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Bentley and Groves – Album Review

October 2010, Hampshire.

So in between writing numerous drafts for blogs that will never get used (due to being utter guff), I tend to drown my sorrows with music, simply music. And cider. Simply music and cider. Oh, and masturbation. Lots of frivilous, horrendous, shame-enducing wanking. And crying about it. While wanking. Simply music, cider and cranking. Anyway, I was recently contacted by the head of CYI (Charming Yet Ill) Records, Ian Paul Daynes, who asked me if I could review the latest album by Stew-jazz legends, Bill Bentley and Norman Groves. And here it is.

The Back-story

During the phone call with Lord Daynes, he told me that “getting the opportunity to review a Charming Yet Ill album should be likened to winning the lottery, being sucked off by Katy Perry or meeting Jesus.” At least, that’s what I thought he said. I couldn’t really hear him over the noise of giggling women and booming hip-hop. Knowing him, he was sat in a hot-tub with a bevy of exotic women, champagne in glasses shaped like dollar symbols, diamond cufflinks sparkling in the midday sun as it reflects off the Miami skyline, waves lapping on the sand of his private beach. He also said that I would have to collect the album personally. This of course got me very excited, and I immediately cancelled my back-waxing appointments and packed my bags.

You can imagine my disappointment when I received the second phone call, and was told that I would be meeting Lord Daynes at his manor in the wilds of the Shire. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I was enjoying a mojito in the departure lounge in Gatwick at the time. Damn that Dayne-Z.

Three hours, one crazy taxi driver and a forty-five minute slog knee-deep through cow poo later, I arrived at “Casa del Daynes” (which turned out to be a caravan in a field, with a dog tethered to a post with baling twine.) I hadn’t been this disappointed since I was mid-toss and then saw Lady GaGa’s willy.

Lord Daynes flung wide the door to his “crib” and beckoned me in with a gnarled claw. What I had mistaken for girly laughter on the phone was revealed to be his mother (or perhaps sister) rocking back and forward on her knees, surrounded by empty gin bottles. I tentatively sat on a bean-bag full of straw and he passed me a decidedly suspicious jiffy bag. Inside was a signed photo and a CD. I thanked Daynes and promised to get around to the review when I could be bothered and had got sick of watching re-runs of Jerry Springer, before leaving him to wallow in his shithole of a squat. For good measure I shot the dog with a BB gun just to put it out of it’s misery.

First Impressions

Late February 2011

Upon reopening the jiffy-bag and spilling its contents onto the table, the first thing I noticed was the artwork. It’s a modest picture of the two artists, Bill Bentley and Norman Groves in front of their local pub, The Bull. The two are represented in cartoon form, and the artwork is possibly one of the only redeeming features. The paper on which it was printed looks like reconstituted paper towels and smelled faintly of wee. The ink was smudged in places. The photograph that came with it was Bill and Norm circa 1964, after a fishing trip, and was signed in marker. I have included below the liner notes, as it contains an insight into the horrific traumas endured during the albums production, and should serve as a clear reminder that no one should EVER attempt to become a music superstar, and to stick to futile blog-writing instead.

A MESSAGE FROM BILL BENTLEY

“Dear Listener,

Thank you for downloading mine and Norm’s latest opus, ‘An Audible Jocularity’.

We have spent most of the last few months in the shed at the bottom of Norm’s
garden, making sure that the album was nurtured to perfection. We were very
lucky to have had some of the greatest names in UK music join us on the
album, as well as a couple of local hoodlums, namely Ray von Blaze. He lives in
a caravan near the village green.

We have laboured tirelessly over this album, and it’s been quite an emotional
journey, for me especially. As you will become aware, I lost my darling wife
of 49 years, Noël Lavinia Bentley during the recording of the album. I am deeply
saddened, although I must admit that I only noticed when she didn’t bring me my
stew. And although the sex stayed the same, the dishes are piling up in
the sink.

