If you have not yet encountered Bones And The Aft? some explanation may be necessary. They are the musical wing of the Liver & Lights organization, led by poet, artist and publisher, John Bently. The band has a variable line-up with composer Ian Mckean and drummer David Beschizza (aka Admiral Lord Biscuit) as its other fixed points. On Mickey, they are joined by musician/animator Arthur Bently and frequent collaborator Bird Radio.
Mickey is the album of the book One Shoe Michael; A London Song Cycle and you can buy the two together at a bargain price from the website. The book isn’t absolutely essential although it does contain all the lyrics, although not necessarily in the right order. Indeed, the words of one song are printed on a slip of paper tucked into an envelope glued inside the back cover. John Bently’s handmade aesthetic makes its mark in what is an otherwise conventional book.
One Shoe Michael is an imaginary immigrant who wanders the streets of London from his cardboard box. The underlying story is rather surreal, involving snails and gloves, or rather the One True Glove – just go with it, you’ll find that’s best. Over that are the stories of people he meets: the nurse, the friendly copper – who gets three songs – and Mutton Jeff and within those stories are telling social observations.
Musically the album begins with the plangent electric sound of ‘Whats Its Orl About’ and moves through a melody by Scriabin transcribed for guitar by Mckean backing ‘One Shoe Mickey’ – an autobiographical introduction. It begins with a gentle acoustic figure and builds up a full-blown band performance. ‘Coppers’ is a bit cockney knees-up topped off with a guitar solo. I must mention the final track, ‘The Camberwell Road’ a sort of travelogue which is Bently’s poetic métier – the description of the everyday.
Unless you’re an habitué of some of London’s more esoteric venues you may not have heard Bones And The Aft? live – I’ve not had that pleasure – but they make records that demand your attention and Mickey is just the latest.
Artists’ website: https://bonesandtheaft.bandcamp.com/
‘Dirty Jobs’ – one of the copper’s songs: