Apologies for the interruption! And Whip Jamboree

12 Dec


Sorry for the interruption – I kind of lost my mojo for a while there!

Perhaps the reason  was that I was looking forward to going to a gig by a band I’ve championed from more than 20 years playing at one of my favourite venues – and it turned out that it kind of sucked.

If you’ve browsed through this site’s  archive, you may have noted postings about the Oysterband CD Little Rock to Leipzig and their first collaboration with June Tabor  (Freedom and Rain) . Both were enthusiastic. Add to that, the second collaboration,  2011’s Ragged Kingdom swept the board for awards.

So although I was aware  that this was just the Oysters without Ms Tabor and that they’d  had some line-up changes, I was confident that the band’s core members and writers (Ian Telfer, Alan Prosser and John Jones) were still there.  This is certainly more than could be said for Fairport Convention in the seventies!

But it was  really lame. So lame that I left at the interval.

And this was upsetting. The Oysterband have been part of my musical landscape  since I bought their LP Ride in 1989, when it’s cover of New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ promised so much and their take (with Tabor) of the Joy Division track  ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’  brought new melancholic beauty to the song.

In between those dates, I’ve been to so many good gigs – at Chipping Norton, Cambridge Folk Festival, Leicester De Montfort Hall, Milton Keynes and even in a field in Spratton!

So what went wrong?

Firstly, it was the new original songs. One of the reasons I never got into high-selling pop acts while a teenager (from T-Rex to Queen) was because too many of  their lyrics were little more than nursery-rhymes or slogans.  (Alright, that’s a bit hyperbolic! I accept that Queen produced the fantastic ‘ Bohemian Rhapsody’ but they were also responsible for the awful ‘We Are The Champions’ and the equally naff ‘We Will Rock You’. However while T-Rex usually makes me  smile, ‘Get it On’ is hardly sophisticated lyrically!) The newer Oyster songs seemed to me to  default far too often into multiple repeats of single lines.  OK, folkies (and I include myself here)  like to sing along witht he chorus but for goodness sake, this was too much. It may be helpful for the Oysterband’s loyal continental European audiences with limited English but I was just dying for either something more sophisticated or for the bloody song to just end.   The songs didn’t move me (and that pains me to write  since during the eighties, the Oysters wrote some of the most cracking, inspiring, moving songs I heard).

The second thing that killed it for me was John Jones – the band’s front-man.

Now, I may be shot down by the indignation of equalities campaigners and I apologise without qualification if Mr Jones has a disability that requires him to wear dark glasses but if this is a fashion choice then it really didn’t work for me and he should stop it right away. It’s not new behaviour but it grates. It looks affected and  increasingly posey. It may work at festivals but in intimate venues, No.

Ditto the stage mannerisms. I went to the gig with my 16 y.o. son whose comment was simply “He’s a pit of a prick isn’t he?” By the interval I really didn’t want to watch his  butchy mannerisms and cheesy intros. He used to be an engaging high-energy accordion player but in the half of the set which I watched, he only played his instrument once. And that’s sad. His voice  is a bit reedy (to be honest it was probably the weak link in Ragged Kingdom) so I really want him to rock out with squeezy instruments. I could have coped with the irritating Mr Jones if he’d been balanced by more of guitarist Alan Prosser (who is probably their best musician – I have his solo CDs) or Ian Telfer (their fiddler and best songwriter) but sadly, both seemed to be going though the motions.


Got the bad stuff out of my system!

So what next?

Well, my spirits were lifted by my work colleague, Helen, who listened to my moaning and then said ” I’m going to see a band called Blackbeard’s Tea Party tonight at The Musician in Leicester” and the next day told me “they were great and they’re having a Black Monday sale where you can get their CDs for just £5.”

Well, I am the kind of person who enjoys talking music with my workmates and so I obediently snuck off and purchased the 2013 Blackbeard’s Tea Party  CD Whip Jamboree (own label BTP003).

I have heard better produced albums but there’s a wonderful energy and enthusiasm to this collection. Twelve raucous tracks that remind me of nothing so much as the Pogues’ first album.  Understandably, they go back to the dance tunes they’ve probably used to work the audience at gigs but  there is so much potential in this collection that it reminded me my I’d invested so much of my enthusiasm in the Oysters a long time ago.

Looks like the baton has been passed to a new generation!


One Response to “Apologies for the interruption! And Whip Jamboree”

  1. esther millson December 13, 2013 at 1:02 am #

    Sorry to hear of your disappointments. But glad new music may be forthcoming.

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