Thing of the Day
Wizards Of Twiddly
MAY 10th 2011
Wizards Of Twiddly - People With Purpose (Fracture For Pleasure)
Well, well. Familiarity breeds... not contempt, certainly not in the case of our old friends the Wizards Of Twiddly, but we did go to many of their gigs and became very accustomed to their tape albums. We liked those albums and admired both the work ethic and the bolshie pioneering spirit of this Liverpool- based collection of musicians. Formed in 1988, they were making fairly progressive and adventurous music in a time when you could probably fit all the UK the bands making anything like such noises onto the George Robey stage, all at once. Their first albums, Independant Legs and Man Made Self, (originally released on tape) were an endearing mix of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band humour and Gong style idiosyncratic jazz/psych/prog, leaning towards the quirky as much as their sneakily serious licks; fun though they were, and shot through with, brilliant moments, they did leave you wanting something with a bit more emotional depth. Their gigs were also pretty good fun too.
Roll on quite a lot of years, to 2008: a revelatory Wizards Of Twiddly gig at the Bull & Gate. Blimey. You want to see a band that has honed its craft? Want to be blown away by a bunch of guys who appear to have a whole gallery of mouldy paintings in the loft, who have the energy and suss to blow away bands half their age and ten times more famous? Actually, what really blew me away was... the songs. A few familiar ones, but mainly a set of newies. Very impressive newies, leaving you humming them and grinning and in a few places, moved.
And here they are.
People With Purpose
is packed with songs that posess the Twiddly wry observational
humour... very, very English humour. Hang on, we mentioned the Bonzos,
but this is no southern, home counties archness - they're from
Liverpool, remember. The lyrics are worth a read - social and
political commentary with imagination, observing our times, avoiding
the obvious, and with a touch of the poetic, delivered by lead
vocalists (bassist, trombonist, younamists) Andy Frizell and Simon
James in pleasingly straight-up honest voices. To go with that,
the music is tight as you like, big band veteran tight, nailed by one
hell of a bass, the whole fizzing with controlled energy. Ears
might notice familiar, satisfying things flying past: chunks of
Earlygenesis (example: the start of Sounds of Success, and surely that's Robbery Assault and Battery
in mutated form elsewhere... and why not?), loads of Soft Machine (they
hung out and collaborated with Kevin Ayers in the 90s). Many
times shifting into classic Ian Dury & the Blockheads, often strung
casually with sweet proggy moments... those brass athems of Dexy's
Midnight Runners, the fairground tunes of Cardiacs, memories of lost TV
We did mention tunes, didn't we? Every track has at least one, each a doozy, and the opening Dexy's - ish instrumental is just... glorious, sneaking up on you and making the sun come out with that... hold it... key change, whoosh and your day is made, the world put to rights. Wizards Of Twiddly found their depth, all right. The breezy west coast harmonies and fusion moments of Cardboard Banjo are balanced by the slightly melancholy words and vocals, Big Bigger Bigot is a straight-up political... and can somebody explain I've got a ping pong ping pong ping pong ping pong head, and why it's so satisfying? (That track, something of a psychedelic Cab Calloway number, is embellished by the spoken word of the late Jimmy Carl Black). Yes, they're still quirky, yes, they can verge on cheesy, but always bittersweet, richly detailed and with a down-to-earth brilliance. With People With Purpose the Wizards Of Twiddly have created a richly detailed living thing of an album, something that sounds absolutely honest and engaging with their real world.
The Wizards of Twiddly are playing a benefit gig
for Cardiacs main man Tim Smith at The Fighting Cocks pub in
Kingston-Upon-Thames, 56 Old London Rd, KT2 6QA, (with Max
Tundra, Knifeworld and Local Girls) on June 11th Tickets from here.
Wizards of Twiddly Reverbnation page for latest gig news
People With Purpose is available by mail order from burningshed.com/store/wizardsoftwiddly