JEZ LOWE & THE BAD PENNIES – WOTCHEOR! (Tantobie Records TTRCD111)

Whatever I’m doing…everything grinds to a halt whenever I receive a disk featuring Jez Lowe. The reason for this is that I know, even before I’ve had a chance to get the shrink-wrap off the CD box I’m in for another musical treat. With an eye to catch the mind of anyone who enjoyed the antics of Arthur Askey (“Wakey! Wakey!”) or more regionally that of the debt ridden Bobby ‘The Little Waster’ Thompson, Lowe has managed, utilising the services of designer Bryan Ledgard and photographer Penelope Page to convey the image of a bygone era Radio Show. Even the introduction with it’s crackling signal tuning in to the first song “Barnstorming” and a delightful rendition of Billy Pigg’s “Biddlestone Hornpipe” performed by The Bad Pennies Northumbrian piper Andy May ably assisted by Kate Bramley (fiddle), David De La Haye (Bass), Jez on guitar/cittern and Hinny Pawsey (fiddle) the track is up-beat in that very North-Eastern way. Jez is rightly proud of his North-East roots and it couldn’t be more apparent than this homage to an institution that is sadly no longer with us. Still, we have this recording to remind us as he introduces us to the indigenous ‘characters’ through a vivid eye to detail in “Watter’s Coming Annie” (an analogy to a modern day Noah) and the laughter inducing “It’s A Champion Life” with it’s comical references to the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Of course, no Jez Lowe album would be complete without a stand-out track and for me, it’s the story of “Darling’s Other Daugther” a song that conveys, perhaps not through bitterness, but more rightly the sadness of living in the shadow of an icon. As is the tradition, the last word goes to the continuity announcer (Bert Draycott) complimenting the musicians and contributions of special guests Benny Graham, Louisa Jo Killen, The Young ‘Uns and The Tyneside Maritime Chorus. I could go on extolling the virtues of this wonderfully creative album but, as ever, the best way to conclude is to suggest that you buy the CD and find out for yourselves just how good it is. For more information check out Jez’s website at www.jezlowe.com

PETE FYFE

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