NIC JONES - Game Set Match

Game Set Match
Topic TSCD566

Any attempt at objectivity on my part here is fruitless. Nic Jones' singing is one of the most important landmarks in my personal musical landscape, along with the music of a brace of Martins and a certain Mr. Thompson. Nic is one of the most important musicians of the 1970s and early 1980s and it's now one of life's great joys to hear him now back on the subject of his own music - criticising, having a wee smile and enjoying listening to himself (sort of!) again.

This is a collection of live recordings from Nic's purple period in the late 1970s, just before his crash took him out of performing. They are all extremely high quality amateur recordings of live performances of songs from 'From a Devil .', 'Noah's Ark Trap' and 'Penguin Eggs' - along with a few new gems that haven't been heard on CD yet. Nic was well-loved by radio producers for being able to walk into a studio, play a set without making a single fluff and thus let everyone home for an early pint. That shows here - these are not live performances complete with warts. In many cases the live performance is actually better than the studio version, bringing with it an extra helping of that elastic attitude to singing that Nic had developed at this stage . draping the words loosely and tastefully over a rhythmic, regular guitar "part". For my money, for example, the versions of 'Billy Don't you Weep for Me' and 'Clyde Water' just pip the studio versions on "From the Devil ." and "Penguin Eggs" respectively for sheer liveliness and drive. Where there are minor hints of tape hiss and compression, they are more than made up for by the sheer quality of the performances and the chance to hear never-before-on-CD masterpieces like 'Bonny Light Horseman' and 'Jolly Bold Robber'.

You can tell that I rather like this. Admittedly, I would buy a CD entitled "Nic Jones sings in the bath" (not a DVD, please . sorry Nic!). However, this is an essential CD for all Nicophiles and a pretty good introduction to the man's genius for those few who are still wondering what all the fuss is about.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.