Nine lives flash by, eight spent in lay-bys, seven is a rumour, six sense of humour, five hungry mouths to feed, four quid between us, three lanes of lunatics, two feet between us, and a legend in an accident. The Pop Place.
Well, well, would you Adam & Eve it? A live album, and they’ve always appeared to be such reluctant performers, those Trashcan Sinatra boys. Certainly Francis Reader, probably the most unsung lyricist in music today has long been backward in pushing himself forward.
Consequently there’s no banter here, no tittle-tattle, no nonsense – the most insightful thing we get is “I used to go busking” – the songs are left to speak for themselves, and eloquent every one. The liner notes proclaim that being taken from the desk, Fez should be “classed as bootleg quality. The songs, as usual, top of the range”. Can’t say fairer than that.
So what we have is 21 songs, acoustically performed, a potted history of the Trashcan Sinatras. All of the albums get a look in, from 1990’s Cake (was it really that long ago?) to the current Weightlifting which took a grant from the Scottish Arts Council for it to see the light of day, which says a lot for the misfortune that has shadowed the band.
There are some noticeable absences from the repertoire. No Obscurity Knocks, The Main Attraction or Twisted and Bent (the song that was destined to, until Go Discs folded the week of its release) but what we are left with is still a heartfelt collection of little gems, kicking off with 1993’s Easy Read and into the current All the Dark Horses with its delicate vocal harmonies.
Elsewhere, the backing vocals are sometimes a wee wayward, which rather than detract, add to the intimacy and charm. Paul Livingston’s guitar, as always, sparkles through it all, lyrical to the last.
The album was recorded over two nights in December 2004 at the Fez in New York to a warm appreciative audience who whoop and holler in all the right places, particularly at the start of anything taken from I’ve Seen Everything. In this respect they have their fill, with the inclusion of I’m Immortal, Hayfever, Earlies and the majestic Send for Henny. In between the older favourites the set is an outing for tracks from Weightlifting, the title and penultimate track of the evening truly a star in its own right, the others not far behind.
The Trashcan Sinatras have it all in spades (except the recognition they deserve), and whilst this album may preach more to the converted, when Frank Reader sings “If I was a millionaire, I’d be a million miles from here” you are left with the feeling that for once he may not be telling the God’s honest truth.