Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe

The Red Book

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(Editions Penguin Cafe)

Arthur Jeffes, son of Simon, whose Penguin Cafe Orchestra made five genre-defying albums (and two fine live ones) between the mid-70s and the mid-90s, and who wrote a tune called Music for a Found Harmonium which is learned by almost every hip young trad fiddler these days, was always going to have a hard row to hoe.

His father died young and his legacy has been argued over by those he left behind. Arthur did his considerable part to bring him back to prominence with a concert 10 years later with the original musicians, but since then some have gone their own way and he has led his own band, with an abbreviated version of the name and musicians whose past experience includes Bat For Lashes, Suede, Paul Weller and Paloma Faith.

More demandingly, he has to present compositions that follow the singular and distinct talent of Simon Jeffes, and it would be true to concede that he has yet to produce anything quite as memorable as the original maitre de of the cafe did at his best.

Nonetheless, The Red Book is a diverting collection with real highpoints in Radio Bemba, co-written with ukulele player Des Murphy, and especially the rolling riff of Odeon.

Keith Bruce