Jack Monck

Inside the Whale

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Jack Monck's 15 minutes of fame took place in the late '60s when he played in Delivery -- one of the groups at the root level of the Canterbury scene family tree -- and in the Stars, Syd Barrett's only post-Pink Floyd project. Since then, the bassist has kept a low profile, doing mainly session work for English musicians. Fans of either of his early fame-worthy activities will most probably be disappointed by Inside the Whale, an album recorded for the most part in 1983 but kept in the closet for almost 20 years. Monck (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar) is joined by Paul Westwater (electric guitar), Amy Chan (piano), Sue Ellery (piano), and drummer Pip Pyle. The latter should be the biggest attraction here but his acoustic drum set is rarely heard -- and the sound of electronic drum pads from 1983 has aged badly. Monck writes intelligent pop songs and good acoustic jazz fusion instrumentals (think late National Health/Caravan). But his voice is not tailored for a lead singer: it lacks firmness and power. The closest comparison would of a weaker Richard Sinclair. The two share similarities in basslines, way of singing, and that British jazz touch, and it's especially notable in "Thoughts 'n' Fears." Instrumental tracks (like "Black Witch" and "Conundrum") tend to be more satisfying, but they are not enough to make Inside the Whale an interesting album for anyone but convinced collectors of Canterbury music.

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