More from Merrym’n
Quirky, Catchy and Lovable Folk Tales From the Wilds of North Staffordshire.
“Is there a market for idiosyncratic musical tales of North Staffordshire life?” is a question you might not ask yourself very often, if at all.
But it’s an essential one when confronting the works of Bob Moston aka Merrym’n who’s building a musical portfolio based around that very notion.
Well, if it worked for Frank Sidebottom and Timperley, there’s an argument that it can work elsewhere too. Although somewhat less surreal than Half Man Half Biscuit, there’s also a link there too; as the song titles are often as entertaining as what’s contained within them.
“Anthea Turner Blew Up” (about the TV presenter who came from the Staffordshire Moorlands); “In His Sid Kirkham Scarf;” about a local artist of idealised and somewhat sentimental Potteries scenes and my favourite, “Community Project Vandal” which could easily have been the title of a Fall B-side.
Musically, it’s one man and his guitar at the core of this, but accompanied by whatever instrumentation suits. On “The Toerag of Smallthorne Bank” the tale of this unpleasant chap is set to a Spaghetti Western/Calexico widescreen score, and “Jenny Greenteeth” tells a tale of adolescent romance played out against a Jonathan Richman/Tommy Larkins rhythm.
Whereas “The Hartshill Mile” adopts a scuttling train beat about a well-known pub-crawl in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Football and its culture is never too far away either; “A boy named Frank Soo” is a long-overdue tribute to the first player of Chinese origin “to play for Eng-er-land;” whereas “Nello the Clown” uses a kazoo “Ring of Fire” riff for this homage to Neil Baldwin whose life was dramatized in the TV film “*Marvellous;” and “Lads and Dads” takes an early 60’s doo-wop approach to the holiday scheme which got different generations together on the football pitch. Apocryphal and passed down local stories are given greater mythological weight in songs like the Rockabilly-ish “A Diesel Engine Through the Wall” and the Kinks-like “The Tall Grey Man of the Lido”.
The key to understanding a lot of the 20 track album though is “Statue of Josiah” which explores and celebrates a catalogue of Potteries iconography
“nothing stokes the flames like that statue of Josiah”
“are these the ghosts of better days? Do we yearn to return to the old ways?”
“but we can see with our own eyes – these are troubling times”.
That’s the core to “More from Merrym’n” its quirky, catchy and lovable folk tales from the wilds of North Staffordshire stay the right side of sentimentality, in that they celebrate the working-class spirit and beauty that’s left in one man’s otherwise neglected and decaying hometown.
Review by Nick Barber (who coincidentally hails from this very area!)
Released May 21st 2021
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