Rock'N'Roll Parts One & Two

March 1992

CATHI UNSWORTH travelled to Spain, where CUD were filming a vid for their new single at a local carnival, and discovered why the most fashionably unfashionable band from Leeds should have really boon born in swinging Seville. Pics: STEVE GULLICK.

In a craggy corner of northern Spain, over which the Union Jack boxer shorts of Club 18-30 tourism have never hung their fearful shadow, the port town of Cadiz is going bananas. It's midnight, and the warm air is buzzing. Around the town square, dominated by an impressive yellow baroque church, the tribes of the bizarre are doing the dance of the mad.

Stripey green and white mattresses with spindly arms and legs jostle with silver-faced space aliens, giant TV remote controls chase hordes of Vikings through the narrow streets; singing hearty Latino odes to the glory of pillage and red wine. Confetti falls like snow, and spray can snow scatters like confetti. Music pulses through this place in its purest natural form - from the throats of the drunken elated, in the ecstatic throes of the first night of carnival.

And through this beady throng, one man walks tall. Leather kecks worn at half most over shoes that resemble miniature bumper cars, trailing suede tassles over a shirt adorned with daisies, Carl Puttnam has found his spiritual home.

THE big voiced, sex-oozing Cud crooners eyes are alight with gleeful admiration "Ole! Amourir!" he bellows, arms outstretched, embracing the hospitality of yet another heaving bar.

°Ole!" He's greeted by two lovely ladies. The first, block hair piled high, bouffant style, has red lipstick drawn up to the top of her bristly moustache, and a vast crinoline of a skirt that makes the wardrobe of Widow Twanky look like Jasper Conran "I am Princess Di!" she announces, in the rousingly gruff vernacular of an errant goatherd.
"Ole!" The second, yet more impressively, has a patch of radishes adorning her abundant tresses.
"I am Fergie!"
As if to prove her point, the errant Duchess Of York raises her petticoats. From her cotton bloomers, a feisty black protrubernace of nylon hair spills down to her kneecaps.
"Ole!"
Shaking with joy, Carl salutes the Royal duo, raising his beer to toast the night. "This," he announces, "is where I should be living.'

CUD are in Cadiz to film the video for their latest single, "Through The Roof", which is a gorgeous Flamenco fizzler that speaks boldly in the language of love. They couldn't have Found a more appropriate location.
"England could do with some of this," notes Carl, approvingly. "More dressing up." "I just feel so sad that we can't communicate with these people," bassist William Potter sighs from the depths of his jaunty sombrero. "Cos they're so keen to join in with what we're doing. "
William has spent the day doing the lambada with a woman he reckons to have been about 80. "She said she had bad legs, but her dancing was brilliant, really sexy. She kept pushing her breasts up and pouting."
"It's great when a whole crowd start singing a song and they haven't got a clue what they're singing about," agrees Carl with on amazed smile. I guess the language is pretty universal.

CADIZ parties till dawn. After the briefest of siestas, the rubbish is swept off the streets, and gradually the bands of pirates, trolls and Tortelvises begin to thread their way back through the coffee shops and bars that duster around the square.

Contentedly quaffing breakfast sherry, they view with amusement the spectacle of Carl, now resplendent in silver sequinned shirt and PVC bomber jacket, running through the first lines of "Through The Roof" while the rest of Cud, in a variety of lurid nylon wigs, strum plastic guitars. They could have been born here.

For Cadiz's camival is as loud, eccentric and euphoric as Cud's music. It's a self contained party that rages on against the grey restraints of normality, and it's participants, like the aliens and the regal transvestites of Andalucia, know what constitutes a good time. Cud's errant style owes nothing to the drudgery of fashion. And now that the baggy era is dead, and the Scene Of Celebration is running out of steam, the era of the groovy dude is dawning. From The Levellers, through Levitation, to Gallon Drunk, the colours of individuality and non-conformity are being splattered over the blank face of British music. The carnival is beginning to swing, at last.

"It's the best way," nods a sage Mike Dunphy, over an apres shoot swordfish steak. "I've no regrets that it's taken us a while to get some profile, as there's no hype. It's difficult to be in a band when you've got a sense of humour but you don't necessarily make funny records." Indeed. When Cud's record company, A&M, first heard 'Through The Roof' they assumed it was purely sarcastic.
"But we're not always tongue-in-cheek," explains William. "It is a genuine love song. And we've been having so much fun here we're gonna come across looking like grinning clowns. Which is brilliant."
'They thought we were making some Daliesque statement by saying I love you," shrugs Mike. "I think it was because I was asked to write the lyric out for the directors," admits Carl, bashfully. "And I drew loads of EUUGH!'s in brackets at the end of each line - cos I was a bit embarrassed writing them out - and the directors thought the songs were obout EUUGH!'s. They thought I was being cynical. But I like relationships, I think they're cool."

