June 23, 2024

How Civil Civic’s “Run Overdrive” got me into the Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show

Having read Ross McGibbon’s review of Civil Civic’s album The Test and comparisons with New Order, I couldn’t help but take a listen.

Listening to Run Overdrive on YouTube I could feel influences coming in all the way from the 1990s, the dirge like American college rock scene, together with John Peel’s millennial playlist, i.e. the prog rock of Rock Of Travolta and the uncertain emotion of Boards of Canada. Run Overdrive is a fantastic listen, it evokes a sense of euphoric nostalgia, of moments when I put myself out there, but also of times lost and gone.

But anyway the video to Run Overdrive put me off into another direction. Juxtaposing a film of people, mostly Black, gyrating forty or fifty years ago, with a musical track created just five years ago, the uncertain emotion of which would have stopped all those dancing in their tracks made me think. I realised how the sincerity of Civil Civic’s music zeroed the mind in, in a rather intense and pure way, to the carnal nature of the dancing, or I might say to the carnal nature of dancing per se, in a way that listening to soul, disco or funk wouldn’t have. It made me realise that the whole point of disco dance and soul is to make sexual overture on the dancefloor tongue-in-cheek, turn it into a parody of itself, taking the life and death element out of proceedings, and making the mating game a lot safer. My proposition is that if you got people gyrating like those in the video were doing, to Civil Civic, things would be far from civil or civic.

But the video and music combination didn’t seem completely original to me. In the first instance it reminded me of Sunday Worship, where the Pirate Radio techno of Andy C and MC G.Q. are superimposed over clips of dancing from what seems to be Black American Pentecostal church-goers from the 1980s.

Incidentally, juxtaposition of Pirate Radio techno with Pentecostal church dancing had the opposite effect of Civil Civic’s video, in that it insinuated similarity rather than difference. In essence, is there any difference between the states of mind attained by techno warehouse party-goers and pentecostal church hall movers?

A colleague however let me know that the first thing that sprung to his mind watching Civil Civic’s video was the Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show.

Really the only links are the era and religious middle class Black Americans, present in the bible show and insinuated by the dress sense of some of the characters in Civil Civic’s video. Still The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show is something else. At any given moment I couldn’t be sure that said colleague hadn’t linked me to one of the more perverted items from his encyclopaedic porn collection. It got me wondering about the world in which one would have had to inhabit, and the world that one would end up inhabiting, to have sincerely engaged with these classes as a child on a regular basis. Its something I’m going to be wondering about for a while I think.



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