Wednesday, racing down to the newsagent on the corner on my Rayleigh Tomahawk, fifteen pee in sweaty palm. Pick up my Beano, six pence left for halfpenny sweets. The lady stood irritated behind the counter holding a small paper bag, as the kid front of the queue rubbed his chin pondering the crucial quandary. “You’ve got four pee left,” she’d calculate, while the boy finally opted for another flying saucer rather than a fruit salad chew.
If there’s something delightfully everyday about the subjects on Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants lockdown album, A Kitchen Sink Drama, none more retrospectively thought-provoking than the fifth tune, the Newsagent, which encouraged the placement of this archived memory to my frontal cortex.
Unlike many a lockdown inspired project, this lives on the sunny side of the street, no matter how working-class notion of destitution. A semi-acoustic concept album, all from a shed in Trowbridge, as folk, as best pigeonholed, it’s acutely observational and mostly sentimentally mellow, perfect lazy Sunday afternoon music. Yet it never escorts you down a dark alley. Of people-watching in a back street pub, of a welcomed arrival of a letter from an old friend; subjects are ordinary, with an optimistic air of market town affairs. Even the album sleeve is a line drawing of Trowbridge town centre.
Released on 208 Records, usually reserved for garage mod-revival, still it retains something of that period in sound and particularly subject. Rob himself polished his skill fronting Swindon mod band Roundabout, some twenty-five years past. A band I do recall fondly. But even if you don’t, here is something indie-folky, with a taste of local excellence.
Revived since lockdown this garage-folk band’s fifth album was recorded in Rob’s garden shed, with only bassist Geoff Allwright, and using Ian Hunter’s lyrics. It’s beautifully peculiar, a mite psychedelic in as much as McCartney vaudeville moments on Sgt Pepper, engrossing as Nick Drake, quirky as Pentangle or The Pretty Things. It’s the Kinks jamming carefree on a Sunday, especially on the most upbeat Lincoln Green. It nods to Lionel Bart on the Austerity Street, John Martyn on The Tin Man, and incredibly on the captivating eleven-minute finale, Falling Backwards, where things do get acute, Ralph McTell.
Like a Ralph of Trowbridge, it’s like, why is this down the road but new to me? Why didn’t it post a leaflet through my letterbox instead of a pleading politician?
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