8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2004
I got hooked by the video of "Bathtime in Clerkenwell", a strange silhouette/papercutting/magic lantern animation that seems to have something to do with birds taking over the world. The vocals sound like someone scat-singing through a megaphone. I'd never seen or heard anything quite like it, so intrigued, I played the CD at my local Tower listening station. Wow! This is an incredibly well-done, tongue-in-cheek combination of 30's dance hall music and electronica - it made me smile all the way through. Stephen Coates' many influences have been cited or suggested - everyone from Terry Gilliam to Tom Waits to old-time British performers like Al Bowlly. But I don't think I've heard this loopy a homage to '20's and '30's music since the Bonzo Dog Band - that's what this CD recalls for me. If you want something completely different (Monty Python reference intended), give this unique CD a try.
P.S.: my only quarrel with the CD is that so far, I haven't been able to access the CD-ROM video of "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" - maybe it's just me....
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"I never really wanted this job. But look at it from my point of view." So says Stephen Londoner Coates, known to the world as the Real Tuesday Weld. Melding electronica with 20's and 30's jazz, he concocts the strangely alluring "I Lucifer." His murmuring vocals and hallucinatory musical style make this a bizarre delight.
Coates starts off in "It's A Dirty Old Job But Somebody's Got To Do It," a reflective, melancholy monologue. Then the melancholy is shed with the infectious jazzy "Bathtime In Clerkenwell" and the angular "(Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You." It slows down with the soaring "Someday (Never)," and the languid "Easter Parade," followed by the tense "The Life & Times Of The Clerkenwell Kid." It rounds off with the quietly hopeless "Someday (Soon)," and the ethereal, wavering "Pearly Gates."
"I Lucifer" is the imagined soundtrack to Glen Duncan's novel of the same title, about the devil having a second chance on earth, if he can last out a certain time period with no sinning. Story records don't come along too often, but "I Lucifer" works quite well, partly because it's just so fun.
The music is a a seemingly unholy mix of lounge jazz and electronica. But Coates melds them together without a hitch. The joyous scatting, gentle percussion, horns, cymbals, and orchestral choirs are all layered with old fuzz and distortion, which adds to the early 20th century feel of the music. At the same time, he uses electronic backdrops to give it a slightly hallucinatory feel.
Coates' vocals aren't exceptional, as a singer. When he actually sings, as he does in "Someday (Never)," his voice sounds scratchy. But when he murmurs, he sounds seductive and vaguely amused. It fits in with the atmosphere of smoky cabarets and corporeal devils, especially in the opener, where he calmly tells us, "It doesn't matter. You fall... you don't rise again," backed by violins.
He may not be able to really sing, but the Real Tuesday Weld has made a unique experience in his second album. Sepia-tinted jazz is mixed with electronica in "I Lucifer," one of the most original guilty pleasures of 2004.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2004
The Real Tuesday Weld presents I, Lucifer is alternative cabaret at its goofiest and most entertaining. London-based Stephen Coates, TRTW's braintrust, is Stephin Merritt without remorse (in fairness to Merritt, he doesn't quite have his catalog of Cole Porter melodies, either). This first official release (after a series of EP's) is a kicky romp through the English music hall and is called, in the CD notes, a cycle of "torch songs straight from Hell". It's not all that, but Coates has a way with genre exercises. "(Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You" could just as easily be eked out on a ukulele as it is played as a blues shuffle (with carousel organ). "The Eternal Seduction of Eve" is spoken-word loungecore; "La Bête et la Belle" pungent French cheese. Best of all is the wordless, though not vocal-less, "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" - three minutes of nonsense that Bobby McFerrin should record on Ecstasy.
on April 5, 2006
A delightful and silly album, at times playful, at others sardonic (the French and English versions of "The Ugly and the Beautiful" / "La Bete et la belle" are filled with shrewd, ironic, and cuttingly clever remarks of insecure resentment!). Musically, the most fun is the "Bathtime" number. The 1930s samples sound to me primarily drawn from the original Mills Brothers--their early work as syncopated, scat/vocalese experimenters, done in the early 30s. His own breathy, close-mic vocals are reminiscent of Whispering Jack Smith (though he claims Al Bowlly was his hero). Great then, great now. Coates' follow-up album, Return of the Clerkenwell Kid, is also witty and weird, old jazz, pop, electronica, but this has more variety and daring. I hate to see them going for remainder-prices, but it's a good time to buy them both.
on August 25, 2014
Inspired by the author Glen Duncan as he was writing the novel "I, Lucifer" while living with the artist, Steven Coates. This was my introduction to The Real Tuesday Weld and its 'New Antique' sound, and remains amongst my favorites
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2004
"I Lucifer", the latest release from The Clerkenwell Kid is a splendid foray into a past era of thirties-inspired excess with lyrics that are often reminiscent of Jake Shillingford's My Life Story's at their most indulgent. Indeed, the general loucheness of Stephen Coates' image and vocal delivery reminds me often of that great man.
The concept of combining Jazz samples from the Nostalgic Age with electronica in this style was pioneered by Jyoti Mishra with his short-lived UK Number 1 single, "Your Woman" in '97, which leaned heavily on an Al Bowlly sample. Fans of that record will no doubt be enchanted by this album which does a similar thing with a Valve-Wireless lushness that upstages Mishra's Personal-Computer geekiness.
Killer track is "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" which magically splish-splashes along in a way made more charming by the realisation that the sampled material is not really in tune nor in time with the track's tempo. "Antique Beats" is how Mr. Coates describes it on his great website [...] It's all not a million miles from the "Technostalgia" style adopted by the often aurally similar Sundae Club. [...]
It really shouldn't work, but somehow it does.