Today, I want to talk to you about an album. One of my favourite albums, and almost certainly the greatest cult-punk-adolescent-romance-narrative-concept-album ever released. But first, some background.
A lot of people know the song “Jilted John” by Jilted John, even if they don’t know it by name. Chances are, they probably think it’s called “Gordon Is A Moron” or “The Moron Song” or something like that. It sounds like this:
It got to number four in the UK charts in 1978, was performed live on Top of the Pops on no less than three occasions, and is rightly held as one of the greatest and most memorable singles of the late ’70s punk/new wave era. But for most people, that’s where the Jilted John story ends – as a one-hit wonder, a novelty record and nothing more. What most people don’t know, however, is that “John” actually recorded an entire album. And, what’s more, it’s a masterpiece.
Jilted John was, of course, the alter-ego of a young comedian and singer-songwriter named Graham Fellows – who would later go on to create the peerless John Shuttleworth, and appear in adverts for Yorkshire Tea. In its original form, the eponymous song was actually the B-side of a Rabid Records single called “Going Steady” – in which a not-so-jilted John told of his love for girlfriend-of-two-months Sharon – but on the radio, it was “Jilted John” that gained greater currency, and the single would eventually be re-released by EMI with the sides flipped. In the wake of the single’s success, Fellows and super-producer Martin Hannett regrouped to create an entire album. It had an absolutely fantastic romance-comics-spoof cover, came with a free gift of a “Mice and Ladders” board game, and was called True Love Stories.
Although the album was – by the standards of the single – something of a flop, it’s retained its status as something of a cult favourite. And I absolutely love it to pieces. So if you’ve never heard it – or, even, heard of it – before, allow me to introduce you to its genius…