The Jazz Butcher
The Jazz Butcher
|Also known as||The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy|
The Jazz Butcher Group
The Jazz Butcher And His Sikkorskis From Hell
The Jazz Butcher Quartet
The Jazz Butcher Quintet
|Genres||Indie pop, jangle pop|
|Years active||1982–2000, 2012, 2021|
|Labels||Glass, Creation, Vinyl Japan,Fire Records, Big Time, ROIR, Tapete Records, Cherry Red|
|Past members||Pat Fish(deceased)|
Mr. O.P. Jones
Curtis E. Johnson
The Jazz Butcher was the alias of British singer/songwriter Pat Fish (Patrick Huntrods). It also served as the name of the band, though adjuncts were frequently used to distinguish between Fish’s persona and band itself (The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy or JBC, The Jazz Butcher Group, The Jazz Butcher and his Sikkorskis from Hell, The Jazz Butcher Quartet and The Jazz Butcher Quintet.)
The line-up of the band changed frequently throughout its history, with Pat Fish being the only constant. Notable members included band co-founder Max Eider (Peter Millson), David J.(Haskins), Owen P. Jones, Rolo McGinty, Alice Thompson, Paul Mulreany, Alex Green, Richard Formby, Kizzy O’Callaghan, Curtis E. Johnson and Peter Crouch.
The band was formed in Oxford in 1982 by Pat Fish and Max Eider. Having met at university, Fish and Eider had previously been in bands the Institution, along with Rolo McGinty (later of The Woodentops), and The Sonic Tonix (Later The Tonix) with John Silver.
Upon the breakup of The Tonix, Fish moved to Northampton, a place he described as "seething with creativity, backed by a supportive local press". He began writing songs, and the first advertised Jazz Butcher performance took place at Merton College in Oxford, 20 February 1982. Both the name, and the gig itself was "perceived as a one-off laugh". Shortly thereafter, Fish reconnected with Eider, only to find that Eider’s playing style had changed to a "rich, clean, country soul sound with just a touch of Wes Montgomery", which complemented the kinds of songs Fish had been writing at that time.
Around this time, Fish began recording songs using an Amstrad 7090 audio cassette recorder. The purpose of the device was to dub the contents of one cassette to another, however, Fish discovered that the microphone channel remained open, so that he could add multiple parts with each pass.
The Glass years (1982–1987)
In August / September 1982, Fish and several friends and collaborators began recording the first Jazz Butcher album at Starforce Studio in Clapham. Co-produced by Fish and Barker (under the pseudonym Lionel Brando,) contributors included Eider, McGinty, Silver, Alice Thompson, Ian Sturgess, Louis Leroi and engineer Martin K. Daley.
On November 1, 1982, Fish was approached to open for fellow Northampton band, Bauhaus. The whimsical nature of the Jazz Butcher band did not impress the headliner’s goth followers. "The massed audience listened politely, if disconcertingly quietly,” reported the Northampton Mercury and Herald. Fish was "pleased to survive the experience". Fish had assumed that Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins had arranged their spot on the bill, as Kevin and Fish were friends; only to find that it was Haskins’ brother David J. who had taken an interest in The Jazz Butcher.
Bath of Bacon was released in March 1983. The album, according to Fish, was "the sound of a few mates failing to take seriously the fact they they've got an LP to make." A review in The Scotsman called Bath “quite good fun, if you don’t mind being used in someone else’s experiment.”
Summer of 1983 found Fish and Eider back in the studio with McGinty and Thompson (who had now formed The Woodentops), joined by Kevin Haskins on drums. The result was the single, “Southern Mark Smith.” The single gained some national recognition, having been played on “hit-maker” John Peel’s Radio show.
In Early 1984, Fish and Thompson recorded a number of cover songs, mostly by Lou Reed, John Cale and Kevin Ayers in what would be known as the “Cak Bag” sessions. Many of these would go on to appear on Glass Record compilations and fan magazines throughout the year.
Glass also released two singles in 1984; "Marnie" and "Roadrunner" (Jonathan Richman). The b-side for "Roadrunner" featured the Max Eider song "D.R.I.N.K.", which would go on to be a fan favorite.
David J.'s friendship with Fish and continued interest in the Jazz Butcher group prompted discussions of J. producing the Butcher's next LP, however the dissolution of Bauhaus corresponded with an opening in the bassist’s role. The line-up of Fish, Eider, Jones and David J. would be regarded as the first “official” line up, and remain so for much of 1984 into 1985.
Produced by John A. Rivers, A Scandal in Bohemia was released in November 1984. With the help of Rivers and J., the band improved upon their studio technique. Eider’s guitar style had also strengthened since Bath of Bacon, becoming less "ornamental" and more of an “essential element” to the Jazz Butcher’s sound of that time.
The album shares its title with the first Sherlock Holmes short story, and features a memorable cover by comic artist Hunt Emerson. According to Fish, "We were young(ish) and cocky and I think it shows….Still, it was cheap and cheerful, and it helped us to meet an awful lot of people". The record ended up selling over 20,000 copies.
The cohesion of a "proper" band, David J's Bauhaus notoriety and the success of Scandal led to a more ambitious touring schedule. 1985 was also a prolific time for the band in the studio, releasing the singles "Real Men", "The Human Jungle", as well as the live album Hamburg (credited to The Jazz Butcher and his Sikkorskis from Hell). Glass released The Gift of Music, which compiled many of the band’s singles and b-sides.
The Jazz Butcher also released Sex and Travel, again recorded with John A. Rivers as producer. "One day's rehearsal in Kevin Haskin's living room, five days' recording and two days' mixing was all it took for us to make my favorite of the Glass records,” said Fish in 1993.
After Haskins' departure, Graham "Felix" Fudger was brought in as his replacement as the band continued with a tour schedule that was three times the year prior; 110 shows in 1985, as compared to 36 shows in 1984.
In 1986, the band released singles for "Hard", "Conspiracy", "Angels", and the fan club only release "Christmas with the Pygmies", as well as appearing on compilation albums, such as 50,000 Glass Fans Can’t Be Wrong (which also features solo songs by David J. and Max Eider). Bloody Nonsense, a compilation of b-sides was released in America and Canada, finding its way onto the college charts.
In May 1986, The Jazz Butcher returned to the studio with John A. Rivers to record their next LP, Distressed Gentlefolk. The extensive touring had honed the band’s skills, but according to Fish, they were also exhausted and went into the studio with “a scanty armful of tunes,” many ideas having already been released as singles.
Rivers had embraced the digital revolution, which was reflected in the production. Fish and Eider had both been focused on their song writing, but their styles had begun to drift apart, with Fish leaning toward a heavier sound, and Eider maintaining a quieter, more jazz-influenced style.
Touring continued, including America and Canada for the first time in 1986. The popularity of the band was growing, but the effort was taking its toll. Fudger was replaced on bass by Richard Lohan, and Alex Green joined the band on saxophone.
On November 22, 1986, after a show in Zurich, Switzerland, personal tensions, alcohol and exhaustion boiled over into a physical fight between Fish and Eider, resulting in the lead guitarist quitting the band.
The tour continued without the lead guitarist and concluded on Fish's birthday, December 20. Shortly thereafter, Jones tenured his resignation.
Soon afterwards, Fish's contract with Glass Records expired but not before the release of Big Questions - The Gift of Music Volume 2, another compilation of singles and b-sides.
The success of Bloody Nonsense and Distressed Gentlefolk, especially in America, led Eider to sign as a solo artist to the Jazz Butcher’s US distributor, Big Time records. This proved unpropitious, as the record company folded shortly after having released Eider’s "Best Kisser in the World". The lack of funds for promotion doomed sales of Eider’s first solo effort.
Meanwhile, Fish and Alex Green were fulfilling touring obligations throughout Europe as a duo, at venues which were largely expecting a band. According to Fish, "For the most part, it was a matter of making the best of things and getting out alive",
The Creation years (1988–1996)
The deal with Creation offered Fish the opportunity to reform the Jazz Butcher outfit. Kizzy O’Callahan had served as a guitar tech during the previous incarnation of the band, and Fish was already familiar with his skill as a guitarist.
On Alan McGee's recommendation, the rhythm section of Dave Goulding (bass) and Dave Morgan (drums) were borrowed from fellow Creation band the Weather Prophets as the band went in to record the next album. Alex Green on saxophone rounded out the core of the studio group, with other friends and musicians making contributions, including Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3, bassist Laurence O’Keefe and members of the Perfect Disaster.
