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   Swill and the Swaggerband - The Day After


Swill, as you probably know, is Phil Odgers, one of the voices of legendary English band The Men They Couldn’t Hang. The Men have just celebrated their 20th anniversary, and released a new album (Cherry Red Jukebox) in 2003. The Day After, dubbed a Swill solo project, gives Odgers the opportunity to kick back and play acoustic music with a bunch of mates. The result is a relaxed yet tight album where the musicians’ enjoyment is both obvious and infectious.

Some past and present members of TMTCH are in the Swaggerband, along with a couple of ring-ins. Bassist Ricky McGuire is there on several songs, his thumping acoustic bass adding much to the overall sound. A few tracks receive a further kick in the pants from Swill’s brother Jon, former TMTCH drummer, adding snare, bongos and shaker. Those usual suspects are joined by Tom Spencer of Fast Lane Roogalator (guitar and banjo) and Bobby Valentino on fiddle and mandolin. In addition, a few guests add flourishes of ukulele, harmonica and there’s even some yodelling! TMTCH’s Paul Simmonds doesn’t play on the album, but he wrote lyrics for seven of the thirteen tracks.

And the sound? Well, there are definite American influences here. I hear flashes of US country, folk and Eddie Cochran on this album, all blending in nicely to create Swill’s unique sound. And his vocals, of course, are singularly English.

The Simmonds/Odgers tracks are catchy and pull at the heartstrings at the same time. While Phil’s voice is unmistakeable, nothing on the album really sounds like The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Even the famous title track (the original version of which opened the Men’s debut album, Night of a Thousand Candles) is totally different from the version I knew and loved. It still kicks though! ‘Ready to Blow’ is an upbeat track that stands out, along with ‘The Story’. Who can resist a chorus that goes "God bless Joe Strummer for ‘Know Your Rights’ / God bless Chuck Berry and the Skatalites"? On the gentler side, ‘Tightrope’ and the unforgettably catchy ‘Ordinary Girls’ are my highlights, the latter deserving to be a big hit single. But the best moment is a rambunctious instrumental called ‘Hanwell Shuffle’. Something about this one conjures up visions of The Clash as a skiffle band. Truly great.

The banter between tracks just demonstrates how much fun Swill and the Swaggerband had in creating this album. Their enthusiasm has certainly rubbed off on me, and I’m itching to hear more!

(Andy)

Source: Roaring Jack Archives, 2004

 

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