ALBUM REVIEW: PSYCHOPATHS & OTHER TAILS by Mark Goodman – Magpie Music

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When Gail told me that most of the songs here had not been played together before recording and that this album had been recorded live DIY style in four different parts of the country, I thought ‘Well, that’s interesting….’
Then I recalled that The Clash recorded their first album in less than three weeks with minimal rehearsals and a tight budget and that turned out pretty well….

So, just how did psychopaths and other tails turn out ? Well, the first thing that struck me was the very high quality of musicianship on this album. Gail had assembled a great group of musicians with the multi-talented – multi instrumentalist Ren Stedman showcasing his many skills, Lizzie Morris from Morris and Watson picking up fiddle duties and Aimee Bee taking care of percussion and some backing vocals. Also supporting on some backing vocals those lovely chaps from Slack Mallard. The result is a collection of excellent songs that put me just a little in mind of The Antiquated and the Arcane album by 3 Daft Monkeys in style. In my opinion that’s a great album, so that is certainly no bad thing at all.

Now, it is not my intent to give an in-depth critique of every song on this fine album, but rather an attempt to give an overall feel for the album. However, one cannot do that without mentioning a few of the songs on offer here….

Things get underway with ‘Not OK’ which has a very upbeat tune with lilting guitar and some lovely harmony vocals on the chorus although the lyric is much darker than the tune suggests, and it works really well. Next up, ‘Bank’ begins with an ominous double bass leading into a fiddle driven track extolling the non-virtues of our banking institutions and offering some interesting insight into the way they operate to the detriment of normal folk. What’s not to like I thought. Well, next up is ‘You Keep Coming’. When I heard the opening lyric I was intrigued, ‘There’s a
hidden place few get to see, in a forest that grows naturally, in the valley of two mountains,’ I wondered where this place was ? Turns out be something far removed from what I was thinking as the song is actually about, yes, wanking !! An at times hilarious take on that age-old activity over a very light-hearted soundtrack. All I can is say is that at least by the end of the song nothing had fallen off, nobody had gone blind or for that matter gone to Hell !!
Call off the Dogs is lovely piano driven track with great percussion and fiddle driving some dark lyrics and also has some lovely harmony vocals on the chorus. Old Elvis is an insightful microcosm of life on a council estate back in the day and drawing comparisons with the modern day and even namechecks Jeremy Corbyn and features some excellent Cajun style banjo.
Hi Viz is a great take on those individuals who seem to go a power trip as soon as they pull on said item of clothing. In fairness Gail does mention that they do have a job to do – but it’s a matter of how you do that job. I am sure most of us have encountered such an individual at a festival, sporting event or even protest march, and so would likely appreciate the sentiment, ‘Tuck your superiority complex rants, back in your inadequate underpants and kindly.. fuck off’. It should not be overlooked that this is a good tune as well !!
Glass Houses is another piano/guitar driven tune with a very pleasing melody and Lizzie’s fiddle is tinged with sadness and another chorus with some lovely harmony vocals. Reasons features some very thoughtful and insightful lyrics about the divisions in our society and the attitudes and lack of empathy of so many all sung over an ethereal fiddle from Lizzie. Parody features some really tight banjo with an almost rap style chorus asking if the government knows best ? It actually reminded me of Roger Waters lyric on The Wall album – ‘Mother, should I trust the government ?’ This song answers the question in no uncertain terms !!
On the face of it ‘Nice Arse’ is a banjo driven comedic take on sexual stereotypes and predators, but listen a little deeper and some serious issues are actually being addressed here with some very poignant lyrics at the end of the song, ‘Ask yourself if you would like to see your mother treated like that, you got no class’. The curtain is brought down with the appropriately titled ‘Epilogue’ featuring fiddle and harpsichord and is a fine album closer.
Hopefully this gives you, dear reader, an insight into this fine album and all it remains for me to do is to wish Gail and her team every success with the album launch at the coming Sistafest. So, whether you are at Sistafest or online, go, on, get a copy of this CD, you know you want to….
You won’t be disappointed !!
Mark Goodman
Magpie Music