Armed with a tweed suit, an exquisite pair of brogues, an ever curlier moustache, a ukulele (indeed more oft than not, a banjolele) and a great deal of electronic wizardry, Mr. B has created a style and sound all of his own. As a generalisation of his technique, Mr. B will create a hip-hop backing track fusing samples from the roaring twenties with a modern drum loop, throw in some electronic bass and then strum along with his banjolele whilst perfectly pouring out accompanying rhythmical rap lyrics. Now that’s what I call originality.
Whilst Mr. B’s lyrics are usually quite quite silly, they are extremely well written and delivered expertly. For a casual listener I can see how some may chuckle and think of Mr. B as a novelty, but this man has been a professional rap artist and musician since the 1990’s and that level of experience and wisdom shows. Most famously, the man behind the moustache was a member of the exceptional band Collapsed Lung (remember “Eat My Goal“?) and after that he hid behind the smiley face of the electronic dance synthesizer sounds of Sgt Rock.
Perhaps inevitably, Mr. B has put on his dickie bow and released a Christmas album, a 10 track treat of mostly original songs and, like the proverbial turkey, it is lovingly stuffed full of Mr. B’s humour.
Mr. B sets the scene with a short intro track based on “English Country Garden” titled “Emergency Christmas Album”. Whether or not the album was put together as quick as he suggests I cannot say, but I do love the sentiment!
“All I Want For Christmas Is An Original Jawa With Vinyl Cape” ties nicely with the Star Wars fever that’s sweeping the planet (in a galaxy far far away) whilst “The Saddest Christmas Advert” is a clever commentary on the obsession of large retailers and their “traditional” formulaic Christmas television adverts. You all know what I’m taking about, a 30 second story designed to pull on the heart strings overlaid with a gentle slowed down minimalist version of a popular song all with the aim of flogging you things you don’t need. “I Saw Your Father Beat A Man to Death In Tesco’s” is another comment on the materialism of a modern Christmas, done of course with Mr. B’s dark sense of humour.
“Oh Santa” and “Adultery At Christmas” puts us firmly back with Mr. B’s traditional style of a strong back beat and banjolele. The former tells a lesser known tale (thank goodness) of what Santa gets up to when he comes down your chimney and the latter takes the tune of “Sleigh Ride” and adds lyrics of questionable morals… tsk, you cad Mr. B!
Finally Mr. B leaves us with a more traditional song (“Roastnuts”) with an upright bass and gentle reverb wrapped ukulele chords with just a splash of spoonerism followed by a electronic outro tune.
I utterly love Mr. B and if you’re unfamiliar with The Gentleman Rhymer then this Christmas album is the perfect place to start your journey into the wonderful world of chap-hop. Yes Mr. B’s lyrics can sometimes be a little crude, but it’s usually so funny that we can forgive that can’t we! Move over “A Twisted Christmas“, I have a new seasonal favourite! Merry Christmas old bean!