This is an absolutely wonderful party album. Put it on when it’s time to jump up and down a lot and break the light pendant. Later on, when it’s time for cocoa and those weird minty melt things and you’ve finished reminiscing about the time people used to go outside to smoke around about now, you can put it on again and play a sort of musical eye spy with it.
But hang on, let’s meet these crazy cats. In a nutshell, Spygenius are Peter Watts (guitar) Ruth Rogers (bass) Matt Byrne (keys) and Alan Cannings (drums) Some of them come from Canterbury.
One thing is clear from the start. These guys absolutely adore the swinging sound of the sensational sixties. All those bits and pieces by bands you can’t remember anymore but one had a tambourine and a few of the boys had ponytails and the music that was playing was playing while a red sports car with no roof was going down a winding mountain road driven by somebody gorgeous with big sunglasses on smiling.
It’s all here on Jobbernowl. Spygenius have somehow condensed the entire nineteen sixties down to forty-four minutes forty three seconds.
There’s also a row of nodding dogs worth of tune checks to the illegitimate offspring of this debauched drug drenched decade. Here’s a bit of Robin Hitchcock, there’s that band with the hair, ooh look there’s some XTC on track four over in the corner.
And on listening to “Son Of The Morning, Go Man Go” I defy you to expunge from your mind the image of XTC, in their Life on a Farmboy’s Wages period, all black and white and peaky blinders rent boy thing going on.
This song started then went into something that went into something else that seemed to go back to the beginning before the singing started back in going “Son Of The Morning, Go Man Go” over and over and over again. It was becoming frightening and then it stopped. Phew!
Thank goodness for “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air”. If you close your eyes and concentrate, you could be at the Shaftesbury Theatre listening to the love rock tribal musical Hair. The bit just before the intermission. Wondering if there would be ice cream. And how much the thieving rascals would fleece you for it.
I haven’t mentioned track nine. “Metamorphosis” “Psychedelic suns are swimming” Fabulous! And that is followed by “Of Narcissus” I think this may well have been written and recorded under the influence of mild hallucinogenic medication. It goes on about tripled toothed circumcised daffodils or something. Part of it sounds like the Beatles. That will be popular. Everybody likes the Beatles.
Sorry if I’m jumping around here chronologically wise and that but these guys are relentless, and I think I’ve got whiplash.
Track two is something called “Sky-Pie, Century 21”. I tried to work out why. I really did. It’s probably in there somewhere. In the words. It’s just that every time I’ve ever listened to music like this I’ve had flashbacks. It sounds a little bit like The Monkees’ hip next-door neighbours. There’s a great Mersey accent on the chops of the singer on this one though. The second time I played it I shouted “Batman” along to it. That was fun as well.
Oh Yes! Before I forget, track one has words that sound like Nicola Sturgeon, Virgin, and surgeon, one after another really quickly, and a line that includes the phrase “in the corridor of the hospital of my dreams”. And!! One of those cheesy Farfisa organs, all Question Mark And The Mysterions. Great opener, although it does go into a bit of The Incredible String Band with rolling rrrrr’s from whoever’s singing. Anyway, that bit’s just before a cock rock guitar solo that brings the vocals back in, they start to chant in a sort of Canterbury Velvet Underground way “I Dig Your New Robes, Pierre!” So you need to watch out for that. It does go “a dig a dig a dig a dig a dig” a lot towards the end as well which is cool.
There’s a track called “The Marvelous Mendacious Time Machine” which Spygenius should use when they make the cartoon film version of themselves. It makes you want to jump up and down and I shouldn’t do that so that’s that. Let’s go back in time indeed. It’s got rocket noises as well. And then there’s the “Mandy Rice-Davies Applies” song. It’s worth the cost of whatever you pay for this. It already doesn’t remind me of someone else. It’s great!
“Screwy” is one of those songs at the end of a rom-com where the couple, at some sort of happy celebratory gathering or another, spontaneously burst into a duet whilst the rest of the cast start dancing manically and then the credits roll “when you wore black and I wore leather” brrrr a chill runs up my spine. It has something on it at the start that sounds like one of those keyboards you used to get free with cornflakes. Ruth Rogers is the Colin Moulding in the band to Peter Watt’s Andrew McPartridge. She plays bass and wrote this.
And you’ve got to admire this band. They even find room to give the closing track over to some sort of Tiny Tim tribute with” Foucault Swings Like A Pendulum Do” Roger Miller we salute you.
And the lyrics. Holy hell the lyrics.
Don’t get me started. Do yourself a favour. Buy this as a present for someone who likes to smile.