In 2005, while we anxiously awaited a new Darkness album (and they changed producers from “Mutt” Lange to Roy Thomas Baker), Justin Hawkins decided to do something on his own. The rumour mill was going on about how the new Darkness was going to be an 80s-fest. Justin’s solo single under the name British Whale certainly conveyed that sound.
“This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both Of Us” is a Sparks cover, previously tackled by Faith No More. The original track was from 1974, but Justin’s rendition really did sound like the 80s. Russell Mael’s high pitched vocal was exaggerated by Justin, with the cheese-whiz poured on thick. It’s the kitchen sink approach. But a classic pop song cannot be sunk and it’s quite listenable. Faith No More’s cover would win in a one-on-one competition, but Darkness fans will obviously want to hear Justin’s take. The music video was popular because it featured world darts champion Phil Taylor (no relation to the Motorhead drummer). Some fans expressed disappointment that the music video wasn’t included on the single, but in 2019 it matters not. (The video was included on a DVD single, along with a “making of”, but that DVD did not include the B-side “America”.)
Perhaps better than the A-side is the more Darkness-like B-side. It’s a tribute to the USA, its weather, and trees. According to “America”, Justin really likes the scenery! He sounds very sincere in his high-pitched praise. There’s gui-board (or “keytar”) and a guitar solo that sounds like a cross between Brian May and Thin Lizzy. It’s a bit of goofy fun. Actually an excellent track, even containing some music from the “Star Spangled Banner” in the well-constructed solo.
These two songs really seem to convey that Justin really wanted to have some fun, blowing off steam with pop music in 2005. In a way these songs are “peak Justin”. You just can’t imagine anything more Justin than this! (British Whale did another single called “England” in 2006 that never saw a physical release but we’ll cover that another time.)
British Whale can be bought on CD for ridiculously low prices. If you’re a Darkness fan, you have no excuse. Dive on in!