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M. Boyle "Mark Boyle - Pick of The Bunch" (Scotland)

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The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats
Price: 0.99

1.0 out of 5 stars It may be called "The Boomtown Rats" but it sounds nothing like them, 28 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Boomtown Rats (MP3 Download)
A truly dreadful waste of 5 minutes of your life, one of two "new" tracks plastered onto the new compilation to get the "completists" to buy the disc in the shops. It sounds like a "Sex, Age & Death" or "How To Write Popular Songs That Will Sell" reject & in all honesty probably was.

If ever there was proof that the Boomtown Rats were nothing without Johnnie Fingers & Gerry Cott - the two most accomplished musicians of the band - this is damning.

Back To Boomtown
Back To Boomtown
Price: 0.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Completely dreadful, 28 Sep 2013
This review is from: Back To Boomtown (MP3 Download)
It sounds like something Geldof rejected for either "Sex, Age & Death" or "How To Write Popular Songs That Will Sell".

Back To Boomtown : Classic Rats Hits
Back To Boomtown : Classic Rats Hits
Price: 7.99

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth buying merely to bankroll Crowe & Roberts' dotage, 26 Sep 2013
So Bob the Billionaire & Patrick "Pete Briquette" Cusack get attacks of conscience over the only two of the six ex-Boomtown Rats members that didn't find fame & fortune after the post-Live Aid implosion (hello Simon Crowe & Garry Roberts), and in a cynical piece of attempting to shakedown the dwindling Rats fanbase one last time a "reformation" appears.

Bob & Pete, back with the two that have been touting an awful Boomtown Rats tribute act round dingy back clubs & pubs for years. You couldn't make it up. Jeez Bob, couldn't you simply have bunged the two a wad for their impending dotage & left us with our happy memories intact?

Had they stuck to that IOW festival appearence, this would be tolerable. But instead, they've issued yet another "best of" package when there remains easily available for purchase the fine "The Best of the Boomtown Rats" (the nineteen tracks for which were voted for by fans).

This new collection contains less original tracks (fourteen) & two simply awful "new" tracks (surprise, surprise, co-written with Roberts & Crowe, meaning more money for them that the previous compilation) - both of which Bob wouldn't even use as CD single fillers if he was honest with himself - and charging almost double what it will cost in the shops for the privilege.

Don't touch this compilation with a ten foot barge pole. Get the original compilation, & with the money saved start buying up the studio albums if you liked it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2013 11:26 AM BST

The Album After The Last One
The Album After The Last One
Price: 13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg, But Still Worth Getting For The Price, 11 April 2012
That this album has come out at all represents more a sigh of relief for Toy Dolls fans than anything else. The end of the previous "Our Final Album?" was punctured with Olga stopping the band and saying "Hang on, this isn't REALLY our last album?" much to the joy/relief of their fans, although this was punctured with much "will I won't I?" from Olga thereafter so that this record's come out at all represents a triumph of common sense over Olga feeling his age (despite the alarming fact the post 50 Michael Algar still sounds far younger than the rest of the current band line up!).

That said, the speed with which "Our Last Tour?" sold out may also have concentrated Olga's mind wonderfully, as the band that struggled to sell gigs for two decades filled halls previously only in the band's wildest dreams - amazing what having your own website can do for a band the pub bores will claim "nobody listens to" (although releasing one of the strongest albums in their history did help).

The Toy Dolls you see are something (at least in the UK) of a dirty little secret, punk's equivalent of cheese and toast: not fancy, but strangely comforting as well as satisfying, and something you're guaranteed you'll return to again and again long after others you've gone off others you thought you liked more. True, the yikkering weasel lead vocals backed with football hooligan chants might not be everyone's idea of singing, but few can turn out a catchy tune with such casual ease. All the mishaps and all the line-up changes later, the Toy Dolls remain a reliable en spec purchase.

So to the new album, which Olga wasn't impressed with as per usual. Unfortunately it does suffer from a terrible running order, starting off with the disposable "Credit Crunch Christmas" single and going further downhill with "Molly Was Immoral" (please Olga, can you drop the obligatory "Coronation Street" song per album) before "Sciatica Sucks" decends into that nice-song-let-down-by-godawful-chorus territory most Toy Dolls fans had hoped were never to be heard from again after "We're Mad".

