by Mott the Dog
***** 5 Stars Rating
The fickleness of the record buying public has always
amazed me. Some records (vinyl, CDs, tapes, eight track, whatever you want
to call them, whatever genre you’re from) make it and some don’t.
Sometimes, to this humble dog, a very average album will sell in zillions
(take “Frampton Comes Alive” for example. I mean, what were people
thinking?), while an absolute classic goes completely unnoticed.
“Twice Around The House” is a classic example of
the latter. Jonathan Kelly’s debut album was released on the major
league RCA label, given masses of quality marketing, prestigious gigs at
all the top venues, was a regular at major festivals (playing with just a
miked up acoustic, he was always easy to whip on and off between longer
ensembles), and always went down a storm wherever he played. But somehow
it just didn’t happen.
I can hear you thinking the obvious answer is: he just wasn’t any good.
Wrong. He was good, real good.
“Twice Around The House” starts off with the
sublime “Madeleine”, a mid tempo song about un-requited love. The
feeling that is in Jonathan’s voice leaves you in no doubt that this is
a song sung through experience and would of made an excellent single. But,
alas, time has moved on.
Next out of the traps is a lovely song about life in
the British countryside. Not to look for too much in life in the way of
always looking at the grass on the other side, may not be the answer to
your questions, and it’s not always as green as it seems. Next song,
“We’re All Right Till Then” is one of the most poignant protest
songs this dog has ever heard. The chorus says it all, really.
“Cos we’re all right riding on the back of the mule
Yea, we’re alright sliding down the back of the fool
We’ll be alright till when
That farmer finds a friend
Yes, we’re alright till then”
With words like that I’m surprised the album wasn’t
bought by every downtrodden farmer in the world.
To lighten the load we then have the glorious “Ballad
Of Cursed Anna”, always a concert favorite with audiences, telling the
story of the folly of youth. A tragi-comedy of a song that always plucks a
heartstring but still leaves a smile on the lips.
Every track on the album is well constructed and the
variety is quite remarkable. From acoustic sad ballads like “I Used To
Know You” to the fun filled Rock ‘n’ Roll of “The Train Song”
with my favorite lyric:
“The backdoor daughter to a friend of my aunt,
Came to see me with a present of a geranium plant,
I wish she’d have told me not to teach it to talk
Cause today it asked me if I would take it for a
I mean, c’mon, when was the last time you heard a
song with a geranium in it?
Just one listen to this album will blow away all your
blues. At any rate this album is doubly worth picking up as it has been
re-mastered and re-released on B.G.O. records as a two for one set with
Jonathan’s second album “Wait till they change the Backdrop”. So,
double joy. You get twice the amount of quality music for your buck.
Like any good story though, there is a certain sadness
to it, but in a way a happy ending. The sadness is that at some point
Jonathan became disillusioned with the whole business of the music
business, so he cut and ran. He had to do it for himself. How long can you
live with high praise from the media, but a stark lack of sales?
Jonathan Kelly never had a “Year Of The Cat” a
“Streets Of London” or even a “Baker Street” to lift him - like
his contemporaries - on to a higher more commercial plane of international
stardom. It’s great being an underground cult hero, but you have got to
eat. Who knows how big he might have become if he’d stayed in the game?
What I do know is that one minute he was playing and the next he picked up
the wife and kids and returned to the valleys of Wales, turning his back
on the music business forever.
But now through the courtesy of B.G.O. we can listen to
his wonderful work. Do yourself a favour, next time you want to spruce up
your music collection, get this album. You won’t regret it. Your joy
begins when the disc starts spinning.
I wish Jonathan Kelly and his family all the joy in
Wales and thanks for the memories.
2. Sligo Fair
3. We’re All Right Till Then
4. Ballad Of Cursed Anna
5. Leave Them Go
6. We Are The People
7. Rainy Town
8. The Train Song
9. I Used To Know You
10. Hyde Park Angels
11. Rock You To Sleep