Thursday, May 29, 2008
01.22.08: THE JAZZ BUTCHER
The Jazz Butcher was the vehicle of prolific singer/songwriter Pat Fish, an archetypal British eccentric whose sharp observational wit and melodic gifts navigated the group through over a decade of constant line-up shifts, stylistic mutations and even a series of name changes which found the band performing variously -- and apparently randomly -- under such titles as the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and the Jazz Butcher & His Sikkorskis From Hell.
Fish first concocted his Butcher persona in 1982, quickly enlisting his Oxford mates to join him in a band of the same name; even from the outset, the group's roster changed seemingly on a daily basis, although Fish found an early mainstay in guitarist Max Eider. The Jazz Butcher's eclectic 1982 debut A Bath in Bacon -- including early skewed pop gems such as "Love Zombie" and "Sex Engine Thing" -- was essentially a Fish solo record, but by 1984's folky A Scandal in Bohemia the roster had stabilized to include ex-Bauhaus bassist David J. Following The Gift of Music, a 1984 compilation of single sides, the Jazz Butcher resurfaced the following year with Sex and Travel, a marvelously odd set ranging in sound from punk ("Red Pets") to cabaret ("Holiday").
After David J left the band to join Love and Rockets, the remaining quartet -- Fish, Eider, bassist Felix Ray and drummer Mr. O.P. Jones -- rechristened themselves the Jazz Butcher and His Sikkorskis from Hell.
Followed the next year by an EP, Hard. Leaving the rhythm section behind, Fish and Eider then recorded 1986's Conspiracy EP, credited to the "Jazz Butcher vs. Max Eider" and foreshadowing the subsequent shift to the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy aegis for Distressed Gentlefolk. Eider soon exited to mount a solo career, leaving Fish to team with guitarist Kizzy O'Callaghan for 1988's Fishcoteque, their first release for the Creation label.
By the time of 1989's Big Planet Scarey Planet, the line-up also included the superb bassist Laurence O'Keefe, saxophonist Alex Green and drummer Paul Mulreany; 1990's Cult of the Basement was recorded with the same roster, but the usual disruptions soon left Fish essentially to his own devices for 1991's Condition Blue and 1993's Waiting for the Love Bus. Upon reuniting with David J, who produced 1995's low-key Illuminate, Fish decided to lay the Jazz Butcher name to rest, and performed a farewell performance in London at the end of the year. He subsequently signed on to play drums with the Stranger Tractors, but in 1999 reunited with Eider for a Jazz Butcher Conspiracy tour of the U.S. The live Glorious and Idiotic appeared the following year and Rotten Soul was issued in fall 2000.
Tonight we will be playing 2 hours worth of the Jazz Butcher, the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy, the Jazz Butcher and his Sikkorskis from Hell, and Max Eider's solo album.