However, this trough is followed by four tracks with the Toy Dolls at the top of their game, starting with the irrestistable singalong "B.E.E.R." before the best track of the album, the hilarious "Kev's Cotton Wool Kids" about a mate's over-protective parenting (to the extent they're not allowed to watch Blue Peter as it's "too violent"!). This is followed by a switch of vocals and style to drummer Mr Duncan for the excellent "Don't Drive Your Car Up Draycott Avenue" on the delights of London traffic congestion. The quartet is rounded off with an atypical piece of Toy Dolls fast fret madness with "Dirty Doreen" about an 84 year old nymphomaniac - a textbook lesson on how to be sideachingly funny without needing to swear or being crude to achieve it.

Alas, thereafter comes "Down At The Old 29", "Marty's Mam", "Gordon Brown Gets Me Down", which seem exercises in name-dropping without being remotely good, but the end is rescued before the as ever splendid theme song and bonus tracks by "Decca's Drinking Dilemma", complete with the funkiest bass there's been in a Toy Dolls song since the days of John "K-Cee" Casey.

Is it worth getting an album where only half the new material tracks are good? In this case "yes", because you'll still be playing them in five years time, and you know it. Olga perhaps has let his song writing skills get a touch rusty from underuse, but there's clearly still plenty of talent left in the old Mackam yet long after many of his contemporaries have become an embarrassment. The next album can't come quick enough.

New Blood
New Blood
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 8.49

3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If this is the best PG can do now, time for him to do a Phil Collins, 24 Nov 2011
This review is from: New Blood (Audio CD)
So yet another album of rehashing old material, this time his own - going down the orchestral route his old band mate Steve Hackett went.

You know an artiste is up the creek the moment they decide remixes and remakes - what are meant to be duvet stuffers for single releases - are worthy of a record all to themselves, knowing it will fleece a few coppers out of the diehards that would buy anything they do "just because".

Doing "orchestral versions" is the 21st Century's "acoustic album" manner by which artistes can kid their own egos (and their fans can kid themselves in turn) they're not trying to screw over their own fans with cover versions of their own songs, and Gabriel ought to be ashamed of himself - this is the man after all that's denounced the original "Here Comes The Flood" as overproduced (wrongly) for nigh on 30 years, only to do two CDs worth of butchering his own back catalogue in a pastiche of those wretched "Symphonium" versions of contemporary artists the London Symphony Orchestra and James Last was so fond of inflicting on the masses every five minutes during the 70s and 80s.

Despite listening to this till I was blue in the face, there's not one remake on here that's even remotely as good as the original. At least "Scratch My Back" had "My Body Is A Cage" to provide one crumb of comfort. The rest is the sort of rubbish school orchestra's serve up to suffering parents on prize giving day because Miss Trim the Music Principal is determined to show she's still "hip".

Phil Collins chucked it last year because he knew he couldn't cut it anymore once the records started stiffing. At least he'd the grace to acknowledge it. Gabriel on the other hand, despite a wealth of contacts and friends in the musical industry, has done nothing original or entertaining for far too long. With the Genesis reunion failing after one song (a dreadful remake of "The Carpet Crawlers"), unless Gabriel can do something with his next album he may as well retire with at least some face left.

50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: 4.99

26 of 119 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A 65 Minute Long Mogodon, 21 Nov 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
It's a measure of Kate Bush's lack of self awareness that she should have chosen the sort of album title (yes, yes, the Eskimos - whoops, sorry "Inuits" - have 50 words for snow) those lampooning her may have chosen for her tendency towards tortuous pseudo-intellectualism, although the fact alternative luvvie Stephen Fry co-sings on the title track would leave anyone in little doubt about that anyway. Somehow it doesn't come as a surprise to learn she was the partial inspiration for the Harry Potter character Hermione Grainger, right down to the burst couch hairdo.

Solo artists and those whose "bands" are little more than backing bands are always in danger of the artiste disappearing up their own wotsit, but Kate Bush is of course the famous moral tale of where it gets you. Just a pity she never learned the lesson.

Kate Bush was a success purely and simply because her over the top stage & TV performances that would have relegated her to a cult artist with one novelty hit in "Wuthering Heights" instead were perfect for the New Wave/Punk zeitgeist of the late 1970s/early 1980s. Like Ian Dury, she was the right sort of oddball at the right time.

