Fifty-something DIY enthusiast, John Shuttleworth lives in Sheffield with his wife and two kids. He writes perfect kitchen-sink pop songs with the help of his portable Yamaha synthesizer. Available for the first time on vinyl, The Yamaha Years contains such classics as Pigeons In Flight and My Wife Died In 1970. This double LP also contains 7 bonus tracks.
Graham Fellows is the man behind John Shuttleworth. He also created the character of Jilted John for the eponymous punk hit in 1978.
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 22 September 2015
Oooph! Re-issue culture has reached its apex with this double vinyl edition of Sheffield singer-songwriter John Shuttleworth’s classic ’The Yamaha Years’, previously only available on compact disc.
The alter ego of comedian Graham Fellows (aka Jilted John), it’s tempting to review this as we would any other release of obscure long forgotten music from the past but it’s hard to keep the joke going -- there are simply too many laughs to be had. The haunting opener ‘My Wife Died in 1970’ sets the tone of this tragicomic character who at a later point in the record manages to lose his current wife in a row over a vacuum cleaner. What has always been great about Shuttleworth is how he revels in the micro minutia of life and the way a certain breed of middle aged man is obsessed by the small irritations of life. This coupled with the completely deluded belief that he can compete at the top of the charts makes for rich seam of comedy.
The first side contains some of his best and most incisive compositions - the raucous ‘Eggs and Gammon’ celebrates his manager Ken’s attempt to take his wife camping after a large meal (with windy results), ‘You’re Like Manchester’ is a gorgeous pean to that city in autumn with clanking similes - “You’re Like Manchester, you have Strangeways”, “don’t you Cheetham me”, etc. Thing is, yes it's comedy on the surface, but I find these vignettes rather touching. Similarly 'The Man Who Lives on the M62' compares Shuttleworth’s past mistakes -- such as planing a door too heavily so that there’s now a gap where the wind gets through to the owner of the farm, which sits right in the centre of the titular motorway due to the farmer refusing to sell it. The chorus is just lovely, again re-enforcing real compositional ability behind the facade.
Elsewhere Shuttleworth tackles curing depression (“have a quick snack in the boating lake cafe”), death (“I’ll undertake your burial…or my wife Mary will…if I’m already dead"), a visit to a carvery, sidekick Ken (“you're like Volvo, you keep your lights on in the day”) and the fist pumping ’Save the Whale’. It’s all presented in an easy listening bontempi organ style with flubs, random asides and narration. Contains seven tracks not on the original collection.
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