Monday, July 5, 2021

Jake Thackray - Jake in a Box, The EMI Recordings 1967-1976 [2006] (4 x CD's)



Jake Thackray - Jake in a Box, The EMI Recordings 1967-1976 [2006] (4 x CD's)

It is, perhaps, ironically fitting that the years since Jake Thackray's death have seen his back catalog undergo such a magnificent transition. After all, the man who, on the title track to his very first LP, pleaded with listeners to not plant forget-me-nots on his grave, to use his passing as the excuse for a party, and to never mention his name again, would doubtless have been exasperated to find himself so lionized as he is now. But exasperation of some sort was what powered the best of the songs he wrote in life; of course it should preserve them now that he's gone. Jake in a Box is, quite frankly, astonishing. Of course the four-CD package rounds up the entire four studio LPs (and six singles) he cut for EMI between 1967-1976. But it also adds the next best thing to three previously unheard extra albums: an entire alternate version of the debut Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray, a second LP's worth of outtakes recorded at that same session, and yet another album's worth of unreleased recordings that might have comprised a new album in 1970. Add a clutch of further studio odds and ends, a couple of super-rare singles from 1967 (the French-language "Lah-Di-Dah" and a most bizarre Christmas effort), and close to 100 songs emerge to tell you more than you would ever want to know about life, the universe, and chickens. The first three discs are arranged in rigid chronology: Last Will, Jake's Progress, Bantam Cock, and On Again! On Again!, interrupted only by period outtakes and oddities. The fourth disc, then, is the collectors' treasure trove; subtitled Early Recordings, it is comprised of Thackray's original voice-and-guitar renditions of the 11 songs that made his first album, plus 14 more recorded at the same sessions -- including early versions of such future delights as "The Blacksmith and the Toffee-Maker," "One Eyed Isaac," "On the Shelf" (delivered here in startling first, not third, person), and more. Anybody with knowledge of Thackray's early years will be aware that many of the songs he performed in later life were already around before he actually released them. But unless someone out there has a secret tape of his long lost radio and TV recordings, nobody has heard them in their original format in years. The accompanying booklet is a well-illustrated delight, matching friend Victor Lewis-Smith's personal recollections of Thackray with some often wry observations on both his songwriting and his attitudes. In the late '70s, it was very fashionable to describe Thackray as a misogynist, basing this on his song's often unflattering portraits of women. What his foes didn't seem to notice is that very few people emerged from a Thackray song in any better shape -- not men, not dogs, not the clergy, not even bantam cocks. And especially not himself. And that, alongside the tunes you can't forget and the lyrics that twist your tongue, is why listeners disobeyed his last will and testament. Once heard, how could anyone forget him? (AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson)

The sound quality throughout is first class. This is a must for fans of sixties folk or pop music, give it a listen, like me you'll be hooked.



Track lists


01 Lah-Di-Dah 3:18

02 Country Bus 3:59

03 The Cactus 3:27

04 Scallywag 4:33

05 The Black Swan 3:06

06 Jumble Sale 3:38

07 The Little Black Foal 3:09

08 Personal Column 4:04

09 Ulysses 4:46

10 The Statues 3:45

11 Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray 3:03

12 Remember Bethlehem (The Intake School Carol) 3:08

13 Joseph 3:32

14 La Di Da (Tra La La) 3:18

15 Le Cygne Noir 3:07

16 Country Girl 3:34

17 Family Tree 3:22

18 Sophie 3:00

19 Worried Brown Eyes 3:43

20 On the Shelf 3:22

21 Salvation Army Girl 2:54

22 The Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker 4:29


01 The Hole 3:44

02 Caroline Diggeby-Pratte 3:07

03 Grandad 3:28

04 Mrs Murphy 2:54

05 One Eyed Isaac 2:30

06 The Nurse 2:07

07 The Castleford Ladies Magic Circle 2:27

08 Leopold Alcocks 3:40

09 The Policeman's Jig 2:35

10 The Shepherdess 2:40

11 Pass Milord the Rooster Juice 2:59

12 The Vicar's Missus 2:33

13 The Ladies Basic Freedom Polka 3:15

14 My Roly Poly Girl 3:08

15 My Pipe My Boots and My Lord 3:56

16 The Kirkstall Road Girl 2:46

17 Freda 4:58

18 The Lodger 3:59

19 Bantam Cock 2:51

20 Fine Bay Pony 2:48

21 The Singer 2:04

22 The Girl With the Fragile Eyes 2:55

23 Go Little Swale 2:39

24 Jolly Captain 3:33

25 Isabel Makes Love Upon Nationa 3:34


01 Brother Gorilla (Le Gorille) 2:54

02 The Girl in the Window 2:52

03 It Was Only a Gypsy 2:31

04 Old Molly Metcalfe 3:45

05 Sister Josephine 3:23

06 Lullaby 1:11

07 Country Boy 2:55

08 Country Boy 3:40

09 The Prisoner 3:20

10 On Again! on Again! 4:15

11 To Do With You 4:22

12 The Ballad of Billy Kershaw 4:34

13 The Rain on the Mountainside 2:46

14 Isabella (Marinette) 1:43

15 I Stayed Off Work Today 4:52

16 The Kiss 3:53

17 The Poor Sod 1:18

18 The Hair of the Widow of Bridlington 3:51

19 Over to Isobel (Je Rejoindrai Ma Belle) 2:04

20 The Brigadier 3:06

21 Joseph 2:46

22 Famous People 2:07

23 The Gravedigger 3:57

24 Family Grave 3:44

25 Little Thomas Haverly 1:39


01 The Little Black Foal 3:06

02 Ulysses 3:48

03 Scallywag 4:09

04 Jumble Sale 2:57

05 I've Been Left on the Shelf 3:20

06 The Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker 4:13

07 The Cactus 3:19

08 Lah-Di-Dah 2:52

09 Country Bus 3:16

10 Family Tree 2:26

11 The Statues 3:16

12 Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray 2:34

13 Greasy Joan (One Eyed Isaac) 2:21

14 Dog 2:13

15 Grandad 3:04

16 Isabella 1:33

17 Salvation Army Girl 2:39

18 Isobel 2:19

19 Slowly Our Eyes 2:37

20 Sophie 2:59

21 The Kg Girl (The Kirkstall Road Girl) 2:20

22 The Nurse 1:37

23 The Shepherdess 2:26

24 Remember Bethlehem 3:23

25 Joseph 9:33




  1. a first for me....thanks BB

    1. Hi D.
      Its a great way to spend the day. New music is always a Joy.


  2. Never had any proper Jake in my collection, it has now been rectified. Thanks Butterboy.

    1. Hi Gary,
      I don't really know why he is not more regarded.
      I think when you hear all of these CD's you will too.


  3. Thanks, here's a documentary about him

    An eposode of his tv show

    1. Hi thinybob,
      Thanks for this great Doco. I hope others see this and pick it up.


  4. How well I remember him performing on the BBC on the That's Life tv programme with Esther Rantzen and her tame poodles.. never really got the recognition his songwriting deserved and such a sad end for such a talent

    1. Hi Mik0m,
      He really didn't get the recognition deserved.


  5. A gem of a collection of a great talent...thanks BB.

    1. You are welcome, zipper.
      Enjoy the memories.