I must admit that I still have some catching up to do when it comes to the music of Tiger Moth Tales, a.k.a. singer and keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones. So far, I have only listed to 2015's Story Tellers Part One (see review), an album that I liked a lot. But as things go, there is so much to listen to and it seemed that I just didn't come across any of his other work, so it just did not happen before our editor sent me the latest piece of work which is the fifth album from Tiger Moth Tales.
I suspect that the title Still Alive is probably to be regarded as slightly ironic, depending on your personal situation and beliefs. On the other hand, the handling of the corona crisis may very well prove to be the kiss of death for several artists and cultural happenings (ironic how distance then may prove to be contagious and fatal after all...). The accompanying information tells that Still Alive is a take on the lock-down situation, and will no doubt appeal to the mixed emotions felt by many of us throughout these difficult times.”
Anyway, over to the music. The audio disc is only a shortie, just over half an hour. The title track, Still Alive, opens with acoustic guitar and a very folky feel. The track is lifted by Peter's warm voice and some lovely guitar runs.
The Mighty Fallen has a powerful start with flashy synths. Ah, wonderful. I love this stuff! There is a soaring Camel-like guitar later on in this instrumental piece which is possibly my favourite from this disc and this mini album is worth getting for this track alone..
The third track, Golden, begins with dreamy keys and singing. The piece has a distinct mainstream and symphonic flair. I can so imagine this piece sung by some big American singer (Whitney Houston if she were alive, or Michael Bolton) and scoring BIG on the Billboard charts in the 1990s. Thinking of it, I would love to hear this track with Bill Champlin (Chicago) on vocals and a guitar solo by Steve Lukather (Toto) in the second half. I think that would be awesome (because, I have to admit that I have this major weak spot for good AOR). They would need to alter the spacey eerie ending, though if they ever were to go that way. And that's a shame because the ending is really super beautiful.
Lean Into Madness is a short piece, clocking under three-minutes long. It starts with slight abstract sounds on guitar and synths and then Peter's distorted vocals come in. In a way it reminds me of early King Crimson even though it's very different.
Whistle Along is a dreadfully silly song, even though it does have a few good ideas in there. It starts with some kind of cheesy fairground music with super-silly melodies and synth sounds. It sounds very much as if Peter got his first Casio keyboard out. One could say that the percussion and the slight (but perhaps unintended) reference to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture are nicely done, but it's spoiled by the rest. And what are these voices around 1:40 into the piece? I do like the bombastic bit around 4 minutes (sounds as if Pallas' Sentinel meets The Flower Kings). Alas, then it's back to silliness. This track is best forgotten.
The album closes with a shortened reprise of Still Alive. This doesn't really add something, but at least closes the album in a decent way after the dreadful Whistle Along.
This release comes with a bonus DVD featuring the Tiger Moth Tales band (Peter joined by Andy Wilson on guitars, Mick Wilson on bass and vocals, and Paul Comerie on drums), filmed live in front of an audience at the Rockfield Studios in 2018 as part of The Quite Room sessions. Alas I did not have the chance to see that one, but I expect it to be worth your while too.
I seriously need to get the other three albums from Tiger Moth Tales! Meanwhile, let me listen to this once more, and skip Whistle Along.
***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Dave Smith)
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