- 16 Nov 18
Old lags deliver big time.
The Good, The Bad & the Queen are like a gang of old lags that reconvene for that 'one last job'. If it was a film there'd be a montage, Simonon at his easel declaring 'that's not my life anymore'. Still he's convinced to go back. The job in hand is to commentate ruefully on the state of a country in transition. To what nobody seems to know, least of all those orchestrating the sea change, so the air of unease is palpable.
It's as though they'd never broken up. Their eponymous debut, while selling well, flew under the radar somewhat. Merrie Land possesses many of the factors that made the first album so appealing - spryly shuffling drum beats, reggae tinged bass lines and a homespun charm - but is decidedly more... wistful? The occasional recorder interjections sound like Clangers at a wake.
No better man than Tony Visconti was roped in on twiddling duties. He passed comment that the album was 'an ode to the North of England, bizarrely'. It's certainly a resoundingly English album. When you sing about lions, unicorns and maypoles, it couldn't be anywhere else. Okay, Narnia perhaps. Keith Floyd and Laurence Olivier put in cameos just to underscore the point.
'The Last Man To Leave' tips its cap to 'Parklife' with its first person commentary, while 'Ribbons' is such a pretty song, I demand it be played at my funeral. If buckets of tears aren't shed there'll be trouble.