February 03, 2016
Last of the Gentleman Adventurers is something of an obscure, possibly final, album in the decades-spanning Jazz Butcher canon. The record was initially self-released in 2012 as a result of a Kickstarter-like campaign to mark the 30th anniversary of the group. However, that initial pressing was limited to just 1,000 copies — and, naturally, those discs quickly sold out. Well, here comes Fire Records to the rescue, putting the album back in print, and, this time, on a global and much larger scale. (Not only that, but Fire also has plans to release two career-spanning box sets eventually.) For those not familiar with the Jazz Butcher, the band is/was a venture for English singer-songwriter Pat Fish, whose fan base might not be particularly huge, but it appeared to boast lauded comic-book author Alan Moore, who actually wrote the original liner notes for Last of the Gentleman Adventurers . The group made its mark in the ’80s and early ’90s before calling it a day in 1995, though further albums — including this one — followed. It remains to be seen if this release is indeed the final curtain bow for the Jazz Butcher, but putting it in the hands of fans first was a lovely parting (of sorts) gesture.
So what to make of this album? Well, I feel this is either starting to become a cliché in my writing, or it may just reflect the overall tenor of releases that I’ve been getting for Music 2016’s first quarter, but this is probably an album best suited for the night-time. It’s not really jazz, though there are jazz-lite textures. That’s another way of saying, though, that Fish and company don’t really rock out too much — the lone exception on this disc being the inflammatory “Solar Core”, which is about as fiery as the title sounds and really gets cooking when Fish hits the refrain of “the blues ain’t nothing.” Otherwise, this album is a pretty low-key and laconic affair. Maybe chalk it up to Fish’s nearly 60 years of age. It’s pretty and soothing, but it doesn’t do much more than that. Probably best suited for closing hours at the British pubs,
Last of the Gentleman Adventurers doesn’t boast much in fire power — which also means that it doesn’t have a lot of stickiness or staying power, either. Still, it’s pleasant when it needs to be and captures the essence of a Briton who has spent a lifetime or two at the foot of the bar. If that suits you, then this album is what you need — whether it be to unwind or relax or just get you through whatever ails you. This is worth investigating, but it really just sets the stage for those forthcoming box sets, which might be more blistering in approach.Rating: 6 / 10