If you analyze this disc but just looking at the name, one would think that this band is either some far out jazz group that pushes the avant-garde limits or it is some punk rockers who embody everything that jazz is not. Lesson learned? Never judge a book by its cover. For one, this English quintet plays instruments such as accordions, kazoos, harmonicas and a good old Fender Stratocaster. The band uses these instruments to create a form alternative pop with a twangy blues touch. During the last 16 years, the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy has recorded over 11 albums which have delegated the band to a cult status. In 1999, the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy got together to play a gig in Hamburg, Germany and this disc is the result of that concert. The repertoire covers the JBCs entire career. The set opens with "Partytime" is a slow tempo that features Pat Fish playing a simple rhythm guitar and celebrating the best of times. Max Eider, who plays an rarely heard Gretsch Double Anniversary guitar, provides one of the finest solos that reminds the listener of simpler rock and roll times when Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley were kings. At the same time, there is a avant-garde balladeering aspect similar to Lou Reed, Jonathan Richman or Oren Bloedow.
In addition, there is humorous lyrical content with the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy: "You always act so stupid /You always talk so dumb/ But this is partytime /And you've got to say its better than a war /This is partytime /And its better than a cold bath with someone you dislike /This is partytime /And its good to drink for free when you haven't any money /This is partytime/ Oh, she might just possibly take me home." Along with the seventh song, "D.R.I.N.K", "Partytime" makes you want to grab a pint and get down with the band. These guys are like Billy Joel without the Long Island or Shane McGowan with good teeth. They bring the music down to a human level. For "Baby Its You", Mister Owen Jones and Pat Beirne pick up the accordion and harmonica respectively and the result is a beautiful love ballad. "The Human Jungle", one the performances most upbeat tunes, is about the popular television program. It is not until, "Who Loves You Know" does a song remotely resemble a jazz song.
All of the songs have a stark simplicity to them. Simple rhythms, subtle guitar harmonies, well placed harmonica texture and fine three part harmonies. The emphasis is on a well-crafted retro pop song and if that is what you are looking for, the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy is the solution. It is disturbing that these guys have been stuck as an underground band for so long and that they have to go to Hamburg to get a crowd. Their music far surpasses anything that is heard today in pop, alternative, jam band or hip-hop circles. The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy keeps a dying genre alive and well the singer songwriter with a pop flare. If Chris Isaak can use the same formula and be popular, then these guys deserve even greater respect.
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