Jake Thackray

Bantam Cock

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Three years divided Jake Thackray's third album from its second, a period during which an entire LP was recorded and scrapped (the 1970 sessions can now be found on the Jake in a Box anthology), even as Thackray's own renown continued to grow. A television regular, he had developed a massive following, even if Bernard Braden, host of the weekly show that gave Thackray his start, admitted that the first few weeks' worth of fan mail was unanimous in its hatred of the rubber-faced Yorkshireman and his peculiar little songs. Now, the same people were writing in demanding more, more, more, and Bantam Cock would not have disappointed any of them. Opening with a title track that his TV fans had long since fallen in love with, the stupendously sordid tale of a sex-crazed cockerel, Bantam Cock then found room for a second drop-dead classic, the uproarious saga of the bank robber turned nun, "Sister Josephine." In between times, one of Thackray's most tender songs "Go Little Swale" rubs shoulders with one of his most ribald ("It Was Only a Gypsy"), while he also pays tribute to one of his own greatest influences Georges Brassens via a snickering translation of the French chansonnier's "Le Gorille." Amid so many highlights, however, the most magical is "Old Molly Metcalfe," skeletally sparse, haunted and hungry, this tale of an old shepherdess epitomizes everything for which Thackray should best be cherished, from his love for past traditions, to his eye for the dogs that lay under the underdogs.

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