Yamaha Years - John Shuttleworth

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Yamaha Years - John Shuttleworth

1 CD(s) - Comedy - Label: Chic Ken - Distributor: Voiceprint/Plastic Head - Released: 27/10/2003 - 604388629725

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Review of "Yamaha Years - John Shuttleworth"

published 13/05/2006 | blankfrank
Member since : 20/11/2005
Reviews : 45
Members who trust : 3
About me :
Excellent
Pro Funny, touching, minutely observed comedy.
Cons None, but how about a Vol.2, Graham?
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"Still John, but no longer Jilted..."

Many of you reading this will be familiar with John Shuttleworth, but for those of you who aren't, here is a brief rundown.

John is ostensibly a fiftysomething ex-security guard ("for a sweet manufacture in the Rotherham area"), from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. An aspiring singer/songwriter, with the aid of a Yamaha keyboard, he performs in sheltered accomodation, hostels, old peoples homes and his world is one of "campuccino" coffee, kagoules, DIY and various current obsessions.
In this he aided by his wife Mary (and family) and his frankly strange next door neighbour ("and sole agent") Ken Worthington, a man who came last on New Faces in 1973.

Stop right there....

The reality is that John is the creation of Sheffield-born actor Graham Fellows, a guy with an interesting acting CV (stage work, 'Corrie', amongst other things, also Aardman and others), He also had a hit single in the late 70's with 'Jilted John', possibly the best two chord song ever written. Now in his mid forties, Graham first developed JS as a creation around twenty years ago. SInce that time he has toured JS many times, had four series of The Shuttleworths on Radio 4 and other radio series too (Radio Shuttleworth, Shuttleworths Open House, Shuttleworths Showtime) and in fact his latest radio show, John Shuttleworth's Open Mind, where he explored the paranormal, has only recently finished on R4. Most of these, along with a couple of live CD's and DVD's, are (or have been ) available on tape or CD. What is special about all of these is that Graham does the voices of not only John , but his whole family, Ken and various neighbours too, by use of multi-track recording.

In each episode of The Shuttleworths, John performs at least one, sometimes two songs and many of these are collected here, along with others he has performed on stage. Don't expect lavish instrumentation though, all you get is John (and sometimes Ken) and his beloved Yamaha keyboard. Production is crisp and clear thoughout though. There are 20 tracks in total here, along with a little chat from John (and sometimes Ken). The first three tracks (My Wife Died In 1970/Modern Man/Have You Seen My Wife) are a triple whammy of wife-related songs, the first being about his late first wife ("my wife died in 1970, peacfully, in her sleep...") and the next two are about his current wife Mary.

Eco concerns raise their heads on Save The Whale and The Bee And The Wasp, while homilies on personal matters (How To Be Happy In A Sad Sad World and From A Father To A Son) also come within John's remit. And possibly the only song ever written about/to the Austin Ambassador car (Y-Reg), is on here. I'd like to think this is what Brian Wilson would have written, had he been born a Yorkshireman. Also present are 500 Bus Stops, the title song from his only TV series from a few years back. and his song about the pleasantness of Northern people, Shopkeepers In The North Are Nice

On the whole, you won't find much sauciness on this CD with the exception of Up And Down Like A Brides Nighty and even this is about depression. What you do find are quite a wide range of subjects, all performed by John on his keyboard, all liberally embellished with various "fun rhythms", again, courtesy of his Yamaha keyboard.

The final track on the album ( if you know your JS) is what I suppose could be called his signature tune. The Who have 'My Generation' and Black Sabbath have 'Paranoid'. John has 'Pigeons In Flight', a paen of romantic longing to a woman (Wife Mary, maybe?). It is rather excellent and in fact, John unsuccesfully tried to get a version of this song as the UK's entry to the Eurovsion Song Contest a few years back (as Europigeon, but that's a different story, not on this CD...).

Overall, the music can really be described as carefully and deliberately constructed cheese. To pull that feat off, to be deliberately naff, you have to very good indeed and Mr. Fellows is, in spades. The comedy is somewhat longer lasting than most comedy records, simply because of that well-made cheesy music and it's funny lyrics, Good humoured, warm, life-affirming and FUNNY, it will put a silly grin on your face, rather than produce a belly laugh...

So, buy this excellent CD now. And while you're at it, seek out some of the other Shuttleworth stuff on tape, CD or DVD too. And try and see him live while you can (I've seen him four times!) as we don't know when Graham will "retire" John permanently (he's already been temporarily retired for a few years, before making a comeback!). I can assure you that you will not find any character comedy that is as finely or lovingly drawn as John and his little world.

Track listing:
1. My Wife Died in 1970
2. Modern Man
3. Have You Seen My Wife?
4. You're Like Manchester
5. Eggs and Gammon
6. The Man Who Lives On The M62
7. Up and Down Like A Bride's Nightie
8. The Christmas Orphan
9. Y Reg
10. 500 Bus Stops
11. Save The Whale
12. The Bee and The Wasp
13. Can You Ken Ken?
14. Shopkeepers in the North
15. Mary Had A Little Lamb
16. How To Be Happy in a Sad Sad World
17. From A Father To A Son
18. What's A Shuttleworth?
19. Do The Stars Remember?
20. Pigeons in Flight

Hey! Did I REALLY write "life-affirming" back there?
Ooff!! Time for a campucinno and a gypsy cream biscuit, I think...

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Comments on this review

  • pinkmatchstick published 06/06/2006
    not sure if I could stand a whole CD's worth, but perhaps deserving of a listen, so thanks for the tip.
  • RClure published 20/05/2006
    Interstingly well written review. Cx
  • n13roy published 13/05/2006
    Very strange review ......I remember the " Jilted John " episode song very well indeed.........Roy.....
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1 CD(s) - Comedy - Label: Chic Ken - Distributor: Voiceprint/Plastic Head - Released: 27/10/2003 - 604388629725

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EAN: 604388629725

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