Jake Thackray

Jake in a Box: The EMI Recordings 1967-1976

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It is, perhaps, ironically fitting that the years since Jake Thackray's death have seen his back catalog undergo such a magnificent transition. After all, the man who, on the title track to his very first LP, pleaded with listeners to not plant forget-me-nots on his grave, to use his passing as the excuse for a party, and to never mention his name again, would doubtless have been exasperated to find himself so lionized as he is now. But exasperation of some sort was what powered the best of the songs he wrote in life; of course it should preserve them now that he's gone. Jake in a Box is, quite frankly, astonishing. Of course the four-CD package rounds up the entire four studio LPs (and six singles) he cut for EMI between 1967-1976. But it also adds the next best thing to three previously unheard extra albums: an entire alternate version of the debut Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray, a second LP's worth of outtakes recorded at that same session, and yet another album's worth of unreleased recordings that might have comprised a new album in 1970. Add a clutch of further studio odds and ends, a couple of super-rare singles from 1967 (the French-language "Lah-Di-Dah" and a most bizarre Christmas effort), and close to 100 songs emerge to tell you more than you would ever want to know about life, the universe, and chickens. The first three discs are arranged in rigid chronology: Last Will, Jake's Progress, Bantam Cock, and On Again! On Again!, interrupted only by period outtakes and oddities. The fourth disc, then, is the collectors' treasure trove; subtitled Early Recordings, it is comprised of Thackray's original voice-and-guitar renditions of the 11 songs that made his first album, plus 14 more recorded at the same sessions -- including early versions of such future delights as "The Blacksmith and the Toffee-Maker," "One Eyed Isaac," "On the Shelf" (delivered here in startling first, not third, person), and more. Anybody with knowledge of Thackray's early years will be aware that many of the songs he performed in later life were already around before he actually released them. But unless someone out there has a secret tape of his long lost radio and TV recordings, nobody has heard them in their original format in years. The accompanying booklet is a well-illustrated delight, matching friend Victor Lewis-Smith's personal recollections of Thackray with some often wry observations on both his songwriting and his attitudes. In the late '70s, it was very fashionable to describe Thackray as a misogynist, basing this on his song's often unflattering portraits of women. What his foes didn't seem to notice is that very few people emerged from a Thackray song in any better shape -- not men, not dogs, not the clergy, not even bantam cocks. And especially not himself. And that, alongside the tunes you can't forget and the lyrics that twist your tongue, is why listeners disobeyed his last will and testament. Once heard, how could anyone forget him?

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
feat: Roger Webb
3:18 Spotify
2 3:59 Spotify
3 3:27 Spotify
4 4:33 Spotify
5
feat: Roger Webb
3:06 Spotify
6 3:38 Spotify
7 3:09 Spotify
8 4:03 Spotify
9
feat: Roger Webb
4:46 Spotify
10
feat: Roger Webb
3:45 Spotify
11
feat: Roger Webb
3:03 Spotify
12 3:08 Spotify
13 3:32 Spotify
14
feat: Roger Webb
3:18 Spotify
15
feat: Roger Webb
3:07 Spotify
16 3:34 Spotify
17 3:22 Spotify
18 3:00 Spotify
19 3:43 Spotify
20 3:22 Spotify
21 2:54 Spotify
22 4:29 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:44
2 3:07 Spotify
3 3:28 Spotify
4 2:54 Spotify
5 2:30 Spotify
6 2:07
7 2:27 Spotify
8 3:40 Spotify
9 2:35 Spotify
10 2:40
11 2:59 Spotify
12 2:33 Spotify
13 3:15 Spotify
14 3:08 Spotify
15 3:56 Spotify
16 2:45 Spotify
17 4:57 Spotify
18 3:59 Spotify
19 2:51 Spotify
20 2:48 Spotify
21 2:04 Spotify
22 2:55 Spotify
23 2:39 Spotify
24 3:33 Spotify
25 3:34 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:54
2 2:52 Spotify
3 2:31 Spotify
4 3:45 Spotify
5 3:23 Spotify
6 1:11 Spotify
7 2:55 Spotify
8 3:40 Spotify
9 3:20 Spotify
10 4:15 Spotify
11 4:22 Spotify
12 4:34 Spotify
13 2:46 Spotify
14 1:43 Spotify
15 4:52 Spotify
16 3:53
17 1:18 Spotify
18 3:51 Spotify
19 2:04
20 3:05 Spotify
21 2:46 Spotify
22 2:07 Spotify
23 3:57 Spotify
24 3:44 Spotify
25 1:39 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:06 Spotify
2 3:48 Spotify
3 4:08 Spotify
4 2:57 Spotify
5 3:20 Spotify
6 4:13 Spotify
7 3:19 Spotify
8 2:52 Spotify
9 3:16 Spotify
10 2:26 Spotify
11 3:16 Spotify
12 2:34 Spotify
13 2:20 Spotify
14
2:13 Spotify
15 3:04 Spotify
16 1:33 Spotify
17 2:39 Spotify
18 2:19 Spotify
19 2:37 Spotify
20 2:59 Spotify
21 2:20 Spotify
22 1:37
23 2:26
24 3:23 Spotify
25 9:33 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick