Saturday, 11 June 2022

Hot Shots #14 - Get A Job - The Silhouettes

A week late for the Platinum Jubilee weekend, but hey-ho - 'Get A Job' by the Silhouettes is nonetheless pretty apt when the British royal family are at the forefront of the mind. However, I submit that 'Get A Job' can be enjoyed at almost any occasion (bar funerals, maybe?), not just those moments when you're ruminating as to why a nation kowtows to a bunch of inbred ne'er-do-wells.

I don't know much about doo-wop - next to nothing, really - so I cannot pretend to have any great insights. To me, there's an appealingly loose feel to the harmonising; whether that's due to the relatives prowess of each Silhouette or the imbalance in dynamics (the bass voice sounds overpowering) I can't say. Whatever the case, this slightly ramshackle feel is to the song's advantage, marrying up nicely with the hard luck story of the narrator.

On the one hand 'Get A Job' feels reasonably conventional; a three-chord trick punctuated with a bombastic saxophone solo, as was de rigueur. There are glimmers of something else shining through, though - the refrain of "Dip dip dip dip dip dip dip / Mmm-mmm-mmm" stands out, even in an age of zany vocal effects. The "Sha-na-na-nah" backing the underpins each verse might even be more revolutionary; not only is this possibly the origin of this oft-imitated (in doo-wop) hook, but it also inspired the name Sha Na Na. Consequently, a straight line can be drawn between the Silhouettes and the third president of East Timor

Another touch that feels modern is the dropout, leaving the vocals backed by nothing more than drums and handclaps. A slightly more wonky line, the, could be drawn between 'Get A Job', the 'Amen Brother' drum break and modern hip-hop. Am I reaching here? Perhaps, perhaps, but I'm hearing something potent going on.

That, for me, is the crux of what makes 'Get A Job' so exciting; it feels like the moment one river begins to flow into another, a mingling of currents. One one level it's simply a fun, wry pop track delivered in a fairly gusty manner, but between the lines you can hear the future calling out. Grand stuff.