Twice Around The House –
Jonathan Kelly ***** 5 Stars Rating
The fickleness of the record buying Public
has always amazed me. Some records (vinyl,
c.d’s, tapes, eight track, whatever you
want to call them, whatever genre you’re
from) make it and some don’t. Sometimes,
to this humble dog a very average album,
will sell in zillions (take “Frampton
Comes Alive” for example. I mean, what
were people thinking?), while an absolute
classic goes completely unnoticed.
“Twice Around The House” is a classic
example of the latter. Jonathan Kelly’s
debut album was released on the major
league RCA label, given masses of quality
marketing, prestige’s gigs at all the
top venues, was a regular at major festivals
(playing with just a miked up acoustic,
he was always easy to whip on and off
between longer ensembles), and always
went down a storm where ever he played.
But somehow it just didn’t happen.
Well, I can hear you thinking the obvious
answer is: he just wasn’t any good. Wrong.
He was good, real good.
“Twice Around The House” starts off with
the sublime “Madeleine”, a mid tempo song
about un-requited love. The feeling that
is in Jonathan’s voice leaves you in no
doubt that this is a song sung through
experience and would of made an excellent
single. But, alas, time has moved on.
Next out of the traps is a lovely song
about life in the British countryside.
Not to look for too much in life in the
way of always looking at the grass on
the other side, may not be the answer
to your questions, and it’s not always
as green as it seems. Next song, “We’re
All Right Till Then”, is one of the most
poignant protest songs this dog has ever
heard. The chorus says it all, really.
“Cos we’re all right riding on the
back of the mule
Yea, we’re alright sliding down the back
of the fool
We’ll be alright till when
That farmer finds a friend
Yes, we’re alright till then”
With words like that I’m surprised the
album wasn’t bought by every downtrodden
farmer in the world.
To lighten the load we then have the glorious
“Ballad Of Cursed Anna”, always a concert
favorite with audiences, telling the story
of the folly of youth. A Tragi-Comedy
of a song that always plucks a heart string
but still leaves a smile on the lips.
Every track on the album is well constructed
and the variety is quite remarkable. From
acoustic sad ballads like “I Used To Know
You” to the fun filled Rock ‘n’ Roll of
“The Train Song” with my favorite lyric:
“The backdoor daughter to a friend
of my aunt,
Came to see me with a present of a geranium
I wish she’d have told me not to teach
it to talk
Cause today it asked me if I would take
it for a walk”.
I mean, c’mon, when was the last time
you heard a song with a geranium in it?
Just one listen to this album will blow
away all your blues. At any rate this
album is doubly worth picking up as it
has been re-mastered and re-released on
B.G.O. records as a two for one set with
Jonathan’s second album “Wait till they
change the Backdrop”. So, double joy.
You get twice the amount of quality music
for your buck.
Like any good story though, there is a
certain sadness to it, but in a way a
happy ending. The sadness is that at some
point Jonathan became disillusioned with
the whole business of the music business,
so he cut and ran. He had to do it for
himself. How long can you live with high
praise from the media, but a stark lack
Jonathan Kelly never had a “Year Of The
Cat” a “Streets Of London” or even a “Baker
Street” to lift him - like his contemporaries
- on to a higher more commercial plane
of international stardom. It’s great being
an underground cult hero, but you have
got to eat. Who knows how big he might
have become if he’d stayed in the game?
What I do know is that one minute he was
playing and the next he picked up the
wife and kids and returned to the valleys
of Wales, turning his back on the music
But now through the courtesy of B.G.O.
we can listen to his wonderful work. Do
yourself a favour, next time you want
to spruce up your music collection, get
this album. You won’t regret it. Your
joy begins when the disc starts spinning.
I wish Jonathan Kelly and his family all
the joy in Wales and thanks for the memories.
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew