250 words #7 - Compulsion - Oh My Fool Life

Compulsion are a real “who are they” band, one of many groups of the era who never really established much of a foothold. They came at an awkward time – they had a bit too much of the bands on the way out in them (Senseless Things, Mega City Four) and not enough of the bands on the way in (essentially, Britpop). Whilst bands like Bush went to America and to become stellar, Compulsion released two albums and died. However, they had some great songs, and stuck it out until 1996, achieving a modicum of fame in the process.

I think that “Oh My Fool Life” is one of the best tracks of the nineties, that sounded amazing at festivals (both Reading and Phoenix in 1994) and still sounds great today. The choppy guitar intro belies the inventiveness of the track, and when the lyric takes hold, you are in for a treat. The words are both funny and poignant at the same time, the tale of a man who tries to better himself and the lives of those around him but just stuffs it up at every turn.

Two thirds of the way through the song goes mental, guitars boom, sounding like an orchestra, bass notes pounding before the track drops and the guitar chimes like a bell. I can’t express how brilliant I think the lyrics are in their simplistic way, the story they tell with loads of humour and skill. The end is sudden, the guitar tone hanging in the air, a breathless finish to a fine song.

It’s a shame Compulsion weren’t regarded more widely. Their story didn’t end with their split – Garrett Lee, the guitarist, is now a pretty fine producer – his work is responsible for Snow Patrol’s “Final Straw”, and he has also worked on their new album due next month. This song I think marks the pinnacle of Compulsions output, and is well worth 79p at Itunes.

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