After a series of hit albums and riding the wave of pop culture feminism that saw her as high-brow (though as her competing sisterhood at that point consisted of the likes of the Nolan Sisters, it was hardly an epic battle of wits) and adopted by the whole alternative counter culture of the late 1970s/early 1980s right down to doing the coveted Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball Slot" (although Not The Nine O'Clock News did lampoon her intellectual self-delusions with the "Them Heavy People" parody "England My Leotard"), Kate discovered her paying public had little interest in being culturally 'educated' by her as "The Dreaming" and its singles were monumental flops.

Taking a leaf from CBS's book in dealing with The Clash, EMI told her bluntly they'd not release another record until they could be sure it would be a hit: "Running Up That Hill", "Cloudbursting" and the album "Hounds Of Love" later, all seemed to be back on track - until "The Sensual World" proved she'd only done enough to keep her in contract before reverting back to unintented self-parody of her own ever-growing pretentiousness.

Meanwhile a certain Bjork waiting in the wings took on the mantle of music's eccentric genius, and Bush joined Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney in being one of those EMI hasbeens kept on more for the sake of back catalogue sales than any hope of any new material seizing the public's enthusiasm.

Not that she needs to worry much about alienating anyone: Bush's audience by then, as now, had been relegated to those ageing inverted snobs that turn their noses up at mainstream pop and classical music alike, sneering at the former's commercialism and - ironically - the latter's elitism. Show me today's Kate Bush fan, and I'll show you a Guardian reading weekend eco-warrior who never quite outgrew their undergraduate pretending-to-be-"into"-something-to-appear-cultured phase that boasts they have a black belt in Feng Shui.

So to "50 Words Of Snow", on the back of this year's flogging-a-dead-horse "remake" album (ever popular with aged musicians out of ideas wanting to use their remaining diehard but gullible fans as milch cows) that's already drawn predictable sycophantic praise from those that would hail as "genius" an album of Kate Bush farting through a kazoo.

Sure, if your familiarity with piano driven music doesn't go beyond Chas 'n' Dave you might think "50 Words For Snow" as being the Galaxy King Size of music, anyone else will note that every song is as good as the last because largely every song is the same as the last, tedious in its studied ponderousness or copying everything Peter Gabriel has been doing badly over the last decade.

Likely to be sucking your will to live over the speakers of every Cappuchino bar within a 500 mile radius for the next few months. Even the "completists" are best advised to wait for it to appear in the bargain buckets before buying.
Comment Comments (23) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2014 9:28 PM BST

One More Megabyte
One More Megabyte
Price: 12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Underrated Triumphant Marriage Of Olga With The Daintees, 4 Nov 2011
This review is from: One More Megabyte (Audio CD)
This album saw ex-Martin Stephenson and The Daintees members Martin Yule and Gary Dunn reunited, and together they added a noticeable lustre to proceedings.

The explosive 'She's A Leech' is a triumph of everything fabulous about the Toy Dolls, a breakneck speed song of four chord screaming guitar hooks, thundering drums and a football chant chorus.

Vying for top place as the outstanding track of the album - and a real surprise package - however is 'She'll Be Back With Keith Someday', for once a serious song about broken hearts from a trio best known for their levity. With any other line up possibly this wouldn't have worked, but Marty and Gary's note perfect harmonisation works perfectly with Olga's embittered shrill voice to create what could have become the band's second mainstream UK hit had it been given a chance.

The reason of the album is atypical Toy Dolls punk meets 70s glam meets classical or anything else that takes Olga's fancy, married to him poking fun at luvvy actors ('Fred Olivier'), swingers ('Bored Housewife'), computer nerds and Olga's ever permenant gripes about people getting married and turning promptly into domestic bores.

The cover of '500 Miles' wasn't one of their better ideas, but the cover of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' (with piano from Danny of The Wildhearts) is a knockout that rightly went viral on YouTube when married to a cartoon.

