November 03, 2017
At least on the surface, it may seem perverse to reissue music by an artist that noted that pop music was a disposable product. But appreciation of art is a matter of emotions, not logic, so when The Wasted Years reached our ears, we felt like we hit the lottery. The four CD collection (plus booklet) is assembled from four records -- Bath Of Bacon, A Scandal In Bohemia, Sex And Travel, and Distressed Gentlefolk -- by The Jazz Butcher. The project, also known as the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and other, similar, names, was founded in the late '70s by Oxford student Pat Fish (Patrick Huntrods). Fish, often with a rotating cast of collaborators has been prolific over the years, creating music that reflects melody, wit, and an incredible genius for expressing pop music in just about every format possible. Lo-fi indie pop? Of course. Soft rock with tones of jazz? Got it covered. A bit of country? You don't need to ask. Alternative folk? Plenty of the best. Rockabilly? Dance away! Oddball pop? See stage left. Cabaret? Have a seat, your waiter will be along momentarily.
The four constituent records were released between 1983 and 1986 by Glass Records, a small outfit that also released records by the Pastels, Spaceman 3, and Teenage Fanclub. This is music constructed from pop components, with pop widely defined and the songs adventurously created with a punk attitude. But don't assume that it was hastily made or carelessly performed. The players are excellent, the arrangements detailed and the vocals layered. The listener is treated to the cascading delights of 41 varied and invariably interesting songs running two and a half hours. In our opinion, The Wasted Years is disposable art that deserves to live forever.
The Wasted Years is out now as a four CD box set (plus booklet with an essay by Mr. Fish, himself) or digital download via Fire records.