We hope that you enjoy the album, and why not pop down to the village hall of
a Thursday night, Norm does a weekly stew jazz evening so he can woo the
ladies, drink himself silly on the sherry and pass out in his chair by the fire.

Legend.

With love and gravy,

Bill “Bull” Bentley III (Hampshire, England.)”
All music and lyrics by Bill Bentley and Norman Groves 2010
Ray von Blaze appears courtesy of his mum. Dayne-Z appears courtesy of himself.
In memory of Noël Lavinia Bentley (1932-2010) R.I.P

All tracks are copyright 2010 Charming Yet Ill Records.

The Album Itself

The album starts off at the Stew Lounge, at Bentley Village Hall. Those of you familiar with this increasingly famous hamlet nestled in the wilds of the Shire will know that it is renowned for its village fête, as well as the pickle-growers association, of which Norman is the chairman. The album is introduced by two of Bentley’s more famous newscasters, Jonathan Hardcastle and Eric Davis. The crowd goes wild as Bill and Norm strut out onto the stage and deliver a pounding (and very updated) live rendition of their 1946 classic “An Evening With Bill and Norm” that then moves straight on into “Live at the Stew Lounge”. It would appear that the pair have tried their hardest to make the first few songs on this recording sound live, though if I didn’t know better I’d have said it was recorded in the same caravan in which I picked up the CD. Quite how they managed to get at least two-hundred thousand people (not to mention Jonathan and Eric) in there is beyond comprehension, so I have to admit I’m probably just trying to pick holes.

One thing that really does absolutely shine about this record though, is the guest artists. I had to guzzle down a few glasses of Tizer to stop my mouth from going dry, for the wit and humour surely has that effect. Notable guests include the now world-famous Dr. Leo Hawkins, Emeritus Professor of Sausageology at the University of Hampshire. Being a particularly learned lot, you probably don’t need me to tell you about his amazing discoveries into the healing properties of the sausage, particularly moose bratwurst. But that’s probably for another blog.

Also appearing is a talented young MC named Ray von Blaze, who despite being from America really does sound like he’s lived in Medstead his whole life. The song on which he appears, “We Can’t Abide The Gypsies” tells a heart-warming tale of social outcasts encroaching on the lives of rural village folk, pinching wheels from cars and generally becoming a nuisance, before the brave Bill Bentley rides in to save the day with an incredibly waxed moustache and a veritable arsenal of musketry.

Nearing the middle of the album we meet a troubled individual named Derek Collins, plagued by “fits”, who has evidently had an awful time while visiting his dentist. At least, that’s how it appears at first. By the end of the track the listener is left wondering if they are losing the plot themselves. I couldn’t understand why a dentist would be trying to chloroform an old man. My dentist, Tiffany Jacobs, is a lovely young lady and would never do such a thing. I always leave her practise feeling elated from the happy gas, but walking like John Wayne. I have no idea why, but her sense of dental hygiene is impeccable.

It was about 20 minutes into the album that I realised why Dayne-Z had asked me to collect the album in person. His appearance on the album is entitled “CYI” and seems to be a diss track of sorts. He rambles on incoherently about someone called “Mister G the Gentle Sublimer” which makes absolutely no fucking sense. I believe that Dayne-Z was trying to show me that no matter how much hate you have towards someone, it rarely makes the world a better place, and that to hate is merely the short-road to living in a decrepit mobile home, reeking of beetroot and shitting your pants from excessive heroin use. Perhaps he knew that I would chronicle his unfortunate downfall into poverty while reviewing this awful record, and is trying to tell us, in his own tragic way, to all do our part to eradicate hatred and spite from the world, piece by piece.

Fucking hippie.

I could go on and on about how utterly shite this record is, but frankly I have Jeremy Kyle to watch. I’ll just give it five out of five stars to shut Charming Yet Ill up and get on with my day.

I will leave you with a picture of me with my signed photograph of Bill and Norm, which I proudly framed, before throwing onto the fire in disgust.

Mr Hell

If you really want to subject yourself to this mockery of real music, please click HERE to listen and download. Enjoy, suckers.

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