Jake Thackray

The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray

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To Jake Thackray's fans, the lugubrious troubadour's debut album was a long overdue masterpiece. They, after all, were already aware that an evening spent listening to him perform was an evening spent in the company of gruesome Aunty Susan, a bumpy country bus (to rhyme with "malodorous"), itinerant drunkards, and the sad little people who search for love in the personal columns of the local newspaper -- in other words, he sang about precisely the same kind of people he was singing to. Columbia, however, was uncertain precisely how well the record-buying public at large would take to the sound of the undiluted Thackray, and did their best to soften the blow. Two songs ("The Cactus," about a dour housewife who falls in love with one, and "Personal Column") paired our hero with a simple piano accompaniment; three more tied him to rhythm arrangements directed by orchestra leader Geoff Love; six more saw him fronting the Roger Webb Orchestra. It did not take a musical genius, however, to determine that, whatever the setting, Thackray was irrepressible. The liner notes to that first album, the wryly titled Last Will and Testament (titled from an uproarious recitation from what may well have been the aforementioned document), described him as "a true original, the modern counterpart of the medieval troubadour, at home in any company but still very much his own man."

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