I’m prepared to crown Martin Gordon the clown prince of power pop. His latest work “The World is Your Lobster” is a maniacal mix of XTC pop genius and Neil Innes/Monty Python humour. Gordon skewers plenty of sacred cows here, with bouncy pop glee. “Pop Goes Bang” is a clear comment on the state of musical taste today, with lines like “Tell me, will this awful racket never stop?” The next song needs no introduction, “What would Jesus Drive?” — it’s not a hotrod folks. The next several songs stylistically recall 10cc and the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour-era quirkiness.
The Gilbert & Sullivan musical experiments continue (“Am I Alone?” and “A Policeman’s Lot is Not A Happy One”) and the influence is clearly leaking through to songs like his own “Mirror, Mirror.” The silliness is also amped up when compared to his previous works (example: an entire song about a joke “My Dog’s Got No Nose” How does he smell? Terrible). The music still has great melodies, and flawless musicianship. Along the way Gordon punctures consumerism (“No Offers At All”), hypocrisy (“Don’t Do As I Do”) and plenty of pithy observations about the mankind’s relationship with his deity (“No More Limbo”). The lyrics demand attention, and even delve into abstract Dadaism (“Just Say Wee”). As with his past works, you get a lot of bang for your buck with 15 tracks. Like me, you’ll be screaming for more. Keep it comin’ Martin!
It’s not every day Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Am I Alone’ (from Patience) and ‘A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One’ (The Pirates of Penzance) play bedmates with the Beatles’ ‘Hey Bulldog’ before leading into ‘My Dog’s Got No Nose’ (the question ‘how does it smell?’ and the answer ‘terrible!’). File this one under ‘wacky’ or ‘quirky’ and dig out those old Radio Stars records to reveal the roots of this cross between Beefheart and the Bonzos.
With a CV that includes Sparks, Martin Gordon has certainly inherited the idiosyncrasies of the Mael brothers. This solo album is intrinsically melodic pop rock with a New Wave edge, and Gordon’s intelligent wordsmithery is reminiscent of early XTC and should appeal to all fans of quirky rock music.
Martin Gordon has been a very busy boy over the past few years – the World is Your Lobster (Radiant Future) is no less than his sixth album since 2003. Gordon has enjoyed a long career (has he? I wish somebody had told him. Ed) , one which has seen him play with Sparks, Jet and the reunited version of John’s Children, together with production and session work with a diverse range of artists including Kylie Minogue, George Michael, Boy George, Blur, Primal Scream and Robert Palmer.
Despite the wealth of material which has flowed from the bassist and songwriter in recent years, he has never taken his finger off the quality control button, and the World is Your Lobster is no different. Quintessentially left-field pop/rock in the best British tradition, it features such originals as What Would Jesus Drive and My Dog’s Got No Nose alongside covers from Gilbert & Sullivan to Lennon & McCartney.
Veteran musician and producer Martin Gordon has released his sixth set of songs since going solo in 2001. The World is Your Lobster is a fine record with echoes of Pink floyd founder Syd Barrett and cult figure Robyn Hitchcock, himself a Barret acolyte.
Gordon, now 53, is overflowing with ideas that are quite simply off the beaten track. Song titles such as What Would Jesus Drive? and Pop Goes Bang reveal a sharp sense of humour, not forgetting pop sensibilities. The playing on the album is outstanding, with Gordon handling vocals, bass and keyboards. While a long way from his times as session bassist with the Rolling Stones and his forays into the realm of world music, The World is Your Lobster shows a fine musician having a little fun.
And so the most exhilarating comeback of the century continues. Martin Gordon (via Jet and Radio Stars) was responsible for one of the most consistently contagious soundtracks of the mid-late 1970s, a little less po-facedly than the majority of his peers it is true, but still his lyrics, and to-die-for hooks remain among the era’s most dynamic. And then — nothing… for twelve months, for a decade, for twenty-something years, until he finally put stylus to vinyl again and all was right with the world once more.
