Lee Speaks About Music…#204

A Song Of Spring – Tiger Moth Tales

Introduction…

Pete Jones is back with a new album and A Song Of Spring is either his 6th or 7th album depending on how you look at the Still Alive EP that he put out back in 2020. I would also say that the new album has more of a spring in its step so to speak especially in relation to the last album he put out The Whispering Of The World to which he was only accompanied by the piano. Not that was a bad album and if anything it was perhaps more of a meaningful songwriter’s album though I have to confess it’s perhaps not one of my GOTO! albums of his.

It appears that Jones perhaps has a fetish for the seasons and it’s not the first time he has chosen to write something about them. His 3rd album In The Depths Of Winter very much reflects on that season of winter and even though the album was not stripped back like his previous album and could be seen as a meaningful songwriter’s album. Likewise, I have to confess that is also not one of my GOTO! albums of his.

I think what it is about both of those albums is that they have more of a serious side given to the material that was written for them. They do not really allow none of his humorous side to shine through like it does and can do on his other albums. One of the first things I always look for when he puts out a new album is the titles and in general, you can usually spot the whimsical songs a mile off. For example when Jones released his 4th studio album Story Tellers (Part Two) back in 2018, both “Toad of Toad Hall” and “Three Little Pigs” instantly stuck out like a sore thumb.

Pete Jones is a man who has a big heart and can be a child at heart at times and his music can even instil and bring out the child in your own heart at times. His music even has the power to take you back to your own childhood days with songs like “A Visit To Chigwick” from his debut album and the many nursery rhymes he has done in the past.

The name Tiger Moth Tales he chose for his project can also reflect on why he will occasionally write songs around children’s nursery rhymes and there are times when I think this guy is a GENIUS! at doing such songs. His 4th album Story Tellers (Part Two) I actually saw as a return to form with the format that was well apt for his project name. It was a return to his magical sense of humour in many respects and it’s things like this I will often look out for whenever he puts out a new album.

There is one song in particular that sticks out like a sore thumb to me on this latest album of his to fit his project name like a glove. The question is can this latest offering also be seen as a return to form? Well before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork per usual.

Packaging & Artwork…

The CD comes in a cardboard gatefold Digisleeve that has die-cut pockets to hold the CD and the Booklet. The 16-page booklet contains all the lyrics and a few words of thanks printed on the back of it. It does not come with any informative information. However, there is a bit of informative information printed on the inside of the sleeve behind the booklet. The linear production and credits notes are also printed on the inside of the sleeve underneath the CD as you can see in the picture above.

Overall it’s quite a neatly presented package. I preordered my copy from White Knight Records and it arrived on the day of its release. It was priced at £12 plus £1.80 for P+P and I consider that to be a very respectable price and I have no complaints here at all.

The one thing I did however notice is that the wrong catalogue number has been printed on the spine of the sleeve. Though with the name of Tiger Moth Tales it is easy perhaps to see why the error occurred. White Knight Records is the sister of Tigermoth Records owned by Robert Reed. TMR is the abbreviation of Tigermoth Records which is generally used for cataloguing albums tied to that label. WK is the abbreviation that is generally used for cataloguing albums tied to White Knight Records and the number printed on the spine of this album is TMRCD0322 instead of WKCD0322.

Release Formats & Other Packages.

A Song Of Spring was released in the format of a Digital Download which is the cheapest way to get your hands on the album and is priced at around £8 on Bandcamp and other outlets such as Amazon e.t.c. The only other format is the physical CD priced at around £13.80 including P+P.

It was also released on CD with a companion disc entitled Spring re-Loaded as you can see above and this package is priced at £20 excluding P+P. One of the main reasons I opted out of this package is that the companion disc contains instrumental and alternative versions of the album tracks which is not really my bag. It also includes a couple of live tracks.

With the way Jones puts out many different bundled packages of his albums I dare say that at some point Spring re-Loaded will be made availble as a Digital Download for around £3 and available to purchase on CD for around a fiver.

Artwork.

