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Beware of the Bull: The Enigmatic Genius of Jake Thackray

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His lack of confidence and increasing need of alcohol to keep going would ultimately exclude some of those closest to him. And while famous fans such as Gaiman, Gilmore, Alex Turner and Cerys Matthews have all been vocal in their praise for this northern balladeer and his soft-sung alliterative narratives of lovelorn boozers, lonely widows and spurned country girls, the man himself has remained something of an enigma. But, perversely enough, you can’t be a singer without having to talk…I’d just prefer to sing the songs one after the other; I sing, you go clap, I sing, you go clap…or not as the case may be. With regards to ‘One Of Them’ I think you can hold the two ideas in your head at the same time: that he can be applauded for attempting a progressive take on the grisly prejudice-based humour prevalent in the 1970s and that a firmer line between a denotative content and the manner in which it's expressed could have been drawn. He’s perched on a couple of stacked bar stools, there is no stage and the audience sit and stand around him some with drinks to hand.

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Forgot ‘Fine Bay Pony’ and apologised defeatingly” or “First day back [after Christmas holidays], and scared, scared, scared. It's the story of a charismatic, complex and self-effacing man who remained an enigma even to his friends. To slightly bowdlerise an introduction to a song Thackray used to give, “it happens to be a true story… it’s not a story with a punchy bit at the end, it’s not a moralising story, or a whimsical, or a sentimentalising story; it’s just a story”. Having grown up in a heavy drinking culture Thackray had, over the years, developed an alcohol dependency which, up until his later life, he had more or less been able to disguise as social conviviality.

Like The La’s’ reclusive genius, Jake Thackray was also at pains to assert what he saw as his normalcy, that he was “only a man… just a person” first and foremost. A book leaves our collection of over seven million titles and begins a new chapter every two seconds, enabling more goods to be reused. The poetic craftsmanship with which Brassens fashioned his songs, conjuring up all manner of memorable characters and situations, would also be Thackray’s modus operandi. No longer a ‘performing dick’ or ‘a real Archie Rice’ he was simply ‘Jake’ a valued member of the community but nobody special. If ‘On Again, On Again’ is taken as a measure of his sexism, then why not take ‘The Kiss’ (dealing with sexual self-determination) and the female liberation-based ‘The Hair Of The Widow Of Bridlington’ and ‘The Castleford Ladies Magic Circle’ as counter-evidence against?Thackray took Bressons’ anti-establishment spirit and storytelling style and relocated it to the North of England but the voice that emerged from his songs was singularly his own. Exclusive access to personal papers has allowed for the inclusion of a wealth of rare poems, photographs and ‘lost’ lyrics. Growing up in East Grinstead, West Sussex, in the 60s and 70s, the British-born author and Sandman creator had perceived Thackray as a vague voice on the peripheries of childhood, this lugubrious wooly jumpered raptor of a man, his voice a foggy, owlish hoot steeped in dark Yorkshire bitter, who doled out droll topical songs on such lighthearted TV consumer affairs shows as Braden’s Week and That’s Life! Unsurprisingly for someone who was growing increasingly disaffected by his entertainer role, rather than seeing his nascent career in television as a potential springboard to bigger and better things, Thackray felt nervous about and somewhat trapped by his achievements so far, or as he himself said “I never enjoyed it…Staring at the red light and shaking with fear!

With exclusive access to his personal papers, it includes a wealth of previously unpublished letters, poetry and lyrics, and is illustrated with many rare and never-before-seen photographs.Above all, the book makes a very convincing case that the high-stakes use of the word 'genius' in the title is fully justified.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.His anti-capitalist principles meant he even turned down a lucrative deal with Dulux to appear in an advert that would have solved his family’s money problems. Beware of the Bull: The Enigmatic Genius of Jake Thackray by Paul Thompson and John Watterson is published on 11 August by Scratching Shed.

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