitar and singing), Sally Murrell (keyboards and backing vocals), Simon Cleave (guitar), Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals), Kari Paavola (drums), Philip Robinson (flute), Andrew Black (trumpet), Abigail Trundle (cello), William Davis (violin), Mike Engles (producer), Jamie Hart (engineer)

Peel Sessions Season 2
Peel Sessions Season 2

2 – Torino version released 01/07/2002 [Scopitones TONE CD 11] TIME: 3:31

Recorded by David Gedge (guitar, singing, producer & string arrangement), Sally Murrell (keyboards and backing vocals), Simon Cleave (guitar & producer), Terry de Castro (bass and backing vocals), Kari Paavola (drums), Allen Samuel (violin and viola), Rachel Davis (violin), Theresa Whipple (viola), Abigail Trundle (cello), Rachel Didcock (cello), Ian Williams (trumpet), Christopher Hortin (french horn), Duncan Bridgeman (flute), Mat Pharaoh (bongos), Steve Albini (producer), Dare Mason (mixer)

Torino
Torino

Live:

As mentioned above, it hasn’t been played live very much although it has made the occasional appearance as seen below.

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=f4ETzPRq4w8

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