The artwork was done by John Holden to which he also contributed a few lyrics to the album along with his wife Elizabeth. I think it’s well apt for the album’s title and just by looking how some of the trees are hoping about no doubt spring is in the air and in its step. It also puts me in mind of Lord of the Rings and it definitely ties in with Jones’s sense of humour.

The Album In Review…

A Song Of Spring by Tiger Moth Tales was released on the 4th March 2022. The album itself contains 8 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 57 minutes, 28 seconds. Most of the written material is on the lengthier side of things so you do have quite a bit more to digest and let sink in here. Although I do find a lot of the material accessible enough to draw you into a few of the tracks immediately, it’s not an album that requires many spins for it to sink in sort of thing.

As far as I can make out from interviews with Jones, most of the material was written and recorded last year sometime between February to July. He had originally planned to get the album done by April to release it in springtime that year however he got a bit of writer’s block with some of the lyrics and it took him much longer than planned. In the end, he called on his old friend John Holden to lend him a hand. Jones contributed to Holden’s first three solo albums so I guess this was his way of paying him back sort of thing. Although the album was completed in July 2021 he decided to hold on till the spring of this year to release it.

Another old friend he called upon for one of the tracks was Camel’s legendary guitarist and composer Andy Latimer. Jones has been keeping himself busy with other projects such as Cyan who are not only doing a few live shows this year but it is also rumoured that they are working on new material for another album and turning it into another ongoing project. He’s also been working on a new album with Red Bizare that will most likely be out sometime in the summer and it’s believed that he will be back on the road with Camel in 2023 as they have planned another world tour.

Getting back to the new album in question in contrast to the winter which is one of the seasons, he decided to write about back in 2017. Spring is a season that reflects light and life and the material we have here very much touches on not just the more cheerful and brighter side of life but also the dark side in a way of bringing a sense of balance to the album. To be perfectly honest one of the tracks on the album touches on my own recent experience of losing my wife and having to come to terms with it all.

I lost my wife to cancer right at the end of last year in the darkness of winter and I can honestly say that I was left with the feeling that life no longer had a purpose for me to be here. That woman gave me the best 42 years of my life and it’s only just in the last couple of days in the middle of March where the air of spring is starting to feel warmer and the lighter nights are coming back that have really given me some sense and feel of hope again.

What we have here with this latest album is very much a collection of songs that are all related to spring so it’s very much a concept album about that season. I would also say it’s quite different with how some of the songs have been structured and it’s like he’s very much combined POP with PROG! to a certain extent to get where he is going and there is quite a bit of diversity thrown in here to boot. I would also say that some of the songs have quite a bit of SAX! appeal and that instrument does get very well utilised on this album more so than others.

Musicians & Credits…

Music & Lyrics Written, Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones except for track 4 Recorded & Produced by John Holden. Tracks 4 & 7 Lyrics by John Holden. Track 5 Lyrics by Elizabeth Holden. Track 8 Lyrics by John & Elizabeth Holden, Peter Jones. Recorded at Peter Jones home studio sometime in between February – July 2021. Artwork by John Holden.

Musicians.
Pete Jones: Vocals – Keyboards – Saxophone – Guitars – Drums – Percussion – Recorders & Whistles.

Additional Musicians.
John Holden: Keyboards & Programming (track 4 & Pad track 3)
Andy Latimer: Electric Guitar (track 8)

The Album Tracks In Review…

As Pete Jones mentions in the bit of informative information that is printed in the Digisleeve. A Song Of Spring is an album that he wanted to evoke the spirit of rebirth, renewal, light and new life. By throwing in the contrast of darkness touches on the darker and sadder aspects lurking in the background that take you by surprise. Which is how life tends to be after all.

Looking at the lyrical content it’s plain to see that just like the lyrical content that he wrote for In The Depths Of Winter they are very meaningful lyrics. Although for me personally it was the musical side of things that I felt was overcooked on that particular album and it was an album that I felt because of the length of some of the tracks there was a danger of SNOOZEFEST! creeping in.

Although A Song Of Spring is a good 14 minutes shorter than his third album, most of its tracks are panned over the lengthier side of things like that album. You do get the feeling that Jones may well have gone back to that album with how some of the longer tracks have been placed close together like that album which created some of the SNOOZEFEST! in the first place.

