Fun, old time swing tunes from the Tyneside Delta
I love many styles of music and a few leave me cold, generally because the performers are very serious and often “worthy” with their performances. Old-timey country can be like that for me; but thankfully Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra do what they do exceptionally well and have a jolly old time doing it on this, their second album.
Looking uncannily like a band in an Edward G. Robinson movie, each young member of this band are amazing musicians who play with both passion and a sympathetic regard for the history of the genre. In Rob Heron and Tom Cronin they have two songwriters that neatly combine modern topics with a quality old-school arrangement.
The Western swing-flavoured “Junk on the Radio” will appeal to many people, as it hits the nail firmly on the head in a quirky fashion, telling us there’s “too much junk on the radio/too much trash on the TV”. Irony of ironies–it’s got a melody just perfect for daytime radio.
I’ve been lucky enough to hear “Hey Mr. Landlord!” In various stages of its development–from the day it was written as an angry rant, to the sharp and observant ditty it is here. Yet, it still retains its stiletto-like chorus.
There are two standout songs on the album, though you will find others to cherish as everything is tip-top. Concert favourite “Killed By Love” swings along like billy-o making you smile at every juncture, until the penny drops what a dark song it really is. “Crazy Country Fool” took me by surprise, as it is by another North East singer-songwriter. The Tea Pad Orchestra’s dance arrangement is so dramatically different, I hardly recognized it, but thoroughly enjoyed it just as much as the original.
As I said,, the band combine old-timey music with very modern subjects and there’s none better than the toe tapping Skiffle tune “High Speed Train”. The video for the song has the band in all their retro-finery on a steam train; but the song is actually about a planned rail link between London and Birmingham, costing billions of pounds to get businessmen to their destination 20 minutes quicker. Who’d have thought politics would rear its ugly head? It does; and the Tea Pad Orchestra do it better and subtler than anyone else.
From start to finish, Talk About The Weather is a fun romp, with some wonderful Gypsy jazz guitar flourishes, harmonica that will make your hair stand on end, and Colin Nicholson somehow manages to make the accordion listenable.