Better Things To Do:
I last heard of M.J. Hibbett & The Validators
with the excellent hit that took me back to my schooldays, Hey Hey 16k, about the very
early days of the home computers that could be programmed and were an integral part of my growing
up as a teenager.
- Released: June 2006
- Rating: 7/10
We're back in the realm of songs that speak to everyman - to students and to eternal students.
Say It With Words
continued in this vein for the nostalgic and for those who've experience unrequited love,
We Validate! takes a step forward as Mark finds himself in his 30s, wondering if
his life in going in the right direction and which step it should take next.
First up, Tell Me Something You Do Like is an upbeat, clever track - which sets the tone for
the majority of this album - about looking on the
bright side of things and with a chorus of "Tell me something that you do like, Tell me
something you think's GRATE, It's so dreary sitting listening, To your vacuous complaints", this
really should be made into the new theme of BBC1's Points of View as there's always so much to have
a whinge about at Auntie Beeb :)
Looking At My Hands says so much about turning 30 and it really speaks to me about how I
felt about it too. On the one hand, you don't want to get to that point and think you know it all
at an earlier age, but once *do* you reach the big 3-0, part of the chorus that goes "I feel
deeply satisfied, Knowing what my mind is and knowing that I'm right" says it all as you spend
your school life being told what to do, your university life being told what careers to go for - or
that you should be thinking about going for, and then your twenties thinking that you really should
be thinking about doing something about your career and then... you hit 30. And you don't give a shit
anymore... and the best thing is that you don't *mind* that! The balance is restored once more.
The single, Better Things To Do (right), follows, continuing the theme that so much of life has an
importance put upon things that just don't really matter, but which seem like a must-do to others,
yet if we did set about to concentrate on what we could be doing with our time, such as spending more
time with a loved on instead of learning how to program C++ - a very nice touch since part of my
University degree featured that language and, my God, what a complete waste of a few hours that was.
Men don't always say the right thing when it comes to talking to their better half, which is where
Girlfriend Alarmed comes in, while The Gay Train recalls how life went for a friend
of his who moved to London and a time at the Gay Pride Festival in 1994 when balloons were let off
to commemorate those who had died of AIDS, both tracks which aren't as instantly a hit with me as
the previous three but a few more listens should sort that out.
Dino at the Sands is a track that escapes me a little bit as I don't quite know what it refers
to even though the notes on the website say it's regarding things MJ doesn't like about certain comedy
double acts, while Breaks in the Journey is more 'everyman' stuff about missing out on things
in life because you don't stop to smell the flowers while you can.
Things get rather political in The Fight For History, as it's said this fight will happen on the
day that Thatcher is dead, but it's spot on when it refers to someone like Edwina Currie and Steven
Norris and about how such people are turning up on reality TV and phone-in shows, with the latter even
hosting a regular general discussion show for a time on TalkSport, a few years back.
Mental Judo continues the optimistic theme set with Better Things To Do and in a similar
fashion, while Quality of Life Enhancement Drive is about how we're all slaves to electronic
gadgets which are meant to make life easier, but then it can also make us overlook the things which are
small but important.
The Lesson of The Smiths is all about desperately ensuring you don't follow the crowd, particularly
when it comes to liking bands that everyone seems to like, but give it a bit of time and you'll find
some bands' music is actually worth listening to and if you leave it too late... they split up and then
you've lost your chance to see them live forever.
Finally, We Only Ever Meet In Church sums up how quickly stages of life pass us by and that we
don't get to catch up with friends as often as we should, and if we leave it too long like this then
the only time we'll pass by again is for births, marriages and deaths...
Well, I say finally, but there's still two pieces of around a minute each, a meandering piece known as
Untitled and a 'slight return' for Dino at the Sands.
On the single, Better Things To Do, comes the additional tracks Leave My Brother Alone,
a song about being protected by an older sibling and then being able to return the favour later in life
when it really matters; and The Other Rush Hour subtly works in many occasions where events occur
as a result of the clocks going forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the winter and how do
you keep up, since there's always confusion over it.
It's all very observational stuff with the best tracks being the first three and the last two, it slightly
faltering part-way through with tracks like Breaks In The Journey and Quality Of Life
Enhancement Device being more 'okay' than essential, but all still worth a listen although I would've
liked another track that stood out as big as Hey Hey 16k. Great female backing vocals are also
a noteworthy point about this CD.
For fans who want to hear more, put this disc in your PC and you'll find it contains many additiona;
demos and rare alternate tracks such as rehearsals.