John Otway And The Big Band (4) ‎– Montserrat

Red Bowler Records ‎– OTCD208
CD, Album, Stereo

Tracklist Hide Credits

1 Dancing With Ghosts
Written By – ThomasWritten-By – Batterbee*, Otway*, Torkildsen*
2 Seagulls On Speed
Written-By – Birkett*, Otway*
3 Real Tears From Both Eyes
Written-By – Birkett*, Otway*, Holgarth*
4 I Shouldn't Be Doing This
Written-By – Birkett*, Otway*
5 Five Kisses
Written-By – Otway*, Torkildsen*
6 Already Missing You
Written-By – Birkett*, Otway*
7 Jenny
Written-By – Otway*
8 Toronto
Written-By – Torkildsen*
9 Somewhere Else To Go
Written-By – Otway*, Torkildsen*
10 There's A War Going On
Written-By – Otway*, Holgarth*
11 The Conductors Waltz
Written-By – Otway*, Holgarth*

Companies, etc.



John Otway an initial target of £10,000 to record this album in Harlow, Essex but added a 'stretch' goal of £20,000 to be the first artist to record an album on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean since The Rolling Stones recorded 'Steel Wheels' in 1989. Otways' fans generated £39,000 in 30 days in order to make this possible.

It is worth noting that, as part of the Kickstarter campaign there was a reward for three Pledgers to buy the opportunity for Otway to visit their home and sing the vocals of the whole album to a disc that contained the backing tracks only.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 5060175192400
  • Matrix / Runout: 2100006696295 CD OTCD208

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April 23, 2017

Been living with this album for a month or so and now the initial excitement has gone, I still think it a great Otway album. It's very Otwayesque in that it jumps around styles and seems chaotically organised and on first listen you can't anticipate what style will come next ... Totally classic Otway.


March 25, 2017
edited about 1 year ago

Okay, so anyone who has seen John Otway's live show will know how anarchic, shambolic, and so utterly enthralling and hilarious he is to watch and listen to as Otway discharges his endless enthusiasm, energy, and poetic genius to his adoring and loyal fans (friends). So when he told everyone he was going to write a whole new album, get the fans to fund it in advance, travel to Montserrat (at the height of the hurricane season) to record it, and get a top producer (Chris Birkett of Nothing Compares 2 U fame) to produce it, just about everyone thought "Yeah, ok John (not)" ....... Even the band!
Except maybe for the funding element - (his fans have a history for getting behind many of Otway's hair-brained schemes), this sounded like an improbable ambition, even for Otway. However, despite the fact Otway had only managed to write 2 and a half songs in the preceding 10 plus years, and that the 'deadline' was a little over 4 months away, on May Day morning, so it was that I was summoned from the gathered drunken throng at 8am after his traditional MayDay morning gig, to press the button and launch Kickstart Otway. Within a week, the fans completed their bit, and the money was pledged to send the Otway Entourage off to the West Indies to cut, perhaps the most defining album of John Otway's career (or to be hurricaned into the Indean Ocean and never seen again).
What Otway has returned with is a momentous piece of Ot-rock. A collection of 11 tracks, each shaped by Otway's life and loves (or interpreted in the instance of Toronto which was penned by the multi-talented, Stylophone playing guitarist Murray Torkildsen).
The album opens on Dancing With Ghosts. A melodic and atmospheric number, which echoes with the sounds of Otway's theremin. But there's also connotations of all the artists who recorded in Montserrat prior to Otway. It's been almost 30 years between the Rolling Stones 'Steel Wheels' and this album.
Next up is the track Seagulls on Speed. The track opens gently and as the chorus crashes out to the sampler sounds of seagulls, you are drawn further into the concept that this might actually be a proper album of genuine 'songs'.
Real Tears is an amusing jog down memory lane as Otway recounts some of the more painful moments in his life. Inevitably Otway recounts his Old Grey Whistle Test exploits, and whilst it strikes a little of a cliché to his stage persona (even at almost 65 Otway's live show still involves him somersaulting across the stage it seems forever on the edge of imminent disaster), Otway's contention that once you've heard the chorus, you'll never forget it, is irritatingly true.
Track 4. I Shouldn't be Doing This is a catchy potential future classic. Adam's drum beat is relentless and Holgarth finesses his way through the solo. Fronted then by Johns urgent vocals. As he calls upon the choir, the strains of the combined voices of the Montserrat Junior School choir and the 50 intrepid fans who followed Otway to the happy little island (your author here included) join in. There is a growing feeling that this album is better than alright.
Five Kisses. A catchy little punk beat. There's definitely some influence from Murray here, but the lyrics are pure John Otway. Include the hits but, forget the misses. No misses here John.
Already Missing You. A change of pace and genre. A gentle jazzy tune about a somewhat regular occurrence in his life. A song about a woman leaving him. Very reflective and welcome pause before....
Jenny. Otway assures me that he cut the number of verses for this song. There's only 20 in the final version. Mmm? By the end you're left craving for the ones he didn't include. This song more than the rest carries those of us fortunate enough to have made the trip, back to Little Bay and the Soca Cabana. Genius Otway lyrics with a steel drum rhythm and Caribbean beat.
Toronto. Wow. Murray at his best. A great power rock riff, reminiscent of The Sweeney, (check out their Pop Gun album). This song is massive. A gritty punchy ball of rock.
Somewhere Else to Go. This far in, you're now thinking, wherever that was, I'm not going until I've heard the rest of the album. Otway's lyrical abilities shine again here as he takes our hand and leads us along his whimsical little walk through his song book (definitely some similarities to Josephine, Middle of Winter and maybe a touch of Best Dream).
There's a War Going On, is a really well produced song with some great harmonies in the chorus. Otway's poetic genius comes to the fore again here. Some really nice guitar work too.
The Conductor's Waltz. A brilliant end to a magnificent album. This is Geneve for the 21st century. Orchestral and harmonic, this is another song reflecting on John's first foray into the world of music at the Aylesbury Youth Orchestra. An appreciative mention and a nod to his music teacher and a beautiful close to a collection of eclectic and enthralling adventures from the life of this British Treasure. Of course, Geneve marked the start of John's spiral from stardom to Failure, but perhaps, just perhaps, to paraphrase Otway, "this could be something sublime".