In the liner notes, Geoffrey Richardson explains how Jim Leverton imagined the pair's music drifting across a beach haunted by happy, holidaying families, and that The End of the Pier Show's concept grew from there. This explanation is needed because the set itself will fit few people's views of a nostalgic stroll down an English boardwalk, or anyone's idea of an old- fashioned pier show. The laid-back, sunny Sunday afternoon-feel of "Rhapsody for Hedgeclippers" and the folksy cover of "Say It Ain't So, Joe" could, in a pinch, conjure up a lazy seaside day, as might the dreamy "Every Time It Rains," if not for its many bluesy inflections.
More to the point, unless Whitstable Pier has broken moors and sailed to the deep South (of the States, not England), one may doubt that home-styled blues is what one hears there. Does melancholy harmonica drift by on the breeze? Unlikely, but it showers down on "Every Time It Rains" and "Only Human." The "Bluefin" the duo haul up here comes straight out of the Delta, and even when the Caravan-ing pair "Ride On" a wave of folk, it's not English flavored, but C&W-styled. Still, for all its many kicking-back-on-the porch qualities and bluesy undercurrents, there's a lot more going into this set than fingerpicking and slide guitars and the occasional mouth organ. The rhythms, for one, variously feature bongos, kalimbas, tambourines, eggs, extremely subtle drum samples, and Martin Elliott's double bass. Along with Brendan Power's harmonica, there's also a quartet of string instruments; piano and organ swell up the sound as needed. And so its easygoing aura is underlaid with much fuller, more intricate arrangements and denser instrumentation than immediately meet the ear. The set is comprised of three Richardson numbers and one of Leverton's, along with a clutch of sublime and quite inspired covers from the pair's favorite composers. Maybe not your idea of a pier show, but a fabulous set nonetheless.