Some People...
Track by track commentary

The following commentaries are by Bob Collins, Nancy Novotny and Viv Crockford. Email your own for inclusion here.

1. Flowers Around Me
Tune by Mick, words by Bob.

Not sure why we picked this as the first song. We unintentionally got a double tracked Day Tripper-like sound on the intro due simply to someone forgetting to mute the guide guitar track (who was on that fader?). During the middle ‘Angela Kelly’ section we wanted this really loud heavy guitar to swoop in and sound like Cream. Didn’t really work out like that! And who exactly is Angela Kelly?

2. I’m Not The Devil
Tune by Mick, words by Bob

This was quite an early one of Mick’s, unashamedly Monkees-like and in-your-face poppy. May well have been chosen for the single if not for Strawberries.  Allan remembers that on the take we used, Ian finished one chorus repeat too early. In the interests of time we went with what we had and you can still hear the bass spill at the end where Mark was still playing.

3. Tony Bastable vs John Noakes
Tune and words by Bob

Originally called Tony Bastable's Indiscretion, a reference to absolutely nothing. This really doesn’t really sound like anything else on the album. The melody was originally was inspired by Silver by Echo and the Bunnymen. Ian’s drumbeat unexpectedly turned it into a Motown sounding thing. I went overboard with the surrealist lyrics.

4. You Make Me Say It Somehow
Tune and words by Bob

The vocal melody is a sneaky borrow from A House Is Not A Motel by Love together with a bit of Eight Days A Week thrown in in places. The title came from a wrongly transcribed lyric in a Beatles songbook. In the song I’ll Cry Instead there’s a line ‘I’ll try to make you sad somehow’ which was written as ‘..say it somehow’.

5. Mary Won’t Come Out To Play
Tune by Mick, words by Bob

Most of my lyrics tended to be pretty functional and forgettable, but I was fairly proud of these as a whole, a lot of humour and double meanings. I could try a line by line explanation….but then again, no. We used to joke that this would make a good Christmas No 1 for 1985.

6. I Had An Excellent Dream
Tune by Bob and Mick, words by Mark

This was a rare three-way collaboration. It was based on my opening riff and chord structure, over which Mick came up with the vocal melody and Mark supplied what I thought were great lyrics and his best to date. This rightly became one of our most celebrated songs and many people’s favourite. It turned out pretty much like I wanted it to i.e. like it could have been on The Byrds' first album, complete with a Feel A Whole Lot Better solo.

7. Kinder Still
Tune by Mick, words by Mark

I think this one has stood the test of time well and is, dare I say it, one of the more ‘mature’ songs on the album. It has quite a resonant quality partly due to the overdubbed drone guitar notes and the clarinet.

8. The Little Engineer’s Set
Tune by Mick and Bob, words by Bob

This was a true hybrid with my verse patched together with a Mick chorus written totally independently of each other but which seemed to go together well. The title came from the box of a child’s toy that happened to be lying nearby while we were rehearsing.

9. Tangerine
Tune by Mick, words by Mark

The intro to this was based on a riff from an REM song Moral Kiosk. Jeff the engineer got an amazing sound on his Rickenbacker so that with the same settings there was a very jangly sound on the high strings and a very grungy un-Rickenbacker sound on the low strings for the intro. The talking in the middle section is me reading out the entry for Tangerine in Larousse Gastronomique. Lots of people seem to remember this as an arch moshing song.

10. Back To The Grave
Tune by Mick, words by Mark and Ian

This is a strange one really, not really that strong a song but it had a great riff and a really powerful middle bit, which Ian particularly liked because he could let rip with some Moonesque drumming. You can hear the clarinet keys clicking on the quiet bits which was annoying at the time and I still hear every time I listen to this. Ian and Mark wrote the lyrics minutes before Mick recorded it. The two of them were lying on the studio floor while Mick did his take and it’s them you can hear at the start of the song, laughing at what they’d just given Mick to sing (e.g. ‘The egg I fried, back to the grave’)

11. The Arrow Points To The Spot
Tune by Mick, words by Bob

We did some Revolver-style backwards guitar (and backwards vocals) on this track. When you hear someone apparently shout ‘Morag’ at the end it is, in fact, Ian yelling ‘Harold’ in an Albert Steptoe impression. The title came from a tabloid newspaper caption indicating the scene of some grisly event or other.

Wipe all the tears/Why pull the tears?/Why, Paul, the tears?

12. Everything In The Garden
Tune by Mick, words by Mark and Bob

A really good little moody, psychedelic song where all the instruments just combine perfectly. The bass intro was remenicscent of the Jam’s Tales From The Riverbank. We especially liked the one-note middle section that goes on for about a minute and often extended this part live if we were feeling in a revolutionary, Velvet Underground frame of mind. My Bloody Valentine did a similar thing a few years later with You Made Me Realise although probably at 100 times the volume. We tried a much speeded up version of this live a couple of years later for some reason. Mick's favourite song.

13. One Of Our Psychedelic Beakers Is Missing (OOOPBIM)
Tune by Mick, words by Bob

The title is from something Mark actually said to me during a camping holiday in Paignton the previous summer which instantly gave rise to one of those ‘Hey-that-would-be-a-great-title-for-a-song’ moments. Mick’s intro is a replica of More Than A Feeling. This song really rocks along and has was described as ‘rumbustuous’ in one review which was spot on really. I think it’s also the only song on which we kept the guide lead guitar that was played live with the bass and drums. Nice whammy-bar action even though I do say so myself!

14. Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden (And It’s Wintertime)
Tune and words by Mick

This was one of the very first true Dentists songs. Before Mick joined, Mark, Ian and I were a fairly rudimentary post-punk 3-piece, into the Buzzcocks, Bunnymen, the Fall etc. With Mick two things changed. First he had a very melodic, tuneful voice which in itself changed our sound completely. Also, with Mick playing second guitar, I was able to get into more intricate Byrds-like jangling. Strawberries was really the first song where that all came into place. Mick had written it all before he played it to us, including a complete set of lyrics, which was very unusual for him. I just supplied the Byrdsy riff and there it was. This quickly became the live favourite and pretty much picked itself as the first single.

15. Burning The Thoughts From My Skin
Tune by Mick, words by Bob

Mick presented this one to us only a couple of weeks before the recording and we instantly thought we should record it in preference to whatever else we had been considering (maybe a traditional one song b-side). This was easily our most complex song up to that point, but in a good way (as in XTC not 10CC). It was a devil to learn it in time, but we were determined and, typically for us, we decided to blood it by opening our next gig with it, before we got it into the studio. Great meaningless psychedelic title too!

16. Doreen
Tune by Mick, words by Bob

When Mick first played us this song it was actually ‘Glory, glory, glory’. A lot of Mick’s songs had a war/death theme which we always tried to change into something a bit more suited to our indie pop sensibilities. We often ended with this at our early gigs and was a good one to go into an extended work out at the end

Bob Collins (guitarist)

1. “Flowers Around Me”  The perfect lead-off track, with a great riff that hooks you in immediately.  Sets the bar for Mick’s great overdubbed vocals and harmonies that continue throughout the album.  And I love the growling, non-sequitur bridge that immortalises Angela Kelly, whoever she may be.
2. “I’m not the Devil”  Probably my personal favorite track on the album.  I simply cannot keep from tapping my feet to the eighth-beat tambourine and sha-la-la-ing along.

3. “Tony Bastable vs. John Noakes”  The Dentists’ lyrical wit at its apex.  “Holy Moses, butter and marg, you look so little, but you loom so large.” Genius.
4. “You Make Me Say It Somehow”  Perfect psychedelic pop.  Proudly and beautifully wears its Forever Changes­-era Love influences on its (ruffled) sleeve.

5. “Mary Won’t Come Out to Play”  Peppered with childhood, seaside, and pseudo-religious imagery, this lovely track is dreamy, but quite decidedly cheeky.
6. “I Had an Excellent Dream”  A legendary track and a true classic.  Again, it’s all about the riff.  I’ve always found Bob’s deliciously jagged guitar attack and warm tone to be completely brilliant and all his own, and it’s showcased to full effect here.

7. “Kinder Still”  In the mid-eighties it was all about the jangle for me, so I definitely spun this one many times back in the day.  When I reviewed the "Dressed" compilation for my radio station in 1992, I described this track as, “a mid-tempo, minor key, folk/psych mini-masterpiece.”
8. “The Little Engineer’s Set”  Driven by an unusual, almost sinister bassline, this track is another favorite of mine.  I have quoted the line, “I’m in love with paisley ties again, let me look into your eyes again,” more times than I can count.

9. “Back to the Grave”  Mark once told me the reason for the laughter during the intro (I seem to recall him describing a laddish joke that was made at a certain Dentist’s expense), but I’ve long since forgotten the details.  An odd track, blending clarinet(!) and garage-y psych rock.  Is this one of the highest notes that Mick has ever hit?
10. “Tangerine”  A tidbit of backwards fun into a throbbing intro that transforms itself into upbeat Denti-pop.  Bob’s recitation from a cookery book still stands as a highlight for me.
11. “The Arrow Points to the Spot”  A brilliant segue from “Tangerine,” this is another track that should be held up as an example of how perfect psychedelic pop
can be.
12. “Everything in the Garden”  I never understood why this lovely track was left off the "Dressed" compilation.  D minor may be the saddest key, but A minor runs a close second.  I have fond memories of the upbeat twist the guys gave this song in their live
sets circa 1986.
13. “One of Our Psychedelic Beakers Is Missing”
Closes the affair with great punch.  I love the tinkly, twinkly sounds (are these the psychedelic beakers?) that bookend the piece.
14. “Strawberries”  Could a single be more perfect?  I think not.  Talk about hitting a home run right out of the gate.
15. “Burning the Thoughts from My Skin”  This song never registered much with me back in the day, but listening again, I’m finding it quite a satisfying slab of classic Dentistry.  I love how the moments of tension are countered by the pure pop release.
16. “Doreen”  Oh how I love “Doreen.”  I am so happy it’s finally seeing a wider release.  I have vivid memories of listening to this song on my cassette Walkman during my 1986 UK visit as I headed down the hill to the place I was staying.  When the melody  takes a turn with the lyric “find a way to open wide, find a way to fly,” my heart skips a beat, and a chill runs down my spine.  Every single time.