Toy Dolls head cheese Michael 'Olga' Algar doesn't think much of this album. He doesn't think much of most of his albums. Neither do the music media in the UK. Forever cursed with the 'Nellie The Elephant' tag, Olga's demented weasel vocals (think Norman Wisdom on Helium) also never enamoured him to the maschismo poseurs of the Joe Strummer and Watty end of the punk movement. Their loss, for there's few people quite able to crank out a catchy tune like our Olga - one of the reasons the Toy Dolls have been the surprise survivors of the old school punks to this day. You've either got it or you ain't: and the cultural snobbery that sees their humour derided as childish by the same people that will praise a Half Man Half Biscuit album at the drop of a hat for the same observational comedy is exactly the sort of absurdity Olga has lampooned with relish for the best part of three decades.

This album is worth getting alone for 'She's A Leech', 'She'll Be Back With Keith Someday' and 'The Devil Went Down To Scunthorpe (Georgia!)', but you won't be disappointed with most of the rest of it.

The Rising Of The Lights
The Rising Of The Lights
Price: 11.25

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just When You Thought Bill Had Cracked It, Out Comes Another Curate's Egg, 4 Nov 2011
With Cardiacs to all intensive purposes dead after Tim Smith's two heart attacks and the increasing unlikelyhood of ever seeing the album for which the 'Ditsy Scene' single was to be the taster of, the torch to continue its ideosyncratic traditions have passed to former member Bill Drake.

After a largely disappointing first solo album from Bill, the groans over the self-indulgence instrumental 'Yew's Paw' were masked by the deafening cheers towards 'Briny Hooves' released the same day. With the messy collapse of XTC and Andy Partridge apparantly stuck for any ideas beyond flogging old demos to the more gullible parts of their dwindling fanbase, there's a sizeable audience out there for music by quintessential English eccentrics ever since the days of Peter Gabriel dressing up as a daisy with Genesis. In the 21st century, Bill looked like the artist to fill it.

This third solo album sees Bill trying to do the best elements from the last two albums into one - thus there is a mixture of instrumental tracks in the mix - and like most of his output to date is largely centred around the classical piano, but being eccentric for eccentrism's sake ruins much of it.

Take for example 'Homesweet Homestead Hideaway'. It's all very well having two different 'movements' to a song so long as they go together, but rather like Genesis' 'Stagnation' it's painfully obvious what we have are two completely different songs cobbled together with a jarring ten second bridge (at the 3 mins 30 secs mark) matching neither. The gorgeous instrumental second half ought to have been separated from the first as a song in its own right.

'In An Ideal World' is a beautiful song ruined by an embarrassing lyric, and he knows he can do much better than this Purple Ronnie greetings card effort. Same goes for the otherwise fun 'Song In The Key Of Concrete', lapsing into They Might Be Giants territory when the jokes failed. The early taster track 'Wholly Holey' sounds painfully like an ITV 70s sit-com theme tune, whilst the opening track 'Super Alter' comes across like a Church Of England vicar trying to be hip with an audience of bored children.

The putting of James Joyce's 'Laburnum' to music by contrast is a triumph, and with the acclaim the Waterboys received for this year's album doing the same to the poems of Yeats perhaps we can look forward to Bill pursuing this line further. 'The Mastordon' and 'Ziegler' manage to be as quirky as any Cardiacs number but with that short snappy cohesion that made it work.

'Me Fish Bring' and the instrumental title track are as beautiful pieces as any of those from 'Briny Hooves' or Cardiacs in their more reflective moments. Contrary to his own belief, our Bill is an excellent singer, particularly when harmonising with a female vocalist (Dug Parker and ex-Cardiacs saxophonist turned painter Sarah Cutts in this instance), and along with his piano pieces represents the real high points of this album. Similarly, 'Ornamental Hermit' would not feel out of place on 'Briny Hooves'.

It's not a bad album, but it takes a fair bit of getting used to, and some may find it just a bit too 'trying to be clever' to be worth the bother.

An Appointment with Mr Yeats
An Appointment with Mr Yeats
Price: 12.32

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe It Or Not, This Time The Album's A Good One!, 16 Oct 2011
How many Waterboys fans this time around hesitated before buying this. How many never did?

A UK Albums chart debut of No.30 - their highest position since 1993's "Dream Harder" (and that was a Top 10 hit which was as much a public apology to his fans for the previous five years raggle-taggle fiasco) - masks the fact this was achieved via a shockingly poor 4,539 sales, and on the sixth album in a row that's had to be issued on a new label because no-one's willing any longer to give him anything other than a distribution contract after testing too many music industry patiences.

