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4.6 out of 5 stars
Sticky Wickets
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 11 November 2013
This sequel of an album is perfect. Like Aliens was to Alien. It takes the premise of the original crickety concept album and builds on it. It feels bigger and more confident.

The same breadth of material is present - from pastiches of the Stones and ELO to 90s Europop, to the oddly affecting ballad-esque (step forward 'Out in the Middle'). Nice cameos from the ever-gorgeous Matt Berry and Stephen Fry.

But it's all about the tunesmithery and fun. And there's bucket loads of both.

Buy it, own it, absorb it. It makes your soul better, and I don't even care about cricket :)

It's cricket as a metaphor for life, all Divine Comedied-up.

Awesome - should be a 6! (rather than a 5*) - see what I did there?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
After listening to my Amazon MP3s in the car for a couple of days I was going to give this a four, if only because a couple of tracks, especially the closer Nudging and Nurdling, sag a little below the standard of the rest.

But then my LP copy arrived and the fifth star was straight back in. This is a thing of real beauty - an event in the way unpacking a new album used to be. The sleeve is a proper gatefold, and there's a printed inner with another picture and all the words. And the outside shows to full advantage the little twist the back cover gives to the famous photo on the front. Best of all is the disc itself - wonderfully black, glossy and heavy, with not a trace of surface noise. It looks, feels and sounds fantastic. And (pleasant surprise after briefly havering over whether to order this or the CD) there's even a CD copy of the album inside the sleeve.

And so to the music. Well, I downloaded the digitals on Monday morning before a two-hour drive to Crawley, and I can only wonder what my fellow drivers on the M25 thought was up with me as I grinned, chortled and even at one point clapped my hands in involuntary glee. The album is full of sublimely crickety, musicky, funny moments and references, whether it's the Rolling Stonesy opener, the Beach Boys-esque Mystery Man or every 80s electronic track you ever heard rolled into Line and Length. Along the way we have The Umpire, which if anything improves on the poignancy of The Nightwatchman last time out. And, of course, we have the highest point of all, the best ELO song for 30 years: the triumphant Third Man. Duckworth even turns what might be the disadvantage of the title's 'th' in his favour by exploiting the uniquely Irish scope to rhyme 'villain' with 'fillum' with 'penicillin' as his disengaged boundary fielder imagines dodgy dealings in post-war Vienna.

On reflection, four stars would not have been right; this album deserves five just for existing, and for combining cricket with the influence of Jeff Lynne - and, I should add, of his under-credited strings arranger Louis Clark - more even than its predecessor did. As an album it's delightful; as an LP it's close to perfect. Love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2013
With a cover that shows that the chap on the front can do better than Botham by getting his leg over, this CD unleashes a veritable volley of bouncers, leg breaks, beamers and the odd googly in its quest to reveal the quirks and oddities of the holy game of cricket. Beautifully observed pastiches intermingle with tales of many characters along the way in the unique Neil Hannon/Divine Comedy fashion. Even Blowers gets an inclusion and well worth it he is. If you are a cricketer, you will recognise some of the characters and smile wistfully as you join in the choruses. If you are a music lover, whilst you will miss many of the nuances you will still love the melodies, the clearness of the lyrics and the performances. Whatever the case, if you don't like this I suggest that you make an appointment to see your GP because it is clear you are very, very unwell indeed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an enjoyable album of decent pop songs given an extra lift because they are about cricket, with witty and sometimes poignant lyrics and welcome guest appearances from people like Henry Blofeld, David Lloyd and Stephen Fry. There is a variety of styles here; as others have noted, ELO is a prominent influence, but there are hints of 80s electro-pop, pub-rock and plenty else and part of the fun of the album is spotting the pastiches.

The strength of this album is really its lyrics. Songs like Mystery Man are a tour de force of amusing rhyming, Umpire is a poignant view of the loneliness of the role, Out In The Middle a rather powerful evocation of how tough it can be on your own out there with eleven people trying either to humiliate or injure you (or both), and so on. Some songs are, of course, stronger than others (I find Nudging And Nurdling wears thin pretty quickly, for example), but, as Richie might say, it's a good effort.

To be honest, I doubt whether this is something which I'll be playing for years with deep pleasure, but it's a very decent album in its way by good musicians who really know the game. This gives it considerably more weight than simply a novelty record and I'd recommend it - especially to lovers of cricket like me. There's plenty here to enjoy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
When I reviewed The Duckworth Lewis Method's "début" album, I theorised, quite confidently, that, surely, it would be a one off. After all, how much mileage is there in a group specialising in songs about cricket? Turns out there's enough inspiration for at least two albums from The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon and Pugwash's Thomas Walsh to indulge and fuse their love of the sport and classic pop/rock. Their new album "Sticky Wickets" (originally conceived to have an album cover lampooning The Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers" which would have been great) is a smashing helping of fun and, although it doesn't match up to Hannon's main body of work, it's still a thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment and there are a few choice tracks which make this a more than worthwhile purchase and will appeal to the vast majority of fans of both of the main players. The inclusion of Crowded House's Nick Seymour on bass as well as a plethora of special guests including Stephen Fry (on "Judd's Paradox"), Daniel Radcliffe (on "The Third Man"), Henry Blofield (on "It's Just Not Cricket"), Matt Berry (on "Mystery Man") and more famous names than you can shake a cricket bat at on "Nudging and Nurdling" make this a star-studded affair.

The first highlight is the catchy "Boom Boom Afridi" which has a chorus that sticks in your mind way after the album is over. "It's Just Not Cricket", a song about fair play, is certainly one of the best songs on the album and "The Umpire", a beautiful piece of music about the lonely world of being one of the game's law-upholders, is perhaps the most Divine Comedy-like track on this release and could easily have come from any of Neil's last few albums. The seriously excellent "Third Man" tells the story of the fumbler who gets stuck in that position, dreaming the game away and features some inspired, jaunty strings (all arranged by Hannon). There is even a near-disco pop song, "Line and Length", boasting heavy beats, scratching and eighties synth sounds which is many times more hook-laden and enjoyable than it really should be. "Mystery Man" is a brilliantly catchy, bouncy, insanely good song which should put a smile on the faces of most listeners and "Nudging and Nurdling" is one of those songs that refuses to leave your brain, even when you want it to.

Much has been made of Duckworth Lewis Method's love of The Electric Light Orchestra and, given some of the write-ups I've seen, you'd be forgiven for putting the album on and expecting to hear something straight from the pen of Jeff Lynne, however, if that was what you were expecting, you would be disappointed (or relieved, depending on your opinion on the bearded one). There are moments where you can tell that they've paid homage to Lynne's music and production style, but this album has an individual, distinctive character to it and the wide range of styles and genres of music on display here, as well as the great creative minds of both Hannon and Walsh, mean that if you want to hear "Out Of The Blue", you should go and play that, rather than hoping for a "Concerto For A Rainy Day" on "Sticky Wickets"... derivative, this isn't.

So, is it as good as the first Duckworth Lewis Method album? Well, not quite, but that was always going to be a tall order. However, that doesn't mean that it isn't a seriously good album, tremendous fun and a really accomplished piece of masterful musicianship which only becomes apparent the more you listen to it; fine purveyors of melody Walsh and Hannon make writing classic compositions and arrangements sound easy, just as the very best batsmen make the game appear easy to play. Much of it is very easy on the ear indeed, is delightfully whimsical and should be immensely pleasurable to existing fans, even if it may not win them any new ones (apart from within the cricketing fraternity, perhaps?). All-in-all, The Duckworth Lewis Method's "Sticky Wickets" is a superb summery sporting soundtrack (which you can enjoy immensely without even liking cricket) and a more than worthy companion piece to their 2009 self-titled début. Worth the gamble, I'd say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2013
Now the first DLM album had some great individual tracks on it, such as "Jiggery Pokery" & "Meeting Mr Miandad" but it did have a bit of the dreaded "Side-project" to it.
But Masters Hannon & Walsh return with much more confident, ambitious & satisfying second innings (good cricket reference).
Full of quintessential English humour, but not a novelty comedy record; these songs are finely crafted with real meat on their bones.
Of course there is the argument that if you don't like cricket you simple wont get this record. But take Gruff Rhys recent Neon Neon album "Praxis Makes Perfect", which is all about communism, which I couldn't care less about but I still love the album, & I think the same thing could be said of "Sticky Wickets", this album is strong enough for the subject matter not to be off putting.
So all in all a highly enjoyable, whimsical indie record.....with a touch of ELO.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2013
Duckworth and Lewis (the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon and Tommy Walsh from Pugwash) return with another splendid collection of songs about cricket. Once again, the influence of Jeff Lynne and the ELO is brought to the fore, but it's fun spotting the other homages being paid. The results sound glorious. Duckworth and Lewis's chums are brought in to share in the fun, not least the cricket commentators David "Bumble" Lloyd on Boom Boom Afridi and Henry "Blowers" Blofeld on It's Just Not Cricket - two of the album's outstanding tracks. There are also appearances by Stephen Fry, Daniel Radcliffe, Neil Finn, Matt Berry and many others. There isn't a no ball on the album; it's a fine innings. Start the car indeed.
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I really enjoyed the first Duckworth Lewis Method CD; it was both good music played by good musicians and, just as importantly, jolly good fun. As such, I was really looking forward to the release of their follow-up album.
In the event, I actually saw the band promote the album "live" at the Nottingham Playhouse during the summer in the run-up to the Ashes Test Matches (It might seem a million years ago, but we actually won that series with a degree of conviction). The supporting act was pretty good, David Hepworth was the urbane host, there was an interesting chat with a surprisingly acerbic Simon Hughes and the Duckworth Lewis Method were very good indeed; good enough, moreover, to make me go out and buy the new album.

In truth, I don't think it's quite as impressive as its predecessor, but there's some good stuff here and no real duds. Stand-out tracks for me are "It's Just Not Cricket" and the rather melancholic "The Umpire". It has been said that the whole enterprise is very much an homage to ELO's Jeff Lynne, but the recording has a distinct musical voice of its own; it's far from being a quirky "joke" album perpetuated by two "proper" musicians "slumming it" to indulge their passion for cricket.

A number of guest artists feature on the disc, including Crowded House's Neil Finn and Nick Seymour and the trumpeter Billy Cooper, of "Barmy Army" fame. Familiar voices include Stephen Fry, Daniel Radcliffe, Matt Berry and, from the world of cricket, Henry Blofeld and David Lloyd, while there is a host of celebrity "Significant Nudgers" on "Nudging and Nurdling", the disc's catchy, but for me slightly disappointing, final track.

In truth, you do need to be a cricket lover to get the most out of this album, but there is much for music lovers to enjoy here as well; this will not, I suspect, go down as a "classic" album, but it is one to which I will undoubtedly return whenever the fancy takes me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2013
The Divine Comedy strike again and this one has been smashed out of the park for 6! Funny and catchy lyrics to add to the melodic and harmonious tunes mr Hannon has composed once again!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2013
When Michael Angelo gatecrashed the Lord's Test match between England and Australia back in 1975, little did anyone think that 38 years later his infamous hurdle over those hallowed wickets would grace the sleeve of a new album by two cricket loving Irishmen on the eve of another Ashes series.

And so it is that as we await the release of their second innings, the ably entitled: "Sticky Wickets" on Monday 1st July 2013, the ELO loving Neil Hannon [The Divine Comedy] and Thomas Walsh [Pugwash] - also known as: The Duckworth Lewis Method - have delivered another wonderful cricket themed album to follow their 2009 Ivor Novello Award nominated debut.

The twelve [12] song: "Sticky Wickets" does what many artistes have struggled to accomplish - to produce a second album equally as good as the first yet sufficiently distinct for it to stand alone in its own right. And "Sticky Wickets" does just that!

The opening title track alludes to: The Rolling Stone's 1970 album: "Sticky Fingers" upon reading but upon hearing the first few notes you would think it was: The Who! It's a surprising rock riff driven start to DLM II but is merely a prelude to the many different styles on offer here! "Boom Boom Afridi" follows with another nod this time to David 'Bumble' Lloyd's reference to Pakistani batsman Shahid Afridi emphatic scoring style, a perfect partner to: "Meeting Mr. Miandad" if ever there was one! Lead single "It's Just Not Cricket" follows on, a quirky string laden ditty and an instant foot tapper with a certain guest 'vocalist' and fourth in the order is: "The Umpire" - a superb ode to the life of the downtrodden cricket referee. The fifth track is my personal favourite: "Third Man" - another string laden piece of perfect cricket pop that sounds more like ELO [than ELO ever did!] with twelfth man Daniel Radcliffe adding his monologue for the daydreaming out of favour cricketer.

A little light music follows with the instrumental "Chin Music" before another change in style arrives with the middle order "Out In The Middle" which, to this writer, sees DLM cleverly combining Pink Floyd and David Crosby themes into a philosophical pearler. Next up is another game changer as Messrs. Hannon and Walsh recreate: The Art Of Noise with "Line And Length" whilst explaining bowling theorem in a funky bass driven dance number. Totally unexpected! "The Laughing Cavaliers" brings a touch of Monty Python to the crease before we hear "Judd's Paradox" with the rich, amiable voice of Stephen Fry musing over the seeming paradox between the love of cricket and the effect of Empire. "Mystery Man" is a stomping Rock 'n' Roll track with a very clever stream of bowling terminology prose. Last man is "Nudging And Nurdling" - a song with multiple accents citing those immortal words building up to a closing, anthemic finale.

Track Listing: [1] Sticky Wickets [2] Boom Boom Afridi [3] It's Just Not Cricket [4] The Umpire [5] Third Man [6] Chin Music [7] Out In The Middle [8] Line And Length [9] The Laughing Cavaliers [10] Judd's Paradox [11] Mystery Man [12] Nudging And Nurdling

So there you have it. A triumphant return to form from: The Duckworth Lewis Method ... an album again very much influenced by their love of ELO and Jeff Lynne yet with many surprises. Who else can produce such an excellent set of songs with cricket as the theme but influenced by the likes of: ELO, The Who, The Art Of Noise, Monty Python [and a whole host of others]? The answer is to go buy: "Sticky Wickets" for yourself and enjoy finding out the answer. [4.5/5]

EXTRAS: Don't forget that: The Duckworth Lewis Method are on tour in the UK between July and September 2013.

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends and endorses: "Sticky Wickets" by: The Duckworth Lewis Method to all folks who enjoy the music of: ELO and Jeff Lynne; Roy Wood; The Move; The Idle Race; The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] universe ... KJS
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