AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #158 : THE JAZZ BUTCHER

A GUEST POSTING by FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH

The Jazz Butcher is some ways are ideal for an ICA. No wild variations in style and a catalogue of LPs all of which are a bit patchy. Actually getting to grips with their discography is one of the biggest challenges with various compilation lps and some tracks appearing on more than one album. Then there is the slight variations of name , sometimes Jazz Butcher Conspiracy , sometimes just Jazz Butcher and sometimes something else entirely.

The line up changes with the weather (same with record labels) with songwriter and singer Pat Fish being the only consistent factor. All in all they are a tough band to keep track of.

When they are good they are fantastic in a jangly guitar, smart lyrics way . However each LP also either has something that is head scratchingly awful at best and annoyingly novelty record like at worst.

1.  Next Move Sideways (from Fishcotheque)

Signed to Creation Records in one of Alan McGee’s punts this was my first exposure to the band. Bought on the basis of a review that compared them to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions , Pat has since complained that the LP came out sounding too smooth and tidy , which is probably why it is still my favourite . This gallops along in a way that allows you to forgive the 80s sax that suddenly appears.

2.  Harlan (from Condition Blue)

Into the 90s and more of a groove than a song. Features what is described as aquamarine guitar by Peter Astor from another jangly band The Weather Prophets. The song is typical Jazz Butcher material in that it is inspired by American short story writer Harlan Ellison.

3. Keeping the Curtains Closed (from Fiscotheque)

Another one from the 1988 LP that is still my favourite and by far their most consistent. This one where i do hear an echo of Lloyd Cole. I really like the guitar on this and always feel it is over a tad too soon.

4. Shame About You (from Last of the Gentlemen Adventurers)

More upto date from a recent crowd funded LP. Nothing overly special but zips along and always brings a smile to my face despite a sense of regret in the lyric.

5. City of Night (from Big Questions)

Change of direction and pace. Always found there was something slightly desperate (ride the tube with nothing much to say , stare at the people you can see right through) and seedy about this song (I’ve seen the handcuffs on your shelf , i would like to help , I’d like to help myself)

6. Human Jungle (from Big questions and countless compilations)

Starts with a Walk on the Wild side rip off and then morphs into a big pop song about an obscure 60s tv show staring Herbert Lom as a psychiatrist who sorted out complex cases in 60 mins. Certainly beats the ‘i love you , you love me’ focus of a lot of pop songs.

7. Southern Mark Smith (from A Scandal in Bohemia)

Probably if you know one song by the Jazz Butcher it will be this one. Pat Fish describes it as “The Albatross. A record, I feel, of its time. We were young(ish) and cocky and I think it shows. I still haven’t learned to sing on this one, which bugs me too. Still, it was cheap and cheerful, and it helped us to meet an awful lot of people”

8. Get it Wrong (from Fiscotheque)

Back to the gentle jangle of 1988. Pat’s paean to adultery. This is here more for the lyric than the annoying 80s sax.

I keep getting letters about divorces.
Just like cowboys changing horses, people use each other up and leave.
One mistake and it all turns bitchy,
listening to records by Lionel Ritchie.
I’m not sure if he deserves it or even if they do.
Jealousy is just messed up pride, it only twists you up inside.
We don’t feel it, we don’t need it

9. When Eno Sings (from Illuminate)

Following Pat’s belief that “fan songs are cool” Jazz Butcher have a lot of fan songs

And dome-heads everywhere
can throw their hats into the air
when Eno sings

The “Eno male choir like” backing vocals are spot on as well

10. Mercy (from Last of the Gentlemen Adventurers)

I think LPs should finish on a slow song so here you go

Bonus Ep : The Slightly Irritating Hat Trick

The Jazz Butcher songs are laced with humour which can make you smile but then can stick around as slightly annoying interludes – here are 3 of them and 3 more fan songs

Olaf Palme

Peter Lorre

Just Like Betty Page

Friend of Rachel Worth

16 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #158 : THE JAZZ BUTCHER

  1. He was actually Olof Palme, not Olaf… but I guess Pat’s forgiven that small mistake taken the fond lyrics. BTW a murder still haunting the very soul of Sweden as it is still unsolved. We need DCI Cassie Stuart & DI Sunny Khan to come here!

  2. Martin to my shame I didn’t know the history until I bought the lp , heard the song and tried to find out more

  3. This is a really excellent selection from a pretty sprawling back catalogue. The two recent songs could easily have come from 20 years earlier. I’m with you about Fishcotheque, a brilliant album.
    I might make a case for the inclusion for Bicycle Kid, an uncharacteristically vitriolic spot of social comment that still has plenty of relevance. Also have a soft spot for Racheland, a lengthy lovelorn ballad.
    Also, somebody should do a whole playlist featuring ‘annoying 80s sax’. Looking at Psychedelic Furs here . . .

  4. I don’t know all of the above, but look forward to find out more when I get home from work. But: no ‘Girlfriend’, no ‘Lot 49’??!! Oh, come on ……

  5. Just re – listened to Girlfriend – should definitely have been in there and forgotten how much i liked Racheland as well

  6. FoRW – You’re forgiven 🙂
    The only place outside the Nordics I think Olof was really well known was Greece (seen several Olof Palme Squares there) and by the US administration at the time (there in a less positive way I would think…).

  7. We are simpatico as usual, FoRW. Another fine ICA by you. I agree Fishcotheque is the album to have, but I bought the Fire box set The Wasted Years back in December and quite enjoyed those first four albums. A bit patchy, as you say. Probably worth getting for Pat Fish’s liner notes alone. The box set of the next four albums just came out (The Violent Years), and even though I have most of the material already, I still find myself temped.

  8. I might’ve squeezed in ‘D.R.I.N.K.’ or ‘The Devil Is My Friend’ but this is a damn good selection, FoRW.

  9. Wonderful, wonderful collection of The Jazz Butcher’s work!
    Condition Blue is one of the best albums of the 90s and Harlan is a stand out on the album and in Pat Fish’s career. This album proves there was still an alternative in the decade full of Music Press Generated Genres. Keep your Nirvanas and Blurs and give me The Jazz Butcher every day!

  10. Great compilation of one of my favourite mid-80s bands, thank you!

    “Down The Drain” from “Sex and Travel” was a regular smasher at our parties back then, no wonder as ist starts with these immortal lines:

    “Well I wish I’d born in a bar / I wouldn’t have to walk so bloody far / I’d peel back my cranium, put my brain in a jar / If only I’d been born in a bar”

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