It would be so easy to be cynical towards this as a gimmick by an 80s hasbeen that surrounded himself with too many sycophants encouraging too many bouts of self-indulgence to the exasperation of collaborators, fans and record companies alike: particularly the lapses into Spinal Tap Meets Father Ted Irish folk periods.

Let's be blunt - the Waterboys haven't made a majority decent album for well over a decade, and far too many that were plain awful. But without warning, the Waterboys have not merely pulled a rabbit out of the hat, but the entire of Watership Down (which in the context of 'Mad As The Mist And Snow' used in 'The Trial Of El-ahrairah', seems appropriate!).

Anyone expecting another "Fisherman's Blues" musical omelette (ie. nice enough only now and again) after "The Stolen Child" affair of 1988 will be astonished at a record touching not merely the sound of the early "Big Music" Waterboys as coming close at times to the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis, with an eerie woodwind section that goes perfectly with the mood of the lyrics.

'The Hosting Of The Shee' is very much a statement of intent that this album is class, they know it, and they damn well want you the listener to know it from the off: to put down everything you're doing right now, sit back and enjoy it. The abrupt slowing of pace on 'Song of The Wandering Aengus' gives the other main point - to expect the unexpected. The flute in this is gorgeous, and I love the 'rough and smooth' feel to it.

'News for the Delphic Oracle' is the Waterboys trying to be Cardiacs trying to be the Waterboys - and it works. It works brilliantly, and what's the betting that "Belly, shoulders, BUM!" becomes a favourite in-concert audience participation moment?

The band does revisit past styles, such as 'A Full Moon In March' and 'Before the world was made' are throwbacks to "Dream Harder" and "Still Burning", whilst "Sweet Dancer" is something Raggle Taggle, but dare one suggest a lot better than a lot of that era. It's the twin vocalists that's the nailer here. This is the sort of song The Corrs could only wish they'd have written.

Usually the middle of albums is where all the not-so-good stuff starts to appear as duvet stuffing, only for Scottie and co to wallop us with the beautifully sad 'White Birds', one of the few songs to bring a genuine lump to the throat. This should have been a single.

'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' is quiet and brooding, the follow on "Mad As The Mist And Snow" devil may care. Bonus points for having the poem namechecked in Richard Adams classic novel and the earlier song "Old England", but it's just this sort of abrupt change of pace and style throughout whilst keeping the whole project cohesive that makes this album such a pleasure.

It also opens up a whole new style in the likes of 'Song of The Wandering Aengus', 'News for the Delphic Oracle' and 'The Faery's Last Song'. It's something like the music the BBC used to have in all those 70s and 80s children's TV series based around books by E. Nesbit and the like: whimsical and just that little bit special.

That said, it does hit a period in the last five bar one songs away from whimsy into stark reality, yet still keeps with the tone of the overall album. 'September 1913' is strangely poignant in the wake of Ireland's historical presidential election that has decended into a Father Ted episode, and also the current global protests against employers using "recession" as an excuse to treat workers like dirt, whilst those who ought to be supporting them say nothing out of self-interest. Just as then, as now - no wonder Mike sounds so bitter when he sings the line "Romantic Ireland's dead and gone!" - a scathing poem that unfortunately almost 100 years later is still all too relevent long after it ought to have been a museum piece.

'An Irish Airman...', could it really have been done any other way than as some sort of military funeral to come? They kept it simple, just as it deserved.
'Let The Earth Bear Witness' - which has been already dedicated these last two years to the Iranian democracy campaigners - you get the feeling is going to take the Waterboys to new and unexpected audiences sooner than later.

By contrast, 'Politics' is a bitter reality poem given a very clever twist. In 1938, Yeats was aged and unhappy with his loveless life, and with the clouds of another European war gathering. But this version is delivered like Mike is some roguish old university lecturer with a twinkle in his eye over one of a new batch of first year students, and the switch of vocal to female - as if the muse in question is reading (and reciprocating) his thoughts - along with the 'earthy' saxophones (more like a bassoon) makes it one of the fun moments of the album - Sir Walter Raleigh's treatise on humanity meets Tom Sharpe.

Finally, the bittersweet 'The Faery's Last Song' is the most hauntingly beautiful finale to a record since Fields of the Nephilim's 'Wail Of Sumer (And There Will Your Heart Be Also)' twenty years prior - and before that, the title track of "This Is The Sea". The last two minutes you never want to end, even if like "White Birds" they do bring a real lump to the throat.

