"Bed" was released on 19th August 1991, again it was available all formats Vinyl, CD and Cassette. There are several versions of the CD out there including a Japanese version, a USA version and a “longbox” version. The music press gave the album glowing reviews and these are included further down.
The vinyl had 10 tracks in total and omitted the first two singles (Abstain and Air Conditioned Nightmare), although “Abstain” was included as a bonus track on the CD along with one of it’s B-sides “Catcher in the Rye”. The USA version also included Abstain but this time with “Somethings Got to Give” and “Mistress Daydream”.
“Bed” opens with the giggling of fourth single “Supernova” and straight away the album gets off to a cracking and catchy start, to be followed by “Psycho Cupid”. “Psycho cupid” was strong enough to be released as a single and was one of the first songs I heard with Paul’s slide guitar playing. At just over two and a half minutes, the song featuring Paul on main vocal duties is another perfect classic. Great lyrics again, as with all the album “Nothing is sacred when we’re stuck out on this limb, we’re just waving at the passers-by who superglued their lips so they would never ever ask why”. Genius.
I keep mentioning The Stone Roses, but you have to remember that they were the yardstick of which bands were measured with at that time and it really looked like Milton/ Bassett partnership was ready to overtake the Brown/ Squire one. The Stone Roses had the knack for creating mysterious and religious lyrics but “Junk Male” outdid anything the Roses did. Straight away an angry Tara sings of spitting in Gods face, surely more outrageous than wanting to behead a queen. Theres mention of judgement day and Salman Rushdie and throwing bibles too. Musically, theres more slide guitar and a few church bells put in the mix. Its such a well produced track that credit is surely due to Marc Waterman and the boys.
A change in direction again, this time to the wah-wah and funky rhythm of “13th Disciple” which is followed by “Strange Kind of Urgency” with it’s instantly recognisable bass-line is yet more single quality material. The song really works with its quiet verse, loud chorus effect, it sounds angry and urgent. The lyrics convey mod imagery of angry young men “you build me walls so I can knock them down” and with that the end of side 1 approaches.
Opening side 2 of the vinyl is the resurrected and re-mixed last single “You” followed on its heels by “Songs and Paintings”. Another fantastic bass-line by Tara is accompanied immaculately by Phil’s drumming. Complimenting the rhythm section is Paul’s guitar, a bit of wah-wah here, a few Who-like power chords there. It doesn’t sound like any of its contemporaries of the time. Halfway through theres what sounds like an aeroplane taking off (I later found out to be something else but thats another story altogether) which mixes in with the song, another example of Five Thirty pushing boundaries and experimenting. One reviewer said that Five Thirty went from I Feel Fine to I Am The Walrus in under a year and they demonstrate it perfectly on this track.
“Womb With a View” starts of with an acoustic guitar and cymbals as Tara sings “Watch the stars, they fall like glitter” but it is not long before he is bursting into the chorus where Paul’s guitarring accompanies Tara singing. The song ends with a brass band which appears from nowhere. There was no clue that was going to happen. It has “Beatles-esque” experimentation but without sounding like them...they sounded like...well...Five Thirty.
Penultimate track “Automatons” is lyrically one of my favourite Five Thirty songs and at the same time is by far the heaviest sounding track on the album. The guitars are so fierce and exciting and yet manages to starts off in what sounds like a train station before Tara’s distorted vocals start. The words are so provocative as Tara sings of “despots marching by” and “polish your jackboots”. Its such a well produced song, it feels epic, it feels like the albums ending (much like I Am The Resurrection on The Stone Roses or A Certain Romance on Arctic Monkeys debut). Luckily, there is one final song before the masterpiece finishes.
The final track, “Wrapped in Blue”, is the perfect end to the album. This 2 chord, one and a half minute acoustic beauty is sang by Tara with perfect harmonies by Paul. “Wrapped in Blue” ended the album off so well. After the chaos and energy of the first 9 tracks, this was the albums lullabye, after all....it was Bed.
For me the album ends with “Wrapped in Blue” and the last two bonus tracks are just that. Yes, they surely are a bonus and they are stonking tunes but they do feel bolted on. That, my little friends, is my only criticism of “Bed”. It is not that these songs are not good enough to be included on “Bed”. They truly are suitable and they would have fitted in on the album somewhere without ruining the running order, but “Wrapped in Blue” is the close of “Bed” to me.
So Bed was certainly a brilliant and significant place to be, well to me it is very special indeed. A soundtrack to my youth if you will. The thing is, even the critics saw the album as a work of genius,with Five Thirty shining out from their peers. I have included all the magazine reviews I have for Bed for you below. The big question is “what went wrong”? It should have sold bucket-loads yet scraped number 57 in the charts....I guess life is just unfair sometimes.
Below is a web-site exclusive kindly donated by Tara. He says this picture “in actual fact it should have been 5:30 first album. Painted by resident band artist Chris Drew; but unfortunately it never made the deadline, and as we all know the 'wheels of finance wait for no one!'........ it's been moved around a fair bit over the years, and is not 100% intact; originally there were small gold clock dials amongst the debris on the right hand side. It currently resides at a close friend of mine in London”. The sad news is that the “heartbeat of the band” Chris Drew is no longer with us as he committed suicide. As a tribute when he died, the lads gave the infamous Alestair Crowley door a viking funeral, put petrol on it and sailed it down the Thames. The painting is titled “Womb With a View”.
So with time and money running out, a sleeve
design had to be decided for the new album.
Producer George Shilling recalls “Ben (Wardle)
and the band had been flipping through the
book of Blue Note label album sleeves I think,
before making a hasty last-minute decision!”
I guess it is this Horace Parlan/ George Tucker/
Al Harewood- Us Three album opposite that
gave them their inspiration. The pop-art sleeve
did have it critics and certainly was not up to
the same standard as Chris Drews previous
pieces of art.
However, in a positive light, it did create a bold,
clean, mod statement and was quite different
to other album sleeves at the time.
The same month that “Bed” was released Five Thirty played the Mean Fiddler stage at Reading Festival. One of the posters is shown here below:
Fresh from a blistering performance at the Reading Festival the band continued their residency at the Marquee Club with more energetic performances. They played as support to The Manic Street Preachers who struggled to compete with Five Thirty’s superb playing.