Well it’s been quite awhile since I brought a live concert of Camel on DVD though I do have most of the bands DVD’s and have all their albums. Though to be honest after Andy Latimer’s long term illness which put him out of action for more than a decade since they made their last album A Nod And A Wink back in 2002. I was hugely disappointed by the fact that he chose to do a re-recording of their classic 1975 album The Snow Goose in relation to doing an album of new material. In all honesty the re-recorded version was a complete waste of time in the first place, and not something that needed to be done at all, and for me it will never touch the original I am afraid.
So that very much put me off Camel for awhile although I was tempted to go and see them live when they announced their Moonmadness tour a couple of years ago. But the price of the concert ticket was a lot more than I ever expected, so I had to give that a miss as well. So I sort of lost track of Camel (apart from playing their albums every now then still after all these years) and to be honest I was not even aware that their keyboard player Guy LeBlanc had passed on in 2015 and was replaced by Peter Jones.
Although I did catch a video of one of their songs they performed live around a couple of years ago, that somebody put on Youtube and seen they had a new keyboard player. He was also playing the keyboards and saxophone at the same time, but I was not aware of who he was, but I never seen nobody do that before I can tell you :))))). But I also came across another video of Camel live on the tube which showed Andy Latimer playing seated in a chair, and I thought surely he’s still ill, and that sort of put me off Camel again seeing that to be honest.
I know a lot of musicians who will play till they drop down dead, and even just seeing videos on the tube of Ian Anderson these days croaking and struggling to get out the words to those Jethro Tull songs cause his voice is shot and has been for years. In all honesty I could not go and see that even if the concert was free.
Don’t get me wrong I love these artists to bits and the music they have made that has brought joy to my ears over all these years. But even when my own mother was in hospital dying of cancer, It got to the point after a few visits seeing her deteriorate and looking nothing like she used to be, that I could no longer go and see her. I was not there the day she died either. Even today when I think of her I often visualise how she used to look and not how she looked in hospital, and to be honest when I seen her in hospital, there is no way I would like that image of her planted in my brain.
I am not saying that the likes of these artists look anything remotely like seeing somebody die of cancer wasting away. But Andy Latimer did look seriously ill in that video I saw, and I felt that he should not of even been playing on the stage. But he also may have only had a bad back, and let’s face it, standing up playing a Les Paul is not exactly gonna do anyone’s back the world of good with the weight of them :))))).
Having just got into the music of Peter Jones over the last couple of months, very much made me take another look at Camel, and even though I only found one song from this concert on Youtube I did by accident stumble across a website in Japan that actually streamed the whole 2 hour concert and watched it. Having seen it, I was quite blown away by it and knew I just had to have and buy the DVD. It was good to see that Andy Latimer never needed a chair as well, and looked a lot better health wise and was in flying form. But before I go any further, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The DVD comes in a standard DVD case, not the best of quality cases like Amaray for example, but nevertheless adequate enough to do the job and even the hub that holds the disc is quite good at holding the disc firmly in place, and it’s a simply case of pushing down on the hub to release the disc. It also comes with a few photos printed on a one sided leaflet like you can see here, and for those wondering if it’s a booklet, unfortunately they did not go to that much expense on the product I am afraid :)))).
I did try and order it from Camel’s own website but unfortunately they was out of stock at the time, and I had no idea if they was going to be getting any more back in stock. So my only real chance of getting it brand new was from left over stocks in other outlet stores, and some of those were charging ridiculous prices. To be honest I got a bit lucky when I ordered this from Amazon UK and the week I was gonna buy it, I had to many bills to pay and at the time it was also priced at £30 which in reality is double the price a product like this should cost.
Having put it off for a week it came down to £20 which is still expensive, but this was very much a concert I wanted. So I would of even paid the £30 if I had too, but luckily enough I never had to in the end. I do suggest you shop around a bit if you are after it yourself, and places in America might be the best option to get it at a good price. Although I did get mine here in the UK and it was on Amazon Prime too and only took a day to arrive.
The artwork for the cover was done by Michael Munday its quite plain, simplistic and nothing really too look at to be honest. It also looks as if the red hot sun in Japan as burnt the couple of chaps beneath to a crisp :))))). The photographs on the leaflet inside the case were taken by Lenya Alec Bass.
Ichigo Ichie Live In Japan (DVD) In Review…
The live DVD was released by Camel Productions on the 15th January 2017 and is region 0 or free so it plays in all countries and comes in the American format of NTSC. No PAL I am afraid but nevertheless still of very good picture quality for a DVD. There is also nothing here for surround freaks like myself either I am afraid, but it’s been very well recorded and mixed and sounds great in stereo.
Ichigo Ichie is a Buddhist term that means “once in a lifetime” or “one’s lifetime” as in from one’s birth to death. The term is also often translated as “for this time only”. “Never again” or “one chance in a lifetime”. Although in reality none of these terms could really apply to Camel simply because they did play two nights at the EX Theatre in Roppongi Tokyo Japan and the live footage we have here was taken from both of those nights. So it was hardly a one off thing :)))).
The main menu is simple enough to navigate around and only comes with two options “Play Concert” and “Select Track”. There is only 1 soundtrack for the audio and it’s your standard CD quality of 16 bit 44.1 Khz. You also get no bonus features which is a bit disappointing, and it would of been nice if they could of either made a slideshow with some pictures and some music, or done something in the way of a few interviews from the band members talking about the concert.
The “Select Track” menu gives you the option to select a track from the setlist and here you can see the 15 tracks they played from the bands discography. It comes in handy if you want to play a favourite track or quickly show a friend something from the concert which may even entice them to go out and buy it.
This is something both me and my friend always used to do a good while back, when were around each other’s houses looking at what new music we had brought. It comes in handy if you have not got time to watch the whole concert so to speak. These days we still keep in touch via phone and email, and we still quite often talk about our latest music purchases.
Picture & Sound Quality.
Both the picture and sound quality are of good enough quality. It’s not a concert where they have gone to town on having it filmed with an array of HD cameras, and I dare say the concert was actually filmed by the TV studio crew of Asahi in the building itself. They may have even live streamed the concert in Japan or edited it to show at a later date on Japanese TV.
In reality the DVD is no different to the quality you would of got back in the early 90’s, and the only bit of today’s technology that helps it, is the fact that most DVD Players and Blu Ray players can upscale the picture anyway. So the picture quality does look that bit better for it. The concert as been well edited too, and is not over the top, plus the sound as been very well mixed. Overall the concert as been captured very well.
Musicians & Credits…
Recorded live at the EX Theatre in Roppongi Tokyo Japan between 20th & 21st of May 2016. Filmed and Directed by David Minasian. Assistant Director Trinity Houston. Produced and Promoted by Nobu Maruyama. CO-Producer Atsuo Kurabayashi. Executive Producer Susan Hoover. Motion Graphics and Camera Operator Karla ‘Gaby’ Martinez. Monitor Engineer Toru ‘Yama’ Yamamuro. Backliner Hisazi (Char) Ootomo. Audio recorded by Robert Cooper & Bunny Warren. Mixed by Chris Binns. Andrew Latimer & Denis Clement. Mastered by Chris Binns. Cover Artwork by Michael Munday. Photography by Lenya Alec Bass.
Musicians: Andrew Latimer: Guitar/Vocals/Flute & Recorder. Peter Jones: Keyboard/Vocals/Penny Whistle. Colin Bass: Bass Guitar/Vocals. Denis Clement: Drums/Recorder.
The Concert In Review…
The EX Theatre in Roppongo in Tokyo is situated on the ground floor of the TV Asahi Ex Tower building which is a 17 story building that opened back in November 2013. Since its opening its become quite a popular venue for many mainstream pop and rock bands to play there. The theatre also hosts a wide range of performances such as musicals, film screenings, and even fashion shows. There are also facilities for trade exhibitions and various sports events. In addition, the second floor of the building features a spacious garden and a café.
The very same year it opened it also won the Good Lighting Award from The Illuminating Engineering Institute of Japan. The “EX” implies Excite, Expand and Experience. Over 300 pieces of customized 40PXL Traxon Media Tube were mounted and fitted onto the aluminium curtain wall on the facade of the building. The building not only lights up at night but it also showcases pre-programmed dynamic graphics such as the cartoon character “Go-chan” panda and advertisements such as the upcoming entertainment performances are displayed on EX Tower’s building.
TV Asahi is a major Japanese broadcasting company operating a television network of about 23 local affiliates with a successfully developed base for transmitting new culture and information to the public in Japan.
The theatre itself (although it does not look it) holds a capacity of near enough 2,000 people, 920 seated and the rest standing. Camel played the venue two nights running on the 20th and 21st May 2016 and I would at a guess of expected most likely to be playing to a packed out audiences on both nights being down to the fact that it had been some 16 years since they last played in Japan.
On With The Show…
The concert we have on DVD here, is made up of the performances from the both nights, and no doubt they would of taken what they seen as the best performances from the two shows and edited them and stuck them together to make the 2 hour live concert we have here. I am pretty sure the set list was also the same for the both shows and I have to say they certainly have packed in quite a few classics from the 70’s too, and it really is a terrific live show. Though to be quite honest regardless of what material Camel played from their entire discography between 1973 – 2002 you could not really go wrong.
In my eyes Camel are one of the most consistent progressive rock bands of all time, I think the only one of the 14 studio albums they made that was not up to their usual standards would of been their 1982 album The Single Factor. Though no doubt the material that was written for the albums Mirage. The Snow Goose and Moonmadness will be amongst many of the fans firm favourites including myself, and out of the 15 tracks you get in this set list, 8 of them are from those albums.
The band kick off with what I have always considered my favourite track from their 1973 debut album “Never Let Go“. This particular song as been used countless times to kick off their live shows with, I have even heard them end a concert with it as well. It’s another classic in my eyes and perhaps a good little number to warm up with as well. To be honest I am quite used to Latimer singing this song, but here Jones takes on the verses and Bass joins in with him on the chorus. No doubt the band are in full control and Latimer rocks it up a bit with his guitar solo too towards the end.
I would not say the opening song was the best live performance I have heard of it, but no doubt the band have rehearsed very well beforehand and do a comfortable job of it. They have obviously warmed up enough already for them to take on the next song to which Latimer does sing, and is one of my personal favourites from the Mirage album. Though any song from that album would be a fave no doubt and “The White Rider” is another Camel classic even if what you get here is only the third part of its original suite without its intros of “Nimrodel & The Procession“. Latimer still has his voice too and the band do a fabulous job it, and it gets ended off with the sound of an aeroplane flying over from the keyboards.
The classics are still rolling out and up next we get “A Song Within A Song” from the Moonmadness album with both Latimer and Bass sharing the vocal duties in unison with one another. Jones as pretty much got the original keyboards sounds more or less spot on for this song too. There is no doubt that Pete Jones is handling Pete Bardens notation on the keyboard note for note on this song. It must have been a lot fun playing Bardens keyboard lines too. But no doubt Jones will also add his own sounds and his own thing and feel to a lot of the numbers in this live set too.
To be honest I like the fact that Camel are back to a 4 piece band again just like they was when they first came out, and all 4 members of the band are pretty much in shape and on form here too. Being unsighted I am quite amazed at just how well Jones gets about the both keyboards when it comes to change all the patches for the sounds. Even with sight I would have difficulty trying to remember all these changes I can tell you.
It’s off to the bands 5th album Rain Dances and “Unevensong” is another of my faves from this album and we get Bass and Jones sharing the vocal duties in unison with one another here and no doubt the band are in flying form on it. Then we get a selection from the bands classic album The Snow Goose with “Rhayader / Rhayader Goes To Town“. “Preparation / “Dunkirk“. Latimer gets on his Fender Strat for this set and his touch and tones really ring out on this super set. Jones work on the keyboards also works a treat even with some fine haunting sounds, and he also plays the penny whistle on “Preparation“. This really is an exciting concert and they are rolling out classic after classic for most of it.
It’s back to the Moonmadness album for the next three tracks and the first of them “Spirit Of The Water” features both Latimer and Clement on recorders whilst Jones plays the piano and Bass sings it. Jones take on the vocals on “Air Born” and his voice quite suits the song too, and even though I had read reviews regarding the sound of drums or even some people thinking they need another drummer. I can honestly say I could not fault the work Denis Clement contributes to this band one bit. He’s very much doing a bang on job and his timing is precise. The first hour and 7 minutes is dedicated to the bands first 5 albums and “Lunar Sea” ends it off superbly, not though they are taking a break though and this is a 2 hour set without any.
It’s off to the 1981 album Nude next and “Drafted” is the only song they play from this really GREAT! album. Nude as always been one of my favourite albums in the same way their earlier albums were I suppose, and its shame they never did a bit more from it here. Pete Jones introduces the next one which is “Ice” from the bands 1979 album I Can See Your House From Here. It’s the first album that Collin Bass played on and he has been with the band ever since. It’s also the first piece Latimer gave to Jones to learn when he joined the band in 2015. This piece gets pretty much played at every Camel concert and no doubt Latimer likes it a lot because it gives him chance to express some fine lead lines on his guitar.
They are moving on a decade for the next couple of tracks to their 1991 album Dust and Dreams and they have combined track 4 “Mother Road” with track 15 “Hopeless Anger” from the album for this fine performance, and Latimer rocks this one out on the guitar. You can also see the first part of it for yourself as this official video was released from the very same concert.
It’s a shame they never also never let you see “Hopeless Anger” because on this part not only do you get to see Andy Latimer still rocking it out on his guitar, but Pete Jones keyboard work on this piece is quite exceptional as he practically adds an orchestra to it.
Were almost finished now and the band do say goodbye with a track from another really GREAT! album of theirs Stationary Traveller and the final track from that 1984 album too with “Long Goodbyes“. They dedicate it to both Chris Rainbow and Guy LeBlanc who are no longer with us. But the show is not quite over yet as the crowd applaud for more, and they get it too with this sure fine classic “Lady Fantasy“. The best encore you could ever get, and just before they play and do a superb job of it Latimer introduces us to the band who along with himself have done a really superb job here. It puts an end to a very exciting concert in GREAT! style.
Considering Camel had not played in Japan for 16 years, I am sure the fans at this concert had a terrific time and witnessed what can only be a superb concert with all the band flying and burning along on all cylinders. To be honest I suppose in today’s world this DVD could be described as a no thrills package being as the concert is only standard definition and in stereo without having any 5.1 surround sound like many artists are doing these days. But in saying that even if I did end up paying £30 for this DVD, I honestly think it would of been money very well spent, and it’s the next best thing to being there and that will cost you a lot more.