Nancy Novotny, Houston, Texas

Now to start with, the main thing that strikes me (again as it did at the time all those years ago) is how superior Side 1 is to Side 2.   Which is not to denigrate the latter (coz in doing this I’ve actually grown to love Side 2 much more than before), it’s mainly the fact that Side 2 oozes (which is good), but Side 1 just grabs you, grooves you and makes you wanna dance like being there live - it would just be simply rude, not to mention impertinent, not to.  And besides, how could you ever not be happy listening to this sort of gas?!:

Groove One

1. Flowers Around Me
Brilliant opener, the dancing very much starts here.  A tad more (louder?) feedback in the last verse would’ve been good but hey – let’s not be picky.  Excellent.

2. I’m Not The Devil
This track is just sublime – the right side of playfully menacing due to a fat dollop of gorgeousness lurking all over it.  Divine backing vocals.  Fun, exciting, blinding.

3. Tony Bastable V John Noakes
Ah hey – can’t help it, it’s just one of my favourites.  Ace, simple bass, and again some great backing vox, pity (sometimes grumpy old) Mark hardly ever let the band play it live (but then I guess there was plenty else on offer so stop yer moaning Viv).

4. You Make Me Say It Somehow
More excellent chiming guitar (I mean - when isn’t there?!), and the genius line “Oh your pretty face…” etc.  And no surprise - more excellent b/vox (I mean – when isn’t there?!).  Nice drum rolls too, Vic!

5. Mary Won’t Come Out To Play
The slowy of the side, builds really nice and has what can only be described (by me at the moment anyway) as some quite charming guitar bits Bob!

6. I Had An Excellent Dream
What an intro, I mean what an intro!!  Fantastic opening riff, an excellent daydream of a way to start.  This track also has some of the best lyrics the Dentists have ever written (although of course Mick only ever remembered to sing the one verse of every song live, so those without the record could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.  It is actually great to hear it with all 3!).  “I should have told you not to fall for a promising smile” (which, sigh, of course we all did.  Worthwhile? - certainly was!) “and if you give an inch I’d have take much more than a mile”… (well be my guest!).  Class.  Ah, but just how much did Mr Grump object to us clapping our way through his bass solo? Remember – we only did it to wind you up (and coz we loved it so much dummy!).

Groove Two

7. Kinder Still
Slightly downbeat as an opener for Side 2 I always thought, but no less enchanting for it, it oozes along quite wistfully and it does have the nice subtle clarinetty bits in it.

9. The Little Engineers Set
This always reminds me of something I can never quite put my finger on.  Funny little bit that fades slightly in the ‘could-actually–have-been-a-tad-more-interesting guitar solo (or perhaps it just increases in volume - what happened there Al?!).  Still, good enough – we like it!

10. Back to the Grave
More clarinet, great little middle 8, but noticeable mainly for the hysterical bits of laughter at the beginning.  I must admit I do like a bit of fun on my records (there’s a particular Supergrass track that excels in this respect, but I digress yet again!).

16. Tangerine
Boys rant on about things small & orange and just the right level on the talking bit so you can’t quite make it out properly (which is how all talking bits on records should be).  Nicely hazy & fuzzy in parts.  Oh and how we moshed to this one live.

21. The Arrow Points To The Spot
And given that it does after all – why pull the tears from your eyes?  Check out that backwards guitar – groovy baby!

8. Everything In The Garden
Floats and pleasantly rolls along in its own little world building nicely (ever so slightly!) Who-like to the end.  Eventually mutated into the fast live version – oh yes, more moshing (now why does that word sound so quaint now?!).  Anyway, goes to show - some of the best guitar riffs are just a couple of notes really.

AR. One Of Our Psychedelic Beakers Is Missing
Simple but great guitar & bass opening riff.  I mean Bob - you could almost trip over into that banjo sound a tad at times when not gloriously chiming, but this is just basically great, clever in its simplicity (and you are one of my favourite guitarists in that respect).  Which reminds me - one of the really excellent things about the Dentists is/was there was always space in the music for all the instruments (including the vocals) to be heard, so nothing was ever competing for attention.  Simple but clever.  Dunno about you but I like that.

And so on to:
Ah Strawberries.  Truly sublime, ridiculously great – one of my favourite records of all time.  What can I say? - perfect guitar part, truly great vocal, truly sublime harmonies, everything just fits so perfectly and for a debut it’s bloody stunning!  One thing about this record though is it really has to be played loud otherwise it sounds far too trebley, but should be sorted on CD, so I’m hoping.

Burning The Thoughts From My Skin
Always going to pale a little after the title track but has its own charm nonetheless.

For want of a better word this is really quite a sweet track – slightly naïve, innocent, great little melody, more nice b/vs, ah youth…

Viv Crockford (Rochester)

Back to Some People page