Last Of The Gentlemen Adventurers
Back in 1985while thumbing my way through a milk crate of gently used vinyl a multicolored cartoon drawing caught my eye. A grinning beatnik pig was running through an alley trying to escape a flying butcher’s knife. In the background, shaded in yellow, was a surreal cityscape occupied by gorillas and other bizarre characters, and in the foreground, on the alley wall above the beatnik pig, was a torn poster depicting four nefarious characters with exaggerated body parts, gazing at me with calm nonchalance. Turning the record over I see song titles like Caroline Wheeler’s Birthday Present, Mind Like A Playgroup, Southern Mark Smith and Soul Happy Hour. Of course I had to have it and rushed to the counter to lay down whatever amount of cash they were asking. The music was a weird combination of Velvet Underground, Beatles, Jonathon Richmond and The Byrds and I loved it immediately. The name of the album was A Scandal In Bohemia, the artist was The Jazz Butcher, and this purchase started a 28year and counting obsession with this most under-appreciated band of misfit geniuses.
You hear this a lot, but really, these guys should have been huge! Unfortunately the majority of their prime output of the 1980’s is no longer in print, nor have I heard about any plans to reissue any of it. The prices they are asking for, and getting in a lot of cases, for the CD’s are ridiculous and way out my league, and since I sold all my vinyl when I moved to the States I went years with only the Draining The Glass compilation to keep me warm at night. Luckily I have a buddy (you know who you are!) who has helped me fill the holes in my collection. Not a week goes by where I don’t listen to a little Jazz Butcher.
The last proper album that The Butcher released was called Rotten Soul and was released in 2000, so when I heard that the band was releasing a new album in 2012 I was a little apprehensive, and little sad as well. Apprehensive because no matter how much of a fan I am I know that the JB albums I grew up with would never be equaled, and certainly not surpassed, in my eyes and ears anyway. That’s not to say the later albums weren’t good, or even great (in most cases, they were), but we all know that the favorite albums from our youth will always retain a little something-something that makes them untouchable. I was a little sad because I found out they required help from a Kickstarter program to fund it. A band (really, its time to be clear here: The Jazz Butcher is really one man who goes by the name of Pat Fish) this talented should have record labels drooling over each other to secure a contract! But anyway, the sadness soon left me as I purchased the album through a channel where I knew the Butcher would see maximum cashola, because, you see, it’s important these artists get paid…
The new album, The Lat Of The Gentlemen Adventurers is a delight and, as cliche-ridden as it may sound, is also a real and true return to the glory days of the mid 1980’s albums, sounding most like the amazing Distressed Gentlefolk and portions of Fishcoteque. Fish sounds comfortable and unafraid to draw on sounds of his past, as in the Parisian sounding Tombe Dans Les Pommes (translated: Falls In The Potatoes), which reminds me of a more realized version of early JB song, La Mer. The great Max Eider, protégé to The Butcher and the guy who brought elements of jazz guitar (although very tongue in cheek; no noodling here!) to the tunes is back once more and sounds fantastic on his own composition Count Me Out.
While this may be only pop music it remains vital and damn good pop music, and if you have ears, taste, a sense of humor and $12 in your pocket there is no excuse not to own this wonderful little pop record.