Having purchased this concert and watched it a few times now, there is no doubt that this is like many of the other concerts I have on DVD of Camel that I can still watch over and over every now and then and enjoy. It’s not the kind of concert you will perhaps buy and play a couple of times and let it gather dust that’s for sure, and they certainly roll out the classics here too. But like I said earlier, Camel have never really strayed away from their GREAT! style and are very consistent when it comes to their music. In my eyes they are the most consistent prog rock band I know, and no way on this earth could I say that about the likes of Genesis and Yes that’s for sure.
To conclude my review of Ichigo IchieLive In Japan by Camel. I would very much say that as old as Andy Latimer and Colin Bass are now, they are still very much playing at the level of their very best and with the younger members Denis Clement and Pete Jones the band Camel are just as much as a force as they was back in the 70’s when I seen them with their original line up. I am so glad to see Andy Latimer pull through his illness and that he’s still in fine shape to be able to keep this band going and still very much feel alive with how they can still skilfully perform these truly GREAT! songs from their excellent discography.
Just watching this concert on DVD as seriously changed my mind about paying the higher ticket prices they charge to see them play live these days, and the next time they do go on tour I am seriously thinking of going to see them. Because this band have always been up their with my elite prog rock bands, and they have never really disappointed me throughout their entire career. Just having this concert on DVD as brought tears of joy to my eyes and I cannot wait for their next live concert to come out from their last tour they did this year.
During the duration of putting this review together, I have noticed that the DVD is now back in stock on Camel’s own web store and is priced at £12.50. But this price does not include VAT and Postage & Packing. So I hardly think you will pick it up any cheaper than the price of £19.99 I paid for here in the UK from Amazon unless you live in America. But it’s well worth that price anyway and it really is an excellent concert.
Saw You Sitting On A Sunbeam In The Middle Of My Daydream…
The live DVD track listing is as follows:
01. Never Let Go . 02. White Rider. 03. Song Within a Song. 04. Unevensong. 05. Rhayader / Rhayader Goes To Town. 06. Preparation / Dunkirk. 07. Spirit Of The Water. 08. Air Born. 09. Lunar Sea. 10. Drafted. 11. Ice. 12. Mother Road. 13. Hopeless Anger. 14. Long Goodbyes . 15. Lady Fantasy.
The latest and 4th studio album release of Tiger Moth Tales is the sequel to the 2nd album Story Tellers Part One and I was so glad to that Story TellersPart Two had been in the making and was to be the next album to hit the shelves so to speak. The album was scheduled to released on the 26th October, but got put forward by a week and I had a pleasant surprise when it arrived on Wednesday 17th October a day before it’s new official release date. So I thought I might as well get this review out the way first, rather than publish my review of Camel’s live DVD I recently purchased.
I am sure for those who brought Story Tellers Part One it’s perhaps an album that some may regard not being up to the standards of Pete Jones debut album Cocoon or even his 3rd album The Depths Of Winter for that matter. Some may even feel that he even went a bit too far by trying to put children’s stories to prog rock and some of the material may of been a bit too light hearted or even silly.
To be honest I never seen that particular album like that at all, and quite like it. But I also felt it was an album that may present Jones with a slight problem. Story TellersPart Two without a doubt very much follows the same pattern as part one with its light-heartedness and silliness to a certain degree, but I personally feel it may very well iron out some of those slight problems part one may have presented him with. But before I go any further, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.
The Packaging & Artwork…
Well the package follows the same suit of Story Tellers Part One with its design and the disc comes in the same sort of DigiSleeve with a side pocket for the CD and another to store the booklet. The 12 page booklet contains the lyrics only and all the linear production and credit notes are printed on the inside of the DigiSleeve. Overall it’s another splendid little package, and I prefer this presentation in relation to the standard jewel case.
The artwork was done by Gary Marsh and although I am not really sure because there are a couple of other artists who have the same name, but I am presuming this is the keyboard player from Red Bazar. To be honest this artwork looks quite familiar to me though that maybe down to seeing it a few weeks back now, but I quite like like it and it’s very fitting to the album. I wonder if that path leads to the hundred acre wood :))))).
The Album In Review…
Story TellersPart Two by Tiger Moth Tales was officially released on the 18th October 2018. The album itself contains 10 tracks (mostly vocal tracks) and comes with an overall playing time of 47 minutes, 40 seconds. Like most of the albums in this project Peter Jones likes to work mainly on his own doing all the vocals and the instrumentation. It’s perhaps understandable for many multi talented instrumentalists to work this way too. Though occasionally Jones brings in a few friends to lend an hand and once again we get to see a small contribution by Mark Wardle here too, and this is actually the third Tiger Moth Tales album he has appeared on now.
Once again his long time singing partner Emma Friend makes an appearance on this album, she also contributed flute to a few tracks on his previous album The Depths Of Winter. But here she contributes vocals to a couple of the tracks. His wife Kimberley also contributes some laughter to one of the tracks and his new dog Darby also contributes a bit of howling too. I think this is the first contribution by his new dog too, and his old dog Barley did get to feature on 3 of tracks over the years.
Putting music to children’s stories and presenting them in a funny and humorous way is something Jones is exceptionally very good at. As a musician Jones has studied very hard particularly on the keyboard, just listening to him play the piano you can tell immediately he is a pianist. That perhaps may not mean a lot to some people, but for me there is a difference between a piano player and a pianist. For example many people can play the piano including myself, but just like myself I am far from an accomplished piano player to even call myself a pianist, and a pianist I would class as very well accomplished piano player.
Being the pianist Jones very much is, means he can play a wide range of styles and cross styles which means he is capable adapting many moods, swings and drama into the music he can create. Dramatics plays a big part in film music and with his keyboards he can even orchestrate and adapt his music quite easily to fit into the big picture so to speak. A lot of that side of him was very much reflected in the music he wrote for Story Tellers Part One. He may have even injected a bit too much of it into that album for most prog rockers taste. But never the less there was still very much a great deal of skill that went into making that album, and no doubt the fundamentals of progressive rock music are still quite evident.
Story TellersPart Two no doubt is done with the same sentiment in mind he created with Story Tellers Part One. Instead of Sleeping Beauty we get the Snow Queen. You still get the magical silly humour we had with “A Small Tale” which was based on the story of Three Billy Goats Gruff. Only here we get the story of “Three Little Pigs“. But what we also have with Story TellersPart Two is something a bit different, in that the parts he has used for the Snow Queen is not so much Cinematic in relation to the parts he did for Sleeping Beauty for example.
The new album if anything offers plenty more in the variety department, it also still contains a bit of the Cinematics no doubt, but it’s mainly been projected into only one the songs mostly and that would be the “Matchstick Girl“. I suppose both a small part of the intro of the opening track on the album would also have a bit of the cinematics too, and so could a song like “Eternity” quite easily fit into the bigger picture too. But there is a lot of prog in this album too and it’s all been so cleverly done even if it’s perhaps more Steve HackettESC so to speak.
But overall I think this is an album that will give Jones something more to take on the road with him and present to a live audience, which is perhaps where the material we got on Story Tellers Part One perhaps gave him a bit of a problem in the first place, and this is what I was getting at in my introduction.
One of the major problems that Jones will have by playing all the instruments on his albums is when he goes out to perform the songs live, especially when he plays live on his own rather than with a band. Most of the time Jones does tend to play on his own and to be honest I do not have a problem at all with him doing so, and even though I have only seen him play live on videos and not been to any of his concerts yet. I still very much enjoy those live albums he put out as a digital download only on Bandcamp that I reviewed in my previous review.
But having listened to those live albums even with him performing the songs on his own, there is no doubt that some of his own songs will be missing certain elements that tend to give some of those songs a lot less of a prog rock feel about them. I also find that most of the songs from his debut album tend to work for his solo performances more so than the songs he has played live from Story Tellers Part One.
For example take the self titled album track from that album “Story Tellers“. To be honest I have never seen or heard Jones do this song with a band, but the song does have the tendency to sound more like a pop ballad when he performs it on his own live, despite all the great chord progression that’s in the actual song. Play the same song on the studio album with all the keyboard layers and even the synth solo, and this track may still sound more like a ballad, but more like a prog rock ballad and it really has Tony Banks written all over it.
To be honest Jones does not tend to play a lot of the songs on this album live at all, and you may get the odd one or two from the album at some of his shows, but they are always mostly the same tracks such as this one. No doubt “The Piper” would practically be impossible to do live, and to be honest I thought the same with “A Kids Tale” too, but he has actually played it, and I thought it was extremely funny too. To be honest I have no idea if he has ever played the instrumental piece “Beauty Sleeps” live, but that would make a brilliant show piece and that one has Hackett written all over it too, just like a lot of tracks on this new album.
To be perfectly honest I have no idea whatsoever what songs Jones is capable of bringing to the table at his own live shows, but there is certainly a lot more to some of the material he has written for his previous 3 albums than presenting us with most of the tracks from Cocoon all the time for example. I am hoping that the material he has written for Story TellersPart Two will iron things out a bit more for him to present more of it to us live, because it’s certainly a very promising album that really does have a lot to say for itself.
Musicians & Credits…
Written Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones. Recorded at Peter Jones home studio sometime in 2018. Artwork by Gary Marsh. Additional contributions by Chris Jones.
Peter Jones: Vocals/Keyboards/Guitars/Clarinet/Irish Whistle/Melodica/Xaphoon/Vocoder/Drum Programming/Trumpet (Track 7). Emma Friend: Vocals (Tracks 5, 10) Kimberley Jones: Vocals (Track 2) Mark Wardle: Cornet (Track 2) Darby: Howling.
The Album Tracks In Review…
Story TellersPart Two is certainly a terrific sequel to its first part that was made 3 years ago now back in 2015 and just like that album the concept is based around children’s stories. No doubt even his first album Cocoon is also a concept album about growing up from childhood to an adult, and even captures our fond memories of our own childhood. In many ways all 4 albums are concepts that tie in with the project of Tiger Moth Tales very well even if The Depths Of Winter may have had a more serious side to it, but we still got to see a story about of Robin Hood on it.
Although both the albums in the Story Teller series may appear to be aimed at more of the kiddiewinks sort of thing and Jones kept that in mind when he seen that even the younger children enjoyed the first part. Being a big kid myself I also enjoyed it, but also personally feel that Story TellersPart Two does present itself with something a bit more for the grownups as well, and the proggy side does perhaps also stand out a bit more with quite a bit of the material that was written for it too.
There is no doubt that Jones is quite a fan of Steve Hackett and Genesis. He is also a fan of Big Big Train as well, and the HackettESC side even in the past as always stood out a bit in his music. On this particular new album it’s perhaps never been so Gorgeous and Lush just how those Hackett tones purely shine like the man himself. I suppose it may even present a problem with Hackett fans, and could even be seen as plagiarism to some people just like Rob Reed as also been accused of it in the past with his solo Sanctuary project that emulates the music of Mike Oldfield.
Well they can both certainly emulate the tones of those artists without a doubt, but the one thing you could never accuse them of is stealing the same melody lines, and they both have the ability to rework and reshape melody lines to make it very much their own on that score. That cannot really be seen as plagiarism but rather perhaps more along the lines of being a genius with how well crafted their music has been created. But there is also a hell of a lot more to Story TellersPart Two than that side of things and like I mentioned earlier there is quite a variety along the path of this album and it perhaps has a lot more to offer by doing so as well.
One of the other things I certainly picked up immediately by listening to this album is the addition of a bass guitar. This is perhaps the first album that Jones as actually utilised the instrument and to be honest something I thought was missing on the previous 3 albums. If there is a bass guitar on any of those albums, he certainly never went out of his way to make it a dominant feature like he has here that’s for sure. So let’s now take a deeper look into just how effective the bass guitar and all the other instrumentation and things pan out, as I go through the individual tracks on the album.
Track 1. Best Friends.
The opening song on the album opens up with a short musical intro on the piano that plays a partial bit of melody line from “Story Tellers” perhaps to remind you that this is very much a sequel to that album in the way of children’s stories. This lasts for all of a few seconds, well 17 to be precise and then the acoustic guitar, bass guitar, organ and drums come into play followed by the vocals to put over the first of the stories which is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story of the Snow Queen.
The title Jones chose of “Best Friends” very much represents the two small children who lived next door to each other and grew up together Gerda & Kai as pictured in the scene above. They even grew up loving one another although the wicked Snow Queen had other plans to put an end to all that nonsense :))))). But of course all stories have to come with some form of adventure to make it that more interesting in the first place. As it happens this story also came with a song about roses that Gerda sang to Kai and Jones has very aptly fitted in a fine set of lyrics to put across his own song and tell the story here too.
It’s a very fine and well written song to be honest and it comes with a great uplifting upbeat, and I also love the fact that we do have a bass guitar for a change, and it plays quite a dominate enough roll on this opening song too. Like I said the bass was certainly missing from his previous albums, and on this album you will instantly notice the difference and it works much better for having the bass too. But the other very tasty thing we also get in the song is how the song changes it’s mood from light to dark to bring in the Snow Queen herself into the story to put a damper on things.
The transitional change Jones makes is certainly a very tasty one and it comes into play around the 2 minute 12 second mark. The change at first as more of a Genesis and icy feel and then we get this really Gorgeous Hackett like electric lead work on the guitar that is a bit like the intro to “Please Don’t Touch” and it all fizzles out out wonderfully with more of the icy feel with the ambient sounds from the keyboard. It also runs into the next track “Kai’s Journey“.
Track 2.Kai’s Journey.
“Kai’s Journey” continues the story of the Snow Queen here, and I have to say the way both of these tracks work gives me the impression that Jones could of actually done the entire story in more of the way of a concept album with a continuous story that runs throughout, and it most likely would of worked as a superb progmatic version of it. To be honest if he composed these two opening tracks first, I would of thought he would of found it very difficult for him not to do just that with them. Rather than change the story next and placing the other tracks which he also wrote for the Snow Queen sections in other places on the album.
But for those other tracks he also wrote for it to work so well, he very much would of had to continue from the end of this track and write new material, and try and slot the other tracks he wrote where they may of worked or not at all. You simply could not gather up all the Snow Queen tracks on this album and piece them together to follow on from here that’s for sure. But effectively Jones could of quite of easily made Story Tellers Part’s Two and Three, and one of them could be a complete concept album based on one story.
Honestly the way these first two tracks work so well together, it certainly gives me the impression that it should of continued, and I was a bit disappointed that it never and came to an halt sort of thing. That’s not to say I am disappointed with the rest of material on the album, but I do feel Jones may have missed out on an opportunity here to make an epic Progmatic or ProgTastic album out of even a children’s story like this.
This second track “Kai’s Journey” is more of an instrumental piece even though there are a few words, screams and wicked laughter here :)))))). The wicked laughter is contributed by his wife Kimberley and Jones uses a vocoder to voice the words of the which telling Kai that he is all mine now and will not see Gerda again. He can be nasty at times this Jones fella :))))))).
It’s a piece that builds itself up very well with glistening ambient keyboard sounds and some nice lead lines from the synth, the synth even plays much of the bass drive on this track too, and it even sounds like bass pedals have been used. As the piece transcends along we get some more very tasty Hackett ESC guitar phrasing.
This is also the only track on the album that features Mark Wardle who contributes the cornet too it, and it fits in very well. The piece builds up with more power towards the end and the heavy power chords on the guitar drive it along very well, and this particular section also reminds me of “The Isle Of Witches” from the Cocoon album a bit. It really is another excellent piece of work and another really GREAT! track.
Track 3. Toad Of Toad Hall.
The Toad Of Toad Hall is very much a character that came from the story of The Wind In The Willows written by the Scottish writer Kenneth Grahame. He also wrote the short story of The Reluctant Dragon and both books and the characters were later adapted for stage and film. The first of which was the Toad Of Toad Hall to which the English author A. A. Milne decided to adapt Grahame’s novel for the stage in 1930 around the character of the toad.
Much later Mr Toad was brought to life by Walt Disney in 1949, and over the years the slippery little fella has appeared in several other adaptations for film and TV and just about anywhere they could accommodate the slimy chap :)))).
Well now Peter Jones has got his hands on the slippery, slimy, slidey chap and done a purely SynthTastic job of bringing the character to this song of his. This one even oodles with a superb bit of bass playing too, and he is right in the groove of things on this one. It was also great to see that an official video had been made for the song to promote it as well, and this is one of the two tracks you can get to see and hear for yourself.
“Toad Of Toad Hall” is very much one of the strong contenders for the best track on the album. It’s a brilliant track that was created around the lead lines of the synth, and the synth work does have that early Genesis and early Marillion feel about it. The use synth lines like this to structure the song, is perhaps like how Marillion went about creating their song “Market Square Heroes” this really is a superb song and one I hope Jones gets to play live frequently, though no doubt he would need band for this and a bloody good bass player too :))))).
Track 4. Hundred Acre Wood.
This next instrumental piece very much tones the exciting pace of the album down a bit, and I have to say in very fine style too. The music we have here very much sounds as old as its title, and is played with precision by Jones on the piano and clarinet. I think he also chose the perfect title for it as well, and It’s a most wonderful bit of light sentimental jazz that would be very appropriate being played on a ballroom floor for people to waltz they’re way merrily along to it.
It would of course also be very fitting for Television and Film and it’s quite a masterpiece of a composition and really Gorgeous piece of work. So much so that this also has to be another contender for the top spot on the album. No doubt Jones has been digging through his oldies collection to come up with something like this and very well done Sir.
I was also so glad to catch this latest video for the piece too, before I published my review to be able to include it here. Even a serious elegant piece such as this can make you laugh with the way the video has been made. I also discovered that Jones tried to imagine Winnie The Pooh having some fun with his friends in the hundred acre wood.
Track 5. Eternity.
It’s at this point we pick back up on the Snow Queen and this song is very much a duet Jones does with his old singing partner from his pop days Emma Field. It’s also one of two of the songs she features on throughout the album. Once again the lyrics have been very well put into context of the original story, and to be honest the way this song has been done with them both, it would of even fitted like a glove in Disney’s animated film Frozen. To be honest its quite easy to put both films into the same context with how the story lines have been written so close to one another.
This is perhaps not one of those songs that will sit well well with many prog rockers, and to be honest I can even visualise Jones right now bringing this song along with Field to stage to perform it live. This is even perhaps one of the songs on this album he could even do without a band and make it work that way too. After all friendship goes a long way and I would not blame him of doing such a thing with it either. It would not put me off going to see him either.
There is no doubt that this is a very well written pop song and is sung and played with heart. To be perfectly honest this is not the sort of record I would personally buy myself, but on here it’s only one song on album, and it’s not like going out and buying say the soundtrack album to the Snow Queen or Frozen for that matter. So on an album like this it does not really get in my way, or even make me want to skip the track on the album when I am listening to it.
I can still very much enjoy a song like this, and there must be thousands of records I have heard on the radio over the years that I have enjoyed, but would not personally go and buy them. To be honest I do not even have one record by The Beatles in my record collection, but I enjoy listening to them on the radio. But I do also have an array of pop artists in my record collection including the likes of Gilbert O’ Sullivan. Elton John. Don Mclean and many others. I enjoy lots of music and I can even have plenty of respect for the quality both Jones and Field have done here which is very skilfully played and sung. What I also admire about this album is the variety it presents to you as well.
Track 6. The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf is one of Aesop’s many fables that came from a story about a shepherd boy who was forever playing a joke on people crying out wolf all the time when he was protecting the sheep and shouting it from the top of an hillside. In the end nobody believed his false claims and got fed up him and ignored him, and when the wolfs did finally appear for real, he got eaten up by them and they had nice little tasty snack :)))).
The story dates back centuries to the classical times and originally came from Greece I believe. In the 15th century it got translated from Greek to Latin and centuries later the story was even used for educational purposes to stop children from lying all the time. Honestly I am not lying :)))).
The one thing I have always admired about Pete Jones is his sense of humour and I have to admit on a song such as this in the way he originally presents it from the start in a very serious manner, I was almost in shock of disbelief when I first heard this song and heard what he had done with it by injecting a bit of humour in it. I even think my first reaction would of been, how on earth could you do that to a perfectly fantastic song :))))). It came as a massive shock and surprise I can tell you. But it only took me another one or two spins to love this song to death.
This is really a special track on the album that does have a kind of Genesis feel about the verse and chorus sections, but the GREAT! thing about this song also is the transitional change of how it picks up it’s pace and Jones doing his bit of humour and the rather tasty lead guitar break. I was so glad to see the song fall back into the verse section at the end too and not just end off without the final verse.
“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is very much a song for the progsters its also another song where he utilises the bass guitar very well too, besides all the other goodies he throws in the pot here. One of the other things he has also thrown in the pot is his dog Darby and if his dog sounds like that I am glad I do not live by him :)))))). This for me is my personal favourite song on the album and merits my top spot award. Though to be honest it was a very difficult choice to make, because there are quite a few really excellent tracks on this album that could of quite of easily got that award, including the the very next track.
Track 7. Three Little Pigs.
The fun and humour still very much continues in the same superb style that we got on Story Tellers Part One and “Three Little Pigs” very much contains all the Magical ingredients that we got from tracks like “A Small Tale” and even “The Piper” from that very album. Both of those tracks were very much my personal faves from that album too, and this is yet another pure classic done with same sort of genius in mind that I would very much give to Danny Elfman when it comes to writing songs for children’s animated films. No doubt Jones has thought very hard with his choice of words to put this story over, and it’s all so very skilfully done too.
The Three Little Pigs goes back to the 19th century and they first appeared in folk songs and in the earlier part of that century or even thought to be earlier. They eventually ended up in The Nursery Rhymes of England published by James Halliwell-Phillipps in 1886. However the actual story became better known 4 years later in 1890 in a book of English Fairy Tales that was published by Joseph Jacobs who also credited Halliwell-Phillipps as his source. The story as been pretty much the same ever since, even though it’s been adapted and adopted for film and television.
The music that Jones created on the piano especially the first few bars in the verses, reminds me of the clippety cloppety sort of thing one would associate with an horse and a cowboy film. Jones plays it at a slightly faster pace but I can even remember either back in the late 60’s or early 70’s that Trebor Mints used to have a TV advert where they used to sing “Trebor mints are minty bit stronger” whist riding into town on an horse. I tried to find it on Youtube to demonstrate what I am going on about, but had no luck finding it.
“Three Little Pigs” is very much another one of my favourites on the album and is another contender for the top spot on the album. I remember when I brought Story Tellers Part One my Mrs thought I had gone mad because I could not stop saying “There’s a rat in my sock”. Now all she hears is “Rat a tat, tat. Who the heck is that” :)))). It’s bloody hilarious and Jones even rounds it off very well with the trumpet too.
Track 8. The Palace.
“The Palace” is the longest track on the album and is an instrumental track that I am fairly sure it also ties in with the tracks for Snow Queen on the album. Although effectively this piece could actually stand up on its own with the Hackett ESC guitars, keyboards and orchestration. It’s certainly got more of that prog rock element about it just like the opening couple of tracks had for the story of the Snow Queen. It’s dark. mysterious and haunting and is another GREAT! track on the album.
Track 9. The Match Girl.
It’s back to the Cinematic style with this fine song and it’s another story that was written by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. Effectively the sad story behind this could also pertain to the song that Phil Collins wrote about the homeless with his song “Another Day In Paradise“. Though Jones has done his own thing with it and once again done another really superb job of it. Besides his voice and the electric piano, he also makes great use of the melodica and it reminds me of Max Geldray on the harmonica from the good old Goon Shows.
This video of the song set to the animation from the Disney film very much says everything about what the song is all about and this is another really excellent well written song that may even have something a bit special about it too. The reason for that is that I noticed something this song can do, what non of the other tracks on this album can. It may not work out the same for everyone but I noticed it whilst writing out this review of the album.
Like I have mentioned in the past, I always like to give any new album at least 6 to 7 spins at least before I even attempt to work on a review. I always spend a few days writing any review as well and will often write it in various stages and spend an hour or two a day working on it, and doing some research. One of the other things I also do whilst working on a review is have other pages open on my computer including Facebook. Youtube and various others. So at times I can get distracted a bit.
Speaking of distractions and multitasking. Both of these is not really the best time to listen to music, because they both effectively can distract you away from it, even if your blasting it out in your Cans. I always rip my CD’s onto my hard drive to listen too whilst I am writing a review and working on my computer, and quite often when writing a review I will put the whole album on and have it set to repeat the whole album.
Even though I have the album playing it’s really easy to ignore it whilst you are deep in thought thinking of what to write, and looking things up. But what I found out whilst writing this review, was every time it got to the “Match Girl” I always stopped and listened to it before carrying on with the review. Not one of the other tracks ever did that at all, even though in reality I would put many of the tracks on this album above this one. So this song must have something of a special bit of magic about it, to make me stop in my tracks like that.
Track 10. Best Friends (Reprise).
The album ends off in Grand Finale style with a reprise of the opening track of the album. This version is shorter and apart from the few words that are sung after the short cinematic Disney style intro, it’s more of an orchestrated instrumental piece. but still contains some great Hackett ESC guitar along with the drums and bass besides the keyboard orchestration. Emma Field also accompanies Jones on the short vocal section too. It wraps up another album of wondrousness adventurous stories and puts an end to the Snow Queen.
To sum up Story Tellers Part Two by Tiger Moth Tales. I personally feel that its an album that lives up to its predecessor that was released 3 years ago and makes an excellent, if not perfect sequel to it. I also feel that this album may even appeal to more people than Story Tellers Part One in the way that more of the material on the album does present itself in more of a progmatic way. I would even say that the album does contain more variety in the way that it does present itself and it works very well for it.
I think the overall allocated time of the album being just under 48 minutes, works a lot better in making it more easier for the listener to give it more spins to take in and digest. The track placement is very well thought out and the combination of short and long tracks works extremely well, and I personally could not fault any of the material on the album either. Overall it’s quite a solid enough album and my personal highlights from the album are “The Boy Who Cried Wolf“. “Toad Of Toad Hall“. “Three Little Pigs“. “Hundred Acre Wood“. “Best Friends“. “Kai’s Journey” and “The Palace“.
To conclude my review of Story Tellers Part Two. I suppose the best way I could describe this album, is that it delivers perhaps even more than I expected, it’s an album that as the ability to be exciting, surprising, funny and even serene. It has the elegance of jazz with “Hundred Acre Wood“. The cinematic big picture with tracks like “Eternity” and “Match Girl” and can be both extremely funny and ProgTastic with the rest of the album tracks. Even with all the variety of the material you get here, it flows very well and works well enough to make it a very enjoyable album. There is nothing really not to like here and the album comes with a superb production too.
Peter Jones has managed to skilfully craft out another excellent album of out of children’s stories and there is something for everyone here, including your children and grandchildren. Though in relation to Story Tellers Part One. This album might have that bit more of a thing for the progsters, but no doubt it still very much has something for all and it’s not exactly going to cost you an arm and leg to add it to your collection either, and I highly recommend it.
Coming up next will be my review of Camel’s Live In Japan DVD which also features Peter Jones on keyboards to which the band play quite a spectacular concert of many of the bands classics from the 70’s.
Rat A Tat, Tat Who The Heck Is That. I’m The Big Bad Wolf Can We Have A Chat…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Best Friends. 3:14. 02. Kai’s Journey. 4:37. 03. Toad Of Toad Hall. 3:40. 04. Hundred Acre Wood. 3:16. 05. Eternity. 4:36. 06. The Boy Who Cried Wolf. 6:44. 07. Three Little Pigs. 6:33. 08. The Palace. 8:44. 09. Match Girl. 3:48. 10. Best Friends (Reprise). 2:28.
The Digital Download Only Collection – Tiger Moth Tales
Over the years of doing his main studio album releases of his Tiger Moth Tales project. Peter Jones has also released half a dozen other releases consisting of albums, EP’s and singles in the form of a digital download only on Bandcamp. Most of these recordings you get on these separate releases are taken from lives shows some official bootleg recordings to which he has played on his own or with a band. There are also some studio recordings which have more of a superior sound quality recording to them too.
But regarding all these recordings overall they are still very worthy of buying even if some of the live recordings do not have the more professional sound quality to have been released on CD or Vinyl in the first place. They are also very cheap to buy and some of them help to raise money for guide dogs for the blind.
To be honest I myself do prefer more of a physical format and some of these recordings are even good enough to be put on music media such as CD’s and Vinyl. I am hoping at some time in the future that PeteJones may put out a compilation album in the future on CD or Vinyl with some of the quality recordings there is amongst this bundle of releases that are only available as a digital download.
As a rule with any digital download I generally download them in the MP3 320 kbps format to save on hard drive space. But I made the exception here and downloaded the Flac files instead for the better quality, and I have to say that I quite enjoy these releases a lot, and there are a few GEMS to be found amongst them as well. So having just reviewed the 3 Tiger Moth Tales studio albums I brought on CD. I thought it would be a shame not to review these releases, and I have decided to review all 6 of them in my review here in the chronological order of when they was released.
Tiger Moth Tales Live At The Borderline was released on the 15th July 2015. The live album comes with 6 songs that came from the night he supported Magenta at The Borderline in London in the previous month on the 27th June 2015. The songs that Jones performs on his own in this live set are from his first album Cocoon plus a couple of songs from his new album Story Tellers (Part 1) which would not of quite been released back then, although you could obtain it at this live gig at the time. This particular live album comes with an overall playing time of 36 minutes, 23 seconds, and is perhaps short for a live set, but nevertheless this is a very well recorded concert and does not disappoint.
