The Jazz Butcher, City of Night
Even granting the diversity of styles employed by the Jazz Butcher in the mid 1980s, musically speaking ‘City of Night’ isn’t typical of them; it feels like Pat is channelling someone else’s muse and I can’t put my finger on just who. The song was recorded 20 March 1986, and first appeared on a Glass Records sampler album, 50,000 Glass Fans Can’t Be Wrong; in then came out on the Jazz Butcher’s Big Questions compilation (1987), and reappeared on Cake City (2001).
Giving the keyboard such prominence, writing the melody in some weird Egpytian-sounding mode, and having a drum part that sounds like a preset electronic rhythm all make this an unusual proposition. The lyrics, though, are unmistakably Pat’s, and have the same self-deflating swift turns that characterise ‘The Human Jungle.’ In particular, the lines ‘I’ve seen the handcuffs on your shelf / I’d like to help, I’d like to help myself’; and ‘could it be shyness? It could be stupidity.’
The filmic quality comes mostly from the atmosphere of the music. The drum pattern reinforces the sense of a life being lived to a mechanical rhythm; the weird melodic mode makes otherwise ordinary London images and scenes take on an exotic quality. The film this places me in is predominantly monochrome, full of sharp contrasts between the bring lights of the city and its shadows, full of glittering surfaces and worn-down faces.
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