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Mighty Handful; The: Still Sitting In Danny's Car 3: Rubicon

The Mighty Handful are a five-piece from South London who it would appear enjoy Still Sitting In Danny's Car, what with 3: Rubicon being the third instalment of their time doing so. In itself that's an odd starting point for any album and yet in truth, that's about as expected as these lads get. In fact rather than me explain that further, this is what the band themselves say about the concept of this album…

" takes the listener on a trek through three millennia of history, juxtaposes classic comic stories with a failing relationship, looks at the events and people who influence us consciously or otherwise, searches for the perfect woman and takes minor detours via 80s hair rock and gin… a narrative that touches upon issues of friendship, nostalgia, loss, lust, lessons we might learn from ancient history, alcoholism and the dilemmas that come with great power…"

Which in itself goes a long way to explaining why the cover art features and Amazonian warrior, Roman centurion and a unicorn, all having a pint in a cosy, rundown pub!

Musically things are just as offbeat, prog rubbing shoulders with upright piano jauntyism, hair rock with a decidedly stage show razzmatazz. It really is quite odd and yet there's no point denying that it draws you in and has you involved in the many twists and turns, even if it is a struggle to sometimes keep up with what feels almost intentionally bedazzling fare. A few guests show up for good measure, Praying Mantis man Andy Burgess lending his guitar skills to the proggy delight that is "Rubicon", his ex-band mate Mike Freeland (also of More) adding vocal oomph to the self explanatory "We Had The Rock/Lost Boys", while Antoine Sazio adds some sax to the slide and sleaze of "Whatever Happened To Mary Jane?". Having also recently brought his in demand voice talents to the splendid Gandalf's Fist album, The Clockwork Fable, actor Mark Benton (Waterloo Road, Dr Who, Early Doors) narrates the story on the track "Albion" and with his rhythmic timing perfect, does an utterly splendid job. All of which should leave you in little doubt as to how adventurous and ambitious TMH are.

In many ways that's a good, no, great thing, broad ideas pulling from Kansas to Queen, Arena to Poison, the band never afraid to keep their attack ever varying to the extent that you might call it scattergun, although it's great fun catching the bullets. Where it can prove a problem is when the production standards can't quite live up to the scope of what's being attempted, or, in truth, when vocalist Matt Howes overreaches for the odd note here and there. However across the almost traditional cockney feel of "Gwen In Stasis", low key, yet memorable "Madame Geneva" or more overtly prog (with a hint of Roger Glover's Butterfly Ball in the keyboards!) "Timeo Danaos Et Dona Ferentes" you can't help but be swept along by the energetic enthusiasm and excellent execution.

Mad though it may sound, what The Mighty Handful set out to achieve makes me think that if Jim Sreinman had been born in South London, I reckon he'd have been creating fare of this ilk for Meat Loaf to take him to fame and fortune – the showmanship and pompous preposterous nature, coming from a similar, if completely different place. It's hard to suggest that The Mighty Handful will be for everyone and yet if you like your music to roam hither and thither with no care for genre boundaries or standard expectations, then you could do much worse than spend some time with them in Danny's Car. It may be a meandering ride that takes a while to unravel, but you'll have a hoot as it does so.

Track Listing
1. Rubicon
2. Timeo Danaos Et Dona Ferentes
3. Whatever Happened to Mary Jane?
4. Gwen in Stasis
5. Madame Geneva
6. We Had The Rock/Lost Boys
7. Albion

Added: August 28th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Mighty handful on Facebook
Hits: 2014
Language: english

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