Jonathan King

The Butterfly That Stamped

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Four sides of vinyl followed 1979's Hit Millionaire to present an effervescent portrait of Jonathan King's entire hitmaking career, from 1965's "Everyone's Gone to the Moon," through to his then-most recent excursion, re-wiring Cat Stevens' "Wild World" around the sonics of the Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin." And yes, he did have his reasons. Long before the likes of Weird Al Yankovic and the Heebeejeebees, Jonathan King was puncturing superstar egos with some brutal commentaries. The aforementioned "Cat Shop Hybrid" was spawned by King's conviction that the synth-kids had blatantly plagiarized Stevens' original song, while the long running squabble over George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" was painlessly proven by King's own version of "He's So Fine." The Butterfly That Stamped is an extraordinarily well-rounded collection, neither dwelling on the hits nor overdoing the parodies in favor of illustrating every one of King's musical hats; 20-plus-years spent spotting, and then exploiting, every crack in Great Britain's musical armor. And the crasser it was, the better. King's version of "Sugar Sugar," from 1971, mercilessly employed every trick in the heavy metal songbook, right down to the sub-Hendrix guitar which warbled the hookline. "Johnny Reggae," ostensibly by the all-female Piglets, immortalized every girl who ever hung around on street corners eyeing up football hooligans. When the George Baker Selection threatened to have a hit with the implausibly bland "Una Paloma Blanca," King preempted them with an even blander rendering. A tentative Glen Miller revival was celebrated by Sound 9418's "In the Mood"; and the American success of Tavares' "It Only Takes a Minute" was echoed in Britain by 100 Ton & a Feather's psychotic, violin-led reappraisal. And, just in case you get the idea that all he could do was answer trends, King wasn't averse to starting them, either. In 1970, he took B.J. Thomas' "Hooked on a Feeling," grafted on an "Ooga-chukka" chorus, and was still laughing four years later, when Blue Swede topped the US chart with precisely the same arrangement.

The Butterfly That Stamped rounds up all these and more. And, short of going for the eight-CD box set, there's little more King you could possibly crave.