Secret Drinker is my favourite of the original Pete Atkin/Clive James albums. Sessionman's Blues brings to life the grind and devotion of the sessionman, moving from recording session to session, playing what's needed with flair and expertise, never getting the recognition that their ability deserves, and never quite getting off the treadmill. National Steel gives a view of blind love and passion that is better than most boy-meets-girl songs, and not a skirt in sight! Secret Drinker itself is mournful but hopeful - the alcoholic in despair sees a way out, but can he reach it?
Live Libel is more of an oddity, with ten joke/parody songs of variable effectiveness. Some (Errant Knight, Ready for the Road, and Ballad of an Upstairs Window in particular) have stood the test of time and are still great songs. Others (Song for Rita, Doom from a Room, and Why) seem less successful now that their subject has faded from memory. That said, there are more hits than misses, so the album is still well worth a listen.
This double-CD offering, with a very comprehensive booklet giving lyrics and the background to each song, is definitely one for all Pete Atkin enthusiasts, and for anyone who appreciates a little thought behind a lyric and an expert approach to song arranging. The words are thought-provoking and engaging, while the music fits each lyric like a glove.