Day 41: The Duckworth Lewis Method – Sticky Wickets

The Duckworth Lewis Method – Sticky Wickets (2013)

Duckworth Lewis Method Sticky Wickets

When I reviewed The Duckworth Lewis Method’s “début” album a few years ago, I theorised, quite confidently, that, surely, it would be a one off.  After all, how much mileage is there in a group specialising in songs about cricket?  Turns out there’s enough inspiration for at least two albums from The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh to indulge and fuse their love of the sport and classic pop/rock.  Their new album “Sticky Wickets” (originally conceived to have an album cover lampooning The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” which would have been great) is a smashing helping of fun and, although it doesn’t match up to Hannon’s main body of work, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment and there are a few choice tracks which make this a more than worthwhile purchase and will appeal to the vast majority of fans of both of the main players.  The inclusion of Crowded House’s Nick Seymour on bass as well as a plethora of special guests including Stephen Fry (on “Judd’s Paradox”), Daniel Radcliffe (on “The Third Man”), Henry Blofield (on “It’s Just Not Cricket”), Matt Berry (on “Mystery Man”) and more famous names than you can shake a cricket bat at on “Nudging and Nurdling” make this a star-studded affair.

The first highlight is the catchy “Boom Boom Afridi” which has a chorus that sticks in your mind way after the album is over.  “It’s Just Not Cricket”, a song about fair play, is certainly one of the best songs on the album and “The Umpire”, a beautiful piece of music about the lonely world of being one of the game’s law-upholders, is perhaps the most Divine Comedy-like track on this release and could easily have come from any of Neil’s last few albums.  The seriously excellent “Third Man” tells the story of the fumbler who gets stuck in that position, dreaming the game away and features some inspired, jaunty strings (all arranged by Hannon).  There is even a near-disco pop song, “Line and Length”, boasting heavy beats, scratching and eighties synth sounds which is many times more hook-laden and enjoyable than it really should be.  “Mystery Man” is a brilliantly catchy, bouncy, insanely good song which should put a smile on the faces of most listeners and “Nudging and Nurdling” is one of those songs that refuses to leave your brain, even when you want it to.

Much has been made of Duckworth Lewis Method’s love of The Electric Light Orchestra and, given some of the write-ups I’ve seen, you’d be forgiven for putting the album on and expecting to hear something straight from the pen of Jeff Lynne, however, if that was what you were expecting, you would be disappointed (or relieved, depending on your opinion on the bearded one).  There are moments where you can tell that they’ve paid homage to Lynne’s music and production style, but this album has an individual, distinctive character to it and the wide range of styles and genres of music on display here, as well as the great creative minds of both Hannon and Walsh, mean that if you want to hear “Out Of The Blue”, you should go and play that, rather than hoping for a “Concerto For A Rainy Day” on “Sticky Wickets”… derivative, this isn’t.

So, is it as good as the first Duckworth Lewis Method album?  Well, not quite, but that was always going to be a tall order.  However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a seriously good album, tremendous fun and a really accomplished piece of masterful musicianship which only becomes apparent the more you listen to it; fine purveyors of melody Walsh and Hannon make writing classic compositions and arrangements sound easy, just as the very best batsmen make the game appear easy to play.  Much of it is very easy on the ear indeed, is delightfully whimsical and should be immensely pleasurable to existing fans, even if it may not win them any new ones (apart from within the cricketing fraternity, perhaps?). All-in-all, The Duckworth Lewis Method’s “Sticky Wickets” is a superb summery sporting soundtrack (which you can enjoy immensely without even liking cricket) and a more than worthy companion piece to their 2009 self-titled début.  Worth the gamble, I’d say.

