Fire Records this fall will release a box set — or, rather, a “bookback” set, as the label’s dubbed it — called The Wasted Years that will collect the first four studio albums by The Jazz Butcher, the long-running U.K. indie-pop outfit helmed by Pat Fish.
Due out Oct. 20 on streaming/download or a 4CD box set in a DVD-sized 20-page book, The Wasted Years collects In Bath of Bacon (1983), A Scandal in Bohemia (1984), Sex and Travel (1985) and Distressed Gentlefolk (1986). The collection can be pre-ordered now via Bandcamp.
Fire Records offers the following comments on the four records:
Bath Of Bacon was an experiment in sound, conjoining that Ronco platter to Todd Rundgren, a guitar from Wes Montgomery’s cupboard and mentions of imaginary monsters set to some funky chops. “The sound of a few mates failing to take note that they’ve an LP to make!” claims the JB site. It’s pop meets bluesy scat with plenty of deadpan irony – a theme that will recur.
A Scandal In Bohemia took a “competent little rock band” with a bassist who’d served time in Bauhaus into a world chorused by multi-track vocals and bathroom ambience. “A top-shelf diamond of a record that is filled with excellent, memorable songs.” (All Music).
Sex And Travel offered a broadening perspective. Competence and European travel beget a narrative akin to an impressionistic cold war spy movie, a “mess of styles” that became coherent. “A great album,” muses All Music before comparing JB mainman Pat Fish to Ray Davies circa 1969. It’s an “accidental” concept album prone to fleeting melancholy.
Distressed Gentlefolk, ahead of the original band’s demise through “fatigue and liquor” was the Butcher’s stab at making their “greatest album ever”. “A beautifully romantic record of soft rock ballads and jazzy torch songs,” enthused Trouser Press. There’s a folky edge scratching away beside the inevitable romp through pop music’s historical lineage.
Below, check out a sampler featuring one song off each of the four albums.