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The Jazz Butcher Press Patrick Smith Reviews (USA) - May, 1997
Patrick Smith Reviews (USA)
May, 1997

Credit: Patrick Smith

Release: ¡Excellent! The Violent Years

To call the Jazz Butcher, a.k.a. Pat Fish , the best pop songwriter out of Britain in the past fifteen years is invitation for some awfully suspicious stares. But the Butcher might be just that. Recently calling it quits to begin a new project called Sumosonic, Fish and his Conspiracy remained aloof enough to avoid the MTV-fueled vortex of alternative rock, thus dooming themselves to obscurity. Such a fate should diminish neither the brilliance nor the scope of their work.

Last year's Draining The Glass 1982 - 86 collection spotlighted the Butcher's best songs from a handful of albums released on the Glass label between 1982 and 1986. Now, Creation Records has done the same with ¡Excellent!, which culls from a half-dozen Creation discs that began with 1988's Fishcotheque and ended with 1995's Illuminate. While Draining... was a masterful distillation, this new compilation suffers from poor song choices. Novelty cuts like " Bicycle Kid " and " Chickentown " made the cut while gems like " The Good Ones " and " Keeping The Curtains Closed " didn't.

Some of the original Creation stuff is now out of print, and ¡Excellent! was a great opportunity to reincarnate some fantastic music. In this respect it fails, shining only on tracks like the beautiful " Whaddya? ," from 1994's Waiting For The Love Bus, and Cult Of The Basement's " Mr. Odd "

Still the Butcher shows his ability to swing from all out punk to a dewy ballad without so much as a smirk. Such versatility, without the self-indulgence we see so often, should set his legacy apart from that of almost anybody who has left a mark in indie-rock.

copyright © Patrick Smith. PO Box 380406 Cambridge MA 02238
(used with author's permission)

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