Review Archive

‘Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself’ - Sergeant Buzfuz

(April 02, 2012)

The fascinating aspect of this job is winding your mind around the range of bizarre musical offerings Sergeant Buzfuzthat occasionally come your way. Sometimes you fail miserably with those that hail for the far side of weird – and you struggle to connect. Then again, every now and then an album arrives that so completely engages it matters not from whereabouts in the left-field it arrives.

So let me tell you that with ‘Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself’ the folks called Sergeant Buzfuz have produced a concept album that connects and then grows on you. Consisting entirely of songs about the colourful, hypocritical, sometimes obscene and totally corrupt history of the Popes this is a convoluted lyrical experience with complex lyrics wound inexorably around the tunes – prising the two apart would be impossible.

Half the album, called ‘Side One’ (ah the old vinyl days recalled) consists of four long, rambling but absorbing songs called prosaically enough ‘Here Come The Popes’ (Parts 1 to 4) prepare yourself – you will either love or hate this. The voice with its ‘talking-tone’, the unusual music, the songs themselves - this is truly a musical Marmite moment. Me? I loved it. The story continues in a similar vein with the sardonic ‘Sur Le Pontiff D'Avignon’ – my word these Popes were a dastardly lot. There’s something of a step-change in the second half or ‘Side Two’, although the lyrics are no less elaborate they are less tortuous, which must be a blessing for Joe. The tunes are more melodic and the songs less of a monologue - ‘Two Popes’ for example. The sound changes too as stronger electric influences take a front seat in the mix – listen to ‘A Hole In The Wall’ and ‘Gregory XII vs Benedict XIII’ and you’ll hear what I mean.

Sergeant Buzfuz are Joe Murphy (guitar and eccentric vocals) Ian Button (drums) Andy Crowe (bass) Eilish McCracken (violin, whistle) and William Barr (mandolin).

No doubt about it, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church is increasingly ripe for exposure as fewer folk go in fear and dread of its dogma and become increasingly appalled by its double, triple and sometimes quadruple standards. This album is not so much a rant as a sharp grin to puncture pomposity. Calling this folk could be seen by some as pushing the boundaries, then again it fits my liberated, disorganized view especially the track 13 – the eponymous ‘Go To The Devil and Shake Yourself’. Available on Blang Records (BLANG 40)

 Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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