Though I will say that long tracks are a common factor throughout the Tiger Moth Tales discography and in general they bring out more of the PROGMATIC! elements to it all. So let’s now see how this album turns out as I take you through the album tracks.

Track 1. Spring Fever.

The album gets off to a flying start and races its way along in GREAT! style. It’s very much a song that crosses musical flavours and contrasting styles with how it’s been put together over its near enough 7 minutes. It’s perhaps a “FEVER” that one would not mind catching and it really does have a spring in its step so to speak. The way the song has been structured you could say it was synth-driven although the guitar also makes up the rhythmical side of things so it’s very much a combination of the two. Although personally for me it’s the saxophone that perhaps steals the show here and he really has done a TERRIFIC! job on the instrument.

Musically it has me thinking of PROGMATIC! bands such as Camel and Genesis but has it builds itself along it goes into more of a swinging soul-jazz vibe with a bit of funk thrown in and more popular artists such as George Benson and Stevie Wonder spring to mind. I think some of the saxophone playing on this track will even give Gerry Rafferty’sBaker Street” a run for its money.

An edited down shorter version Rob Reed posted on his Tube Channel to promote the album before its release. However, it’s unfortunate that the video does not capture the main sax section that brings it all to a MAGIC! climax so you really need the album to get the best out of this song.

Staying with the musical structure one of the key elements that give the song such contrasting styles is really down to how the couple of breaks (or come down) sections differ from one another. Basically, they are the same musical backbone structure only more has been taken out of the second section to allow the sax and other soul-jazz vibes to come into play.

For example, the first-come down that comes into play around the 2:40 mark after a nice bit of nylon guitar, has that touch of Genesis to it in particular with the guitar which borrows a few lines from the “Eleventh Earl of Mar” from their Wind and Wuthering album. It’s not that the first time Jones has used these lines either and you will find them on his 3rd album In The Depths Of Winter along with some lines from the album that followed it …And Then There Were Three… Whereas the second section is stripped right back to bass, drums and percussion to which the bass steps up the funk allowing for Jones to give the sax a blast and boy does it give it a GREAT! one.

The lyrical side of things is also all well apt to spring and are very well written detailed words. I can see that Jones never had writers block for this song and one particular verse that stands out to me, especially after all I have been through with the loss of my wife is thus:

“Don’t think about the things
That you can’t change
A Brand new start
Let your heart be reborn
Like the seasons, begin again”

This song for me sees very much a return to form from Jones it not only touches on the meaningful side of things with its lyrical content that we got on albums such as In The Depths Of Winter and The Whispering Of The World. But where the form returns in is in the musical side of things with it having more go to it and being much more to my liking. There is also perhaps a lot more influences here than I mentioned and it is, without doubt, one of the highlights from the album and a very strong contender for the album’s TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 2. Forester.

This is another song where POP! is combined with PROG! and strangely enough, the lyrical content or story we have here was also inspired by a member of a pop band none other than Stephen Gately the singer of Boyzone. Gately, unfortunately, died of an undiagnosed heart condition back in 2009 before he could finish off a novel he was writing entitled The Tree of Seasons and it was his partner Andrew Cowles who used his notes to finish it off. The story is actually quite different to the picture I chose here which is actually a moth that goes by the same name as the title. The book however, is more along the lines of a fantasy adventure that was perhaps influenced by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings sort of thing.

Although with how the song starts it does sound a bit like an acoustic pop ballad of a song the interesting thing about it is that it’s not verse and chorus structured. As a matter of a fact, the song does not even have a chorus and the words are portrayed or put across in verses that go through quite a few transitional changes along the way. So it is more PROG! than it actually sounds.

What makes the song even more PROG! and interesting is the actual instrumental sections and a nice little fast synth solo comes into play around the 2:38 – 3:31 mark. This is followed by a short acoustic section that puts me in mind of early Genesis and even though the song utilises an Irish whistle instead of a flute the first few notes where it comes into play put me in mind of the sweet part that comes into play in the “Apocalypse In 9/8” section on “Supper’s Ready” from the Foxtrot album.

The song also features a couple of TASTY! electric guitar solos and builds itself up quite well towards the end before falling back into another Genesis like acoustic section and gets rounded off nicely at the end too. It is without doubt another very strong contender for the album’s TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 3. Dance ‘Til Death.

This next rather lengthy track weighs in at 10 minutes, 20 seconds and is the longest track on the album although the season of spring reflects life and light, Jones was looking for something darker to balance the album out a bit and for this particular song his inspiration came from Igor Stravinsky’sRite of Spring“. As with much of Stravinsky’s music, it was used for ballet and set to some bizarre story and the scenario behind this one depicts various primitive rituals celebrating the advent of spring, after which a young girl is chosen as a sacrificial victim and dances herself to death. Hence the reason for the title here.

Jones was perhaps more inspired by the story than the actual musical side of things though he may have used some variation of the music as an inspiration as well. I have to admit the piece starts off BEAUTIFULLY! with this delightful little ditty on nylon-stringed guitar and is a bit reminiscent of something that Steve Hackett would do on the instrument. You could even think with how this intro has been placed before the main track that it was inspired by “Supper’s Ready” though the outcome is entirley something else.

It is, without doubt, the most powerful track on the album and utilises heavier power chords on the electric guitar although I would say that the main section is more keyboard derived regarding the structure of the piece and the ending bit, in particular, is most likely programmed. The sax even gets utilised in the piece and it also has John Holden lending a hand with the use of a keyboard patch or pad. It also features a nice synth solo towards the end and for me personally, it is the little nylon-stringed guitar ditty at the beginning and the powerful ending that are the most interesting sections.

It really does build up to a powerful crescendo at the end and sounds like an orchestra having a FRENZY! I would even say it would rattle Simon Rattle’s cage with how powerful the ending is 😊😊😊.

Track 4. Holi.

According to an interview with Jones on Progzilla Radio conducted by Jon Dunnington, the only thing Jones does on this track is sing it. The musical and lyrical side of things was all taken care of by John Holden including the production. It’s very much a song that has a touch of the East and takes in Indian culture or the ritual of spring. Jones had always had a fascination with Indian music in particular with the Sitar that he used on “Tigers In The Butter” on his debut album.

Holi is a popular ancient Hindu festival, also known as the Festival of Spring, the Festival of Colours or the Festival of Love that takes part in India on the 18th of March. It’s perhaps something that Holden was more clued up on has he had been to the festival in India and seen it with his own eyes. The musical side of things was all done on keyboards and programming most likely with the use of soft synths and samples. The lyrical side of things remind me of the sort of thing that Jon Anderson of Yes would write about and sing and Jones does a pretty good job of delivering the words in the way of a joyous occasion.

Track 5. The Goddess And The Green Man.

This is the shortest track on the album though only by a few seconds than the previous track. Musically it’s a bit like the material that was on his previous album The Whispering Of The World in the way that it mostly features Jones accompanying himself on the piano, though he does throw in some keyboard strings, flute and a bit of acoustic guitar as it progresses along. In some ways, it puts me in mind of “Match Girl” from Story Tellers (Part Two) with the way he delivers it sensitively with his voice.

John’s wife Elizabeth Holden penned the lyrics and they take in the mythology or Pagan belief of the Green Man who is believed to symbolise the cycle of life, death and re-birth. The symbol in the picture I used here is a Pagan symbol that heralds Spring after a long winter and the renewal of lush vegetation. It all ties in very well with the album’s concept and is a pleasant way to simmer things down.

Track 6. Mad March Hare.

The quirkiness returns with this next track and this is what I look for on every Tiger Moth Tales album ever since he did “The Merry Vicar” on his debut album. One of the other things that also returns is the saxophone to which although he uses the instrument quite frequently for the other bands he plays for this is the first time he used it on his own albums since his debut album. I love the colour the sax lends to the song and in some ways, the way the sax is utilised on this album does add to making it that bit different.

There are some who do not like this side of Jones and prefer the more serious side in relation to the humour he puts to children’s stories on many of his albums. I myself in particular feel that some of these types of songs are what really bring out the magical GENIUS! side of his writing and songs like “The Piper” from his second album I certainly think you would have to be some sort of genius to pull that off and come up with something like that.

Many of the quirky and humorous songs do have a PROGMATIC! side to them including “The Merry Vicar” and although this particular song does not have the humour, it very much has those PROG! elements and more besides and this is the type of song that I have always said fits in with the title of his own project and fits it like a glove.

It was his own wife who suggested that he should write a song about the Mad March Hare and having the character from Alice in Wonderland tie in with the season of spring you would have to be HOPPING! mad not to do so 😊😊😊. Hats off to Kimberly for suggesting it is all can say.

It’s very much a playful song with JAZZY PROGMATIC! undertones and more influences from early Genesis with the wonderful acoustic guitar transition that pops in around the 1:46 mark. It really is another super arrangement has you can see for yourself with the second promotional video release that once again Rob Reed posted on his Tube Channel. It has to be another strong contender for the album’s TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 7. Rapa Nui.

Jones really ROCKS! things out on this next track and DRAMATICS! also are featured heavily along the way and you could say we are going on a VOYAGE! with this one. Once again John Holden penned the lyrics and I dare say the title and the subject matter of the song also came from him. The song itself tells the story of how the captain of a Dutch ship captained by Jacob Roggeveen came across the island of Rapa whilst searching for Davis Land and has he arrived at Rapa island on an Easter Sunday back on the 5th of April 1772 he gave the island the name of Easter Island. It’s been known by that name ever since.

Easter Island is the home of the mysterious Moai statues which there are over a thousand of them dotted around the island. It’s one of the world’s most isolated inhabited islands and has suffered its fair share of doom over the centuries and many fascinating stories have been told about it over the years.

This is another quite long track over its seven and half minutes, it does also tend to rock its way along over the first four of them and is driven along mostly by the bass, drums and guitar to support Jones’s voice. A couple of dramatic transitional changes comes into play and the first of them pop up around the 3:56 mark and is where the sax comes into play. This short haunting section reminds me of Rob Townsend’s style of playing on the instrument that can be found on many Steve Hackett albums.

The second dramatic transitional change is more CINEMATIC! and is perhaps inspired by Vangelis, especially with how he BIGS! things up with his orchestral approach to music. It’s also got his keyboard sound thrown into boot and fits in very well with the historical voyage across the sea here.

Track 8. Light.

What appears to be the final track on the album is also the longest given that it’s been allocated some 15 minutes, 25 seconds or so it appears. There are in fact two songs here and the latter is a hidden bonus track entitled “May Time” and “Light” takes up 8 minutes, 20 seconds of the allotted time here. This is the track (that I mentioned earlier) where the words reflect upon the light of spring giving us new life and hope again especially after losing your other half in the darkness of winter as in my own personal experience.

Musically it’s quite a pleasant song and the piano and acoustic guitar in particular give you shades of Genesis putting me in mind of “Your Own Special Way” from the Wind and Wuthering album sort of thing. However, the way the vocals are delivered gives the song more of a popular angle to it but all is well good here. It also features quite a nice guitar solo by Andy Latimer, though unlike many of his solos I would not say it was one that I would associate the guitarist with if I were to hear it on the radio and did not know who was playing it so to speak.

However, the “Light” is very much another contender for the album’s TOP SPOT! and that is really down to the well meaningful lyrics that have been written for the song. It’s very much a song that I simply cannot hold back the tears and one I would not play whilst other people are around me.

A minute of silence follows “Light” before the hidden bonus track kicks in and “May Time” is very much a Jazz-Funk instrumental track that Jones has so skillfully knocked up that utilises even more Sax, Recorders and Whistles. It perhaps adds a bit more than a spring in the step to springtime but nevertheless this sort of puts the icing on the cake and once again I am thinking of Stevie Wonder regarding the production. The sounds of nature with the birds singing away bring the album to a wonderful close.

