UP SNAKES DOWN LADDERS
Mickey Jupp had been around for some time before Stiff released him on October 13th, 1978 on the same day as Lene Lovich, Jona Lewie, Racheal Sweet and Wreckless Eric. It was a good marketing ploy, each album being a different coloured vinyl but the collective quintet of talent that they were, suffered from the fact that Stiff had flooded their own market. Lene came out on top with her No.1 hit, Lucky Number, the others had the occasional modicum of time in the limelight but Mickey, who never played the game, seemed to quietly slip away which was a shame as he was obviously the best songwriter and musician of the lot. Thankfully, over the years, he has got his credit where credit is due, many of his songs being recorded by more well-known artists while he enjoys the quiet life.
In that quiet life though, he’s been writing and has amassed an estimated 300 songs which have yet to see the light of day. Step up and take a bow Conquest Music who tracked him down and persuaded him that the world deserved to hear them. After a lot of TLC and remastering, here is the first volume and it only goes to prove what many of us - including his peers - believe and that is that Mickey is one of the best songwriters the UK has ever produced. He’s also a dab hand on the piano and guitar, honed in the days when he was one of the Pub Rock greats.
Mickey’s songs and performances are good time Rock ‘n’ Roll – Boogie – Blues with a healthy dose of humour throughout; he has that mature kind of voice you’d expect from a man who plied his trade through the 60s and 70s smoky pubs and clubs of England. It’s cracking stuff from the up-tempo opener to the melancholic closer and along the way we get gems like Get Hot, a fast shuffle dancefloor number with an infectious chorus and wistful The Ballad of Tutford Darnell – there’s a glint in the eye when he sings the last line of that one.
I don’t know how much work Conquest had to do to assemble these recordings into a comprehensible album so that it doesn’t sound like a compilation but they have achieved it with aplomb. It flows from start to finish as if it were done live in a studio in a few days. In fact, these were recorded over considerable time at Mickey’s home, with Mickey playing everything himself, on vintage equipment and hence the sonics are warm and inviting, as they should be, even on digital.
Like it or not, the world is digital now. I fight it every day and it’s not going to go away but I am thankful that somewhere in the North of England, at least one of my heroes is shunning it with me. Welcome back to the good old days of good songs, good playing, good sounds and fun entertainment. Thanks Mickey, fancy a pint?
I'd Love To Boogie
Up Snakes, Down Ladders
Why Don't You Don't?
Like You Don't Love Him
Man In The Mirror
Loving The Wrong Girl
Learning To Swim
The Nature Of The Beast
Bad News Can Travel Slow
I Beg Your Pardon (You Heard)
I Threw Myself At You (and Missed)
The Blues Ain't What They Used To Be
The Ballad of Tutford Darnell
There are very subtle differences how Americans and British musicians play the Blues and I can’t explain them, I just hear it when I listen to the music. It’s all great no matter which side of the pond they come from and there are levels of competency of course. For me, one of those British greats is Bernie Marsden and I used to put him on a par with Clapton way back in the 70s when I first saw him with Whitesnake. Bold words indeed from a music journalist but if you doubt me, just listen to his new album and then try and prove me wrong.
Aptly titled as Trios – a reference to it being the third in this series of albums where he pays tribute to his influences and this time, paying tribute to the great Rock trios – every single note on this album is…perfect. It is a constant flow of glorious Blues riffs, licks and solos from the opening chords of Beck, Bogart & Appice’s take on Don Nix’s Black Cat Moan to his cover of Cozy Powell’s Hammer, Glam Rock stomper, Na Na Na, a record he played on in 1974 and used the same guitar to record this time around
In between those two there are selections from familiar names such as James Gang, Cream, Robin Trower and Hendrix but Bernie has never gone for the obvious cover so many of you will discover some great songs here. Big names on the song-writing and original performance credits then and any guitarist is brave to take on Hendrix but Bernie is not only well up to the task, in some ways exceeds as he does throughout. That said, you never get the feeling Bernie is trying to better the originals, he’s just paying his respects in his own way and the best way he knows how: Hendrix, Johnny Winter and Leslie West will all be up there listening to this, giving each other high-fives and a collective thumbs up to Mr Marsden.
It’s easy to hear where Bernie came from in every track but hand on heart, I have to say my favourite solo on this is the very last one, at the end of Na Na Na. The main difference on this version is that the bass ending on the original is replaced with one of Bernie’s rocking out solos (with a little nod to Cozy’s Dance With The Devil) and you can easily imagine Bernie’s schoolboy grin when playing it. It’s just delightful, as is the entire album.
Black Cat Blues
Never In My Life
Outside Woman Blues
Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo
Same Old Story
Spanish Castle Magic
Too Rolling Stoned
Na Na Na