The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy: Lulu’s Nightmare
1995’s album Illuminate was a return to form after the disappointment of Love Bus. I’d started a new job at the University of Wales, Bangor, and ordered the single, ‘Sixteen Years’, at the late lamented Cob Records; when I came to collect it, the guy at the counter gave me an advance white-label copy of the album. It’s got something in common with Cult of the Basement in its eclecticism, and in the way that short instrumental pieces (‘A Great Visitation of Elephants’, ‘Beetle George’) fill the gaps in the jigsaw. It’s got some silliness, but it’s also got sublime songs like ‘Blues for Dead Dean Read’, ‘Scarlett’, ‘When Eno Sings’, and ‘Land’; and the one with the best intro of any Jazz Butcher song. It feels a bit like Pat’s response to Gerard Langley’s ‘Pick a card, any card … wrong!’ on ‘Jacket Hangs’: ‘Cigarettes! Tickets! Beer! Money! What could possibly go wrong?’ Sadly there’s no YouTube bootleg of it, so you’ll just have to take my word.
Great not only for its introduction, ‘Lulu’s Nightmare’ is another of those touring songs that manage to break through into common experience: the indignities of long-distance travel (or even short distance if you commute to London) set against some shimmering oasis of relaxation and self-indulgence at the end of it.