The Jazz Butcher: Looking for Lot 49
The early Jazz Butcher records had shown an intermittent interest in rockabilly beats, with songs like ‘Red Pets’ and ‘I Need Meat’; their friends The Woodentops likewise mixed those insistent pounding rhythms into their work.
The beat, the harsh echo on the vocals, and the pause in the middle of the chorus locate ‘Lot 49’ clearly enough in that lineage. In the background there are delays on the guitars that almost start to work against the basic beat, especially in the closing 30 seconds or so, and by the end there’s a feedback drone that suggests a more psychedelic style, but these things are only hinted at; ‘Lot 49’ is classical, concise and focused, and doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Lyrics-wise, the title alludes to Thomas Pynchon’s 1960s classic of delirious paranoia, The Crying of Lot 49, and just like that novel, the Jazz Butcher’s ‘Lot 49’ is concerned with postmen, postcards, and the unreliability of the postal system. I think the Jazz Butcher song must have first alerted me to Pynchon’s novel, though it was my interest in literature and science that have me the final nudge towards reading it. The novel’s fantastic, particularly if you’ve been reading Jacobean revenge tragedy for your exams and have murderous henchmen called Antonio spilling out of your ears with their poisoned Bibles, or skulls, or signet-rings. That said, I don’t think you need to read the novel to appreciate the song.