Something that should probably be listed in a book of rules about starting your band is that if your name includes the word ‘fellatio’, the chances of you hitting the big time are pretty small. Small, but not nonexistent. For a band like Machine Gun Fellatio, whose shows had been cut short at various times due to hardcore nudity and (apparently) simulated six onstage, the chances of them writing any sort of heartfelt ballad were slim to none, right? Nope.
Machine Gun Fellatio sort of appeared on the scene in the late ’90s. While its various members had been involved with various different projects (including one band called The Libertines that wasn’t the famous one, and at least one member working as a musician for pornographic films), their collective musical output had been spotty. 1997 came around and the group released ‘Isaac Or Fuzz‘, which consists of a found answering-machine message in which someone asks to the name of a tune by humming it. More fame followed when the two main members, Pinky Beecroft and Chit Chat Von Loopin Stab (not their real names, by the way), were credited as co-writers on The Whitlams’ immensely famous ‘No Aphrodisiac.’
With this success under their belt, they started work on a debut record. Their first track, ‘Mutha Fukka On A Motorcycle‘ served as a perfect example of the sorts of sounds they were capable of, and introduced them to the world in the way they expected. But with their first album containing songs like the aforementioned, in addition to tracks such as ‘Drugsex‘, ‘Smooth Sexy Monkey‘, ‘Butter My Arse With A Pigeon‘, and ‘Horny Blonde Forty‘, the latter of which included the ‘No Aphrodisiac’ contributions, one hardly expected the album to end with anything nice. However, true to the comparisons that painted them as an Australian version of Ween, the group delivered.
‘Unsent Letter’ has gone on to become one of the group’s most well-known and beloved song (even though ‘Rollercoaster‘ was undoubtedly more radio-friendly). It’s a sparsely arranged song, beginning with little instrumentation compared to the rest of the album. This slowly swells into a heartfelt ballad of emptiness following the collapse of a relationship. Understandably, this song is written with a bit more sentiment than their track ‘(Let Me Be Your) Dirty Fucking Whore‘ from their next album.
This track set aside Pinky Beecroft as one of the best lyricists in Australian music at the time. Not only was he one of the most versatile musicians, being able to switch between the cabaret-infused ‘shock-rock’ that the band was known for, but it showed that he also possessed a sweet side that countless music fans could relate to; something that is exceedingly rare in the current musical climate.
While I’ve not been lucky enough to witness Machine Gun Fellatio live, I have been lucky enough to see Pinky Beecroft play a few times now, and each time, he has performed this song with a delicate intensity that far outstrips anything that could be experienced from hearing a recording of this song.