Formed in 1982 and hailing from Northampton in England, The Jazz Butcher served as a vehicle for the idiosyncratic, melodic songwriting talents of Pat Fish (born Patrick Huntrods).
Although early group lineups were erratic – including Rolo McGinty and Alice Thompson, both later to emerge in The Woodentops, and ex-Bauhaus bassist David J – the one constant member during much of their early period was lead guitarist Max Eider, whose light jazz/blues feel gave eloquence to even the most heavy-handed of tunes.
In terms of style, there was a large nod in the direction of Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman, while the subject matter of their songs dealt with the diverse traumas of everyday life, taking in the joys and woes of small-town living (Living In A Village), drink (Soul Happy Hour), fear and paranoia (Death Dentist), love (Only A Rumour), public transport (Groovin’ In The Bus Lane), film noir and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
The classic Jazz Butcher lineup including Max Eider, Felix Ray (bass) and O P Jones (drums) underwent a major upheaval in 1987 with the departure of Eider, resulting in the band disintegrating.
By the time of Fishcotheque, Fish was working virtually alone save for a new partner in guitarist Kizzy O’Callaghan. The Jazz Butcher (Conspiracy) was rebuilt to include Fish, O’Callaghan, Laurence O’Keefe (bass), Paul Mulreany (drums) and Alex Green (saxophone) and the group had undergone a change of label to Alan McGee’s Creation Records.
Subsequent albums saw an increase in the use of cut-up film and television dialogue and continued to receive encouraging reviews. While The Jazz Butcher found a large audience in Europe and the USA, substantial success in their homeland continued to elude them.
Pat Fish (Patrick Huntrods)
O P Jones