*****

20 Amazing Music Facts That Will Amaze You!

  1. It’s a common myth that Bob Holness played saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”. The original saxophonist was, of course, then session musician Prince. However, the Blockbusters host did play the clarinet on Chas ‘n’ Dave’s “Snooker Loopy”!
  2. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich is an avid collector of all things Chris De Burgh.  He once paid a massive $32.50 on eBay for the original handwritten lyrics of “Don’t Pay The Ferryman” and often wears the white suit Chris De Burgh wore in the video of “Lady In Red” whilst wandering around his castle in Rotherham.
  3. Yoko Ono literally means “farting fish” in Japanese!
  4. Bono and The Edge originally met in a Dublin queue to buy tickets for a Supertramp concert.  Bono said, “I love Supertramp, I do.”  The Edge replied, “Really, you too?”  Bono liked the phrase “You too?” so much, he decided to form a new band right there and then, shortening it to “U2”.  At that point, no member of the band could even play an instrument!
  5. Formed ELO frontman Jeff Lynne is addicted to Pickled Onion Monster Munch.  It’s not available in Los Angeles, so he pays for weekly shipments from the factory in Leicester direct to his California mansion.  His musical pal Tom Petty has to wear a nose peg when he visits Jeff, as he can’t stand the stink of the niffy fried corn snack!
  6. Luther Vandross’ real name was Eric Bristow, but he had to change it because there was a professional darts player of the same name.  They met to decide who had to change their name to Luther Vandross, but after Eric threatened to bottle the soul legend, Luther agreed that it would be him.  The pair never forgot their rivalry and once, when Eric was playing a very important darts match, Luther got very drunk on Diamond White and heckled him all throughout the match.  Eric had the last laugh, however, because he won that match comfortably.
  7. 12-bar legends Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo once joined Bucks Fizz for a gang bang directly after their Eurovision triumph.  When Francis asked Rick which girl he was going to have sexual intercourse with first, he said that he was “Making His Mind Up”. Francis laughed so hard that his nose fell off and then Rick had a heart attack before he could do anything saucy to either of them.  It was after this incident that they both became teetotal, born-again Christians. Bucks Fizz, however, still battle their hard drug addictions.
  8. Most people don’t know that Slade’s Noddy Holder is actually royalty and lies 12th in line to the British throne.  His real title is Duke Noddington of Holder and is The Queen’s first cousin.  He was actually born and bred in Berkshire, but affects a Wolverhampton accent to further his rock and roll career.
  9. Crowded House rock star Neil Finn keeps dozens of fully grown pet crocodiles in his twelve bedroom bungalow near Bath to make him feel like he’s back down under.  He recently had a scrape with the law when one of them escaped and ate the postman.  The antipodean singer got a fine of £100 and was warned not to let his feisty reptiles eat postmen again otherwise the fine would be doubled.
  10. Parents in the 1980s would have been very surprised to learn who was under the Paul Daniels creation “Wizbit”’s costume.  The production staff were sworn to secrecy, but it was none other than grumpy Irish rock and soul sensation, Van Morrison.  He even penned the catchy theme tune to the show – “Ha ha this-away, ha ha that-away, ha ha the other way, my oh my”. The royalties for this song alone earned him more money than all of his other songs put together!
  11. Although blaming ill health, Phil Collins has actually given up his career in music to become a school caretaker.  Although he has asked all his friends in the music business to keep it a secret, he can be regularly found spreading sawdust on lumpy schoolboy vomit in a state-run Primary school in Nuneaton. “Beats playing the drums for a living”, he sniffed, before running off to tell a bunch of kids to get the hell off his lovingly-kept flowerbeds.
  12. Joan Armatrading invented Jeggings.  The once popular “Love & Affection” soul singer was watching her grandchildren run around in jeans and had a brainwave that they would be much more comfortable in trousers that looked like jeans but were softer and more flexible, like leggings. One phone call to her niece, Tasmin Archer, who works as Head Of New Clothes in Primark and her invention was on the shop floor within a week.  She has been able to retire to Bournemouth on the royalties and has vowed never to sing again.
  13. Bob Dylan has actually been dead for years.  His fourteen wives and seventy-three children cannot survive without his income so, every night, they find a tramp on the street and pay him to pretend to be Bob, so he can stand there drunk in front of the microphone mumbling incoherently while his backing band do all the work.  Thankfully, nobody can tell the difference. While he was alive, Bob made an album a week, so there is plenty in the archives to keep the impression of new releases going and his army of fans satisfied.
  14. Suede’s Brett Anderson is the world record holder for the number of Fox’s Glacier Mints held in his mouth at any one time.  In his 2011 world-beating attempt, he managed to cram sixty three of the transparent boiled sweets into his mouth, beating Sir Bob Geldof’s previous record of fifty-four. Bob complained, “It’s not fucking fair, they’re smaller than they used to be.  I’d like to see him do it back in nineteen-eighty-fucking-two like I did.”
  15. Craggy Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger claims that the secret of his youthful appearance yet being an octogenarian is sleeping nineteen hours a day.  Jagger will often snooze away the whole day, either in bed or his favourite rocking chair.  He only wakes to eat, use the bathroom, strut around like a chicken and fornicate.  Apart from that, he sleeps the day away.  “It’s true”, reported Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, “When we’re on tour, he’s a nightmare.  He only gets fifteen hours sleep a day and becomes really cranky.”
  16. Famous vegetarian Morrissey loves prawns.  He eats them all day long and won’t accept that he’s doing anything wrong.  When it is pointed out to him that a prawn is an animal, he pouts and tells them that they’re wrong, it’s a vegetable, and that he’s never seen a prawn in a field.  When they attempt to explain further, he puts his hands of his ears and shouts, “La la la la! I’m not listening, I’m not listening! La la la la la!”.
  17. Elton John’s hair is fashioned from the pubic hair of over a thousand Swedish virgins.  It cost him over three million pounds and is personally transplanted into his scalp by artist Damien Hirst.
  18. Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker suffers from a rare medical affliction which means that whenever he sneezes, he has an orgasm.  The young Cocker, son of Sheffield singer Joe, used to sit in class plucking out his nose hairs to make himself sneeze, until he was sent out of class, squirming with ecstasy.  He wrote most of his best known songs in that school corridor, including the smash hit, “Help The Aged”.
  19. Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles, is alive, well and living in Scarborough.  Racked with the guilt of discovering that he was actually heterosexual, he asked The Fab Four to announce his death so that he could marry his sweetheart, rotund Carry On actress Hattie Jacques, and moved to the seaside Yorkshire town to live a quiet life and to father six children.  McCartney sang about Scarborough in his 1979 single, “Old Siam, Sir”.  This was a secret reference to spending a happy week there, every year, in the summer holidays with his old friend and manager and their respective families.
  20. One Direction are the world’s first successful animatronic android band.  Programmed to be irresistible to foolish, impressionable teenage girls but incredibly annoying to everybody else, One Direction have become the perfect pop band for evil mastermind Simon Cowell, because he can get them to do whatever he likes and doesn’t even have to pay them.  Earlier attempts to form a robotic band failed because each member of Sugababes kept on exploding, with hastily assembled replacements losing them fans each time.