Hands up all who remember - or preferably purchased - an album entitled Sticky Tape and Rust? Not only was it the very first release on the delightful Mega Dodo label but it was also our introduction to a certain Mr. Mordecai Smyth.
And a fine introduction it was. Chock full of knowing and sometimes darkly humorous vignettes on numerous topics including lycanthropy, murder and cycling sorceresses, all of them evoking The Idle Race or a Village Green-era Kinks with effortless ease. Toytown psych, one might say, with Mayor of Toytown Mordecai pulling the strings.
Still, that was 2011, so what's been happening since? Apart from a couple of EPs and appearances on compilations here and there, things have been a little quiet on the Mordecai front. However, those in the know were given to understand that Mr. Smyth was not resting on his laurels and was, in fact, toiling on something rather different. But what, exactly? Well, the wait is over...and it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that The Mayor of Toytown is Dead.
But this is no cause for sadness: Mordecai is still very much with us, although the short, sharp numbers of those Sticky Tape days have gone. They're longer now but still with hooks aplenty - accessible and challenging in the best tradition of progressive rock. Mordecai prefers it to be known as "regressive rock." (If you get the chance, do ask him and I'm sure he'll tell you why.)
He's also called upon the assistance of a wide pool of talents. Among them is Dave Lambert (Strawbs, The Fire) who contributes lead guitar to the album's opening and closing tracks. There's the South West's finest, Icarus Peel and Crystal Jacqueline. Long time friends Darren Medland and Martin Simmonds are in there too, as are guest vocalists Catherine Earnshaw and Deborah Pike, plus many more who helped to shape the album you hold in your hands. And let's not forget Tabitha Smyth: her woodwind stylings were among the highlights of Sticky Tape and Rust, and it could be argued that this time around they've truly found their spiritual home.
So, pull up a chair - or an elongated sofa, if you wish - and have a listen. You know it's what the good Mayor would have wanted.
released November 11, 2017
MORDECAI SMITH - vocals, guitars, mellotron, keys
TABITHA SMYTH - clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, (backing vocal on golf girl)
ICARUS PEEL - bass guitar, specialist feedback guitar, backing vocal (lyrics for river of sleep)
DAVE LAMBERT - guitar solos (billywitch/dissent into chaos)
DARREN MEDLAND - acoustic guitar (far from the crowd)
CATHERINE EARNSHA W - vocals (far from the crowd)
DEBORAH PIKE - vocals + lyrics (happy)
MICHAEL B. CREECH - drums, percussion (billywitch//golf/a knife/pulse/dissent)
MITCH GRIFFIN - drums (tar from the crowd! happy)
MARTIN SIMMONDS - drums (river of sleep)
GIAMPIERO "GP" NASSI - drums (heading back west)
DIANE PRINCE - trombone (golf girl)
SARAH RHIANNON PARKES BOWEN - flute (a knife and a key) CRYSTAL JACQUELINE - backing vocal (heading back west)
All songs written by Mordecai Smyrh except; *M. Smyth/M. Simmonds/I. Simmonds/I. Peel.
~ R. Coughlan/P. Hastings/R. Sinclair/D, Sinclair A M. Smyth/D. Pike> M. Smyt:h/D. Medland.
Cover art by Martin Simmonds
Inner cover photograph by Silke jochum, assisted on the day by Britta Huning