John Bently never does things the easy way. You’ve Been Kind! is available on vinyl with a hand printed sleeve and poster or on CD. Both have a lyric booklet (also hand made) which is slightly different in each version and both are very limited editions. It is more easily available as a download. The album stems from a tour of house concerts undertaken by John’s band, Bones & The Aft, and Bird Radio, aka Mikey Kirkpatrick, with a song dedicated to each venue. The band are John’s regular companions Ian Mckean and Admiral Lord Biscuit, otherwise David Beschizza, and Arthur Bently playing a very important role on saxophone.
The songs, or poetry with music if you prefer, are collaborative efforts and it’s significant that Mikey name-drops Beefheart in one of his lyrics; not because either he or John sound like the Captain because they absolutely don’t but because the music has that feeling of being tightly arranged while sometimes sounding improvised. Mikey’s flute and keyboards add contrasting textures to Bones & The Aft’s sometimes surprisingly heavy rock – the live bonus on the CD, ‘Katy’s Plums’, shows how loud they can be.
The album opens with ‘The Baton Factory’ also titled ‘A Faversham Legend’ depending which release you’ve bought. It’s a gentle, pastoral piece and side 1 generally follows this pattern with Mckean’s guitars echoing or growling beneath the words. Gradually the power builds up with ‘William The Conequeror’ (not a misprint) and side 2 begins with the tango rhythm of ‘Tectonic Plates’ during which Lord Biscuit explores the full range of his percussion devices.
If all this sounds a bit weird, it really isn’t. Dive into the lyrics and it all makes perfect send – well, almost perfect. ‘Explore The Arch/Eeldogs’ is basically about a storm and dogs and you may read what you will into the other words. ‘Garway Hill’ begins on a hill in Herefordshire and ends with a boat trip to Brixton and the two are difficult to link together the way the song does but who cares? Not me.
The more I’ve listened to You’ve Been Kind! the more I’ve enjoyed listening to it. Everything that Liver & Lights publish is a piece of art and, being hand made, each is unique. Having already acquired, quite by chance, The Rafter Habit I have now two precious examples of their art.
‘Garway Hill’ – rough mix: