‘The Party’s Over’ – Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra

4 stars (out of 5)


It’s been a while since we heard from Rob Heron (‘Soul of my City’ in 2019) for all the usual obvious reasons. The release of “The Party’s Over continues to chart the development of the band. There are similar musical and lyrical themes across the two albums; some of the songs have a retro feel, there’s a bit of a political edge at times and the lyrics are cleverly constructed. Rob has always had an eclectic blend of styles ‘The Party’s Over’ develops this further, particularly with the addition of horns on various songs to create a particular feel or evoke a particular era.

The Tea Pad Orchestra already has a wide musical palette with Tom Cronin and Ted Harbot’s combination of mandolin, harmonica, baritone guitar, upright bass and electric bass, and Colin Nicholson’s keyboards, accordion and whistle allowing the band to use surf punk, gipsy jazz, zydeco, country and string band arrangements (among others). The addition of the House of the Black Gardenia brass section adds another dimension, particularly on the album’s closer, ‘The Doctor Told Me’, a humorous tale of the dangers of excess that brings in a melancholy muted jazz trumpet in the third verse to hint at something sad to come before the horns burst in with a New Orleans jazz funeral arrangement to emphasise the death (and rebirth) of the storyteller.

The album’s incredibly varied, moving through the nonsense zydeco of ‘Snip Snap Snout’ to the slow country waltz ballad ‘Trouble Is’ to the Mexican sixties feel of ‘The Horse that You Rode In On’ – a diss track that channels Frankie Laine’s ‘Rawhide’ with humorous lyrics and trumpets and fiddle. There’s a lot going on. And that’s before the madness of ‘My Salad Days’, with its clever wordplay, baritone guitar fills and yodelled a cappella intro. The political element comes with ‘A Call to Mother’s Arms’, a string band arrangement of a song about young men being sent to fight in overseas wars, Vietnam I suspect, and coming back in coffins.

After three years, this is a cracking return from Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra. It carries on the anarchic feel of previous albums while expanding the musical palette to include soul stompers, Mexican mariachi and New Orleans jazz. You can’t argue with that.

‘The Party’s Over’ is out now on Tea Pad Recordings (TP008/TP008CD).

Here’s the video for the title track:

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!