From our TV screens straight to stereo, Adrian Edmondson of The Young Ones and Bottom, accompanied by Troy Donockley and Andy Dinan, have fused the visceral angst of punk with the lulling ode of folk to create one hell of a strange cover album and finally introduce their own work in one culmination of lunacy.
Opening track Our House (Madness) begins almost unrecognizably with slow driving guitar plucks, culminating to the unforgettable into lyrics in a slow, sombre melody before bursting into a fantastical folk interlude complete with strings working vigorously against ominous drums and a still strumming mandolin and acoustic guitars. This flows into a haunting rendition of No More Heroes (The Stranglers) focusing purely on Edmondson’s soulful and harmonic vocals with quick bursts of ear piercing strings throughout and slow moving guitar chords rising and falling with each chorus.
Covers of The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum (Fun Boy Three) and Going Underground (The Jam) take two groundbreaking songs and make them their own whilst also keeping the original qualities that made these songs such hits. The Lunatics… has a truly haunting quality to it with poignant string work working and chilling vocals that gradually reach an ear-splitting and powerful crescendo encapsulating a descent into madness, whilst Going Underground has a sunny, upbeat feel coupled with silky smooth vocals, as opposed to Paul Weller’s original, gravelly rendition bringing this track from its punk roots into a more accessible, harmonic guise.
Personal highlights What A Waste (Ian Dury and the Blockheads) and Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads) both stand out for their pure musical mastery and their control over crashing and also lulling bursts of guitar against strange interludes of both brass, strings and other oddities create a rich tapestry of interest for the ears to take in.
This album marks the first introduction to The Bad Shepherds own work. Mud, Blood and Beer and closing track Off to the Beer Tent are much alike, both sunny odes to their favourite habitat – the festival circuit. Both displaying harmonic, raspy vocals with deliriously intricate spouts of mandolin, flute, horns and god knows what else to create something truly out of this world.
Most people may have taken this project as a joke, a TV funny man with ludicrous instruments mixing two juxtaposing styles but he’s only gone and pulled it off! In splendid fashion as well and by the looks of how their own personal writing is turning out, I cannot wait for the next release which will hopefully feature even more of their own tracks.