Stuart Moxham's led a whimsical life so far. Originally a member of Young Marble Giants (not to be mistaken for They Might Be Giants) until it melted down, then forming The G!st, a solo project abetted by friends, he had a nasty motorcycle accident, found himself evicted from his digs, and spent a year on crutches. From there, he took to in-betweening (animation work) for Siriol, a firm subcontracting for Disney's Who Killed Roger Rabbit? before living on a houseboat for a handful of years. Then Courtney Love recorded his Credit in the Straight World in a multi-million seller, and Etienne Daho reached platinum covering Love at First Sight, bringing sufficient funds to spend time with wife and children for a few years. Well, that fell through, he divorced, and turned back to songwriting as a cathartic.
Now comes the unusual pop of Personal Best, a blend of Durutti Column, Dwight Twilley, Roedelius, Cale / Reed, Pete Townshend solo, and divers influences, including a plethora of subtle ethnic tangents. YMG was known for its austerity and this CD traces Moxham's wont through various LPs, singles, unreleased cuts, and previews of coming work. Sunday Afternoon manages lushness to a picturesque degree, though characteristically restrained. Moxham is here almost the kindly parson down the lane, the gently smiling guy who has pastorally peculiar notions about everything. Some cuts—You Built a Path being one—are a perfect middle between kids ditties and flowery adult tunes not unlike what Edwards & Hand did for the cherished old soundtrack to *The Butterfly Ball & The Grasshopper's Feast* way back when (1975).
I mean, this is in many ways veddy veddy British and no doubt quaint probably just as much there as here in the States. It is 100% pop but certainly not the overblown dramatics of Eric Carmen, more the odd quietude of David Essex with William Lyall and a countryside quiescence that nonetheless kicks up every now and again. Folk strains poke through, Autumn Song, a cross between Keith Christmas and the old Davis / Jameson duo, and more than few strange mechanical subtleties will perk ears, but I daresay few will be able to hear this without more than once remarking "Say, exactly what was the bloke doing on that cut?", leaning in to listen more closely.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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