Not a new album by the Wirral's finest purveyors of witty post-punk but a collection of various singles and B sides hurled out over the scattershot second half of their career. Contains such classics as 'Bob Wilson - Anchorman' and 'Eno Collaboration' alongside a whole slew of other lesser spotted gems.
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- And Some Fell On Stony Ground by Half Man Half Biscuit
Leigh, Warrington, Kilmarnock. Just a few of the places these songs were recorded. Half Man Half Biscuit have always had a haphazard approach to their recordings and over the course of their 30 year history haven't really bothered to increase their fidelity. They also have a similar attitude to their discography. Things come out. Sometimes. And that's about all you can say.
This is a collection of B sides and EPs and is presented in no particular order whatsoever so there's no progression whatsoever. You are just going to have to accept that it's just some songs on a CD. The opening sextet are from 2003's 'Saucy Haulage Ballads' and must feature in any worst recorded records of all time list. It comes in that period where I'd sort of had enough of HMHB and it's not all my fault. they need to put some effort into their songs. It's a two way thing you know. Better are a couple of songs from the 'Look Dad No Tunes' EP from 2003 including 'Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes' which contains the immortal line "do you switch the kitchen light off with your chin"? The 'Eno Collaboration' EP is big on mocking music biz 'legends' also including the excellent 'Get Kramer' and the title-is-all-you-need 'Hair Like Brian May Blues'.
At this point we hurtle back to 1990 for my very favourite HMHB song of all time 'Ordinary to Enschede' which reminds me of how good they once were. A superb lop sided ballad with insanely catchy chorus and the sort of happy/sad lyric that convinces me that when he's on form Nigel Blackwell is one of England's finest wordsmiths. Brilliant, just brilliant.
There are some highlights to come 'the punky 'Bob Wilson - Anchorman' and the lovely 'Lark Descending' (with it's chorus of "Steve Malkmus" and closing admission of "I could have been like Lou Barlow but I'm more like Ken Barlow") in particular but this is a non essential Biscuits album. It showcases a lot of the folkier/novelty things they did in the early 2000s when you might have presumed their day was run but recent albums like 'CSI Ambleside' have proved theres life in the old wags yet. Fans though will welcome these bits and pieces all in one place.
8/10 Simon Ghent 14th December 2016
I'm very pleased the Biscuits have put this out.
HMHB are the only band that I got into as a teenager in the late 80's that I still regularly listen to.
This is, as mentioned above, a collection of songs from singles from EPs, singles and in one case compilation albums (the excellent "Colours Are Brighter"). I take the point that some of them are badly recorded, but that's part of the charm innit?
The inside of Nigel Blackwell's head must be an odd place. Several of these songs clearly start with an idea or phrase that made him smile and he's built a song around it - Hair Like Brian May Blues being an excellent example.
I've got all of the albums and EPs, except for Look Dad No Tunes, a three track single. The last one on eBay went for about £40 and much as I love them, I'm not paying that.
So, only about three tracks on here I don't have elsewhere, but it's a nice set of odd songs.
It also features "Vatican Broadside" - an excellent joke disguised as a song.
If you like HMHB and haven't got Look Dad No Tunes, Editor's Recommendation or Saucy Haulage Ballads (all of which are now unavailable and overly expensive 2nd hand) this is well worth picking up.
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