2020 promised to be a busy year for Pete Jones, with an album already recorded in January and various gig commitments with Tiger Moth Tales, Red Bazar, Francis Dunnery’s It Bites and his usual pub & club gigs. But Covid-19 put paid to a lot of plans, as it did for most musicians. Jones says:
“This is not the album I had previously planned to put out, as I’d already recorded a collection of new songs at Fieldgate Studios in South Wales which, for various reasons beyond our control, is not ready for release yet. But like so many other things this year, this new mini album came out of the blue as a response to the times we now find ourselves in. There are different moods in the songs, inspired by my own alternating feelings. From visions of a doomed world and a growing tone of madness, to a desire to see the positives and the spirit of endurance and survival. Hopefully the message is ultimately an uplifting one and will resonate with others.”
So, to recap, while most people were hunkered down hoarding toilet roll and bemusedly watching governments play Hokey Cokey with their Covid19 rules, Peter Jones released A Visit To Zoetermeer, made Still Alive (his second CD/DVD release in 3 months – sadly I only have the CD to review), rocked up on Magenta’s current album Masters Of Illusion, and makes a guest appearance on the Lee Abraham Harmony/Synchronicity release. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out he’d been signed up to replace Sue Barker on Question of Sport.
Whilst in reminiscing mode, I remember marvelling at Roy Castle’s ability to turn his hand to anything, any musical instrument. Our Peter has that same record breaking ability to get a tune or rhythm out of anything he picks up it seems, and I do admire his fondness for the underated melodica. I digress.
What we have is a 32 minute ‘mini’ album – or is it an EP – created during lockdown (I understand the title track was written for his home village), and which finds Jones reflecting his own feelings at the time, ranging from doom and gloom, madness, endurance through to the desire for survival.
And to make it a rather nice package (and jolly good value for money) the release includes a bonus DVD featuring the Tiger Moth Tales band (aka Red Bazar), filmed at Rockfield Studios in 2018 in front of an intimate audience as part of ‘The Quiet Room Sessions’ (a streaming subscription service offering high quality ‘unplugged’ sessions) and as a bonus, the Still Alive Promo video (I think it was on You Tube over the summer).
Unsurprisingly Jones deploys his range of musical weaponry, from poignancy to flippancy. The CD is bookended by ‘Still Alive’ and a closing ‘Reprise’. Unlikely to appear on national media, it is a folky song of reflective positivity with those aurally pleasant hooks and melodies. A Genesis feel is never far below the surface, and so it is with ‘The Mighty Fallen’ which is some hybrid of various threesome Genesis releases but without ever mimicking or imitating it, but then adds a good dose of Rajaz-ish Camel/Andy Latimer in full flow. A comfort to us all indeed. ‘Golden’ is a wistful electric piano ballad somehow Duke meets Afterglow, ‘Lean Into The Madness’ ventures into Floydian (The River) territory but with a definite Hillage/Gong vibe and a TMT album would not be complete without jolly buffoonery such as the Casio keyboard sounds of ‘Whistle Along’. Look out for the snippets of Hackett bombast amongst all the jollity.
I haven’t seen it but I understand the DVD Quiet Room Sessions are around 80 minutes, a large chunk of the set list overlapping with A Visit To Zoetermeer (the sets were recorded 2018/19) and there’s the Still Alive video), But different venues and studio quality delivery will provide sufficient contrast I’m sure. And it’ll be nicely presented, to boot, I bet.
So there you have it. He’s still alive. We’re still alive to enjoy it. And even in lockdown we can look up to Mr Peter Jones to keep our spirits up, keep us entertained, and keep marvelling at his talents.
CD : Still Alive
1. Still Alive (5:06)
2. The Mighty Fallen (7:27)
3. Golden (5:58)
4. Lean Into Madness (2:56)
5. Whistle Along (7:21)
6. Still Alive (Reprise) (3:19)
DVD : A Visit to Rockfield (Live)
7. Overture (4:20)
8. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright (11:43)
9. The Tears of Frigga (11:26)
10. Migration (3:04)
11. The Ballad of Longshanks John (6:43)
12. The Merry Vicar (7:32)
13. Tigers in the Butter (14:09)
14. A Visit to Chigwick (9:11)
Peter Jones also decided to involve his friends and fans to make a video for the title track which should put a smile on many people’s faces: