I first encountered Jake Thackray during his stint on BBC's That's Life!; soon usurped by Stilgoe he gained his own programme buried in a mid-week graveyard slot on BBC2; no one else I knew watched it.
It was my little secret.
I was surprised therefore, some years later, while at The Elephant Fayre in Port Eliot, when arriving at a tent to see Jake perform there were others in attendance who also seemed to know who he was.
It was 1985, I think. I did get a photo, but unfortunately it's more a picture of a speaker than of Jake Thackray. I must have had the camera on the wrong setting, which may have had something to do with that funny tasting oaty cake I'd quaffed earlier....
Thackray is often compared to a Belgian singer who I can't for the life of me remember the name of at the moment; anyway, unfair on Thackray I always thought, as I checked out the Belgian guy and he's shit.
Thackray on the other hand, is really rather good.
His delivery is fantastically bizarre (staccato spat syllables; Derek Nimmo in a strop like), his humour superb, his timing exquisite.
More of a wit than a comic, his playful use of language is loaded with guilt, love and mortality, and those ever present Catholic concerns are what make Jake's songs so listenable.
Here's what the liner notes have to say [click to read]:
(Twee or what!)
Thackray became erratic towards the end of his career, gaining a reputation for unreliability as he failed to fulfill bookings.
I feel kind of privileged to have seen him when I did; not only did he turn up, but he was very, very funny, going down a storm in that packed out big top.
My favourite? Gotta be 'Isobel'.
I'm just an old romantic bastard, I guess....
Jake Thackray - Live Performance (1971)
Pass Milord the Rooster Juice
Ladies Basic Freedoms Polka
The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray
Decent vinyl rip @320kbs
This is the original now deleted vinyl edition.
An expanded version of this concert was released in 2006 on CD.