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The first thing to notice about Tim Jones’ new CD “The Price of a Place in the Sun”* is that there has clearly been a lot of thought and preparation into the CD. And that comes without listening to any of its 10 tracks.
The CD comes in a clever package, designed somewhat like a “travel wallet” which, when opened, reveals in the right pocket the CD, and in the left the lyrics and acknowledgements in the form of a passport. Opening up the passport reveals a photo of Tim circa 1977 which, if I understand correctly, was the time of Tim’s arrival in Australia, and reveals a mop of curls. At the centre of the passport is a photo of Tim perched atop a rock ledge with a Sydney beach beneath.
This is very clever work indeed, because without having heard a note or a lyric the listener already knows quite a bit about Tim.
The first track complements the scene set by the packaging – “West London Boy in the Emerald Town”. Commencing with some jangling guitars the vocals commence in a staccato fashion creating a sense of tension of a person confronted by a new environment:
“Got no canvas for my hues
My grey sunsets, my dark Blues
No background in alien scenes
Of fiery reds and livid greens”
before breaking into a really hooky resolution of the verse. There are some nice dynamic shades in this track which can turn from wistful reflection to fast paced acoustic rock. A great introduction to the CD.
I must confess to having mixed feelings about the second track “Crushed”. It’s a song where Tim has set himself a tough rhyme scheme for the verses. I am not sure whether Tim set out to have each of the four lines rhyme with the others in that verse, or whether the intention was to have lines 1 and 2 rhyme, and 3 and 4 rhyme separately. In the first verse he has rhymed “lied” and “side” in lines 1 and 2 and “fly” and “try” in lines 3 and 4, and in verse two there is a similar similarity between “refuse”, “proof, “truth” and “suits”. However, in verse three, if the scheme was all lines rhyming it was not carried through.
This might seem very pedantic and “nit-picky”, but because in verses 1 nd 2 it seemed that every line was going to rhyme I found myself trying to predict the rhyme rather than listening to the track. In my view that’s an unnecessary distraction from what is otherwise a great song with a tremendous hook in the chorus.
“Champagne” is a change of pace, a ballad to the demon drink. This is a really well constructed song with some dandy brush work from the percussionist, sweet acoustic guitar and some excellent slide complementing Tim’s strong vocals. I was really impressed with the changeover to and from the middle 8. This track had me in mind of Gilbert O’Sullivan at his best.
“Mosquito” starts with some droning guitar work with some electric crash chords and a solid tom-tom beat. A song written from the perspective of the mosquito. Another fine production with some sparkling acoustic work and a relentless beat. This track for some reason puts me in mind of David Bridie both vocally and conceptually from his “My Friend the Chocolate Cake” period.
“Something’s Broken” is a deeply reflective track:
“Here comes the monster that I can’t face
Revealed the demons of my disgrace
So point the finger if you like at me
Cos I’ll admit to things you’d never dream”
The backing is appropriately muted to allow the vocals to shine through. A very passionate vocal performance by Tim on this track. At times his vocals here remind me of the Bee Gees.
The mood sparks up with “Happy with Larry” which has a “Kinks meet Paul Weller” feel with Tim really hyping up the English accent. I may be wrong but I get the feeling this song celebrates Sydney’s colourful “racing type” identities:
“Larry’s Mum thinks he’s a cheeky charming cheerful chap
But we just want to surface from his world without mishap
You’d better take care on the stairs
Just never be caught unawares
Tighten belts and hitch up braces
Take no notes of names or faces”
“Arse” keeps the momentum going. Opening with a single guitar line, then repeated with just bass before kicking into a real solid rhythm. The guitar lines have an almost U2 feel to them. My initial reaction on hearing this track was to wonder whether Tim’s vocals were too far back in the mix. However, on further reflection I think this was probably intended. An acerbic song hitting out at society’s yes-men and sycophants:
“I’m ready for brown-tongueing
Got my best lines coming
Standing with my trousers down”
The next track – “Monday Evening Star” – is my favourite on the CD and I’m sure that’s not just because the subject matter is a bit close to the bone for me, and, I anticipate, many readers of the Songsmith. The song is dedicated (maybe not the right word) to the “open mic night”:
“You walk in a seedy club and there’s a spotlight
Cos they’re trying to get punters in, it’s open mic night
And the PA is feeding back but it’s a showcase
And you don’t rate the other acts, so this is your place, you’re the best
But there’s only one guy at the bar
And you’re only a Monday evening star”
Shades of Peter Townshend from his “Empty Glass” period – harsh, bitter, yet damned funny. Lyrics fired in a machine gun fashion in front of riffing guitars, before a more reflective bridge. Nice twist to the lyrics in the last verse. Great track and definitely my favourite.
Having said that, “Artistic” is not far behind. A song of self deprecation:
“Cos when I play I’m out of tune
The world’s in perfect discord with me
My keynote’s disharmonic
With every stave so laced with gin
Coupled with a plea to be “artistic, like my girl”. Again, Tim’s ability to find a hook is spot on.
The final track is the Album’s title* which deals with the choice made by Tim (and others) to cut existing ties and try something new and different in another place:
“You’ve taken the plunge
You’ve cut and you’ve run
Old friends and old flames
You traded them in for a place in the sun”
This is a really strong track and a great way to finish the CD. Some very sweet sounding guitar lines emerge.
Once again, Tim has served up a CD of varied styles displaying intelligence, wit and fine playing and performance. The attention to detail in the recording, the production and packaging was worthwhile. It’s a fine package and one that I am happy to have in my collection.
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