Reason #1 Why The 80’s Didn’t Suck As Bad As People Think It Did

SUBJECT: Pat Fish/Jazz Butcher


INFLUENCES: Jonathan Richman, Ray Davies, Lou Reed

SIMILAR ARTIST: Robyn Hitchcock

STYLE/GENRE: Pop rock/Alternative/Indie

MOODS: Wry/Irreverent

I have been a fan of The Jazz Butcher, aka Pat Fish, since about 1985 when he and assembled cohorts  released the album  Sex and Travel, a collection of smart, jangly, post punk character sketches and homages  to various alcoholic beverages and…well…sex. Picture Jonathan Richman with an English accent.

His  sense of humor and impressive  musicianship impressed me almost immediately and the Butcher’s discography has followed me since my high school days. For some reason, especially with his earlier stuff, his albums never date, and the sheer variety of musical styles on each album has given me endless years of sonic pleasure.

His consistent quality and stylish mish-mash of of Byrdsian guitars, acoustic folk, punk/ new wave and sincere, funny and thought provoking lyrics make him, in my estimation, one of the great musicians of the last 20 years. He’s prolific, releasing no less than 16 proper albums and 2 live documents in 17 years. He joins Edwyn Collins, Lloyd Cole and Robyn Hitchcock in the (amazingly!) ignored but remarkably talented British eccentric musicians club.

Take it from me, The Jazz Butcher is a treasure you should track down, and here’s a list of JB albums, in order of importance, you must hunt down immediately:

A Scandal In Bohemia, 1984
Sex And Travel, 1984
Distressed Gentlefolk, 1986
In Bath Of Bacon, 1983
Cult Of The Basement, 1990
Big Planet, Scary Planet, 1989

Start with these, and then pick up everything else. If you are unsure about making the investment, start with the excellent compilation Draining The Glass: 82-86. It contains a great selection of the Butcher’s best tracks, including superior versions of “Party Time” , “The Human Jungle” and “Zombie Love”. His B-sides are really something special too, if you can locate them: “Olaf Palme”, “Peter Lorre”, “X-Mas With The Pygmies” and the hilarious “My Arse Is On Fire”.

Who la-la-la-la loves you now?
Do I, do I, do I?
Who calms you down and shows you how…to comply?
Whose concern is how you contend with the pain?
Whose tender hands have touched your flesh and your heart and your brain

Again and again?

Who ne-ne-ne-ne needs you near?
Do I, do I, do I?
Who knows exactly what you fear?
Do I?
Who’ll stand by you, send your temperature high?
Who’ll be with you when you hemorrhage, stagger and die, dear?
Don’t leave me, my wretched memory,
Don’t leave me now.

You get safe pills for self-inflicted ills –

Who loves you now?

Who lets you out and locks you in
Who knows where you begin?
Who nestles snug inside your skin?
Do I?
Who pursues you, with desperate cries?
Whose fine taste only your death satisfies?