For reasons you can discover by following the link below Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers has been obliged to release Uke Town, a double album of demos some of which, in the fullness of time, will be released as a full album. Don’t be put off by the word “demos” – these are slick recordings engineered by Swill’s regular producer James Knight with the assistance of some friends. These are also some of his best songs: a dozen originals, three co-writes and three covers.
It started when he bought a ukulele sort of for fun while on holiday. I thought that only old hippies did that sort of thing but Phil got hooked and started writing seriously. The first disc opens with ‘The Ghost Of Rock’n’Roll’, a very catchy song embellished with Geoff Price’s slide guitar and finishes with a ukulele instrumental, ‘Misty Town’, actually recorded in his kitchen.
Between these is the first of the covers, ‘Early Morning Rain’, and the gentle country vibe suits Phil very well. Then there is the first of two versions of ‘The Last Thing On My Mind Is Regret’ – the second being towards the end of the second disc – and if the title brings Tom Paxton to mind that’s actually not too far off although it’s rather more robust than something he might have written. ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ takes words from a poem by Joe Solo and is another really good song.
The second set opens with ‘The Red Bottle & The Green Bottle’, co-written with TMTCH partner Paul Simmonds and that’s followed by ‘4 Men Went To Ealing’ which I surmise concerns Alexis Korner and the Ealing Club although Swill manages to name-check Sarah Jane Smith alongside the blues legends. ‘500 Miles’ comes from Hedy West and ‘Empty Streets & Lovers In The Rain’ was co-written with Robb Johnson. Next comes a rather surprising choice: Dougie MacLean’s ‘Caledonia’. It seems to be rather sentimental for an old punk but we must remember that Swill is a bit older now and he’s capable of bringing a certain maturity to his singing. ‘Wickham Song’ is presumably about the festival and I do like the flourish of finishing with a song called ‘It’s All Done’.
Although the uke dominates it’s not too in your face and the contributions of Price and Tom Spencer give us a fair idea of what Swill will eventually do with these songs. While we wait the demos of Uke Town make for good listening.
Artist’s website: www.swillodgers.co.uk
‘Uke Town’ – official video:
Read the story behind Uke Town in Phil’s own words here.