Around this time, Pat considered shedding the "Jazz Butcher" moniker, wishing to put some distance between the new outfit and some of the sillier material of his Glass Records days. However, McGee insisted "...that's the one they all know, you've got to keep it."
Longtime Jazz Butcher photographer, Mitch Jenkins, took the cover photo, which shows Fish and O’Callahan in front of London fish & chip shop Fishcotheque, which would provide the name of the new LP.
Having felt that Distressed Gentlefolk suffered from over-production, Fish set out to make a record that had a more rough and straightforward sound. Reviewers (particularly in the US) perceived it as a continuation of the smooth, jazz-influenced approach of his earlier efforts. Still, reviews for Fishcotheque were generally positive. 1988 also saw the release of the single and video for "Spooky", a cover of the Classics IV song.
Paul Mulreany was added to the live lineup, and with Fish fronting a new band on a new label, the JBC spent most of 1988 touring Europe, the US and Canada.
For the next album, Big Planet Scarey Planet, Fish returned to producer John A. Rivers. After a year of touring, Fish reasoned "We'd hardened up a lot and figured we could now withstand the Rivers' treatment".
The band wanted to make a rock record that reflected some of their influences of the time, such as hip-hop and proto-acid. "Consequently, there are some weird hybrids on the 'Big Planet' record," Fish recalled. The song "Line of Death", for example, incorporated middle eastern influence, disco, heavy metal and a nod to Ennio Morricone's ""The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".
Just prior to a nine-week tour of the US, Kizzy O'Callahan was admitted to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was replaced by Richard Formby.
While in Los Angeles, the band was interviewed on Deirdre O'Donoghue's popular alternative rock show SNAP! on KCRW. While the band agreed they would perform only one or two songs, "...we get down there to KCRW and meet Deirdre O'Donoghue and she's a real fan and she kept winding us up," recounted Fish, "we ended up doing 12 or 13". Those live recordings would end up as the 4th disc of the box set Dr. Cholmondley Repents (2022).
The incarnation of the band that recorded Cult of the Basement had been together for some time and just finished a lengthy tour. Some songs which would appear on the album, such as "Girl Go" and "Mr. Odd" had been road-tested, others such as "She's on Drugs" and "Sister Death" existed in demo form, and much of the rest of the album was developed out of band improvisation. The result was an album that was more "sprawling" stylistically. Fish commented "I feel it's the first time we captured the true sound of the band".
"She's on Drugs" enjoyed airplay on college radio, and a video for "Girl-Go" aired on MTV's alternative music showcase '120 minutes' in America. "Girl-Go", which makes musical and lyrical reference to The Perfect Disaster's "All the Stars", was released as a single. The b-side, "Excellent", would mark the last time O'Callahan would play with the band. He died of a brain tumor in 1990.
1991 saw the release of the eponymous album by Black Eg. Credited to the fictional Von Dämmerung brothers, it was an album of ambient dance music built around synthesizers and samples. The Black Eg themselves made their live debut on 1 June 1994 at Soundshaft in London.
Their oeuvre is blackly humorous with such topics as Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, an unrequited crush on Shirley MacLaine, and an ode to SF writer Harlan Ellison. The song "Sister Death" is not about the comic book character, but was inspired by the last words of Saint Francis of Assisi, "Welcome, Sister Death".