I would expect that around this particular time quite a few of the concerts Jones would of played would of been as the support act, and it very much gave him the chance to air out some of the material from his debut album Cocoon and get it circulated around more. A lot of his live performances are also of him on his own doing more stripped down acoustic versions of the studio tracks rather than being with a band. But listening or even watching him do these tracks on his own, can even be just as entertaining as they are done with a band with more of the elements that were put into the original studio tracks.
To be honest even when he’s with a band, there is no doubt that he is still the centre attraction and plays most of what is actually going on in his songs, and it would of also of been in this same year that Jones had bumped into the band Red Bazare in his own town in Nottingham and was working on writing some lyrics to sing for their music for an album they was working on at the time. Which would also give Jones the chance to have them support him at times at his own gigs. But even though Jones is on his own here, he still manages to deliver the songs very well and comfortably even without all the bells and whistles that were on the studio albums.
On With The Show…
One of the most unusual things about this live concert in relation to the other 2 live albums you can get that came after it, is the fact that he rolls out the first two numbers of the set before he says a word to the audience. It’s perhaps common with most artists to do this, but having heard and purchased the other couple of live albums beforehand, this is something I immediately picked up on. I guess this is most likely down to the shorter time slot he’s got, and the fact that the main band still had to come on and play their set.
But even Jones admits himself that talking is not one of his stronger points, which is something you certainly will not get that impression from him on those other 2 live albums. So my guess is that it’s not down to the fact or case that he has not quite yet found his confidence to talk to the audience. To be honest if he never spoke at all or they even edited out all the speaking parts of this performance, I would be a bit disappointed. Simply because he cannot only be funny, but it gives you more of that live atmosphere and makes you feel like you’re at the concert itself.
The couple of songs that Jones does roll out first are “Tigers In The Butter” from his debut album, and the self titled album track “Story Tellers” from his new album at the time and I have to say he does a grand job on them both. The first of the two “Tigers In The Butter” is perhaps less than a third in length of the original studio track. Jones mostly has one keyboard and an electric guitar lying down flat on a stand just above it on stage, so he can at times play both the keyboard and guitar at the same time. No doubt he’s playing the sound of the Sarod on the electric guitar and it does sound like the real thing.
To be honest even the sound of the acoustic guitar sounds remarkably like he’s playing an acoustic guitar and not an electric. I know he uses Line 6 for his guitar sounds and I love the full bodied sound he’s getting with sound of the acoustic on this track, and it’s been very well recorded too. He’s also putting in quite a bit with both hands on the guitar and in some parts it even reminds me of Gordon Giltrap. It really is an excellent acoustic version of the song to which he rounds it off on the piano, so he can go straight into the next song “Story Tellers” and he does another fine job with this song with the piano and his voice.
Jones then introduces himself to the audience and asks his audience if they all got in alright and I like the way he can make himself and the audience more at home with one another. He then proceeds with “Don’t Let Go….Feels Alright” and this is only half as long as the studio version, but somehow he seems to capture every aspect and essence in this live version of the both songs on the piano and guitar, and with his GREAT! voice. This live version is in every way as good as the studio version, and I personally think this is the best he’s ever performed this song too.
This amateur video captured on a phone is from the very same concert. To be honest the sound on this video is not very good at all and nothing like or nowhere near the quality you are getting on this live recording, but it does show you him playing the piano and guitar at the same time.
Effectively the way Jones sets up his guitar like a keyboard enables him to play them both at the same time, and anyone can play on the fretboard of a guitar using one hand and turning up the volume on an electric guitar will allow you to hear the notes more clearly. But what amazes me is how he can project some of the notes he’s actually playing with one hand on the guitar, and in most circumstances you would also need your rhythm hand as well to get some of these notes to ring out properly.
To be honest I do not even know if Jones is right or left handed, but even playing the accompaniment with one hand on the piano is quite difficult to do, especially with the two different melody lines he’s playing on the piano and guitar. He really is quite an amazing talent and a very skilful player on both of these instruments. It’s a change of mood and pace with the next song and Jones asks the audience if he should brighten things up a bit, and then proceeds to play a few bars of the intro of “The Battle Of Epping Forest” a Genesis classic and says maybe not we haven’t got all day :)))))).
But no doubt the next song “The Merry Vicar” does change the pace and brighten things up with this stomping song. He stomps his way through it with his feet and the piano and does another really GREAT! job here. It’s very much one of his own classics and so to is the next number he rolls out “A Visit To Chigwick” to which he announces as the last song to finish off his short set with. Even stripped down acoustically this song works very well live and this another fabulous job he does of it on his own. It does seem like its the end of the show but its not quite over yet.
Even though there is no mention of the extra song you get here on the album that’s on Bandcamp. Magenta do let him come back on the stage play another song. I think at this point they may have even cleared his piano and electric guitar off the stage to make room for the bands set. So you also get another song from his 2nd album Story Tellers (Part 1) and he comes back on the stage with an acoustic guitar and plays “The Quest For Beauty” to round off the night with and does another cracking job of it too.
Summary & Conclusion…
Tiger Moth Tales Live At The Borderline is a really GREAT! live album that captures the true essence of Pete Jones’s own songs even stripped down more acoustically and performed on his own. It also captures the early part of his career with his own project of Tiger Moth Tales and would of been more or less when he started to perform these songs live in front of an audience. Having this concert also gives you an insight to how he has progressed over the years with his live performances and how he interacts with an audience, and even at this early stage his talent and how he can handle an audience still very much glows and shines through.
I am fairly sure that Jones also played the Genesis song “More Fool Me” on this same night as well at this venue too, and it was most likely omitted from the album to showcase his own songs. But it did turn up on the EP he put out next. Live At The Borderline is a truly GREAT! live album for the little money it will cost you, and it comes with a very good quality live recording too. As with all of Pete Jones live concerts that have been released in the form of a digital download only. They really capture the warmth and live atmosphere plus the magical joy and humour of this guys GREAT! presence and talent.
The track listing is as follows: 1. Tigers In The Butter. (4:05) 2. Story Tellers. (6:13) 3. Don’t Let Go….Feels Alright. (6:34) 4. The Merry Vicar. (6:12) 5. A Visit To Chigwick. (8:47) 6. The Quest For Beauty. (4:32)
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.
Pete Jones Plays Genesis. Selling England For A Pound was released on the 22nd November 2015. It’s very much a charity release that is sold at the price of £1 or you can pay more for it to help to raise money for guide dogs for the blind. So it’s all for a good cause. This is an EP that contains 7 (mostly short tracks) that span over a playing time of 20 minutes, 4 seconds. As you can gather by the title they are all covers of Genesis songs.
How this EP came about in the first place was really through the work that Jones does at Progzilla Dot Com. Every fortnight when he’s able to, he hosts a 2 hour radio show playing various new and old prog rock music, and being quite a fan of Genesis himself he used to play the odd Genesis song himself live on the air, and the shows were also recorded and put out as podcasts. He also would video himself playing some of the songs and put the video on Youtube.
During the several months of playing Genesis songs from both the Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins singing era of the band, he would quite often get requests from his fans asking to hear them. So he thought it would be a good idea to put together a little package of them on an EP, and this is very much it. So let’s take a look at what you get here for so little money.
Well considering it’s only a 20 minute EP this I have to say is quite a GEM. To be perfectly honest even though I have seen the Italian band The Watch live playing tribute to Genesis and have watched various other Genesis tribute bands including The Musical Box on Youtube. To actually spend money buying such a thing on an album like that, is certainly something I would never usually do at all. I have all of the bands original albums, so why would I want an album of somebody else playing them.
No doubt in my mind that you will never beat the real thing, but as the real thing is no longer still playing these days and have not done for a zillion years it seems like now :)))), I do not mind paying to see tribute bands play live, as long as the price of the ticket is reasonable and not some ridiculous price, and I have seen a few of them over the years. Come to think of it I am going to see The Watch again next month. But like I said you would not catch me buying an album of any tribute band.
Although to be fair to The Watch they also make albums of their own material, and that I would buy because they are very good. But if they made an album of them playing Genesis songs, that I would not buy, but if they was to make a live DVD or Blu Ray of them playing those Genesis songs. That I most likely would buy simply because I do prefer any live concert to be accompanied with a picture so you can see them playing live, rather than any audio recording.
My first introduction to Pete Jones was actually on Bandcamp and the first thing I heard him play was the Genesis song “Severn Stones” (which is not on this album by the way) and hearing him sing that song enticed me to check him out further. After I did so, I now have everything he has released, and have even pre-ordered his latest album Story Tellers (Part 2) that will be released later this month.
So what makes Pete Jones so different to all those other tribute bands that made even myself buy a tribute album like this, you may ask?. Well there are two reasons why I did and the first would be very much down to originality. A tribute band will very much try and imitate the lead singers voice, where as Pete Jones does not need to at all. His voice actually suits these songs. More so than even hearing Nad Sylvan sing them with Steve Hackett and his band.
The other thing that makes Jones quite unique at doing these Genesis songs is very much down to he performs them on his own acoustically. Effectively it’s a bit like him playing what would take the whole band to play these songs, and that’s how magical it can sometimes come across in his performance.
The second reason for buying this album is because I genuinely believe that all the proceeds from this album will go to the charity. I have not met Peter Jones personally, but from just hearing him live he comes across as a genuine loveable and very caring person, and after all he is blind himself so you can see why he would want to support such a charity for the blind. So let’s now take a look at the 7 tracks on the EP as I got through it briefly in my review here.
The EP Tracks…
The EP kicks off with a short instrumental piece which is basically Jones playing the piano intro of “Firth Of Fifth” that was originally from the 1973 album SellingEngland By The Pound. It’s a very complex piece that I have seen other tribute bands play it and Jones plays it quite skilfully. To be honest the only person I have not perhaps seen play this intro is Tony Banks himself. He never once played the intro to the song in all his live performances with Genesis. It’s always been my favourite track on the original album and it’s way too complex for even myself to even attempt to play it :))))).
Next up we have a song from the 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and this short song “Cuckoo Cocoon” is quite a GEM with how Jones plays and sings it. His voice is very well suited to the song and he executes it very well with acoustic guitar and flute he also played on the song. To be honest even though we only have 7 tracks on this albums there are some real Genesis classics he’s chosen to do, and it’s very hard for me to pick a personal favourite. But I am very much going to award this little GEM with the top spot award on the EP.
The 3rd track “Harlequin” was originally released on Genesis 1971 album Nursery Cryme and once again Jones executes it very well with his fine voice and accompanies it very well on the electric piano and does another grand job here. Track 4 is “Guided Vocal” which was originally from the album Duke back in 1980. I have to confess that even though I did buy all of the Genesis albums it did not take long for this pop side of their career to wear off on me and gather dust. I think a lot of it was also down to the the way those albums were produced as well. I can even remember buying the album Duke on it’s release in 1980 and I thought that there must be some misunderstanding :))))).
To be honest I do not think I have played that album since the 80’s either, but hearing this particular track again refreshed some of the finer qualities that album had, even if it was not a personal favourite album of mine. This video shows you Pete Jones playing and singing it, and the video that follows it also shows you him playing the piano intro of “Firth Of Fifth” which is the first track on this EP.
No doubt Jones has done another GREAT! job here too, and I am fairly sure that both the recordings of these tracks on the EP came from this video too. Next up we have another track from the SellingEngland By The Pound album, and this is my least favourite track from that album too, and would of been perhaps better leaving it off the album.
However it was fairly short song and not enough to really annoy me enough. But even though I would consider that album to be my favourite Genesis album “More Fool Me” does not exactly do it any favours when trying to give that album a rating score, and in reality could knock off a point and prevent it from being a total solid album.
Honestly for anyone who is reading this, they may very well think I have something against Phil Collins singing :))))))) but I can assure you I do not, and the reason why I feel a bit negative about this song, is really down to the fact that it just sounds so out of place on that album, and does not fit with the rest of the material on it. Effectively it puts a downer on the album and that’s how it comes across personally to me on that album.
But once again Jones somehow makes the song sound quite like a GEM with this live performance of the song that was performed live at The Borderline and this is very much quite a strong contender for the top spot on the EP. Oddly enough although this performance of the song was recorded at The Borderline it was not included on the live album that got released back in July. I presume it was taken from that same night he was supporting Magenta on the 27th June 2015.
This video shows him performing the song at home or it may very well be at Rob Reed’s place judging by the setting. Even though this is another fine live performance of the song, I personally think the live recording we have on this EP is better.
The 6th track on the EP is another little GEM and once again its from the Nursery Cryme album and is “For Absent Friends“. Once again Jones voice really suits the song and every word of it rings out perfectly and he does another grand job on the acoustic guitar accompanying it too. This is very much another strong contender for the top spot on the EP too. The final song is also from the same album and is the classic “The Musical Box“.
This is another live recording and was recorded live in front of an audience at the CRS Studios in his home town Nottingham. For many this would have to be their favourite track on the EP and no doubt this is a classic song I love to bits. But this time around I actually prefer the version in this video which was once again recorded at the same place as the last video.
My reason for preferring this version is down to the fact that live recording on this EP gets a bit hampered by the microphone, and you get the feeling that any minute you are going to be getting a big hum feeding back off it, even though it does not quite do that it’s not that far away from doing such a thing.
Summary & Conclusion…
To sum up and conclude my review of the EP Selling England For A Pound by Pete Jones. For the price of a pound and even though you only get 20 minutes of music, you are getting way more for your money at that small price, and it’s worth chucking in a few pounds more for it to help the charity raise money for guide dogs for the blind. I cannot fault a single track here and all 7 tracks are near enough GEMS. My personal highlights are “Cuckoo Cocoon“. “More Fool Me” and “For Absent Friends“.
There can be no doubt that Pete Jones has really done GREAT! justice to all the Genesis songs on this EP and his voice is also very much suited to them as well. It just goes to show that you do not have to sound like Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins to put these songs over in the first place for them to work. Pete Jones is also a very talented musician and in all honesty the way he has even played the songs here acoustically, does without a doubt give you the impression that this guy could do practically what the whole band did with these songs on his own.
Just listening to him perform these songs stripped down on his own, is also just as good as watching a tribute band play them, and for me personally Jones has more originality with how he performs them than what most tribute bands actually do with them. Like I originally said buying a tribute to Genesis is something I never would of really of considered doing. I prefer the real thing and I have them even in 5.1 surround sound. But I can still get a lot of pleasure from this EP and it really is a solid one too.
The track listing is as follows: 1. Firth of Fifth. (1:21) 2. Cuckoo Cocoon. (2:24) 3. Harlequin. (2:59) 4. Guide Vocal. (1:34) 5. More Fool Me (Live at The Borderline) (3:23) 6. For Absent Friends. (1:53) 7. The Musical Box (Live at the CRS) (6:30)
Lee’s EP Rating Score. 10/10.
