I guess I always pick a new album after I just picked an old one, so we’re going from 1977 to 2005. Dave has already done a Zatopeks interview and a review of their great album About Bloody Time, so I thought “why not write about their classic Ain’t Nobody Left But Us?” A great band like Zatopeks could not be written about too much and this is one of the best albums so far in the 21st century. What makes it great is how it mixes in so many styles of music without losing the Zatopeks touch or being schizophrenic. Another reason I picked it is because I have a lot of thoughts on it I’d like to share!
Ain’t Nobody Left But Us was released in March 2005 on Stardumb records. The album cover by Stefan Stardumb has the heads of all the band members around in a circle. They said in the interview that the title is an Anglicism. It’s also pretty cool that Zatopeks have footnotes and references in their lyric sheet. There is a lot to be said about the album, but now to the songs!
1. “The Summer I Fell in Love with Jimmy’s Girl”: A song that sounds like a little tale of the Vipers and Zatopeks and The fight between Zatopeks’ Will De niro and the Vipers’ Jimmy, whom Will De niro has stolen the girl of. But to me the song has a lot of more of a Meta aspect to it. The song sounds like an exciting, violent and action filled story, but to me it’s only about a group of people listening to the jukebox. It’s a manifestation of the power of music, especially sixties music, and how just listening to music can create great stories. There are lots of references to sixties songs in it, especially teenage tragedy songs about drag racing. “Leader of the Pack” by the Shang-rilas is maybe the most important one, which the intro is taken from and of course the Jimmy character. “Dead Man’s Curve” by Jan and Dean is also referenced. And I’m sure there’s more! Such a great song and awesome start of a fantastic album!
2. “Turkish Bread Chronicle”: One thing I really like about this band is their ability to tell a little story in each of the songs. “Turkish bread” starts up with “nananana”’s and goes on to tell the story of someone smoking pot at a bus stop and then meeting a girl from Greece with which he talks about stuff like the EU and girls from across the globe. In the end she leaves him and all he has left is delicious Turkish bread.
3. “City Lights”: I’ve always liked songs about city lights, maybe because I’ve always loved city lights. There’s something very calming and nice about the sun going down and seeing lights from the city light up the view. There’s something quite sentimental about this song. The backup vocals are beautiful and really add to this beautiful sentimentality!
4. “Mary Lou”: Starts up with a nice little bass line that is somewhat similar to “you’re the one that I want” from the Grease musical and the vocals in the verses are gruff and sound like they’re straight out of a country or Rockabilly song. The chorus goes straight back into pop punk and is catchy as fuck. My favorite part of the song is the bridge; it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the entire album. The song is about a man that is heartbroken about this girl named Mary Lou that has left him and their children. He later drives down to the roadhouse, which is a club in London next to the famous Covent Garden market, I went there in 2012 and there was a karaoke night and I was afraid to go in, this is the club which him and Mary Lou had their first kiss. He later purchases services from a prostitute to forget about her, but it doesn’t seem to work.
5. “Some Town in Northern France”: Starts up as a punk rock song and it gets catchy as hell until it goes into a pretty folky chorus. The band explained the song very well in the KTOTT interview they did. This is my favorite song on the album. Like “The summer I fell in love with Jimmy’s girl” this has a very simple story about going to France and have a good time and meet punk rock girls and jumping on trains. To me it emphasizes the feeling most of us has had. Going on holiday and meet all kinds of people and having the time of your life, but later realize that you’ll never meet these people again and no matter how much you’ll look all you have left is the memory. It also reminds a lot of the movie Quadrophenia for some reason. Life just seems to be that way.
6. “The Boy Done Good”: This is also an Anglicism, I think. Billy Bragg has a song called “The Boy Done Good” so I’m guessing it’s a British expression. The lyrics are pretty nice. The chorus goes: “Pour me another glass of your liquid poetry; I used to own my destiny, now my destiny owns me”
7. “The Night Spider Earned His Colours”: This is a nice little rock n roll number, that probably has the most female vocals on it and it also has the least lyrics I remember.
8. “Another Night on the Divide”: This song starts with a slow pretty acoustic intro that turns into a pop punk song. It’s about being in London or in Berlin and I think It’s about going out drinking, but I’m not sure actually. The song also appears on the It’s alive 7’’ release “Smile or move”. The chanting vocals that go “divide divide” really makes the song awesome.
9. “Jenny Kissed Me”: A folk rock musical interpretation of a poem by English essayist Leigh Hunt. It’s a short poem, but it makes a beautiful song. It takes up a tradition of making poems into song like Phil Ochs did with “the Highway man” and the Mr. T Experience did with “Somebody’s song”
10. “Quality Footwear”: Another straight up rock n roll song. It has a nice little guitar solo and the song makes the album seem very diverse, especially right after the slow folk rock song “Jenny kissed me”.
11. “Turn to Gold Blues”: Another song from the “Smile or move” 7’’ and starts up like a Beatles song and gets into something that sounds like a pop punk sea shanty with organs. I wonder if the title is a reference to the song “blue moon”, but probably not. The song continues the theme of references to London. The album mentions several capital cities in Europe, along London comes Berlin, Amsterdam, and “turns to gold blues” mention a girl who is sixteen and takes a train to London. The song ends beautifully with “Sick of all these words”
12. “Sophie Scholl”: A song for German anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl. The song laments the fact that he is in love with her, but he can never be with her, in a different way of course than other pop punk songs articulate this feeling. He also expresses his love for her saying that when it comes to famous females of the 20th century he’d be with her rather than movie stars like Marilyn Monroe. Scholl was together with her brother Hans put in the guillotine, she only got to be 21 years old. The second verse poetically goes: “Forever 21, how I see you still tonight/It’s true the best die young, but that doesn’t make it right”
13. “DeNiro Come On”: The way he sings “cherry coke” in this song is priceless! And “Pack of smokes “too. The song continues the Zatopeks vs Vipers chronicle from “The summer I fell in love with Jimmy’s girl” and this song also starts with “sad songs on the jukebox”. The song also serves as an anti-violence song. “Don’t you know that we don’t have to fight? Hey man, you know only we only get one life”
14. “At the Dive”: When the album starts off with a song about sixties music (“The summer I fell in love with Jimmy’s girl”) it ends with a song that could easily be from that era, a slow song from that era with a nice harmonica. Like Chuck Berry’s “Reelin’ and Rockin” the lyric bases on the clock and each verse starts with what happen at that given time. It’s a nice finish to a fantastic and severely underrated album.
On the next album Damn Fool Music the band kind of went away from Pop punk and that album was even more diverse than this one, and maybe to a point where they in fact got kind of musically schizophrenic. But that one also has some beautiful songs and the Buzzcocks-esque “15 Ta Life” (sentenced to less than Masked intruder, at least), there’s even some jazz on that record and it seemed a bit more political.
Still the legacy of Ain’t Nobody Left in the pop punk world stands! German Pop punk band the Barbecuties wrote on their Facebook page that they will continue the story about the Vipers and the Zatopeks from Jimmy’s point of view on their next album. A line that really sticks out for me is “I don’t need your eyes, I’ve got the city’s lights/I don’t need your truth, I’ve got one of my own from “City lights”. The next album will be Revenge is sweet, and so are you by the Mr. T experience.
Listen to their latest album here: http://zatopeks.bandcamp.com/