Jake Thackray

On Again! On Again!

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Once again, the hiatus between Jake Thackray's albums yawned so vast that it seemed it might never be broken. Four years separated On Again! On Again! from Bantam Cock, although his weekly appearances on TV's top-rated That's Life show did sate the appetite somewhat. In fact, On Again! On Again! is the weakest of his four studio albums. It opens strongly, with the title track's saga of almost-supernatural nagging, and offers up a remarkable corollary to that grim vista via "The Hair of the Widow of Bridlington." "I Stayed Off Work Today" will always raise a wry smile, just as "The Brigadier" offers up an unbeatable portrait of small town politics. Two more Georges Brassens translations highlight the influence of one of Thackray's own musical idols, while "The Ballad of Billy Kershaw" revisits his fascination for frustrated womenfolk. But too many of the songs seemed simply to reiterate themes and situations that he'd touched upon in the past and, though it's an enjoyable album in its own right, little of On Again! On Again! truly merits a place on any "best-of" compilation.

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