The Croutons are Bill Ollier from Goostrey and Chris Wood from Congleton, who met in 2005 and so have been writing and playing together for a decade.
We imagine the songs tell the story of the band: early hopes of becoming the new Simon and Garfunkel abandoned when they realise it’s more fun to play amusing songs to local crowds than fret about “success”.
Opener Don’t Forget the Woodbines is a genuinely strong song based around letters from the trenches in WWI, as in “PS don’t forget the Woodbines”. It’s touching and nicely played, with a hint of the Simon and Garfunkel. The bluesy Going Down Slow is not quite as good but it’s a decent song. Are You Tired Of Me is based on a traditional US song and has some nice guitar.
There are hints of humour in Faster, Sister Mary, a song about a speeding nun but it’s not 100% humour, but then they give up any pretentions and we get Kendo Nagasaki, all about the famous British wrestler who pretended to be from Japan but was actually from Crewe, and Uncle Ted’s Parrot, an amusing song about a profane psittacine that was “more foul-mouthed than Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown”.
The two take turns to provide vocals, with Ollier’s daughter Bryony backing several of the tracks.
It’s an entertaining CD. We’d guess it’s more for fans of the band and Mike Harding, and people who like seeing local bands up close, but it’s an album they can be proud of.
Chris Hughes, who engineered and mastered the CD, is married to a former Chronicle reporter. The engineering and mastering are of the highest order.
No-Nonsense Monkey Business is available now at A&A Music, Congleton, priced £8. CDs can also be purchased direct from The Croutons by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org