Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Jonathan Hunt - Who is the Captain of This Ship? (1983) C46 / LP

So as to save time (at least for me), I should first direct your attention to this review of the first Spiro album which opens in customarily rambling fashion with all the stuff I would have written here had I not already written it there. If you can't be arsed, it's how I met Jon and who he is, although you may also recall him as the man behind the Ideal Husbands whose Town Planning now costs about a million quid if you actually manage to find a copy; and while we're here I also highly recommend that first Spiro album.

Anyway, to get down to specifics, here's Mr. Hunt's first album, at least under his own name. I put this one off because I really couldn't share the thing without asking and I was afraid he would say no even if I did manage to catch him during one of his apparently rare moments of facebookery; but catch him I did, and he said yes. So, having listened to this thing for the first time in at least a decade, it could be argued that I've saved the best for last. This isn't the last tape I'll share here, but I can see the bottom of the barrel; and I had honestly forgotten how good Captain is - something which genuinely justifies the term classic.

Like I said in the review, if you bothered to read it, this album came as quite a shock to me at the time, being so far removed from the sort of atonal racket to which I had become accustomed, but it probably isn't difficult to hear why it made such an impression on me - beautifully recorded (Jon was never one to cut corners) and played with a sound which I suppose I'd describe as combining the bittersweet pathos of later Madness with Matt Johnson's soulful inflections, mixed with just the right amount of whimsy to keep it light, but not so much as to sour the taste. These are songs of such individual character that I'm not sure anyone else would be able to do them justice, or at least I doubt they would sound as good as they do here. Regardless of actually playing the thing, both Loose those Chains (featuring the very wonderful Jez Randall of the Abstracts) and I Won't Be Satisfied have been with me, in my head, for most of my life, the latter because it's one to live by.

While, we're here, the Simon Gilbert who didn't turn up on the tape (as mentioned on the cover) is indeed the bloke who ended up in Suede, in case you were wondering. Someone really needs to write a book about the Stratford-upon-Avon music scene, although it probably won't be me because I was unfortunately unaware of most of it at the time.

As you may have noticed, you have a choice of two different versions here. This is because when digitising the cassette tape (which is, lest we forget, approaching forty years of age) I had some serious issues getting side two to play without it sounding like an early Pink Floyd jam session, except it played fine on my cassette player's auxiliary deck aside from a higher noise level for no reason I could fathom. So I fucked about with the EQ, noise elimination and so on, and so hopefully there's nothing you'll notice, but I decided to digitise the vinyl version as well, just in case. The vinyl version has a few minor pops and clicks, but you can just pretend you're listening to a record. The two versions feature the exact same mixes of the exact same tracks so far as I am aware, except with a different running order, and the LP replaces Time to Get Up with Little Dog. I seem to recall Jon thinking Time to Get Up was a bit too sombre and had spoiled the mood of the album.

I know I crack the occasional joke about boutique labels reissuing stuff posted here on 180gsm vinyl, but SERIOUSLY - someone genuinely needs to get onto this one.

1 - Touch the Sky
2 - Penny Window
3 - Thunderbolt
4 - Launderette
5 - I Won't Be Satisfied
6 - Call the Coastguard
7 - Shoe Train
8 - 6%
9 - Time to Get Up
10 - Governor 'B'
11 - Intelligent Man
12 - Dance Germany
13 - Loose those Chains

...or the vinyl version by clicking on this one.

1 - Governor 'B'
2 - Intelligent Man
3 - I Won't Be Satisfied
4 - Call the Coastguard
5 - Shoe train
6 - Launderette
7 - Touch the Sky
8 - 6%
9 - Thunderbolt
10 - Loose those Chains
11 - Little Dog
12 - Penny Window
13 - Dance Germany

Return to Index


  1. Much prefer the cassette cover to the LP cover.

  2. The one shown above, that is. Perfect. and suitable.