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Half Man Half Biscuit

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Half Man Half Biscuit are a completely uncategorisable band, often lumped in the 'indie' category but encompassing a wide variety of styles from country to folk and even grindcore, but always with a keen sense of parody and centred around Nigel Blackwell's pin-sharp lyrics and uncanny ability for earthy satirical humour. They were formed in Birkenhead in 1983: complete knowledge of the background to their songs involves, basically, being British, a devotee of UK daytime TV (in particular children's programmes of the 70s and 80s), a football fan (they are fanatical fans of Tranmere Rovers FC and once turned down an opportunity to appear on Channel 4's legendary show 'The Tube' in order to attend a Tranmere fixture), and the willingness to have 60s rock classics subverted in the cause of laughter.
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Half Man Half Biscuit in festive mood

Members were/are: Nigel Blackwell (vocals, rhythm guitar); his brother Simon Blackwell (lead guitar), replaced by Ken Hancock; Neil Crossley (bass); David Lloyd (keyboards), who left in 1993; and Paul Wright (drums), replaced by Carl Henry. Eschewing the temptations of the music industry, they split in 1986 (so that Nigel could go back on the dole and spend more time watching daytime TV), only to reform in 1990. JP was initially skeptical about the wisdom of this:

"People keep telling me that they're going to get back together again and do some more stuff, but in a sense, I have mixed feelings about it. I sometimes prefer it when bands have sort of done things that you've really enjoyed enormously, particularly when they've been amusing things and running contrary to the general flow of the time, which they were. Things were getting rather serious and kind of introspective and so on: to come up with things based on football and cheap television seemed to be ideal: perhaps it wouldn't work again if they were to do it now." [1]

They have recorded for the same label, Probe Plus, throughout their career.
All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit03:09

All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit

'All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit, Whistle Test, BBC 1986

John's love for the band is well-known:

"I've said it before, a national treasure, there's no question about it. When I die, I want them to be buried with me." [2]

"As I've mentioned before, in a decently ordered society members of Half Man Half Biscuit would be routinely carried shoulder high through the streets of every city they visited." [3]

It seemed that he appreciated the humour of their songs as much as the musical content:

"Half Man Half Biscuit, every song title a potential t-shirt." [4]

He once said that the programme received more requests for their songs through emails and messages than any other group. He called Nigel "one of our great thinkers" and rather touchingly said in his final Festive Fifty, "one of the consolations in my life is that, however long I may live, Half Man Half Biscuit will be there as well." [5] It seemed that his enthusiasm for their music remained undimmed throughout their recording career, something which he would have prolonged indefinitely given the chance:

"Well, I have to say, if I did the lottery, which I don't do, but if I won it, I should set aside a great sum of money to ensure that Half Man Half Biscuit never had to worry about money again, and could just go on making records: really for the rest of my life, and hopefully for the rest of theirs as well." [6]

However, he was not to live to hear their final session, which was recorded on 10th October 2004 but not broadcast until the month after his death.

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