The Jazz Butcher: Bloody Nonsense (1986)

Presenting one of the great unsung bands of the 80s and 90s (and beyond), I'm cheating a bit by going for a greatest "hits" collection (and an out-of- print one at that), but this was the record that introduced me to this band and is one of the better compilations I've seen.

The Jazz Butcher, led by Pat Fish with deftly versatile guitar work by Max Eider, have appeared under various monikers over the years (i.e. the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy), with various styles over time, but at least in the earlier years were a sort of jangly indie pop band with a guitar sound akin to the Smiths, but with a sense of humor and absurdity more aligned with Robyn Hitchcock, and stylistic variations that ran from noisy garage band rock to dance pop to faux Americana.

One of their first and greatest singles was "Southern Mark Smith," an infinitely catchy and silly organ-driven romp that, for some reason, was replaced with a more stripped down and laid back guitar-based version on subsequent CD releases, making the original tough to track down.  (Not to say the album version isn't fine, but I adore the original single.)  And there were plenty of other gleeful ditties on this collection:  the percussive, funky grooves of "President Reagan's Birthday Present" and "Real Men" (taking on the late president's hawkish views and racist, misogynist jerks, respectively); the sweet pop of "Big Saturday" and "Rain"; and the goofy twang of "The Devil Is My Friend."  

Though not released on CD, the comparable collection Draining The Glass is still around and streams on Spotify.  While it inexplicably drops a bunch of these tunes, it appends others, like the wonderful "Domestic Animal" (bemoaning a poor neutered pet) and the terrific 80s pop song "Girlfriend" (not the Jonathan Richman song, but no less great), as well as the chipper folk of "Down The Drain."

To be sure, the band has had some fine albums (like 1984's Scandal in Bohemia and 1985's Sex And Travel), and continued to release some excellent (if more straightforwardly indie rock/Britpop) records into the 1990s and 2000s (check out the jubilant "She's On Drugs" from 1990's Cult of the Basement).  But I'm partial to their 80s singles, which are still a ton of fun, and a great starting point for those who missed these guys the first time around.

Here's an audio rip of the original version of "Southern Mark Smith":
And here's a fun little video someone threw together for "The Devil Is My Friend":
For the Spotify-enabled, here's the Draining the Glass collection:

Comments