The Wassail Song by Tiger Moth Tales is another charity release to raise money for guide dogs for the blind and was released on the 4th December 2015. You get 2 quite lengthy Christmas songs here for the price of £1 or more, and all the proceeds are all going to a good cause. The overall playing time of the 2 track single is 16 minutes, 25 seconds and you do indeed get quite a bargain for the money and it’s worth paying that bit extra to give some of that good old Christmas Spirit to help out.
“The Wassail Song” came about by rearranging a few old Christmas Carols and making it into one traditional Christmas song with a prog rock feel. The “Wassail” itself is an Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’ and goes back to medieval times where people would celebrate Christmas with a drink of hot mulled cider, although originally the Wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. But I suppose these days anything with alcohol in it, would be good enough to get you merry and have a good piss up to celebrate Christmas :))))).
Though looking at all the ingredients it takes to make such a drink. Jones has no doubt threw in a lot more by the sounds of things here, and besides all the other instruments he plays, he’s also thrown in some sleigh bells, whistles and even some kazoos. Oh I almost forgot his dog Barely too, and nobody is left out for the wonderful season’s greetings in this song. Speaking of the song itself it even starts off with quite a medieval folky style which is quite fitting to its tradition, there is quite a mixture of styles thrown into the pot as well as it transcends along.
Some the of electric guitar work is verging on the borders of Mike Oldfield and Brian May and we even get some cinematic orchestral sections too that give it a happy Disney style in some respects whilst Jones himself is wishing you all a happy Christmas and New Year. It also sounds like he brought in a choir too and it’s all very skilfully done as well. There is that much going on in the instrument department in this song that it would be a bit too much name everything he’s playing, but I like the fact that he also gets in a bit of a melody from “A Visit To Chigwick” on the guitar at the end.
“Snowbound Snowman” is another GREAT! piece of work and the combination of putting a couple of other artists songs together, namely “Snowbound” by Genesis which came from their 1978 album And Then There Were Three and “Snowman” by Frost* which came from their 2006 debut album Milliontown. Not only has Jones combined the musical structures of these songs together, but he has also used the lyrics from both songs to make up the song we have here. Effectively I suppose it’s a cover of two songs at once Jones has done here, and he has done it his own way, though it does perhaps have more of a Frost* feel about it.
He even gets to throw in a GREAT! bit of sax into the piece as well, and although it’s very much got a frosty, snowy Christmas feel about it, lyric wise it’s perhaps not a joyous occasion and more of a dark and sad tale, that also reflected in some of the songs for his 3rd album The Depths Of Winter that came out a couple of years after this. This song may have even suited that album as well.
Summary & Conclusion…
Overall you might be only getting two songs for the money here, but they are certainly worthy of having and are both excellent pieces of work. To be honest I have always been an albums man myself, and singles are not the thing I really buy, but having heard them first on Bandcamp and the fact that these have not been released on an album. They appealed and spoke to me enough for me to buy them, and the fact that the money also will be going towards blind dogs for the blind will go to help the cause is another good reason to buy this single release. Both of the songs are very well produced and come with excellent sound quality so you cannot go wrong here.
The track listing is as follows: 1. The Wassail Song. (7:47) 2. Snowbound Snowman. (8:38)
Lee’s Single Rating Score. 8/10.
Pete Jones Plays Genesis. Seven Stones Turned was released on the 3rd May 2016. Once again it was released to raise money for guide dogs for the blind. After the popular success of his first tribute to Genesis with the 7 track EP Selling England For A Pound. Jones decided to record some more Genesis songs and here we get 7 more tracks, only not so much on the short side of things this time around and this album has an overall playing time of 35 minutes, 15 seconds.
Unlike the previous EP Selling England For A Pound that featured more of the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis. This album features more of the songs Phil Collins sang, though you do get a couple of the earlier songs on the album too. The the other thing that Jones has done with some of the songs on this particular album, is to give some of them more of a different arrangement.
The Album Tracks…
The album kicks off with one of those songs he has done differently with “Follow You, Follow Me“. Which was originally on the bands 1978 album And Then There Were Three. I quite like the way Jones has gone about doing this song as well, and it is one of the better songs on this album, and very much one of the contenders for the top spot on the album too. I even like the way he handles the synth solo differently at first and gradually it gets to be a bit more like the original. His voice works very well on the song and we get some nice acoustic guitar, keyboards and flute from him as well.
Up next we have “Ripples” from the 1976 album Trick Of The Tail. It’s my favourite album of Genesis without Peter Gabriel this one and here Jones strips it down more and sings it well enough and accompanies himself on the electric piano. I think overall you do miss the acoustic and electric guitars, but nevertheless this is quite nice enough to listen to like this. The 3rd track is one of the earlier songs from the Peter Gabriel era, although “Harold The Barrell” was perhaps mostly sang by Collins originally.
It’s another song from the 1971 album Nursery Cryme and this must be one of Jones favourite albums of Genesis because he’s near enough covered every track from the album at one time or another. This particular performance is live and was performed at the CCA in Glasgow Scotland on the 18th December 2015. He played there with a lot of other artists and the event was called The Prog Before Christmas. You can tell at the end with his laughter that he enjoyed doing it as well. He does quite a job of it as well and once again entirely on his own with his voice, stomp box and piano.
Were back to the And Then There Were Three album with the next song “Undertow” and once again Jones voice suits this song really well. He also does a grand job on the keyboards and acoustic guitar on this song too. To be honest And Then There Were Three was one of the better albums Genesis done after Steve Hackett left the band, and for me personally its a lot better than any album they made after it as well. Speaking of the albums that came after it and Steve Hackett this next track “Invisible Touch” from the bands 1986 album of the same title is certainly different.
To be honest I am glad it is different as well, because even though the album Invisible Touch may have been the bands most successful album. I personally could not stand it :)))). But what we have here is an instrumental piece that certainly sounds more like something Steve Hackett would of done than it relates to the actual song itself. It’s the longest track on the album and weighs in at 7 minutes, 21 seconds. The only time you get to hear any resemblance at all to the song is towards the end where you get to hear the guitar play a bit of the melody from the songs main chorus.
Jones has done a really terrific job on this piece on the nylon guitar and fine orchestration on the keyboards. This is my personal favourite track on the album, and merits the top spot award.
We are off to the other 1976 album Wind & Wuthering next and with the last track from that album “Afterglow“. To be honest I quite like this Genesis album but it’s not as solid like the ones that come before it, and there are a couple of tracks on this album I am not that fond of, and this is one of them, along with “Your Own Special Way“. But once again Jones does a fine job here on the keyboard and with his voice.
The final song on the album is very much a classic and another one from the Nursery Cryme album. “Seven Stones” is very much one of my favourites from that album, and to be honest is was quite hard for me not to make it my favourite on this album too. But for me where the Hackett like instrumental version of “Invisible Touch” won it for me, was really down to the original creativity that Jones had done on the piece. Jones does a grand overall job on the song and gives it a bit of a twist with the arrangement and different instrumentation he puts into it. “Seven Stones” is another strong contender for the top spot on the album and it rounds off the album very well.
Summary & Conclusion…
Overall Seven Stones Turned is another really GREAT! album of Genesis tribute songs. For those Genesis fans who are more into the Peter Gabriel era of the band, the selection of songs Jones has chosen here may not suit everyone’s taste and the Selling England For A Pound EP he released earlier would be more of the thing to go for. To be honest that EP is my personal favourite out of these two releases, but they both have quite some GEMS on them in all honesty.
In many ways it’s also great to hear some of these songs from the Phil Collins singing side of the band. But what one should really take note of about these songs, is that Pete Jones is not singing the songs like they do and like many tribute bands would try and do either. These songs are also very well suited to his own voice too, and to be honest I cannot really fault anything about the way Jones has put these songs over either. If anything they even have a bit of a touch of originality about them too, even if they are not his own compositions.
My personal highlights are ad follows: “Invisible Touch“. “Seven Stones“. “Follow You, Follow Me” and “Harold The Barrell (Live)“.
The track listing is as follows: 1. Follow you, Follow Me. (5:51) 2. Ripples. (4:52) 3. Harold The Barrel (live). (3:07) 4. Undertow. (4:51) 5. Invisible Touch. (7:21) 6. Afterglow. (3:51) 7. Seven Stones. (5:22)
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.
Live At Summer’s End(The Official Bootleg) by Tiger Moth Tales was released on the 11th December 2016. The album contains 8 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 73 minutes, 21 seconds. 7 of the tracks were taken from the live set Pete Jones performed live with the musicians from Red Bazar at the Drill Hall in Chepstow Wales on the 1st October 2016. The 8th track on the album is a bonus track recorded live from another venue (more about that later) and this album gives you the opportunity to hear Tiger Moth Tales with a band in relation to his earlier album Live At The Borderline where he was very much on his own.
To be honest even though I have yet to see Tiger Moth Tales live with the talent Pete Jones possesses it would not really bother me if he was with a band or not. But hopefully sometime in the near future I will get to see him on his own and with a band. As with most of his concerts around this time, even though he only had a couple of albums out at the time in 2016 he tends to play most of the tracks from his debut album Cocoon. It’s perhaps understandable too because that is the album most of his fans are more drawn too. It really is a terrific album as well.
Although the album is classed as an official bootleg, the concert was recorded very well and this is just as good quality as the Live At The Borderline concert. But both concerts have honest recordings and contain no overdubs or enhancements so you even get all the imperfections and warts on a recording like this, and the concert has been captured very well, and sounds GREAT! for it.
The band line up is as follows: Peter Jones – Keyboards, Guitar, Saxophone, Vocals. Andy Wilson – Guitar. Paul Comerie – Drums. Mick Wilson – Bass. Gary Marsh – Keyboards, Backing Vocals.
On With The Show….
Like I said I have never seen Pete Jones live or even met him, but the beauty about a concert like this one is that it does in a way give you a very good idea and impression as to what his personality is like, and just by listening to this concert I get the impression that this guy is warm, loving and right down to earth. He is also extremely funny and even with his GREAT! talent he’s not big headed or egotistic, and from playing live he gets a lot of fun out it and enjoys it. He also likes the audience to join in with the fun as well by engaging with them in between songs and let them have a good time too. The funny side does also reflect a lot in his own music too.
If like myself you are into his debut album Cocoon you are in for a real treat here because he plays every classic from that album and kicks the show off with it’s opening instrumental track “Overture“. The power and adrenalin really flows on this keyboard orientated piece and having the drums and bass behind him with the band holds it well tight together. Having an additional keyboard player on the stage with him also helps to get all the right keyboard effects in the track and also allows him to jump on the sax for a solo too. Pete Jones and the band nail this track live on this performance and have captured all the magic elements (if not even more) that was thrown into the original studio version.
There is no doubt that since playing support for Magenta at the Borderline over a year ago that Pete Jones as gained confidence and is more at home with an audience to engage himself with them. I personally think that it’s great that they have also left the interaction he has with audience in this concert, rather than edit it out, and it makes you feel like you are at the concert too. Jones talks quite a lot in between the songs and is quite a comedian at times, by doing so I think he even makes you feel more relaxed and not just himself.
Having just played the first track from the album Cocoon he then proceeds to play the last track or rather the 2 in one song from the album “Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright” and once again this another excellent performance and sounds really GREAT! with the band with him. But even though Jones has a band behind him he’s still very much the one in command, and even plays both the keyboards and guitar at the same time on this song and several others too. Once again he also plays the sax on this song too and they really do a superb job of it.
It’s a change of album with the next song and “The Quest For Beauty” is the only song in the entire set that is not from his debut album. I am glad to see he got at least one of the songs from his 2nd album Story Tellers (Part 1) and once again with the band they truly capture it all as well. I love how he plugs the fact that he has CD’s and limited T-Shirts for sale, and makes out they only have 9 T-Shirts so they are extremely limited :))))). Up next we have the instrumental classic “The Last Lament” and this amateur shot video was shot on the very night at this concert when it was performed.
The piece opens up with Gary Marsh on the keyboards (who is out of shot on this video) and Jones on the sax and then he jumps on his electric guitar and makes it soar with such a superb guitar solo. It’s a shame that this was the only video of the concert captured, but it does sound very good as well.
It’s audience participation with the next song which is one of my personal favourites from his debut album “The Merry Vicar“. Being with a band really does this track justice live in relation to Jones performing it on his own. To be honest he also does it well on his own with just his voice and piano, but being with a band really brings out all the great prog elements you can hear on the studio version, with all the great synths and power that’s in the piece. They all do a superb job on this one and even the wicked laughter towards the end from Jones is also very much spot on to the studio version.
Another two absolute classics from the Cocoon album are up next and the first of them is another big favourite track of mine “A Visit To Chigwick“. To be honest this is one of his songs he also performs very well on his own, even if it is a song that may very well require a band behind him to pull it off as well. But how Jones plays this on the guitar does sound really good, despite the fact that on the studio version he would of used two acoustic guitar tracks to make it up. But having Andy Wilson on guitar as well, does help and the two guitars blend in very well and sound beautiful on this live version.
He ends the concert off with a truly outstanding live version of “Tigers In The Butter” and with the band he totally nails it. This live version is in every way as good as the studio version, if not even better. You even hear the Tigers roar in this version and once again Jones plays a blistering guitar solo at the end. It truly puts an end to the terrific concert in superb style.
The Bonus Track…
The extra bonus track you get here is a really super quality well recorded live version of his Christmas single “The Wassail Song” which was recorded live at the CCA in Glasgow Scotland on the 18th December 2015. It really is an excellent bonus track and another solid performance has been done on it.
Summary & Conclusion…
Live At Summer’s End(The Official Bootleg) by Tiger Moth Tales is a truly GREAT! live album that captures the all the classic tracks from Cocoon with more or less all the instrumentation that was put into the studio versions of those tracks. All the songs benefit really well by having a band with him, and even though Pete Jones can even sound well good on his own, there is simply no way he could present these songs to you like this on his own.
The recording is really excellent and this is once again another one of the better recordings out of all the live albums he has released in the form of a digital download only on Bandcamp. To be honest I even think this recording is that good that this could of been released on a physical format on CD and it would be well worth buying as well.
OK it’s not polished like most live recordings are of other major artists by them going to town on the mix before they put it out. But what you’re getting here is a truly honest recording with no overdubs or bells and whistles thrown into the pot. You also get all the imperfections and warts, and it even feels like you are actually at the concert.
Overall Live At Summer’s End is a very much a solid live album that not only captures Pete Jones and the band enjoying themselves on the stage, but the audience as well. It’s highly entertaining and truly captures what would of been a magical night. Even the bonus track you get is quality too, and this is my personal favourite concert out of the 3 he has released so far on Bandcamp. It’s one of those shows that I wished they would of filmed with video cameras and put on DVD as well.
The track listing is as follows: 1. Overture. (6:16) 2. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright. (13:24) 3. The Quest For Beauty. (4:44) 4. The First Lament. (7:22) 5. The Merry Vicar. (10:10) 6. A Visit To Chigwick. (9:25) 7. Tigers In The Butter. (14:25) 8. The Wassail Song (Live at the CCA Bonus Track) (7:35)
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.
Mad Mothster’s Tea Party by Tiger Moth Tales was released on 13th December 2017. This particular album comes with 18 tracks spanned over a playing time of a whopping 106 minutes and 49 seconds and features 2 studio bonus tracks. The rest of the album captures Pete Jones playing one of his solo concerts that took place in the afternoon on the 30th September 2017 at The Islington in London in front of a small audience of around 100 to 150 fans. The concert itself runs for 92 minutes, 47 seconds and features quite a mixed bag of his own material and other artists such as Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Red Bazar and Big Big Train.
The whole thing about the Mad Mothster’s Tea Party goes back to August 2015 when Jones and his wife bumped into Mr & Mrs Trimming at a Big Big Train concert at King’s Place in London. They soon became close friends and Jones quite often travels with a guitar and Leo Trimming suggested to Jones that maybe he should play a gig at the pub next to the venue and instantly gathered up a sizeable crowd, and low and behold Jones was up for it and the gig took place.
The gig was quite a surprise and went down well with the audience and they all had a good time, and a year later at the Summers End concert Jones played, he suggested they should do it all again sometime only at a bigger venue. They located the venue in the following year and the tickets sold out fast and the mad hatters donned their hats and had another jolly good time with Trimming’s being the compare and Jones doing what he does best.
Perhaps one of the strange things about this release is that the 2 bonus tracks that were recorded in the studio are placed at the beginning and at the end of the concert. To be honest with a concert this long I am not really sure why he never just put them out as a single release like he did with “The Wassail Song“. So for this review I shall discuss the bonus tracks at the end, and focus more on the live show first.
Like I have said many times before Pete Jones is pretty darn good even on his own as a one man band sort of thing, and he is quite capable of pulling off a very entertaining concert even by stripping down his own songs, and has a great sense of humour to make any audience feel at home and enjoy the show. The one thing about any live concert is that you are never going to get the same performance, and each live concert will give you something different, no matter what artist you go and see.
The concert we have here is entirely different with the set list he plays, and in some ways the way it’s so different from any other set list on the other couple of live albums, it kind of gives me the impression that Jones does not really need to write out a set list, and is quite capable of playing you anything at any time.
On With The Show….
The concert opens up with a warm reception from the crowd and after Jones says “good afternoon everybody” he opens the show up with a very impressive acoustic shorter version of “Tigers In The Butter” to which he blends into the ending of “Awaken” by Yes. He’s pretty much off to a good start and the one thing I do love about his concerts is his interaction with the audience, and like I said before he can be extremely funny.
Most concerts you would get inpatient fans wanting them to get on with songs rather than have a good chin wag with the audience, but you get no complaints at all and even I am grateful they have not edited it out. It really makes the concert that much more enjoyable I think. Next up we have “Feels Feels Alright” and being that he does not play the first song “Don’t Let Go” that comes before it on the Cocoon album, it seems like he chopping his songs in half for this show.
Having rolled out a couple of songs from his debut album, he then proceeds to play a couple of songs from his second album Story Tellers (Part 1). The first of which is the albums self titled track “Story Tellers” and the second one is a real surprise and one I never thought he would ever of been able to perform live. It’s also the first time he’s ever performed it live as well and that is “A Kids Tale“.
I have to admit I totally love this one and it’s hilarious on the original album. Here it’s perhaps even more hilarious, and I love how he handles all the voiceovers like he did on the studio version too. He gets the audience to participate in it as well and does quite an amazing job of it to be honest considering he plays it on the organ only. It’s obviously not going to have all the other elements of instrumentation that is on the studio version. But even this live version must of took some practice to do and I am so glad he got to do it live.
One of the songs from his new album The Depths Of Winter is up next “The Tears of Frigga” and at the time he played this concert, this would of been a new song to the audience as the album was not quite released then. He also plays “Migration” from the same album later on too, and does a fairly comfortable job with both of them.
The next 3 songs that follow “The Tears of Frigga” are tributes to Genesis and Peter Gabriel and two of these are quite a surprise. The audience applauds as they hear the opening notes on the acoustic guitar of “The Musical Box” and no doubt this is a classic. But then he gets on the keyboards and proceeds to play another Genesis classic from the same album Nursery Cryme and does a really GRAND job of “The Fountain of Salmacis” and rounds it off very tastily on the electric guitar too.
Jumping back on the keyboards he then rolls out “Family Snapshot” from Peter Gabriel’s third album and this certainly is turning into a different set indeed. He’s not quite finished with other peoples songs yet either and he then plays “The City And The Stars” from the Red Bazar album Tales From The Bookshelf. Though he did originally sing that song on the album and does a GREAT! job on his own with it here.
After “Migration” it’s back for another couple of classics from his debut album Cocoon with “The Merry Vicar” at first and it’s very much time for audience participation time for this classic fun song of his. It’s perhaps one of those songs that you do need a band with you to bring out everything he put into the studio version but always a pleasure to hear it even stripped down with just a piano his voice and a stomping foot. The other classic is “A Visit to Chigwick” and this video that was captured on a phone come from the very same concert at Islington.
He does this song justice even on his own and it’s another firm favourite of mine and the applause from the audience at the end is well deserved, even though they are clapping longer because he did say it would be the last song, and they wanted more to which he obliges and the next track on the album “Ting” is a little joke he plays on the audience by getting them to join in on it. It’s very funny indeed.
Then he reminds the audience why they are here, and what they come down for which is to see the band Big Big Train who are playing in the evening on that same Saturday and plays a tribute to them with “Big Big Train Melody“. I have to admit I do not know a lot about the band apart from the fact that some of the members of it contributed to a vocal version of Steve Hackett’s instrumental piece “Spectral Mornings” which was a charity release. He finally wraps the show up with another Genesis song “More Fool Me” and does another really great job of it on the acoustic guitar.
The Bonus Tracks.
Like I said at the beginning that it was perhaps a bit odd placing the 2 studio bonus tracks at the start and end of a live album like this, and the concert you get here is long enough anyway. But I suppose as the album is a digital download you can put them at the end or even put them in another folder. Both tracks are arrangements and were not composed by Jones either. The first of them “Noel Nouvelet” is very much and instrumental version of a traditional folk Christmas Carol that originated from France.
In English it translates to “Christmas Comes Anew” and I dare say this as come from some of the material Jones had originally had planned to make a Proggy Christmas album with. I would also expect that the fact that it was not one of his own compositions, may of also been the reason why it was not put on his 3rd album The Depths Of Winter. Though to be honest it’s quite fitting to that album with it’s folky flavour and all the elements of the folky instrumentation he’s used in it such as Uilleann pipes for example, which were most likely played on the keyboards here.
He’s done quite a grand job on the arrangement too, and the melody lines are very much structured around the vocal lines of the original carol. That would of most likely of been arranged for a choir of voices and sung, rather than accompanied by an instrument back in those days. I could be wrong and I am only guessing here, and it was well before my time or anyone alive today for that matter :)))))) and goes as far back as the 15th Century. Jones also plays some rather tasty lead lines on the electric guitar too.
The other bonus track “Last Train” is a cover of the Big Big Train song and to be honest I have never heard the original song before and gave it a quick blast on Youtube to see how Jones had gone about his version of the song. No doubt the original song is in a different key and I guess Jones transposed it to suit his own voice. It also has more of a dominant bass line to it as well, which is one instrument that seems to be missing in a lot of Jones own compositions to be honest.
I was quite surprised when I heard “Toad Of Toad Hall” last week which will be on his new album Story Tellers (Part 2) and I loved the bass on that song. But despite all that Jones does another grand job on this cover and tribute to Big Big Train and goes his own way and gives it more of an acoustic touch with the guitar. It’s perhaps something a bit like that same Genesis period back in 1978 on the album And Then There Were Three.
Summary & Conclusion…
Overall Mad Mothster’s Tea Party by Tiger Moth Tales is another very good live album, and it does give you something a bit more different with the set list in relation to hearing him play more of the same old thing over again with his own numbers, like you get on the other two live albums. Not that I am complaining about hearing his own material all over again, simply because no live performance is the same. But you get a few surprises with this concert and it’s all very entertaining and enjoyable.
The recording is very good but you do get some hiss in the recording like it was recorded on a Cassette, and bit of the crowd being a bit ignorant by talking during one of the songs a bit of the way into the show. But that is nowhere near enough to hamper or spoil the show. You are still getting quality for the money here even if it’s not quite up to the quality of the other couple of live albums with the recording.
But like all of these live concerts they are very honest recordings that do make you feel like you are there, and no doubt Pete Jones is the type of person who loves to perform live no matter what the conditions are and where he is. He does not have to hide the imperfections and cover them up with polish, he gives it to you straight out of the tin so to speak, that is what makes these recordings very special and worthy of having.
The track listing is as follows: 1. Noel Nouvelet (Bonus Studio Track). (8:00) 2. Tigers In The Butter + Awaken. (7:39) 3. Feels Alright. (4:57) 4. Storytellers. (7:03) 5. A Kids Tale. (7:39) 6. The Tears of Frigga. (7:11) 7. The Musical Box. (6:24) 8. The Fountain of Salmacis. (5:34) 9. Family Snapshot. (5:43) 10. The City and the Stars. (4:38) 11. The Quest for Beauty. (4:28) 12. Migration (2:56). 13. The Merry Vicar. (5:56) 14. A Visit to Chigwick. (9:05) 15. Ting. (2:02) 16. Big Big Train Medley. (7:21) 17. More Fool Me. (4:21) 18. Last Train (Bonus Studio Track). (6:02)
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 7/10.
On A Final Short Note…
Overall each of these digital downloads offer tremendous value for the money and they was certainly well worthy of adding to my collection. They have also given me tremendous pleasure too, and personally I cannot fault any of these releases and some of them are also have the quality to have been released on CD as well. I suppose the next thing I would love to see is a live DVD or Blu Ray of Pete Jones in concert with or without a band. Speaking of which my next review does actually have him live on DVD, but with the band Camel.
It took another couple of years since the release of Story Tellers (Part 1) before we got to see a new album from Tiger Moth Tales and I guess since Pete Jones joined Camel in 2015 they kept him very busy. But it did not stop him from playing some of his own live concerts at certain venues and doing the odd bits of studio recordings, to which he also has a few albums that come in the form of a digital download only on Bandcamp.
I should add that even though the live material is not of the highest quality with how it’s been recorded and are more like official bootleg recordings. They are also very good and it gives you the chance to hear Pete Jones perform his own songs on his own, or with a band at times. He has also done a couple of albums in the way of a tribute to the band Genesis and some of the albums he has done are also to raise money for guide dogs for the blind with all the proceeds going to that charity.
Tiger Moth Tales 3rd studio album The Depths Of Winter is perhaps a different breed in relation to the first 2 albums, and there is perhaps more of a serious side to the material, rather than the humour you would also find. He has also brought in some other musicians to lend an hand and guest on the album, rather than do everything himself. But before we go any further, let’s take a look at the artwork and packaging as usual.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The CD comes in a quality Digisleeve with a slip pocket on both sides to hold the CD and the Booklet. The linear credit and production notes are on the inside of the case and the 12 page booklet contains all the lyrics, some pictures and some useful informative information about the process of the album and those who contributed to it. Overall it’s a very neat and tidy presentation and well made package.
The artwork and layout was done by Chris Jones. Other artistic contributions were done by Pete Jones mother Mel and the photographs were provided by Chris Walkden and Emma Friend.
The Album In Review…
The Depths Of Winter by Tiger Moth Tales was released on the 20th November 2017. The album contains 10 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 71 minutes, 25 seconds which is long and more like a double albums worth of material. Most of the tracks are also quite lengthy and are mainly vocal tracks, but you do get a few instrumental pieces which are mainly the shorter tracks on the album. The albums concept is based around the feel of winter and contains some folk stories or tales about things that happen in the winter. It’s quite dark in places and takes in the sense of loss in the cold months of winter as well.
As I mentioned earlier Jones as brought in other musicians and guests to feature on some of the tracks on the album, though he has not brought in a drummer, and still prefers to program his own drums and percussion. To be honest I do not have a problem with him programming the drums and percussion, and it certainly sounds real enough for my ears as well. He does a bang on job programming them to be honest and I would imagine it would be very hard to be able to tell a drummer how to play the drums and percussion in the first place. I also think you would need an excellent percussionist to be able to cope with a lot of the percussion he throws into some of his pieces, and you would be needing somebody with Ray Cooper’s skills to do it as good.
The guitarist Luke Machin of Maschine and The Tangent gets to play guitar on one of the tracks and he also brought Mark Wardle and his Flugelhorn back along with a brass section. Jamie Ambler helps with some of the voiceovers and also is credited as a co-writer on an couple of the tracks, and his long term singing partner Emma Friend (whose stage name was Paine) from 2 To Go contributes a bit of flute on 3 of the tracks. Interestingly enough she is also contributing to some of the vocals on Story Tellers 2 that is due to be released on the 26th of this month.
Musicians & Credits…
Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones at his home studio between 2016/17 in Nottingham. All tracks written by Pete Jones except “The Ballad of Longshanks John” & “The Tears of Frigga” co-written by Pete Jones & Jamie Ambler. Artwork by Chris Jones. Photographs provided by Chris Walkden and Emma Friend. Other artistic contributions by Mel.
Pete Jones: Vocals/Keyboards/Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Ukulele/Clarinet/Recorder/Percussion/Drum Programming. Mark Wardle: Flugelhorn (Tracks 2,3,4). Conductor & Brass Arranger (Tracks 2,,4). Emma Friend: Flute (Tracks 1,2,7) Luke Machin: Lead Guitar (Track2) Jamie Ambler: Voice Overs (Tracks 4,9) Sara Baldwin: Flugelhorn. SarahWardle: Tenor Horn. Joe Heartfield: Tenor Trombone. Andy Baldwin: Euphonium. Steve Bottomley: BBb Bass. (Tracks 2,4). Barley: Barks (Track 6)
The Album Tracks In Review…
As I mentioned earlier the album The Depths Of Winter is a different breed and it’s certainly got more of a serious side to the writing, and no doubt this is an album that will need plenty of spins for it to sink in. It’s also easy to make other observations about an album like this on the first 2 or 3 spins, and I have to be honest because the tracks are quite long and there is a lot more information to take in over a long time slot like this. On those first few spins it will give you an entirely different impression of this album, and can even put you off playing it and leaving it alone for awhile.
For example upon the first couple of spins of this particular album my own observations was that most of the tracks were way too long, and were so unnecessarily and never needed to be that length at all. Basically because the material was something more like Chris Rea would of wrote in some respects, and you do not need any song to run over a distance like this to put your point across. It also sounded like he had stretched the songs out more over this distance, to try and give them a prog rock feel and element about them, and they sounded more like overstretched pop songs.
I think a lot of artists have the impression to make any song prog rock they have to make lengthy songs for it to be prog rock in the first place, and it’s far from the case at all. It’s takes a lot more skill to cram in a load of transitional changes over a shorter distance than any longer piece of music. Most people only make them that long in the first place so they can fit all those changes and progression into a song, and do not have the skill to do such a thing over a shorter distance.
Take a song like “Cakewalk On Easy Street” that Neal Morse wrote when he was in Spock’s Beard back in the 90’s for example. That 5 minute song is way more cleverly constructed and says a lot more to me than what a 78 minute song like “Whirlwind” does that he done with Transatlantic in 2009. Most prog rock bands would need 10 – 20 minutes just to cram everything that John Miles did with a 6 minute song like “Music“. That song is another masterpiece in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong I have no problem listening to lengthy songs and “Close To The Edge” by Yes would be a perfect example of how well a track is done over a long distance and that is also a masterpiece. I also am not saying that Peter Jones does not have the ability to cram a lot of transitional changes over a short distance either, he’s a very skilful musician. But sometimes musicians are not really doing themselves any favours by making lengthy albums like this in the first place.
For example Roine Stolt and many other artists are the same, and they have the tendency to make long albums, to which for most listeners will not have the time of day to listen to enough for them to see what is really in the material they wrote for it to really sink in. This often will reflect in the review of such an album where the listener is not willing to give it the time to grow on you, which in some cases can take several spins and as much as 6 or 7 spins at least in some cases too. I often think of it as too much food for thought, and you are going to have to be a serious music listener like myself to get the best out of an album like this, and the many others who cram a double albums worth of material onto a single disc.
As with any review I do myself I always like to give any album at least 7 full spins from start to finish before I even attempt to write a review, and I can honestly say my original observations of this album being like something Chris Rea would of done has changed by giving it the time of day to digest all the material we have here. For example having heard the album a lot more now, I would say the material we have on this album is a bit more like the lighter and softer material we seen on Genesis albums such as Wind & Wuthering and the album that followed it And Then There Were Three.
So let’s now take a closer and deeper look into the material we have on The Depths Of Winter album as I go through the individual tracks in my review here.
Track 1. Winter Is Coming.
The first of the three instrumental pieces on the album and this opener is really an introduction to the album and the next track that follows it. In reality there was no need to make this a separate track at all, and it could of easily just have been put on the next track as the intro to that song.
It’s a lovely piece played on acoustic guitar and Emma Friend accompanies the guitar on the flute. It’s also has the cold wind blowing through it to provide the right ambience and depth and give it that wintery cold chilling feel and presence to the piece, and has quite a folky vibe about it too. A lot of this album is perhaps more focused on the folkier and meaningful side of things.
Track 2. Winter Maker.
“Winter Maker” was the last track written for the album and effectively along with the opening track it works like an overture to the album and incorporates some melody lines that re-occur throughout the album. Lyrically the words are based around an American Native legend who goes by the name of Biboon who was the North Wind spirit of the Anishinaabe tribes. His name means “Great Winter” and he was the spirit who was responsible for the bad winters that can inflict death upon many with it’s cold depths. He is perhaps also known as “Old Man Winter”.
It’s one of the lengthy tracks on the album and weighs in at near enough 11 minutes and runs along at a steady ballad like pace that allows Jones to use his voice very well to reflect on the story we have about old man winter here. The music is mainly structured around the piano and it features once again his long time friend Emma Friend on flute. It also has quite a Genesis feel to it at the transitional change around the 2:57 mark which is a bit like “Snowbound” from their And Then There Were Three album.
It also features a GREAT! brass section that was arranged by Mark Wardle to which features himself on Flugelhorn along with Sara Baldwin: Flugelhorn. SarahWardle: Tenor Horn. Joe Heartfield: Tenor Trombone. Andy Baldwin: Euphonium and Steve Bottomley: BBb Bass. Wardle also recorded the brass section in a pub of all places too, and that comes into play around the 4:54 mark of the song.
Later on around the 8:10 mark Luke Machin gets to play a tasty guitar solo on the piece and all is very well put together indeed to make the track work over this sort of distance, even though there is not really a lot of transitional changes along the path of this particular song. It’s one of the three longer songs on the album and is very much a contender for one of the best songs of the album.
Track 3. Exposure.
The longest track on the album “Exposure” was inspired from the Wilfred Owen poem of the same title which was based around the first world war, hence the sound of the guns on the intro. The darker feel for this particular song Jones got a bit of inspiration from working with Red Bazar on their album Tales From The Bookshelf. Jones has made great work of putting the inspiration of Owen’s poem into context with how he’s gone about writing the lyrics here, and how they very much reflect how some of the soldiers died standing in trenches from the cold weather of winter.
Musically it is perhaps a bit more modern with the use of the keyboard sounds he’s used and is different, and I suppose that came from that influence of the band Red Bazar. It’s also got quite a feeling of the orient in it for some reason as well. The song itself does tend to drag a bit with it’s slower pace, but a lot of that is perhaps to enable Jones to put over the meaningful words we have in the song. It does pick up towards the end we get some nice fast synth work that is perhaps a bit more Genesis like in some ways. It also contains some great guitar work from Jones and Mark Wardle contributes a bit of his Flugelhorn on the track too.
Overall “Exposure” I feel is another fine written song, and it does capture the darkness of those who lost their lives being exposed to the depths of winter in those cold winter months during the war. However the length of the song itself could of been shorter I feel, and it does not really help the album with its track placement by following another lengthy song immediately. It would of been better if it was placed further on along the album and followed some of the shorter tracks.
Track 4. The Ballad of Longshanks John.
I suppose if I was looking for tracks on this album that contain the excitement we got to see on the two previous albums by Tiger Moth Tales. “The Ballad of Longshanks John” is certainly the one on this album that stands out, and is perhaps more fitting to the Pete Jones project simply because we have more of a well known story and tale here.
The song is very much based around the story of Robin Hood and his last days that led up to his death. Being born in Nottingham himself, I suppose this would of been a more fitting story for Jones to embark on, and I have to say he’s done it superbly.
Once again we have some fine voiceovers on the intro and a bit further on in the song. We also get to hear Jamie Ambler (who also co-wrote this song with Jones) doing quite a good impersonation of Sean Bean’s voice. The music on the intro is also well apt to the story and has quite a merry medieval Celtic feel to it.
Once again we also get Mark Wardle his Flugelhorn and the brass orchestra of Sara Baldwin: Flugelhorn. SarahWardle: Tenor Horn. Joe Heartfield: Tenor Trombone. Andy Baldwin: Euphonium and Steve Bottomley: BBb Bass. to which was also recorded in the pub. “The Ballad of Longshanks John” is my personal favourite track on the album and merits the top spot of the album award. You also get to hear Jones play a Ukulele solo on the track too.
Track 5. Migration.
One of the shorter tracks on the album and a song that was originally meant for his 2nd album Story Tellers (Part 1) or even saved for Story Tellers (Part 2). The song itself is based around a story Jones had heard as a child on a Marshall Cavendish tape and is about an animal trying to find his way home in the winter. It’s a nice little ballad of a song and also features Jones on Clarinet.
Track 6. Take The Memory.
Another song that features the clarinet along with some lovely 12 string guitar and lush keyboard layers. Once again Jones’s voice also works wonders on a song like this. The song was written about the loss of his guide dog Barley and also features his dog at the end barking.
It’s not the first time Barley has been mentioned in his songs either, and he also plays a part in “Tigers In The Butter” from his debut album Cocoon and gets a mention in his Christmas song “The Wassail Song“.
It’s another very well written ballad of a song that can relate to losing our loved ones such as family, friends and pets, and holding on to the fond memories of them which keeps them still alive in some respects. I am sure they will always be in with us in our hearts and minds.
Track 7. Sleigh Ride.
The second of the instrumental tracks on the album and a very tasty one at that, and one of the better tracks on the album. Once again Jones has got the Steve Hackett influence on this particular track. It has a beautiful acoustic opening with the acoustic guitar and flute once again provided by Emma Friend and goes into more of an electric mode and slides its way across the snow very well indeed.
Even though it’s perhaps related to more of a Christmas sort of thing it still ties in with the winter concept of things, and once again we get some GREAT! keyboard layers and even quite a Disney orchestral ending. It’s another one of the albums exciting tracks for me personally, and this is an album that perhaps does not have enough of these type of tracks, and most of the songs we have are mainly ballads, but very meaningful ones. “Sleigh Ride” is very much another contender for the albums top spot award and is another excellent piece of work.
Track 8. The Tears of Frigga.
A bit of Norse Mythology from the 12th century or Danish Viking mythological history based around the fall or death of Baldur who was the son of the god Odin and goddess Frigg. According to how legend has it Baldur must of been built like a brick shit house :)))) simply because no matter what people threw at him such as rocks stones and sticks and all that, they bounced off him leaving him unharmed.
However one of the disloyal chaps who went by the name of Loki was perhaps a bit jealous of the brother of the Mighty Thor and cleverly disguised himself and asked his mother Frigg do all things swear oaths to spare Baldur from harm? To which she replied “Oh, yes, everything except the mistletoe”.
Well as you can see from the picture above this chap Loki had no Christmas Spirit :)))) and made a spear and attached a mistletoe to the end of it, and that was the end of Baldur has legend has it. I suppose at the end of it all he must of felt a bit of a Prick :))))).
It’s the second co-written track on the album Jones done with his old school friend Jamie Ambler who once again contributes some voiceovers on the track. Ambler wrote the draft for the story and he was the one who had studied Viking history and put the idea to the music Jones had created. Some of the music Jones had written for this album was meant for a Christmas album, and this was one of the first pieces of music he had written for that idea. But eventually the story we have here wound up on it which was still fitting with his concept of an album about winter.
I would not say that “The Tears of Frigga” like some other tracks on this album is perhaps what I would call prog rock, and they do have some more of a light airy ballad flow and feel about them. Nevertheless it’s quite a very well written song with great keyboard and vocal work as ever, and he even has a glistening Steve Hackett like ending with the vibes that are a bit familiar with his track “Shadow Of The Hierophant“.
Track 9. Hygge.
Another one of the better tracks on the album and this also has quite a Genesis feel about it from there And Then There Were Three album. It even has some Hackett like guitar which was not on that album too. “Hygge” is perhaps the single of the album even if it’s over 9 minutes long. The title is very much a Danish word that translates in English to the word “Fun” and is pronounced like “Huger”. Although the word “Hygge” in Danish means something like “Cosy Time”
Which is more like how Jones describes it himself in that it’s like family and friends getting together, having cakes and hot coffee, breaking bread, lighting a fire and getting together in a community kind of way, enjoying each other’s company being warm. Which is very much like having a cosy time.
Lyrically the song pertains to the same sort of thing and being thankful for the warm air of spring coming in at the end of a long cold winter that has taken so many loved ones away, and welcoming the warmth of spring and being at home in the warm sort of thing.
A single edit video was made for the song by Rob Reed of Magenta and he also placed it on his own Youtube channel to which I thought would be appropriate to use for my review here. It captures Jones in the studio singing the vocals to the song and also him on the piano and guitars.
It’s a very well made video and “Hygge” is very much another contender for the top spot on the album, and no doubt it does have a bit of a warm lifting and even Genesis feel about it. It’s a very well written, thoughtful and meaningful song that even works very well over its longer distance on the album.
Track 10. Winter’s End.
The third and final of the instrumental pieces on the album is a keyboard track that has that wintery feel, and ends off with the sounds of birds chirping away happily with the traffic going by as spring arrives sort of thing. It’s a Pleasant enough little ditty to round up the album, but perhaps not necessary needed.
To sum up Tiger Moth Tales 3rd album The Depths Of Winter. I think overall the material is well written enough, but the fact that there is a lot of it, and the album is some 71.25 minutes long will present a problem for most listeners. The fact that most of the tracks are more or less ballads does not really help it either over a distance like this. I also feel the placement of the tracks has not been too cleverly thought out either. Personally I feel it would of been better to go with a much shorter album and he could of placed some tracks on other albums or EP’s in the future.
I think if you are going to do an album over this length you need to make it more exciting, and most of the material we have here is of the more chill out variety than the up-tempo kind that has some grit to it. I honestly do not know why so many artists make albums over this length, and for me the old 40 minute time slot will always be the real winner. With a 40 minute album you can digest it easier and it’s not what I call too much food for thought to take in either.
I am fine with double albums that come on 2 discs, but sticking a double albums worth of materiel onto a single disc is too much in most cases. With the old time slot of 40 minutes I can fit more albums into the hours of a day for my listening pleasure, and get more satisfaction from those albums. Because there is a lot of material we have here and its more darker and sinister, it will take a lot more spins to get into an album like this.
I have played this album more than 10 times now and have digested it, and I am not saying the material is remotely bad at all, and it is very good. But it’s not a solid album, and some of the material I feel does not really belong on an album like this with how it was all put together.
I can see the pitfalls an album like this will present to many listeners, and even the placement of the two lengthy tracks “Winter Maker” and “Exposure” being put together like that, will cause the album to drag a bit, causing people to switch it off and come back to it later, or not at all.
To conclude my review of The Depths Of Winter by Tiger Moth Tales. There is no doubt it is a bit of a different breed in relation to the first 2 albums. I think that Pete Jones has captured the spirit of winter very well, but for me personally there tends to be too many ballad type tracks along the course of the album, and it has too little in the way of excitement to really lift the album up.
If anything The Depths Of Winter is more of a serious album that presents itself in a lighter and different mood with its dark and warm folk tales. It’s also one of those albums where you perhaps need to be in the right mood to enjoy its more laid back style. Speaking of which it’s more on the folky pop side of things rather than prog rock. I also feel it’s one of those albums that is made for the darker nights of autumn and winter, and those are the type of nights that will draw you in to play an album like this.
Oddly enough I do not quite know what it is about certain albums, but the darker nights of autumn and winter are also the times I tend to drag out most of my Jethro Tull collection to listen too. And I am not just talking about those songs that have a Christmas feel to them either. The darker nights always attract me to those old classic albums of Tull’s from the 70’s and I feel The Depths Of Winter is one of those type of albums too. So maybe Jones achieved what he was trying to do with this album.
