One of the best entries in EMI's uniformly excellent The Abbey Road Decade series -- chronicling the best work of some of the lesser-known bands who recorded at their famous studio in St. John's Wood, London -- this collection gathers 27 tracks (some previously unreleased) by Liverpool's entry in the absurdist comedy pop sweepstakes, the Scaffold. Unfairly known for too long as "that group with Paul McCartney's brother in it," the Scaffold were one of the most unique acts of the decade, second only to the Bonzo Dog Band in their mixture of comedy and music. The difference between the two bands is that the Scaffold's roots are in music hall (roughly, the British equivalent of vaudeville) instead of trad jazz, and the poetry of Roger McGough -- since recognized as one of the greatest comic poets of his generation -- is one of the trio's key elements. As a result, The Abbey Road Decade, 1966-1971 sounds at times like a combination of Ian Whitcomb and Ivor Cutler, leavened by Mike McGear's pop sensibility. More or less the Neil Innes of the Scaffold, McGear was the member whose pop idol looks (Paul was not the only cute McCartney) and knack for singalong tunes garnered the group's biggest success. All of those songs, including the hits "Thank U Very Much" (legendarily written by McGear as he was on the phone to his brother thanking him for a gift of a camera) and the traditional pub tune "Lily the Pink," plus the underrated gems "Charity Bubbles" and "Take It While You Can" (a precursor to the more rock-oriented work McGear would do in the '70s), are available here, in excellently remastered sound and with copious liner notes.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason