CD Review – Mickey Jupp – Up Snakes, Down Ladders

This is Mickey’s first album release of new recordings in nearly forty years. That’s quite some time. Just think what you were up to forty years ago and what’s happened to you since! He is quite often referred to as the godfather of pub rock and was once referred to as a “white Chuck Berry” by a DJ.

Mickey has been active in music since 1963, although there have been longish spells where he took a step back away from any potential limelight. It is fair to say that he didn’t have any great commercial success in any case, due partly to bad luck but a distrust of authority, an ambivalent attitude to fame, and a struggle with the pressures of recording and public performance majorly contributed too. But commercial success is not necessarily the same as artistic success. The 1970’s rise in the pub-rock genre saw him appreciated by the likes of Dr Feelgood, with whom he had a successful association, writing the band’s 1978 hit Down At The Doctors. His songs have also been recorded by Rick Nelson, Elkie Brooks, the Judds, Chris Farlowe, Delbert McClinton, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Gary Brooker, the Hamsters, Roger Chapman, and the Searchers. Guitarist Wilko Johnson considers him to be “the best white singer I’ve ever heard”. Mickey has had a consistent solo career, with albums released on big labels such as A&M, Chrysalis & Stiff, but surprisingly sales success never really materialised, despite having worked with producers as varied as Nick Lowe, Mike Vernon, Godley & Crème, Tony Visconti, Gary Brooker, Francis Rossi & the Sutherland Brothers.

Up Snakes, Down Ladders was penned, played and produced by Mickey Jupp in the village of Boot, Eskdale which has been his home for almost forty years. A variety of styles is on display – rock and roll, R&B, Blues and maybe a touch of folk music. The first track is a fine piece of boogie with lots of energy and fun, Up Snakes, Down Ladders moves firmly into a blues feel, while Why Don’t You Don’t embraces Country music. Throughout the music moves between styles, the final track, Pilot, being something of a clearer song with things stripped back to a basic guitar and vocals, a folkish touch which rounds things off in a gentle fashion. Mickey’s word playing abilities are never far away. The title of the album is itself an inverted joke as in the game’s rules one goes up ladders and down snakes. Perhaps that’s the point. Throughout the songs there is a lot of wry humour and a certain reflectiveness too.

Up Snakes, Down Ladders is the first volume of The Boot Legacy, a planned series of albums in which Mickey Jupp’s home recordings, having been lovingly and expertly re-mastered, are to be made available in good quality audio for general appreciation. Mickey’s continuing lifelong love of song writing has resulted in his recording over two hundred and fifty new songs at his cottage in the beautiful Eskdale in the Lake District. This release was preceded by the release of the I’d Love To Boogie EP, a five-track sampler from the album available now on all digital outlets. A further album is slated for later in the year.

This is a strong album for Mickey, one that will please his fans and admirers. But there’s much for astute proggers to appreciate too. He has a great singing voice with lovely tone and clarity. His song writing skills are excellent. The songs are in themselves quite short, mainly within the two or three minute realm. So, there are no epics, but his style of music includes some of the genres that fed in to progressive rock originally. The fine wordplay is a delight, and should really earn Mickey the epithet of “wordsmith”.

The I’d Love To Boogie EP is available using this link:

1          I’d Love To Boogie     

2          Up Snakes, Down Ladders                 

3          Why Don’t You Don’t?                       

4          Like You Don’t Love Him                    

5          Man In The Mirror                 

6          Loving The Wrong Girl                       

7          Learning To Swim                  

8          The Nature Of The Beast                   

9          Get Hot                      

10        Bad News Can Travel Slow                

11        Lonely Boy                 

12        I Beg Your Pardon (You Heard)                     

13        I Threw Myself At You (and Missed)             

14        The Blues Ain’t What They Used To Be         

15        The Ballad of Tutford Darnell            

16        Pilot

Mickey Jupp – All instruments and vocals

Release date: 29th July, 2022

Label: Conquest Music

Formats: available on all digital platforms and as a Special Limited Edition Digipak CD, accompanied by a 16-page booklet

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