A Special by Matteo Maioli

Over the last few years the Monolith Cocktail has been sharing a post each month with the leading Italian culture/music site Kalporz. This month Matteo Maioli celebrates the late enigmatic Pat Fish, aka The Jazz Butcher.

How many times does it happen that the legacy of a band becomes important after they break up, or if the artist leaves us prematurely? Pat Fish, a London-based singer-songwriter based in Oxford known to all as The Jazz Butcher, passed away on October 5th at the age of 63.

As soon as he graduated, he devoted himself unconditionally to music with Sonic Tonix by releasing a single on Cherry Red, just before coining (in ‘82) the name of the project for which he will always be remembered – since the other aliases The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and The Jazz Butcher And His Sikkorskis From Hell are already more difficult. In the first records for the Glass label he played with David J and Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus, while Max Eiderhe will remain Pat Fish’s main collaborator until the last days: a four-year period, that of 1983-1986, best covered by the vinyl of ‘Bloody Nonsense’ that I found years ago at a flea market for two coins but which today is a level artistic testimony and harbinger of jewels such as ‘Big Saturday’, ‘The Human Jungle’ and ‘The Devil Is My Friend’: A mix of worker folk, Velvet Underground and soul music.

The ball then passes to Alan McGee, who with Creation released eight The Jazz Butcher albums, up until 1995. Fish becomes a sparring partner here, as the budget is oriented towards other bands (House Of Love, Primal Scream), amazed at the disorganization and the coarseness of an indie without any connection with the American market: therefore tracks like ‘Next Move Sideways’ and the psychedelic ‘Girl Go’, from ‘Cult Of The Basement’ slide without leaving a trace.

The only exploit comes in spite of himself from the acid-house style cover of ‘We Love You’, the Rolling Stones hit in 1967, which would guarantee him participation on Top Of The Pops; to understand the integrity of the artist Pat Fish it is enough to read the exchange of views he had with McGee in this regard: “Pat, You won’t believe it – 400 kids on the floor punching the air to your record!” “Yeah, right.” Yet even looking at Upside Down: The Creation Records Story we note the pride of Fish in having lived that fundamental period for English music, albeit as a gregarious but with personality, loved and respected by all.

For about ten years there was no news of The Jazz Butcher, when in 2012 he returned with Last of the Gentleman Adventurers, proudly self-produced. His work is characterized by a fervent passion for literature and cinema and social commitment, elements that also permeate the last album released by Tapete on February 4, 2022. The Highest Of The Land joins epitaphs such as Blackstar by David Bowie and Rowland S. Howard’s Pop Crimes, similarly recorded in the last days of life and who do everything not to be: we fight against the end, taking talent over the obstacle.

Between poetry and jazz settings, reverence for Bob Dylan and the new-wave, Pat Fish puts together a collection of splendid songs, including sarcasm (“My hair’s all wrong / My time ain’t long / Fishy go to Heaven, get along, get along” on ‘Time’) and urgency (“I said I would break my stupid life in two / For half an hour alone with you” on ‘Never Give Up’) with a cosmopolitan touch for ‘Sea Madness’. The album produced by Lee Russell (formerly with The Moons and Nada Surf) is the ideal starting point to discover this great songwriter, man of the world bringer of peace.

Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea’s Reviews Column

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The BordellosBrian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include the King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and a series of double-A side singles (released so far, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’, ‘Daisy Master Race/Cultural Euthanasia’‘Be My Maybe/David Bowie’ and All Psychiatrists Are Bastards / Will I Ever Be A Man). He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped-down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics. His latest album Atlantic Crossing, a long overdue released collaboration with 20th Century Tokyo Princess’s Ted Clark, was released last month. Plus a new album entitled Cardboard Box Beatle will be released next month by Metal Postcard Records.

Each month we supply him with a mixed bag of new and upcoming releases to see what sticks.

The Singles.

The NoMen & The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies ‘The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth’
(Self-Release) 1st January 2022

The ideal start to the year is a tribute to the great Joe Meek with this two-sided wonder of Meek like madness from The NoMen and The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies; tracks that are filed with wonky guitars echo filled joints of smoked black fountains. Two tracks to make you feel that 2022 is not going to be that bad after all. Roll on the coming 12 months, and one can only hope it will be as magically wonky as this fine single.

bigflower ‘Bang Bang’
(Self-Release) 26th December 2021

bigflower is back with another cover. Yes, a dark and dense version of the 60s Cher classic ‘Bang Bang’. Once again Ivor Perry drenches the melodious with a swamp of becoming darkness that calls out to be used in some enigmatic black and white foreign subtitled film that one loses themselves in occasionally in the early hours of a Sunday Morning; a track that breaks hearts whilst stoking the embers of half remembered love affairs. Ivor’s bigflower is a band with a mission, a mission to cover this world with the magic of his spoken softly whispered beautiful guitar washes: a mission we should all encourage him in and publicize.

The Jazz Butcher ‘Running On Fumes’
(Tapete Records) 4th February 2022

This track my lovely cherubs is the first single taken from the new and posthumous album by the sadly no longer with us Pat Fish aka the Jazz Butcher, a band I loved and listened to a great deal in my indie pop loving late teen years. Yes, I soundtracked many a romantic interlude to the dulcet tones of the Jazz Butcher, their Live in Hamburg album was a particular favourite of mine, and I’m both pleased and saddened to say even after all these years Mr Fish never lost his way of writing a catchy melodious piece of guitar pop loveitude. He will be sadly missed by myself and many others: a great and talented songwriter.

treesreach ‘How it Seems’
4th February 2022

‘How It Seems’ is a lazy hazy piece of American indie rock with a lovely mixture of Sweet Jane guitar strums and an indie Boston like explosion of AOR melodeon tomfoolery: a rather lovely way to spend a few minutes. So I suggest you give it a listen.

The Albums And The EPs..

Colonial Skyway ‘Evening On Earth’
(Submarine Broadcasting Co.) 14th January 2022

The silent hum of a city landscape keeping its dark secret from the prying eyes of the solitude, the indifference of the praying masses awaiting redemption from the cold bloodied imaginations of the dearly departed only a hop skip and a jump away from the black bird soaring high through the now clear skies as the empty factory puffs the ghost of the smoke from god’s great ash tray into the remembrance of the sky. This album is an aural sweep stake of memories yet to happen a delve into the subconscious a brief awakening of the dot in the centre of an old tv screen saying goodnight one last time.

Salem Trials ‘Something PRETTY DRASTIC’
(Metal Postcard Records) 10th January 2022

Oh, the post-punk joy this 4-track EP emits is tangible, it is eatable, you can catch the magic in a net and rub your face in it; it is pure spell binding: the opening track ‘Table Turning’ sends goosebumps down my arm. It’s like it’s a missing track from Orange Juices mini–LP Texas Fever: it’s pop in its purest form.

This four tracker is the sound of The Salem Trials at their most commercial: I can imagine every track at one point coming from the radio stuck on BBC 6 music after 7pm. As readers of the Monolith Cocktail know I am a huge Salem Trials fan and I will tell you why. It’s because I have good taste. And if there is any justice in this world it should take something pretty drastic to stop Something Pretty Drastic haunting your radio.

K. Board & The Skreens ‘Langue EP’
(Metal Postcard Records) 28th December 2021

Metal Postcard Records, the record label of 2021, kick of 2022 with another fine release; a five track EP that has one scrabbling around in early new year frenzy thinking where on earth have I put my Syd Barrett CDs. Yes, a five track EP that covers the Syd like ditties in electronic 8-bit bedroom magic, all funky whirls and drumbeats. 2022 style modern-day dance meets the magical past to explore the inner workings of musical deep thinking. Sci-fi minds, maybe a work of an evil Bond villainy…who knows or cares when the music is this much fun and original sounding.

Chris Church ‘Darling Please’
(Big Stir Records) 21st January 2022

An album that kicks off with the sound of Quasimodo having a wank is not a bad way to start off an album of radio friendly guitar pop; it gives the album an air of darkness which I greatly appreciate. It is much better than being sugar-coated in platitudes of esteemed Mojo lite political correctness by jean wearing bingo hop bunned men who really should know better than to try and listen to his record collection of likeminded backward thinkers whilst his wife is not out scanning the racks of Sainsburys for the butter her mother’s best friend swears by.

Yes indeed, Chris Church has released an album of well written guitar pop rock that lovers of Mathew Sweet and the ilk will love and dream of being spoon-fed by Anthia from the Generation Game all those years ago: how did Brucie catch such a dish of the day we ask, and if we are not asking, we certainly should be…and as Brucie once said give us a twirl and I advise you guitar lovers give this album a twirl as it is not half bad.

Claptrap ‘Adulting’
(Un je-ne-sais-quop) 28th January 2022

Claptrap by name but not by nature. No indeed, what we have here is an enjoyable a free-thinking adventurous album of original pop songs, an album that I expect the great Paddy McAloon might enjoy with its Prefab Sprout like sense of playfulness – especially on the opening track ‘The Rewrite’. And the playfulness continues throughout the album, recalling the days when music could and should be fun; an album that takes electronica, psych and eyebrow twisting like McCartney Ram era pop and invention to quite wonderful heights.

Adulting is an album that proves that here we are in 2022 and pop music can still be as a rewarding an experience as it was 50 years ago when everything was fresh and exciting, all that is needed is a fresh and exciting outlook on your art. Nice one Claptrap.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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