Summary & Conclusion…

To sum up and conclude my review of A Song Of Spring by Tiger Moth Tales. Considering the album is near enough an hour-long I did find that it seems to fly by in no time at all which can only mean that Pete Jones has once again come up with a very good album. It’s quite near enough a solid album with how well the material has been written and presented and I would also say that this album is very much a welcoming return to form after his last album and is what was needed to balance things up a bit.

As concept albums go it most certainly works as one and everything ties into the season of spring throughout. I would also say that this album is much more to my liking and right up my street and certainly a GOTO! album.

As an album, it flows very well and is very easy to digest even over the distance with having some of the lengthier tracks following one another. I cannot really fault the track placement and my personal highlights from the album are “Spring Fever“. “Forester“. “Mad March Hare” and “Light“. All of which I personally feel share an equal right of taking the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! and I simply could not pick a fave out of all four of them.

A Song Of Spring is an album that should appeal to most MOTHSTERS! and PROGSTERS! alike and the production speaks for itself. I cannot recommend the album enough and I highly reccommend you check it out. You can do so right here on Bandcamp https://tigermothtales.bandcamp.com/album/a-song-of-spring

Or alternativly here on White Night Records https://www.whiteknightshop2.co.uk/home/Tiger-Moth-Tales-c36255878

Brings A New Twist & Step Into Spring…

The CD Tracklisting is as follows:

01. Spring Fever. 6:53.
02. Forester. 7:51.
03. Dance ‘Til Death. 10:20.
04. Holi. 2:46.
05. The Goddess And The Green Man. 2:39.
06. Mad March Hare. 4:00.
07. Rapa Nui. 7:34.
08. Light (Hidden Bonus Track May Time). 15:25.

The Packaging Rating Score. 9/10.
The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.
The Album Rating Score. 8/10.

4 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music…#204

  1. I had to smile about your wordplay with the famous conductor Simon Rattle, whom I respect very much. This album of Pete Jones is really inspired by the upcoming spring. The songs, which I heard, are bright and transport a sympathetic humor, which is not often found in Progressive Rock. I love the track “Mad March hare”, it’s so uplifting and I could not help, but feel in a good mood, when listening to it. Many musicians take themselves too serious and it’s refreshing to listen to somebody, who breaks the holy walls of Progressive Rock and dares to play around with jazzy Chord-Progressions and Swing. The “Spring fever”-video is stripped down, only showing Mr.Jones and his Sax, but it works very well. It proves, that you don’t need fancy effects and editing to make a good music-video. All in all another well written review and while reading it I felt a positive spirit in both, the music and your words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I quite liked how I got Simon Rattle in there as well and it was really down to me doing some research on Stravinsky’s “Rite Of Spring” (which was Jones’s original inspiration) that the name popped up. So I felt it appropriate to throw him in 😊😊😊. The Mad March Hare is how you say and that is the side of Jones I like the most.

      Right now I have spring fever and I cannot shake it off and it’s becoming a bit of concern for my health. About 2 weeks ago I got the flu and it’s the second time this year I have had it. It put me in bed for a few days but the problem is I cannot shake off the mucus. The following week later (last week) I got the flu again and it put me back in bed for a few days I even had to cancel my hospital appointment which was last Wednesday. I am still not right now and the mucus I cannot get rid of. I’ve tried everything.

      My major concern is the injections I am on for my skin condition which can break down your immune system. It has to be something to do with the drug as I have never encountered this before in my life. Now luckily for me, my dermatologist phoned me the next day to reschedule my appointment for this Monday which is tomorrow because he was concerned. Hopefully, they can get to the bottom of it because this is doing me in and could even be life-threatening.

      Like

  2. Excellent and in depth review (thanks)

    I can only add that I bought the deluxe version and it’s definitely worth it

    I’m like you with bonus tracks and alternative versions but this is different – the instrumental version of Spring Fever is almost better than the original plus you get a great live version of Still Alive to end

    One of my albums of the year for sure

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thanks, Ian and regarding the extra bonus disc, I am pretty sure Pete will re-release it on its own at a later date as I mentioned in my review. Rob Reed always does the same with his bonus discs so I might pick it up later.

      Like

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