Overall I cannot fault the written material on the album to which is very good, but this is not a GOTO album I feel like the first 2 Tiger Moth Tales albums very much are. It perhaps lacks the variety and the excitement that those first two albums have in the way it presents itself, and can be a bit like too much of the same thing with its laid back style. My personal highlights from the album are “The Ballad Of Longshanks John“. “Winter Maker“. “Sleigh Ride” and “Hygge“.
Old Man Winter, Cruel Or Kind. To the Suffering, Are You Blind…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Winter is Coming. 0:31. 02. Winter Maker. 10:50. 03. Exposure. 13:34. 04. The Ballad of Longshanks John. 6:58. 05. Migration. 2:58. 06. Take The Memory. 7:10. 07. Sleigh Ride. 6:40. 08. The Tears of Frigga. 11:42. 09. Hygge. 9:12. 10. Winter’s End. 1:50.
It did not take Peter Jones long after the release and success of his debut album Cocoon to get to work on recording Story Tellers which was to be his 2nd album. Because his creative juices were still very much flowing at that time he wanted to carry on riding the storm sort of thing, he got some inspiration from the RPM website who run a project in February of every year to record an album in the 28 days of that month. So that is more or less what Jones had done here, and I have to say it’s quite an album that is very much worked as a spin off to his debut album Cocoon.
Most prog rockers get their inspiration for their lyrics from giant plants, mice, fables, squonks and all sorts of mythical magical legends and beasts. But what we have here is something quite different in the way of presenting children’s stories such as Sleeping Beauty, Three Billy Goats Gruff and the Pied Piper in a cinematic, funny and even in a progmatical way (if there is such a word) although he has thrown in a few rats and even the odd troll :))))). It’s very much a children’s playground in a playful world of imagination, and even for a 58 year old Rocker and Prog Rocker like myself. I have to say it works bloody wonders.
But before we take a deeper look into what magical wonders we have here. let’s as usual take a look at the packaging and artwork.
The Packaging & Artwork…
A slightly different DigiSleeve this one and with this type you usually get 2 CD’s in them. But here the other side pocket is for storing the booklet. Once again we get an 8 page booklet with all the lyrics and some useful background information, and the both sides of the inner sleeve contain the linear production notes written on them, and once again we have a very well made quality package.
Once again the artwork was done by Neil Martin of Complete Design who not only offer services for album art but also for website designs. Additional artwork was done by Annalese Maz of Society 6 Dot Com.
The Album In Review…
The album Story Tellers was released on the 1st July 2015 and was written in February of the same year and recorded at Peter Jones home studio. The album contains 7 tracks which are a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks and has an overall playing time of 41 minutes, 25 seconds.
The album Story Tellers is certainly more based around the concept of children’s stories in relation to his first album Cocoon, and the inspiration for this particular concept was also part of the 28 day project he was working on the RPM website. Part of the challenge was to work around a concept of the famous authors who wrote children’s stories such as Sleeping Beauty, The Pied Piper and even the heroic struggle of three goats on a quest for greener pastures. Jones also makes some references to the likes of the great authors such as Hans Christian Anderson. Roald Dhal and J.K. Rowling.
The whole thing was an experiment just to see if he could do the challenge and it was never intended to be his 2nd album. He never even thought that his record label White Knight Records would be interested in releasing it either, and was quite surprised that they did. In some aspects I can perhaps understand his reasoning of how he seen this project he worked on being perhaps a bit too childish. But he also thought that the overall result came out pretty well, and even thought that even if his record company was not interested in putting it out, he could put it out as an EP on Bandcamp as a fan club sort of release.
To be perfectly honest every time I play this album it feels more like an EP. Basically because it seems to be over in about 10 – 12 minutes, and even I myself cannot believe this album is some 41 minutes and 25 seconds long. I think that it’s down to not having so many long tracks on the album, and the biggest majority of the tracks on this album are short, and it only really contains one track that is over the 10 minute mark. The other reason why it seems to be over in no time at all, is really down to the fact that it is an immensely enjoyable album from start to finish, and I can certainly see why the record company wanted to put it out.
Musicians & Credits…
Written Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones. Recorded at Peter Jones home studio in February 2015. Artwork & Design by Neil Martin of Complete Design. Additional artwork was done by Annalese Maz of Society 6 Dot Com.
Peter Jones: Vocals/Keyboards/Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Whistles/Percussion/Drum Programming.
The Album Tracks In Review…
Well as you can see from credits above not even Mark Wardle is on this album and Peter Jones done it all on his Jack Jones so to speak :)))). A lot of people can be put off by one man projects and think it’s all been done on a computer rather than played with real instruments, and to be honest there are a lot of people who do just that. Being a musician myself I am all for the musician and there are quite a good few multi instrumentalists in this world who are capable of making albums in this way by playing and doing everything themselves.
However it is a lot harder to do without a band, and you will need a band to perform an album like this live. But amazingly enough even though Jones does sometimes play with a band on stage, he is also very impressive at performing his own songs on his Jack Jones on the stage too. You only have to look at this guy performing live to see just how much of a talent he actually possesses and how capable he is of doing such a thing. The only thing he does not play are the drums to which he has programmed. But he does also play the odd bit of percussion he puts into his albums too.
He also has a great personality and can be extremely funny and is very clever at injecting comedy into his music, and this perhaps is one of those albums were it comes out very well too, especially on the 4th track on the album “A Kids Tale” in particular. So let’s now take a closer look at just at the album and it’s individual tracks in more detail.
Track 1. Beauty Falls.
The album starts off with quite a Majestic instrumental piece and even the keyboards sound as bold as brass on the intro. This is followed by some very tasty Brain May style lead lines on the guitar and it then proceeds to launch into Gallop mode with the pace of the drums and features more very tasty keyboard and guitar work right up to the 2:10 mark to which it comes down very nicely with some pleasant glistening vibes and falls into a bit of Genesis mode with the guitar lines. This gets followed by some piano and it winds itself down nicely with some more keyboard orchestration to round it off.
It’s a really great start to the album and the piece has bags of diversity and progression along it’s path with some really great crossing styles along its transition. The interplay with keyboards and guitar is tremendous and very skilfully played. Overall it’s quite a cinematic piece that has the power to lift itself up and rock, and can be quite dramatic with its mood changes. It’s the first of 4 pieces adapted for the story of Sleeping Beauty that runs throughout the album and is a cracking start to the album.
Track 2. Story Tellers.
The first of the songs on the album which gives Jones a chance to use his great voice, and here we have the albums self titled track which is lyrically portraying what the album is all about which is stories that never end. Musically this has a very big Tony Banks influence, and is heavily influenced by his solo work in particular. No doubt Jones has studied Banks’s keyboard style and unusual chord patterns and changes down to a tee. But of course he adds his own thing to it as well and there is some really great progression in this song.
This video is a more stripped down version of the song with Jones performing it on piano only in the studio. It’s perhaps harder to hear the Tony Banks influence as much without all the keyboard layers and textures that are in the original track on the album. But nevertheless it shows the great chord progression in the piece and it’s even great to see the song done stripped down like this too.
“Story Tellers” may feel a bit more like a pop song and that is down to the lyrics and it’s vocal attributes, but there is a lot of progression in a song like this and it’s not an easy piece to play either. The other elements of more layers and instrumentation on the album do give it that much more of a prog rock feel and it really is another excellent song on the album.
Track 3. Beauty Sleeps.
Well just as much as the 2nd track on the album is influenced by Tony Banks. This Gorgeous piece is more influenced by Steve Hackett with the classical guitar playing, recorder and wonderful orchestration. Once again it’s another one of the instrumental pieces on the album and this is very much one of my contenders for the top spot on the album and is a real beauty. It’s also the second of the 4 pieces adapted for Sleeping Beauty.
Track 4. A Kids Tale.
When I said that Pete Jones reminded me of Danny Elfman with some of his humour and his skills to create music in this way. I was not Kidding :))) and this story about 3 goats trying to get to the other side of a bridge where greener pastures lie, to which is guarded by a troll I have to say this track has me in hysterics and I am highly addicted to it :)))). Jones has the tendency to make these type of stories highly exciting with everything he throws into them. Some may think its childish, but you have to be very clever and a very skilled musician to create something like this in the first place.
“A Kids Tale” very much rocks it’s way along with its keyboard and guitar sections at the sort of pace Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” would do. Jones puts over quite a few characters with his voice in the way of voice overs, and as perhaps imitated other actors voices to which he has done remarkable very well, and it does sound like he has brought in some well known actors to do the voices. For example the voice he uses for the Troll sounds very much like Toby Longworth who does the voice for Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz in The Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy. He’s most likely like myself and another fan of the series.
Effectively “A Kids Tale” is very much the sort of thing even your own children would like and is extremely funny and a very well crafted piece of work with how Jones has adapted the Norwegian Peter Christen Asbjørnsen’s children story of Three Billy Goats Gruff and put it to music. Once again Pete Jones has created an album which presents me with a problem of choosing a personal favourite track, and just like the album Cocoon it leaves me no alternative but to merit 2 tracks with the top spot of the album award, and a “A Kids Tale” is very much a joint winner.
Track 5. The Quest For Beauty.
The third of the four tracks on the album adapted around the story of Sleeping Beauty is another really great piece with great keyboard orchestration and a well tasty guitar solo and is also a vocal track unlike the first two parts which are instrumental pieces. Once again I have chosen a video from Chris Fry’s Youtube channel which has been put to some edited parts from the animated film and shows you parts of Jones recording the vocals and even the guitar solo during the animated clips.
Once again Pete Jones has done another fabulous job on this fine song and its another great song and quite a cinematic piece of work.
Track 6. The Piper.
The longest track on the album is Peter Jones adaption of the Pied Piper of Hamelin which is a story that dates back to the 13th century in Germany to which the town of Hamelin was infested by rats. Rattenfänger von Hameln, also known as the Pan Piper or (Rat-Catcher of Hamelin) was the man the council hired to rid the town of rats to which they tried to swindle him out of the money that was due to paid for the job. The Pied Piper decided to seek his revenge by luring all the children out of the town with his pipe and they were never to be seen again so legend has it.
No doubt over the years there have been many adaptations of the story and once again Pete Jones has truly done a magical job of presenting his adaption with the music and characterized voices he puts into it all. Once again Danny Elfman springs to mind here with the genius adaption of how skilfully this has been done. Like I said before you need to be a musician who can play cross styles to have the ability to pull this off so well, and just like “A Kids Tale” this track is also my favourite of the album and jointly merits the top spot award of the album.
This short video shows you a short excerpt of the song and once again the progression is pure brilliance from heavy guitars, excellent keyboard work including a very tasty Bach like bit of harpsichord. It really is an outstanding piece of work and a highly addicted track on the album that has both power and excitement.
Track 7. Beauty Awakes.
The album ends off with the 4th and final part of the Sleeping Beauty suite that features throughout the album. It’s more or less another instrumental cinematic orchestrated piece done on the keyboards and the guitar, but he does sing a few words as well, and you even get a reprisal of the albums self tiled track “Story Tellers” amongst the short vocal section. It’s a great way to put the whole concept of the album and the story to bed and is another really great piece of work.
Putting children’s stories to prog rock may not be everyone’s cup of tea. To even say that Story Tellers is a prog rock album may perhaps not be the best way to describe it, but no doubt this is quite a complex album with bags of progression and diversity that you will find in a lot of prog rock albums and is like the work of a genius in parts. No doubt there are prog rock influences too, and I suppose the best way I can describe those is that it’s like a cross between Genesis, Queen, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett and even the Cinematic world of Walt Disney combined with the Brilliance of Danny Elfman is all thrown into the pot and the equation for good measure.
For me the personally the album Story Tellers is quite another solid body of work, and in many ways is a very fitting follow up to it’s predecessor Cocoon and fits in perfectly with Jones project name of Tiger Moth Tales. The material is very well written and I cannot really fault a track on the album either. Just like his debut album Cocoon there are some classics on this album and my personal highlights from the album are as follows: “The Piper“. “A Kids Tale“. “Beauty Sleeps” and “Story Tellers“.
To conclude my review of Story Tellers(Part 1) by Tiger Moth Tales. Once again we have quite a magical album that blends in the serious side of Peter Jones with comedy. I suppose in many ways Pete Jones could even be seen as a comedian like Bill Bailey and both are extremely talented musicians. I do not personally think that Story Tellers is as strong as his debut album Cocoon but like I said I cannot honestly fault anything on this album. It’s an album that even your own children and grandchildren I think will personally love, and even for big kids at heart like myself this is highly entertaining good stuff.
Peter Jones captures the true spirit of children’s stories we all grew up with on an album like this, and brings those joys back to life. Having only just recently got into his world of music and purchased his first 3 albums, this is very much an album I was hoping it would not be long before he made the sequel and done a Story Tellers Part 2. Well I do not have long to wait for that, because whilst I was writing this review on the 1st October Jones announced he will be releasing a new album on the 26th of this month.
And it will very much be Story Tellers Part 2 and as soon as I seen the announcement I very much pre-ordered it. He even released a video of one of the tracks entitled “Match Girl” from the album which is a story by Hans Christian Andersen set to some edited footage from the Disney film.
The song very much has quite a Christmassy and has a Genesis feel to it, and in some respects the sad story behind it could even pertain to something like the Phil Collins hit song “Another Day In Paradise“. Jones has quite a gift for working with songs about winter and Christmas songs, and both his own single release of “The Wassail Song” and his third and more serious album The Depths Of Winter (to which I will be reviewing next) show that side of his writing.
But looking at the 10 track list of the songs we have on Story Tellers Part 2. I can see he will no doubt inject some more magic fun on tracks like “Toad Of Toad Hall“. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “Three Little Pigs” for example. I could be wrong, but these are the type of stories I can see him doing that sort of thing with and I am looking well forward to this release as well.
Peter Jones is very much an artist who is not into making music to become rich famous and wealthy, he is very much a down to earth human being who is doing what he can do best to merely make a living out of his music, and he is very much an hard working musician who works his butt off to do such a thing. To be honest having just been on an extensive tour with Camel I am amazed how he has found the time to make a new album. Being blind he also supports charity and puts some of what he earns into blind dogs for the blind. You only have to look at the low price he sells his albums at, to gather that as well.
For example he generally sells his CD’s at around £10 which is really excellent value considering they come in quality Digisleeves as well. You can also now buy Story Tellers Part 1 and Part 2 (when it’s released later this month) for £16 from White Knight Records here: http://www.whiteknightshop.co.uk/page26.htm saving you even more money. You can also find his albums and more besides on his Bandcamp page here: https://tigermothtales.bandcamp.com/
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The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Beauty Falls. 3:51. 02. Story Tellers. 5:39. 03. Beauty Sleeps. 4:42. 04. A Kids Tale. 6:07. 05. The Quest For Beauty. 4:27. 06. The Piper. 12:52. 07. Beauty Awakes. 3:47.