I’ve always underestimated this album probably because I was obsessed with ‘Fitter Stoke Has A Bath’ which I played regularly on the ‘Uni’ jukebox (good value for money too!) and got “The Rotters’ Club” first.
While perhaps not boasting as many top tunes, on re-listening I released that the eponymous debut is the more cohesive of the two (a continuous suite of unrelated music), with a direct line from EGG’s “Civil Surface” channelled through Dave Stewart (on Fender Rhodes, Hammond, Hohner Pianet, tone generator, Mini Moog) to become an EGG+ with the addition of two wonderfully gifted musicians in guitarist PHIL MILLER, who would go on to carve out a very respectable career playing Jazz-Rock-Fusion and drummer PIP PYLE (who is too far down the mix on my CD copy).
The album is marvellously playful - the ‘question and answer’ on ‘Rifferama’ is brilliant, the ‘choir’ is fabulous (The Northettes, with Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons and Ann Rosenthal), and the jazz band that appears at the end of ‘Son of There’s No Place Like Homerton’ is miraculous considering it contains a one-man band GEOFF LEIGH on tenor sax with a Jeremy Baines on a pixiephone! RICHARD SINCLAIR’s upper register bass (and his pre- CAMEL distinctive vocals of course, heard to good effect on ‘Licks for the Ladies’) and Phil’s guitar chording are a joy.
Dave Stewart also has an equal in the writing department with Pip (and of course Richard) contributing to a few tracks including the desert island disc I referred to earlier, ‘Fitter Stoke Has A Bath’; the A-side ‘Let’s Eat Real Soon’ was great as well, a Sinclair/ Pyle co-write. Oh, and ROBERT WYATT sings on ‘Calyx’ and ‘Big Jobs No.2’. These are included as bonus tracks on the CD reissue. What other band would reference Desperate Dan (whose much photographed statue stands in the city centre of Dundee with his trusty dog) and “Michael Miles, bogey man” in a lyric, or write a track called ‘Big John Wayne Knocks Psychology on the Jaw’ (on “The Rotters’ Club”)? And if you want to hear what a crustacean guitar solo sounds like, listen to ‘Gigantic Crab Lands on Earth’.
At least twenty listens are recommended to appreciate everything this album has to offer.