His fourth all-new album in five years, The World is Your Lobster of course is highlighted by Gordon’s now-traditional touchstones of Gilbert & Sullivan and the Beatles, the latter via a truly rip-roaring “Hey Bulldog”, complete with interrupting barking, and a riff that could hump your leg all night. And that sets the scene for the remainder of the album, as the lobster emerges with all claws waving, a snapping, snarling nest of savage guitar lines that kicks off with the primal Kinks krunch of “Pop Goes Bang”, speeds on to ask “What Would Jesus Drive?”, and positively blazes through the über-prog absurdity of “My Dog’s Got No Nose”.
It’s not all noise. “He Was The Best”, a tribute to fallen footballer George Best, has a boozily fist-pounding aura all of its own, while “Mirror Mirror” and a maddeningly mental romp through “A Policeman’s Lot is Not A Happy One” defy you not to start singing along. “No More Limbo” could be a late 70s 10cc classic, “Witch Came First” could have been a Radio Stars a-side. And on and on for 15 songs that might well prove to be the most solid collection Gordon has unleashed so far, a surf and turf smorgasbord of esoteric brilliance, lashed through with more hooklines, humor and howl-along choruses than most writers can muster in a lifetime. So it’s business as usual, then, Martin?
Berlin-based Gordon was kicked out of Sparks just after ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ for being too clever. Oh, those shortsighted Mael brothers. Not that he was particularly bothered. Dusting himself down just before glam bowed out one last time he joined forces with Jet, thus a new supergroup was formed. But when punk gatecrashed the party in 1977 he and madcap vocalist Andy Ellison [a refugee from 60s legends John’s Children] changed their name to Radio Stars and together they rode the new wave for a couple of years. The rest, as they say, is geography; they even made Top Of The Pops with the Marc Bolan-inspired ‘Nervous Wreck’. Not to mention a couple of cracking albums on the Chiswick label: ‘Songs For Swinging Lovers’ and ‘Holiday Album’.
These days he’s ploughing a similar furrow in the Motherland and brings us Part Four of his solo trilogy [?]; following in the footsteps of ‘Baboon In The Basement’, ‘The Joy Of More Hogwash’ and ‘God’s On His Lunchbreak’, you can probably gather that brevity is not the name of the game here. Indeed ‘What Would Jesus Drive?’, a perfect pop song by the way, ponders what the Man Upstairs would rent from Avis if he bothered coming back. More original wordplay and surreal observations on soft pop anthems ‘Pop Goes Bang’ and ‘My Dog’s Got No Nose’ ensures that the VU meter stays permanently in the red. Sprinkle a little Gilbert & Sullivan [‘Am I Alone?’ & ‘A Policeman’s Lot’], throw in some reworked Lennon & McCartney [‘Hey Bulldog’] and you’re nearly home and dry.
With a crack house band that includes Swede Pelle Almgren on lead vocals, Enrico Antico on guitar and former Radio Star drummer Chris Townson, Gordon handles all bass and keyboard duties and shines as a more than competent producer and arranger. I’m sure they’re available for weddings, funerals and Barmizvas at a venue near you. This latest bottle of wave nouvelle has certainly matured well and has lost none of its potency over the last thirty years. With a bit of crucial airplay and the usual smattering of luck, this could give Gordon a welcome passport back to gigging in the UK.
Martin Gordon makes awesome powerpop! Ever since being a member of Sparks has he kept writing songs and his albums find larger and larger audiences. Nothing avant-garde, just a collection of new gems consisting of up-tempo pop songs! 15 songs — the best since last time!
Confusingly delightful in this fourth part of his “mammal trilogy,” the charming, witty power-pop star asks “What Would Jesus Drive?” and covers the Beatles on “Hey Bulldog” and Gilbert & Sullivan with “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One”.
