The Nightingales -Perish the Thought (Tiny Global Productions)
CD/ LP / DL
Released 5 October 2018 (but available at gigs)
Ninth album follows up collaboration with Vic Godard, Commercial Suicide Man (reviewed here) and is out of step and awkward as ever, but quite possibly their most fully realised album since Out of True, says Ged Babey.
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Emily Dickinson. Success is counted sweet.
My tears are not for sale and I’m not afraid of beauty
The Nightingales. It is.
Is Robert Lloyd mellowing with age? The Poet Laureate of the West Midlands Bookies, Bar and Curry House, the man who should stand alongside Nick Cave and Morrissey in terms of lyrical mastery… the Brummy equal and contemporary of Mark E Smith… the Misfits misfit, the underdogs underdog… You know, the bruiser in the suit with the stage prescence of a pissed off geography teacher who has just got the sack and downed a bottle of whiskey….
Yeah, he is mellowing a bit. But his band still rock like Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground joining forces for a guest spot at the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.
You either ‘get’ the Nightingales or you don’t. It’s difficult to explain them.
‘You’ve thought long and hard about that, haven’t you?’ Said someone to me the other day about something else entirely. I do that. I analyse things to find meaning and significance… when perhaps there is very little, or none.
I’ve got stuck trying to explain why yet another Nightingales work is again ‘genius’ and I can’t do it. It just is.
I am forced to use the most over-used, mis-used phrase in current popular useage, something which pains me greatly as I loathe and detest it and 99% of the people who use it.
The Nightingales ‘Perish the Thought’…well…
It is what it is.
(Narrator screams. Fade to black)
Perish the Thought is the Nightingales at their most difficult and at their Best.
The Slits had a song called Difficult Fun. It’s a neat phrase to describe the ‘Gales and this album
Since they reformed in 2006 and released the mighty Out Of True, the Nightingales have been a far superior combo to other combos of their ilk. (That said, their contemporaries: the Cravats, Blue Orchids, The Fallen Leaves, Subway Sect and the Monochrome Set are all producing amazing work too, despite or perhaps because of their advancing years…)
Fliss, Andreas and Jim are great players and the tightest unit the Gales have ever been, yet still retaining a rawness and a jazz-swing, together with some prog-rock time-signature gear changes.
I am always curious about Robert Lloyds lyrics so asked for some background,
What I got back was headed “a breakdown (from Robert) of what the songs on Perish The Thought are about.”
Wrong Headed Man and (I’m A ) People Person are apparently: Autobiographical nonsense and Enemy of Promise? Dunno exactly what it is about but was written in one big splurge & remains, for better or worse, totally unaltered. Rock n roll, innit? The song entitled You Don’t Know What You’re Doing Lloyd insists inscrutably is Exactly what it says on the tin.
Robert Lloyd, like a true poet doesn’t really like trying to explain his art, it just… I’m not saying it again.
He is more forthcoming about some of the other songs:
I believe that any person should be able to live where they like &, hopefully, have a decent life. It is obscene that through sheer bad luck some folk are made to suffer the most awful situations & even worse that those born with good luck feel OK about persecuting the unfortunate.
One of my best mates of all time died. He was a superhero. I do not know a women who didn’t love him.Two of his favourite groups were the ‘Gales & The Lovely Eggs. Holly from the Eggs kindly added her gorgeous voice to this most heartfelt love song. Bless her & bless Big Dave.
The Last Minute
The lyric was written at the last minute & concerns the last 60 seconds of a man’s life seen through the eyes of his squeamish killer. A super dumb ‘I have a gun’ rap.
Utterly fed up of the man with his ugly & vicious outlook on life I wanted to stake a claim for beauty. I ended up stealing tons of lines from my favourite poet Emily Dickinson & in truth I’m a bit embarrassed about it but, as Emily would say, hey ho. Anyway, it’s not so bad. Fliss sings beautifully & Hans-Joachim Irmler (from Faust) makes a right racket on his homemade organ. If you don’t like it, fuck off*.
*Is exactly what I am (& this song) is against
As well as Emily Dickinson the songs steals a tiny bit of (music from) Mountains Nantucket Sleigh Ride which you will possibly remember as the Weekend World theme tune rather than the hippy-rockers epic track.
Another track which bizarrely stands out for all the wrong reasons, is Eventually which is a one-minute funk groove, over which Robert makes howling sex noises and/or has terrible constipation. It is the weirdest and most disturbing thing you will hear all year I can (almost) guarantee.
With a Stewart Lee documentary movie in the planning stages, announced during their recent Marc Riley session, things are looking good for Nightingales… and Perish the Thought is a prog-rock meets jazz-punk joy, full of love and misanthropy. Musically it is ‘challenging’ and takes a few listens perhaps, but it ends up being a whole heap of beautiful, difficult fun.
A sweet success, it is.
Nightingales anti-social media and links….
UK dates w/ special guests ~Near Jazz Experience *Stewart Lee
Wed 26 GLASGOW, Stereo~ + The Raptors
Thu 27 EDINBURGH, Opium~ + Mr Twonkey
Fri 28 GATESHEAD, Central Bar~
Sat 29 HALIFAX, Lantern~
Sun 30 SHEFFIELD, Greystones~
Tue 2 BIRMINGHAM, Hare & Hounds*~ SOLD OUT
Wed 3 LONDON, Moth Club*~ SOLD OUT
Thu 4 CAMBRIDGE, Portland Arms*~ SOLD OUT
Fri 5 NOTTINGHAM, Canalhouse~ + New Apostles + Putamen
Sat 6 BRIGHTON, Green Door Store* + Wolfhounds SOLD OUT
All words by Ged Babey
Nightingales artwork by David Yates.