A wise man once said ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’. Actually that wasn’t very wise at all, as it seems the pop chefs making up this little army of rock would all be Gordon Ramsey, a whole army of Gordons, creating the tastiest dish in the world! Stick that, wise man!
See whilst the name above the lights is Keith TOTP, this record features a stellar cast of backing singers, guitarists, washboard players and people who just turned up at the studio for a Stella and forgot to go home. When you’re dealing with The Auteurs, Ciccone, Carter USM, The Rocks and Art Brut you’ve pretty much got the dream Kendallrock band and anyone worried that they might go into Deep Purple supergroup jazz odyssey mode, should see that a lot of the tracks are in and out of the door within two minutes, but by Zod do they make a glorious racket.
The album opens with the simply titled ‘Girl’ (If you’re looking for pretention you’ve come to the wrong place, unless you count, er ‘Pretentious Title TBC’, which we don’t), a rollicking ride through the speed and spit world of the Hamburg-era Beatles mixed with a little Buddy Holly harmonising. Following this rage is the sweet pop tune ‘Call Me’ wherein Keith claims “Friends mean more to me than anything you can buy”. Aw. ‘Its Slang’ features the classic pop problem of the girl that you cant stop thinking about (“I don’t want to get out of bed, I cant get you out of my head”) which will have you nodding knowingly long after its 97 seconds are up.
When you’re faced with a song called ‘Two Of The Beatles Are Dead’, you might imagine some hideous comedy record but in fact it’s the sort of sweeping rock epic that Noel Gallagher keeps thinking he’s written but has never come close. It touches on politics (“He imagined no possessions but bought a house instead”), tragedy (“He lost his wife to Eric Clapton”), conspiracy (“If you don’t count Stuart Sutcliffe…or the original Paul”, refers to the Paul Is Dead rumour that lingers even when Paul is out there playing gigs and showing up on the telly. Weird) and an innocent look at the back catalogue – “My favourite albums are the blue one and the red”. As well as the delicious hook filled chorus and the heavenly choir there’s a brilliant Day In The Life tip of the hat to make you smile at the end. Amazing.
Then its time to get nasty with the self explanatory ‘I Hate Your Band’, a venom filled diatribe and whilst it may be like shooting Schmindie fish in a tiny barrel, anyone who slags off Bloc Party or the fucking Maccabees is alright by us. It’s essentially a reverse version of Art Brut’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ an irony no doubt not lost on Eddie Argos and co who appear on the record.
‘What’s On Your Mind’ is a soft acoustic number that gives a chance to breathe after the rock n roll action before we are slammed back in with the brilliantly titled ‘Fuck You! I’m Keith Top Of The Pops!’, a song that comes on like a Primal Scream run-out groove and then messes with the rules by having a chorus for a verse and then another one for the chorus. Still, the broth tastes all the finer for it and it gives you the chance to point at your CD player like Johnny Cash and shout “Fuck you.” If that’s your bag. Which it should be. Finally it’s ‘Try Your Best’, where the bourbon soaked voice brings to mind Tom Waits and John Cale as it sails over the guitar and the album bids adieu. Still it’s only been half an hour so you will play it again. And again.
In a perfect world this would be an album of the year in everyone’s book and next year we’d see Keith TOTP stepping up at the Mercury Awards, sticking his tongue down PJ Harvey’s throat and being sick on Jools Holland. That’s the world we live in and you’d do well to visit. Keith TOTP? Top Of The Pops!