In a (rock) world increasingly lacking in true gentlemen, meeting a guy like Martin Gordon is always a blessing, if not a salvation. With an exquisite pop sensibility, fine rockin’ elegance and a sharp sense of humour – so British that he could have been scriptwriter for Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Mr. Gordon has not stopped unleashing his extravagancies in each and every of his musical projects, and his most recent adventures have benefited the most from all his brilliant madness.
“The World Is Your Lobster”, the fourth chapter of his singular Mammal Trilogy, continues walking in the path of the excellent “God’s On His Lunchbreak”, giving body to a new work full of surreal and existential reflections, pop-cultural critique and a good handful of irresistible melodies, served up on a silver tray along with your five o’clock tea. Sweeping anthems of melodic – and plethoric – rock (“Pop Goes Bang”, ” No Offers At All “, ” What Would Jesus Drive? “), exercises of superlative narcissism (“Mirror Mirror”), odes to the divine (“No More Limbo”, ” Less and Less On Earth “) and the traditional homage to his personal icons the Beatles and Gilbert & Sullivan… All of this – and more.
Seemingly frivolous, but as crushing and solid as the shell of the crustacean that appears in his cover, the eccentric ‘ pop for grown ups ‘ of Martin Gordon carries on its shoulders the weight of the world, just to throw it down to the ground and play cricket with it… and spends most of the time laughing at everything. Just the way it has to be. Humour is still a powerful weapon… and if the results are so contagiously optimistic, so much the better.
8/10 Alberto Diaz
Say hello again to an old friend. Martin Gordon, he of Jet, Sparks, Radio Stars and (according to a dog-eared late 70s copy of an English tabloid) the Rolling Stones, returns with his fourth solo album, the marvelously jacketed The World Is Your Lobster.
The latest installment, of course, in Gordon’s stubbornly on-going “Mammal Trilogy” (why stop at three?), Lobster follows seamlessly in the thematic footsteps of its predecessors. That means, of course, another clutch of infuriatingly catchy pop songs, laden with lyrics that demand a double-take, visions of a world skewed so far it’s almost sensible again, and a healthy disregard for whatever sacred cows we’re being told to pay the most attention to today.
“What Would Jesus Drive?” drives home a message to melt into the paintwork of every gas guzzler on the road, “No More Limbo” ponders the Pope’s decision to do away with Limbo, and what it means for everyone living there, and then – naturally – both the Beatles and Gilbert & Sullivan come in for their traditional mammalian mauling. Gordon’s glistening take on “Hey Bulldog” will change the way you sail your submarine forever, by the way.
It’s a marvelous album, as great as its predecessors, but you probably knew that already. Gordon, after all, is not one of those artists whose albums you sit and stare at in the store. You grab them the moment you see them, and they’re stuck in your brain till the next one comes along. So, altogether now, “My dog’s got no nose….”
It’s almost as if The World is your Lobster is a fresh start for Martin Gordon. Where his previous three albums were masterpieces of pure powerpop, he is taking quite a different direction with this 4th one. Gone are the power guitars. Instead everything blends together more and if anything it’s the vocals that are mixed up front. But also the songs are different. There’s no less than two Gilbert & Sullivan covers and they basically set the tone for the entire album. Those kind of tracks were the interludes on previous CDs, now they are the meat and potatoes and I have to say it’s quite a pleasant surprise!
We’re used to Martin’s intelligent wit in the lyrics, but more than ever they have now also found their way into the music. There’s Bonzo Dog Band (‘Mirror Mirror’) and 10cc (‘What Would Jesus Drive?’) influences and musical quotes all over the place. ‘I’m the Walrus’, ‘Pop Muzik’ and others… look for them ! This is really a fun album with lots of things going on in the background. For those familiar with Martin’s ‘mammal’ CDs this is one that may take some getting used to, but this CD is just begging for repeated listening. And that’s always a good thing.
The world’s his lobster ! The best one you’ll ever have!