Recordings / Album: The London Book Of The Dead

Don’t dry your eyes my love, don’t say you’ve cried enough”

Around 2006, I believed that the intense personal psycho-dramas surrounding the creation of I Lucifer and The Return of the Clerkenwell Kid had settled down.  Whilst this came as a personal relief – and was much welcomed by my long suffering friends – it was accompanied by the fear that normality is not particularly conducive to creativity.  Whether this is true or just an adolescent fantasy was not to be tested – yet – because I was plunged into another psychic whirlwind whose twin axes were the death of my father and the birth of Poppy within in a two week period.

Every life is a drama and most are worthy of a telling. I decided to write a suite of songs describing the arc of a London soul from before birth to after death.  I couldn’t cram it all in but wanted to cover the stuff that seemed important to me at the time:  love, betrayal, dreams, love, death, dreams, jealousy, loss, joy, dreams, drugs, love, death – the usual stuff.  I couldn’t capture some of the subtler things )such as finally deciding to come out as a heterosexual and my sister subsequently refusing to speak to me) – but I gave it a shot.  Unexpectedly my friend Pete Sollett made a hit teen rom-com indie movie called “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ and they used the song “Last Words” as the theme by the imaginary band ‘Where’s Fluffy’.  This catapulted us into the the edge of the limelight in the US briefly and we toured there as a result.

As ever, most of the royalty advance for this album was spent on commissioning videos: George Fort’s fabulously cute Max Fleisher style animation Kix’ , Eva Vives’ Waltz for One’ (featuring incredible French theatre performer Aurelia Thierre), Catherine Anyango’s soul ascending through London for ‘Blood Sugar Love’ and Ro Rao’s lump-in-the-throat elegy-for-a-dead-friend “Bringing the Body Back Home” (see below).

Still makes me well up.

There are three versions*** of the album:  The US one has additional tracks including the Bathtime in Clerkenwell sequel “Cloud Cuckooland”. That is a funny track which has two amazing videos: one by the inimtable Alex Budovsky and one by Eliot Kew shot at Hogarths house in Chiswick.

***A note on the different versions:  I often feel albums are too long – even if the songs are all good.  Having lived with the US version which was released first, I preferred the shorter UK one with its alternate mixes – especially as it comes into two packages and the lovely deluxe book cover contains a wonderful sequence of bespoke images by our friend the illustrator Catherine Anyango.