LOVE is a word commonly associated with Carl Puttnam. Often unkindly too, by bemused male journalists who fail to grasp exactly why the bespectacled, rotund singer is such a magnet of sex appeal.
"I hate all that Against The Odds stuff," Carl scowls. "The Unlikely Sex Symbol. One of the treatments for the video said that I'd be singing to this girl in a lift, trying," he pronounces in barely concealed disgust, "to attract her, and she wouldn't be conventionally beautiful, she'd be geeky looking, wearing glasses similar to mine."
"But Carl's never, ever been out with anyone who looks like him," William claims. "All Carl's girlfriends are much more beautiful than him."
"And my beautiful girlfriends always get really angry when they read that I'm an unlikely sex symbol," Puttnam confirms.
But Carl, you're not being judged by people who are likely to fancy you. You're being labelled by men, who usually gauge attractiveness in a bland, generic way-skinny legs, big lips, girlish prettiness. Girls prefer someone who appears to have a depth of character, who is bold enough to look the way they want. That's why Nick Cave, Robert Smith and Tom Waits are attractive. Men just don't understand this.
"It's the easy pigeonhole of wanting their sex symbols to look archetypal," agrees Mike. "But Gerard Depardieu is a sex symbol, and he's got a right big conk."
Why do you think you're attractive, Carl? Carl munches his octopus thoughtfully.
"I think it's cos I'm quite confident onstage," he considers "You don't put a screen between the audience and yourself?" William offers.
Carl doesn't like this suggestion of geezerness.
"No! I don't want to be approachable! I want to be untouchable!" I think it's cos you wear such excellent clothes.
"That's very important," Carl affirms. "It's just keeping the clothes going. Cos I used to like getting stuff from second-hand shops, and I haven't got time to look for it now. And, even if 1 did, I'd need more clothes all the time. So I get my clothes made for me now which is really crap."
Mike's eyes roll heavenwards. "He says that's crap! Most people would die to have their clothes made far them."
"It was crap when flares came back in, too," furthers Carl, "Cos three years ago, you could just wear flares and look different But everyone s dressing up again. There so lot of glam coming back in."

IT'S because Cud are different that things are looking good for them. Uniformity has ruled music for too long, and that uniformity has been a very grey, asexual one, devoid of the passion that Cadiz is currently swimming in. Carl is probably right. We need more dressing up.
"But that's very hard for the English to grasp," says Mike sadly. "England, as a rule, likes gloomy, miserable buggers. All the big, musical scenes that have existed have revolved around 'em, with a few jokey bands like Half Man-Half Biscuit thrown in. It's hard to have a natural good time and not either force ourselves to be miserable or write Benny Hill tunes."
But, increasingly, it's the bands like Cud who both cut it live and create their own swinging subcultures, that are breaking through the barriers to chartland.
"Hopefully," William agrees, "we'll benefit from not being made big on a huge wave of fashion. Our live performance is our greatest asset, and the bands that people go and see are now getting onto Top Of The Pops."
"We should have o clap-o-meter'," Mike suggests. "That's how bands should get into the charts, on a clap-o-meter basis from gigs..."
"That," nods Carl, "is a f**ing good point."

BACK in central Cadiz the weather is brooding, but the brightness of costume would have blotted out the sun anyway. Floats are piled high with yet more bizarre apparitions - men dressed as parrots, the Tortelvises singing lustily about bambinos, and an entire kindergarten of little Sergeant Peppers. What could the style shy British learn from all this?
"That you never need an excuse to dress up," Carl reckons. "You should just do it anyway. That's why most of my friends are girls and transvestites, cos they're not afraid to do that. And everyone dances good here. That s another crap thing about England, no one dances good."
So what's the Carl Puttnam lowdown on style?
"Suits and shirts," the great one considers. "People seem to be bringing shirts back to rock music. Men in shirts instead of tee-shirts. Shirts tucked in, that is, lt's horrible when they aren't tucked in. That's what Gallon Drunk have given to rock music - shirts tucked in. They look really cool. They dress like men." What about girls?
"Army Of Lovers original singer Camilla," he sighs, wistfully. "It's such a shame they got rid of her. She was sacked for being a drunkard and never turning up for practices. But there wouldn't be a band in Britain if everyone was sacked for being drunk!"
At this point, he is interrupted by a mad looking rabbi, waving a large goatskin It's full of sherry, and the senor insists on Carl downing it in one. Needless to say, he is not adverse to this suggestion.
"I don't think my spirit was put in my right body." Puttnam concludes, as he whirls around the town square, intermittently blowing on a plastic trumpet and shouting "Ole!" at the top of his considerable vocal range.
"I can't believe I was born in Ilford I should have been born in Seville!"
And he's off, lost in a sea of colour and noise, as the carnival rages on. This is probably the only place on earth you could feasibly lose him.
Ole! to that.

"Through The Roof' is released on March 16 on A&M.