TWICE AROUND MOTTS HOUSE
Kim Fletcher | Pattaya, Chonburi Thailand | 03/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fickleness of the record buying Public has always amazed me. Some records (vinyl, c.d's, tapes, eight track, whatever you want to call them, whatever genre you're from) make it and some don't. Sometimes, to this humble dog a very average album, will sell in zillions (take "Frampton Comes Alive" for example. I mean, what were people thinking?), while an absolute classic goes completely unnoticed."Twice Around The House" is a classic example of the latter. Jonathan Kelly's debut album was released on the major league RCA label, given masses of quality marketing, prestige's gigs at all the top venues, was a regular at major festivals (playing with just a miked up acoustic, he was always easy to whip on and off between longer ensembles), and always went down a storm where ever he played. But somehow it just didn't happen.Well, I can hear you thinking the obvious answer is: he just wasn't any good. Wrong. He was good, real good."Twice Around The House" starts off with the sublime "Madeleine", a mid tempo song about un-requited love. The feeling that is in Jonathan's voice leaves you in no doubt that this is a song sung through experience and would of made an excellent single. But, alas, time has moved on. Next out of the traps is a lovely song about life in the British countryside. Not to look for too much in life in the way of always looking at the grass on the other side, may not be the answer to your questions, and it's not always as green as it seems. Next song, "We're All Right Till Then", is one of the most poignant protest songs this dog has ever heard. The chorus says it all, really. "Cos we're all right riding on the back of the mule
Yea, we're alright sliding down the back of the fool
We'll be alright till when
That farmer finds a friend
Yes, we're alright till then"With words like that I'm surprised the album wasn't bought by every downtrodden farmer in the world.To lighten the load we then have the glorious "Ballad Of Cursed Anna", always a concert favorite with audiences, telling the story of the folly of youth. A Tragi-Comedy of a song that always plucks a heart string but still leaves a smile on the lips.
Every track on the album is well constructed and the variety is quite remarkable. From acoustic sad ballads like "I Used To Know You" to the fun filled Rock `n' Roll of "The Train Song" with my favorite lyric: "The backdoor daughter to a friend of my aunt,
Came to see me with a present of a geranium plant,
I wish she'd have told me not to teach it to talk
Cause today it asked me if I would take it for a walk".I mean, c'mon, when was the last time you heard a song with a geranium in it?Just one listen to this album will blow away all your blues. At any rate this album is doubly worth picking up as it has been re-mastered and re-released on B.G.O. records as a two for one set with Jonathan's second album "Wait till they change the Backdrop". So, double joy. You get twice the amount of quality music for your buck.Like any good story though, there is a certain sadness to it, but in a way a happy ending. The sadness is that at some point Jonathan became disillusioned with the whole business of the music business, so he cut and ran. He had to do it for himself. How long can you live with high praise from the media, but a stark lack of sales?Jonathan Kelly never had a "Year Of The Cat" a "Streets Of London" or even a "Baker Street" to lift him - like his contemporaries - on to a higher more commercial plane of international stardom. It's great being an underground cult hero, but you have got to eat. Who knows how big he might have become if he'd stayed in the game? What I do know is that one minute he was playing and the next he picked up the wife and kids and returned to the valleys of Wales, turning his back on the music business forever.But now through the courtesy of B.G.O. we can listen to his wonderful work. Do yourself a favour, next time you want to spruce up your music collection, get this album. You won't regret it. Your joy begins when the disc starts spinning.I wish Jonathan Kelly and his family all the joy in Wales and thanks for the memories.Mott the Dog."
Buy this double CD
Robert Miller | Eastern USA | 03/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I could only have been a fly on the wall of Trident Sound Studios in 1972. The best of the British rock musicians were all there (Wakeman, Al Stewart, Elton John, Tim Renwick, Bruce Thomas, Willie Wilson, The Sutherlands etc.) I had never heard of Kelly, but bought the cd because it was a rare backing project of my favorites (The Sutherland Bros & Quiver). Twice around the house is a beautiful album. Sligo Fair, Ballad of the Cursed Anna, and Rock you to sleep are the best. Hyde Park Angels is a driving excellent song. Kelly sounds like a cross between Cat Stevens, George Harrison and Gordon Gano. His songs are intelligent and melodic. Much credit for Twice Around the House should go to the late great Peter Wood - he had a major hand in the sound of this record, and his wonderful keyboard playing on this album foreshadows later work he did with Al Stewart on such songs as Year of the Cat and On the border. He was a gem and many fans of 70's British music miss him dearly.The second CD, Wait til they change the backdrop though is EVEN BETTER. It's strange, how at first I didn't appreciate this one as much as Twice Around the House. There are one or two songs on the first CD that irritate me, but there is not a single song on Wait Till They Change that I don't love. The title track and many of the piano oriented songs on this CD remind me of the classic early Elton John recordings, the guitar playing of Kelly and Tim Renwick is fabulous, the string arrangements (especially on the title track) are also fabulous. My favorite track may be Godas - it has some excellent flute playing by (guitarist!) Tim Renwick; the driving bass playing by Bruce Thomas is his usual virtuoso performance, the lyrics are great(an occult tale of some bandits and a magical musician), and the Sutherland Brothers with Peter Wood sound awesome as the singing bandits. I wish Kelly & The Sutherlands would have made a complete album together as their voices meshed perfectly. One song where Kelly just repeats "Good friend I love you" over and over - is melodic but not brilliant - well maybe he was doing drugs that day. Nevertheless, buy this 2-fer cd because there is plenty of great music."
Once More Around the Houses
Robert Miller | 06/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot begin to describe the strength of my emotion when I realised I could get Twice Around the Houses on CD. I just didn't think it would ever happen which is why I've hung on to my vinyl album (even tho. I have no record player) for 32 years!I used to think that 'Rainy Town' was written about my home town Altrincham in the UK. Perhaps, it's partly the way it brings back all those cold dark afternoons and evenings spent in friends' bedrooms listening to each other's LPs. Perhaps but perhaps not. The haunting 'I used to know you' still pulls the heart strings and the wonderful 'Leave them go' has actually come to mean more to me at 48 than it did at 16. And I too could never forget the talking geranium!Wherever you are Jonathan, thank you for making your too brief foray into the music business but as your song advises, it's best to leave you go."