This is not only easily one of the best records The Waterboys/Mike Scott has done in a long while, not only one of the best they've ever done, but it's one of the best records of the year - leaving you with a real sense at the end of just having heard something special, a perfect autumnal album of beautiful melancholy in some places like "White Birds" and the bitter "September 1913", gentle joy for life in others such as "Sweet Dancer" and the storming "Hosting Of The Shee".

If this is what he can conjour with Yeats as his muse, we can but dream as to the result if he decides to let his C.S. Lewis obsession run wild next. One of those rare moments in life you know you've bought an album you will still be enjoying in its entirety until the day you die.

90 Bisodol (Crimond)
90 Bisodol (Crimond)
Price: 12.41

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark side to the usual Biccies irreverence, 14 Oct 2011
This review is from: 90 Bisodol (Crimond) (Audio CD)
The first album since the *ahem!* hit single "Joy Division Oven Gloves" kicks off brightly with the jaunty "Something's Rotten In The Back Of Iceland", and ends much the same as last time around with a heavy indie rock number "Rock & Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools" in the manner of the Pixies (without the screaming).

It's the bit in the middle though that is the matter for concern: a fair enough selection with one or two likely to end up gig staples for many years to come.

No contest as to the best track, "Joy In Leeuwaaden (We Are Ready)", celebrating the 2010 European Korfball Championships and the singalong tune of the album - as jolly as a waspless sunny summer afternoon and guaranteed to be found hummed in unguarded moments throughout the day by anyone that listens to it.

No contest either as to the worst track - "Descent Of The Stiperstones" - and therefore inevitably the one the band's Simon Quinlank element will worship pretentiously and spit "you just don't get it!" to anyone daring to suggest it's a plodding spoken word duvet stuffer of factoid-dropping instant forgetability.

Yes, we know it mentions Glenda Banks from Crossroads. Yes we know she was the one that had the test tube baby on the show. Guess what? The Toy Dolls already did a song about it ("Glenda & The Test Tube Baby") back in 1983 when there was still anyone that cared less about Britain's worst ever soap before Hollyoaks - it was also a far better song.

"Tommy Walsh's Eco House" and "Left Lyrics In The Practice Room" have been familiar to HMHB fans that have been attending the gigs for a while now, and after the damp squib last album round with the way similarly previewed tracks in concert were such disappointments when they finally made it to album (as if they're grown bored with them in the meantime), it's a relief that both have made the transfer satisfactorily.

But then after "Joy In Leeuwarden" comes the one song that although one of the best tracks leaves an uncomfortable feeling to it - "Excavating Rita", a gentle love song about - wait for it - someone escaping from a mental hospital in order to indulge in necrophilia at the local graveyard with his deceased lover killed in a fire. Yes, good punchline at the end with the abrupt change of tempo - where it's revealed far from being a distraught boyfriend, fiancee or husband he was merely the deceased's Betterware catalogue man with whom she had a bit of slap and tickle with on bored Thursday afternoons - but don't be too surprised if you find the song a little too creepy for taste.

Coupled with "R.S.V.P" and "The Coronor's Footnote" there's a rather overly dark streak to this album (right down to the cover that's meant to be a chalk outline of a suicide jumper from a small block of flats) that ill becomes them, as if trying to hark back to "This Leaden Pall" to the point of overdoing it.

That said, "The Coronor's Footnote" is HMHB at their caustic best in this tale of one throwing himself under the train his unrequitted love is going on to meet her beau, riddled with black humour and merciless in its contempt for the selfishness of the act - "Well he thought of a love unrequited, & he thought of a life full of pain, it's a pity he didn't spare a thought for the poor b**t**d driving the train."

It isn't all seriousness, with "Fun Day In The Park" taking a frivilous poke at misleading advertising by local councils, and "L'Enfer C'Est Les Autres" seeing Nigel in his usual full Grumpy Old Man mode about people being boring, selfish, or boring and selfish.

Bottom line, it's the fourth album in a row where the Biccies have delivered a solid album with the vast majority of tracks are good, as opposed to the 1990s where the band that had delighted many with their first two albums appeared to have lost the magic and could only serve up boxes of curate's eggs. Not likely to win them any new fans, but not likely to lose them any either.

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