Sheer brilliance! Few fans of the guilty partners can fail to be familiar with the long and glorious history that attends Messrs. Andy Ellison, Martin Gordon, Chris Townson, Ian MacLeod, and Trevor White, and here it unfolds in the most lucid fashion — from John’s Children to Jook, from Sparks to Jet and on to Radio Stars, 21 songs essentially tell the story of ten years of unabashed genius. Each of the three bands gets its kicks in early — John’s Children, with Morrissey mainstay Boz Boorer filling in for the absent Geoff McClelland and Marc Bolan, are represented by four songs midset, plus a dynamite rendering of “Desdemona” at the end; Jet open up with Davy O’List’s much underrated “My River” before “Brian Damage,” “Nothing to Do with Us,” and a marvelous medley wrap up their part of the proceedings; Jook are showcased by Trevor White’s “Crazy Kids,” enacted here with all the proto-punk savagery that history tends to overlook; and Martin Gordon’s brief spell with Sparks is remembered with the B-side “Barbecutie” and “Cover Girl,” a Jet mainstay that was originally written with the Mael brothers in mind.
And that just leaves listeners with Radio Stars, the only band of them all to enjoy a bona fide hit single. “Nervous Wreck,” of course, is here, together with a smart sampling of both original Radio Stars albums and a manic closing salvo that slams “Johnny Mekon,” “Dirty Pictures,” and “No Russians in Russia” into brain-charring focus. But to isolate any song, or band, as a highlight here is to do wicked disservice to the rest of the set — from start to finish, Music for the Herd of Herring ranks among the most enjoyable live albums of the century so far, and its perpetrators are revealed as the best time one can have with someone else’s clothes on. Dave Thompson
Although they operated in three entirely different eras, John’s Children, Jet and Radio Stars have more than a few key members in common and it might be argued a certain musical continuity. With that in mind, it seems quite logical that all three could morph into one and present a live set of their collective greatest hits and/or (more usually) misses. Which is exactly what takes place here on the rather enjoyable ‘Music For the Herd of Herring’, assembled by Martin Gordon from live tapes recorded in April and May of 2000. Whether you prefer the ’60s Mod attack of John’s Children, the brainy glam-infused rock of Jet, or the sharp satirical hi-energy pop of Radio Stars – or better yet all three – you will likely be pleased by these live and lively renditions of ‘But She’s Mine,’ ‘Desdemona,’ ‘The Perfumed Garden of Gulliver Smith,’ ‘Nothing to Do With Us,’ ‘Johnny Mekon,’ ‘No Russians in Russia,’ ‘Nervous Wreck’ and so on and so on. Not to mention a sterling rendition of the Jook gem ‘Crazy Kids.’
Your listening pleasure is enhanced by Gordon’s extremely entertaining track by track liner notes. For a broader sample of his wit, I highly recommend spending some time at his website (www.martingordon.de). Completists should note that this Japanese edition of Herring includes three tracks unavailable elsewhere. Mike Stax
The folks at Captain Trip – whose catalog is also distributed by Forced Exposure in the States – have done much to have me jumping up and down lately. I have always had a soft spot for the glam/pop vaudevillian career of Andy Ellison; starting with John’s Children in the 60’s, later joining forces with bassist/songwriter Martin Gordon – a main architect of the Gilbert-and-Sullivan-with-loud-guitars sound that earned the Mael brothers of Sparks their first UK hits – in bands like Jet and Radio Stars. Occasionally over the years, Ellison and Gordon have reconvened for tours, and one during 2000 was recorded and released by Captain Trip as Music For The Herd Of Herring. On it, they’re joined by erstwhile Morrissey collaborator Boz Boorer, and together they power through some delightful, high-humoured versions of classics by each of the above bands, even throwing in the odd Sparks B-side. Michael Layne Heath
After the opulent intro we see that this band is no lukewarm revival of a once-loved group: with crunchy presence and a great sound, this release includes material from John’s Children, Jet and Radio Stars. That it doesn’t sound in the least dated speaks for the quality of the music. The band do not belong to the English rock mainstream but follow their own powerful and lively path. If a live debut in Japan actually happens, on no account miss it!
CD Music Journal
Jet, formed from remnant’s of John’s Children, later became the better-known Radio Stars. This recording is of the 2000 revival tour, when the former members go together again – Davey O’List and Peter Oxendale weren’t around. The musicians have developed the notion of cheap (in the best possible sense) pop/rock’n’roll, and you can hear it in this recording, which reminds me occasionally of the Cars. Jet’s producer in earlier times was in fact Cars producer Roy Thomas Baker – Jet’s destiny was not so well-starred.
Compiled by bassist Martin Gordon, along with singer Andy Ellison [funny, didn’t seem HIM anywhere…] – the common denominator in all three bands – these live recordings were taped on a 2000 European tour, including Ellison’s birthday bash at London’s Dingwalls.
The mod flash of John’s Children (Sara Crazy Child, ‘Jagged Time Lapse’) is offset by the Alice Cooper-theatre pretensions of Jet (‘Cover Girl’, ‘Nothing To Do with Us’) and Radio Stars (‘Dirty Pictures’,’No Russians in Russia and the full-on freak-out of Desdemona’). A well-executed, essential addition to each band’s re-issue programme. Andy Neill
Cargos of Doom
If you’re not familiar with John’s Children, they were the band that Marc Bolan was in before forming T.Rex. The band reformed and toured the UK and Germany in spring 2000. Features two original members, vocalist Andy Ellison and drummer Chris Townson.This is actually a very nice recording… nearly every song rocks, a sound best described as ‘power pop’. Most favourable tracks would be ‘Radio Stars’, ‘Nervous Wreck’, the psychedelic ‘Jagged Time Lapse’, “Brian Damage’, ‘Cover Girl’, ‘Johnny Mekon’ and ‘Crazy Kids’. A couple of Bolan compositions are tossed in for good measure: ‘Sara Crazy Child’, the ass-kicking ‘Perfumed Garden’ and ‘Desdemona’. Their tune ‘But She’s Mine’ sounds exactly like the Who’s ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’………go figure. Now I can see why reunions are so big these days; John’s Children still has it going on. Should appeal to fans of vintage Stones, Who, Status Quo and The Sweet. Mike Reed