- In Bath of Bacon (1983), Glass
- A Scandal in Bohemia (1984), Glass
- Sex and Travel (1985), Glass – UK Indie No. 25
- Distressed Gentlefolk (1986), Glass – UK Indie No. 15
- Fishcotheque (1988), Creation
- Big Planet Scarey Planet (1989), Creation
- Cult Of The Basement (1990), Creation
- Black Eg (1991), Creation (under the name Black Eg)
- Condition Blue (1991), Creation
- Waiting for the Love Bus (1993), Creation
- Illuminate (1995), Creation
- Rotten Soul (2000), Vinyl Japan
- Last of the Gentleman Adventurers (2012), (self-released)
- The Highest in the Land (2022), Tapete
- "Southern Mark Smith" (1983), Glass
- "Marnie" (1984), Glass
- "Roadrunner" (1984), Glass – UK Indie No. 50
- "Zombie Love" (1984)
- "Affection" (1984)
- "Real Men" (1985), Glass – UK Indie No. 34
- "The Human Jungle" (1985), Glass – UK Indie No. 27
- "Christmas with the Pygmies" (1985)
- "Leaving It Up to You" (1985)
- "Hard" (1986), Glass – UK Indie No. 24
- "Angels" (1986), Glass
- "Peter Lorre" (1986)
- "Spooky" (1988), Creation – UK Indie No. 19
- "New Invention" (1989), Creation
- "We Love You" (1990), Creation
- "She's a Yo-Yo" (1991), Skyclad
- "Shirley MacLaine" (1991)
- "Sweetwater" (1993)
- "Vodka Girls" (1994)
- "Sixteen Years" (1995), Creation
- "All The Saints" (2016), Fire
- Conspiracy (1986), Glass – UK Indie No. 42
- May I (1987)
- Girl Go (1990), Creation
- Hamburg (1985), Rebel
- Western Family (1993), Creation
- Glorious and Idiotic (2000), ROIR
- Gift of Music (1985), Glass
- Bloody Nonsense (1986), Big Time
- Big Questions (Gift of Music, Vol. 2) (1987), Glass
- Spooky (1988), Creation/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- Edward's Closet (1991), Creation
- Unconditional (1992)
- Draining the Glass (1996), Nectar
- !Excellent! The Violent Years (1997)
- Cake City (2001), Vinyl Japan
- The Jazz Butcher's Free Lunch (2003)
- The Wasted Years (2017), Fire Records
- The Violent Years (2018), Fire Records
- Dr Cholmondley Repents: A-sides, B-Sides and Seasides (2021), Fire Records
- Fish, Pat; Snow, Philip (2022). Miracles and Wonders: A meandering, cacophonous concordance of The Jazz Butcher songbook (1st ed.). Poland: New Barcelona Books. p. 5.
- Fish, Pat; Snow, Philip (2022). Miracles and Wonders: A meandering, cacophonous concordance of The Jazz Butcher songbook (1st ed.). Poland: New Barcelona Books. p. 25.
- Fish, Pat (2017). The Jazz Butcher - The Wasted Years (Liner Notes) (1st ed.). Fire Records.
- Fish, Pat; Snow, Philip (2022). Miracles and Wonders: A meandering, cacophonous concordance of The Jazz Butcher songbook (1st ed.). Poland: New Barcelona Books. pp. 20–21.
- Fish, Pat; Snow, Philip (2022). Miracles and Wonders: A meandering, cacophonous concordance of The Jazz Butcher songbook (1st ed.). Poland: New Barcelona Books. pp. 38–39.
- Fish, Pat (30 August 1993). "The Jazz Butcher Etc | Letters From Pat 30Aug93 The Albums". jazzbutcher.com.
- "The Jazz Butcher Releases VA: Another Spark". jazzbutcher.com.
- "The Jazz Butcher Releases Marnie". jazzbutcher.com.
- "The Jazz Butcher Releases Roadrunner". jazzbutcher.com.
- "The Jazz Butcher Releases A Scandal In Bohemia". jazzbutcher.com.
- "The Jazz Butcher Gigs". jazzbutcher.com.
- "The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy : Top 10 JBC Fiascos". jazzbutcher.com. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
- "The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy : Press : Caught In The Carousel/Stereo Embers November 30, 2007". jazzbutcher.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
- "The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy : Press : March, 1995". jazzbutcher.com. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
- Fish, Pat (2018). The Jazz Butcher - The Violent Years (Liner Notes) (1st ed.). Fire Records.
- Fish, Pat; Snow, Philip (2022). Miracles and Wonders: A meandering, cacophonous concordance of The Jazz Butcher songbook (1st ed.). Poland: New Barcelona Books. p. 136.
- "The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy : Gigs : 1988". jazzbutcher.com. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
- "The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy : Gigs". jazzbutcher.com. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
- Fish, Pat (2018). The Jazz Butcher - The Violent Years (Liner notes) (1st ed.). Fire Records.
- Fish, Pat (2021). The Jazz Butcher - De. Cholmondley Repents; A-sides, B-sides and Seasides (Liner Notes) (1st ed.). Fire Records.
- "Pat Fish", Wikipedia, 23 May 2022, retrieved 3 July 2022
- Lazell, Barry (1998) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p. 122