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[GIG] John Otway + Sergeant Buzfuz @ Musa

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John Otway

John Otway, is a self-confessed unsuccessful singer-songwriter, who built a large cult audience through unrelenting touring, a surreal sense of humour and a winning underdog personality.

Arriving on the back of punk rock and a gymnastic performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test, his first single, the half-spoken love song "Really Free" soared to number 27 in the UK Singles Chart. It would be his greatest success for some time. However, the song did earn him a five album deal with Polydor Records, who thought he was a punk rather than merely eccentric. His first album, recorded with Wild Willy Barrett, was produced by Pete Townshend but sold only fitfully. The follow up singles fared no better despite some imaginative promotion, which included an offer for Otway to come to a lucky buyer's house and perform the single if their copy was one of the few from which the vocal had been omitted.

Despite that, his live audience remained loyal, due to Otway's manic energy and the probability of physical injury during renditions of songs such as "Headbutts". His autobiography (subtitled "Rock and Roll's greatest failure") was a study in self-deprecation, and his touring continued to sustain him. By 1993 he could draw 2,500 fans to a gig in London and in 1998 4,000 celebrated his birthday with him at the Royal Albert Hall, coinciding with the release of Premature Adulation, his first album of new material for over ten years.

By then, Otway had realised he could use his fanbase, who were in on the joke, to engage in minor publicity stunts. A well orchestrated grassroots campaign saw his "Beware Of The Flowers Cause I'm Sure They're Going To Get You Yeah" voted the seventh greatest lyric of all time in a BBC poll, but his finest moment came in 2002. Asked what he wanted for his 50th birthday, he requested "A second hit". A concerted drive, including a poll, scrutinised by the Electoral Reform Society, to select the track, saw "Bunsen Burner" with music sampled from the Trammps classic "Disco Inferno" and lyrics devised to help his daughter with her chemistry homework reach the UK number 9 on 6 October, and earned Otway an appearance on Top Of The Pops, BBC Television's flagship popular music programme.

To encourage fans to buy more than one copy each of the single, he released three different versions. The flip side of "Bunsen Burner The Hit Mix" was a cover of "The House of the Rising Sun" recorded at Abbey Road Studios and featured 900 of his fans on backing vocals, each of whom was credited by name on the single's sleeve.

Thanks to this second hit he has now been able to release his Greatest Hits album (note the s, he's very proud of it).



Sergeant Buzfuz

Sergeant Buzfuz White Rose And Thistles Tour February 2007

Sergeant Buzfuz is Sheffield born, London based songwriter Joe Murphy. Its also the name of his band but hes venturing north in February 07 as a duo with Polly MacLean, singer with Celtic noir quintet Kinkajou. Theyre visiting Yorkshire (where Joe is from) and Scotland (where Polly is from the island of Seil in the Hebrides to be precise). Expect songs of love and hate, politics and Popes. Oh, and a few murder duets.

the uncanny vocal chemistry of a David Gedge and a Kirsty McColl. Forget Donovan, Buzfuz is Northern Englands twenty-first century incarnation of Bob Dylan, complete with his own Joan Baez (live review, Oppositiont.co.uk)

The 3rd Sgt Buzfuz album The Jewelled Carriageway (Blang) was released in September to critical acclaim including an album of the year at Shakenstir.co.uk. Leading track Swallows was played on Radio 3s Mixing It. But the song attracting most column inches was Here Come The Popes Part 1 (1st Millennium). A scrupulously-researched history of the papacy sounds like an unpromising subject for a pop song, but listen to it and it's full of depravity, filth, exploitation, hypocrisy, lies, suspect morals and an overwhelming obsession with sex - just like the top 40.

very tuneful, undeniably modern (Rock Sound)

intense, original, clever, funny and moving (Sounds XP)

a rich, warm, string-laden sound that luxuriates in the seedy underbelly of urban living (Morning Star)

fabulously amusing lyrics (Disorder)

an album of quietly staggering beauty (Get Ready To Rock.com)

Sergeant Buzfuz have struck gold with this album. A gem. (Shakenstir.com)

Here are a few quotes from the previous album Fire Horse:

Listening to 'Fire Horse' is like driving out into the green English wilderness and chancing upon a folk night singaround at a remote village pub called 'The Syphilis Ploughboy'. The crusty bread is hallucinogenic, The Handsome Family have booked a room for the night and there's a dead body in the duck pond." (New-Noise.Net)

REM would kill, hopefully each other, for songs like these (Unpeeled mag)

All dates February 07:

Sunday 18 HULL Adelphi

Wednesday 21 INVERNESS Market Bar

Thursday 22 ABERDEEN MUSA (supporting John Otway)

Friday 23 EDINBURGH Baby Tiger at Caf Royal

Saturday 24 SHEFFIELD Red House




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