EP/Singles: Shed Anthems
Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
In 'Things'll Be Different (When I'm In Charge)' Mr Hibbett lays out the principle tenets of Hibbetism, his political manifesto for a happier Britain. This includes adopting the Euro, changing the national anthem, and independence for England from 'the London media set.' No one can accuse him of not backing up his protest songs with workable proposals. And it's usually one of the home nations that ends up with 'The Fair Play Trophy (Again)' - no doubt England's only likely triumph at this year's Euro 2004 - which is the subject of their second track. They gotta get some airplay with that this summer, surely. In 'City Centres' he's a man after me own cockles ... I was in Aylesbury the other day - don't ask - but I was expecting a quaint old English town full of character and history. It is, after all, the home of the famous Aylesbury duck. But no. The duck had fucked off. It's the same as every other city/large town, its character concreted over, its character marginalised by chains and franchies. I think it's called McDonaldisation. Or is it The Starbucks Effect? Or maybe it's The Gap Factor? Academics will know. Either way, it's desperately short-sighted, sacrificing uniqueness for short-term gain. But there you go. We can always get them knocked down when MJ Hibbett's in charge. We'll hold him to it. The one flaw with MJ Hibbett & The Validators style is the same that blights Half Man Half Biscuit, I feel, in that it doesn't lend itself to much repeated listening. You get the point and leave it at that - they are a band to be more appreciated live, I suspect. But in general, if you like songs with dry wit and a touch of cynicism then you'll enjoy Shed Anthems. 'Let The Wierd Band Win' is for anyone who's ever attended or entered a 'Battle Of The Bands' competition. Spot on.Wide Open Road
Tragically, not a CD full of songs about my old BBS handle, The Shed, but instead a rather splendid low profile set of stories and working class anthems. Hidden inside a set of overtly humourous lyrics are some genuine nuggets, ostensibly tied in to the recent Euro 2004 football thingy, but actually just an excuse to try and blag some extra promo. 'Shed Anthems' is a mini-album which you would have thought would have suited my notoriously short attention span, but I was cheated. When you add on all the so-called bonus material, it doubles the length. Dirty, cheating bandits. I lost count, but in addition to the 6 official tracks, there's about 20 bonus tracks. Fortunately, it was a worthwhile con, as this is a thoroughly enjoyable release of singer / songwriter / a bit like Billy Bragg but talented tunes. The best one of all is "Billy Jones is Dead", a litany of of lives changed, sung from the perspective of the one life that hasn't. A genius track. And let us take our hats of to the acoustic cover of the Fresh Prince / DJ Jazzy Jeff classic "Boom! Shake the Room", which brought back happy memories of the League Cup in 1991. Don't ask. Granted, a lot of the production falls over the lo-fi line, but thanks to the power of the programmable CD player, there is an excellent album here.Zeitgeist
M J Hibbert and the Validators ‘Shed Anthems’ (Sorted / Artists Against Success). I can only blame the hot weather. Time to hide behind the sofa because something wacked comes this way, and fast. The accompanying press release would have us believe that the Validators debut album from last year was elected record of the year by the esteemed Rolling Stone. So it must be good / bad then eh? For those not privy to hearing that album (me included) this little six track EP is meant to shake the tree, and shake the tree it does, roots an’ all. How can I describe it. Barking. Yeah we’ll start with barking. Firstly bang the CD into the PC and lo and behold an additional 35 tracks come into view on which Mr Hibbert and his cohorts cover every imaginable aspect of pop in their own unique twisted fashion from the last 40 or so years with the exception of soul and er, gay proletarian street electronic thrash pop. All in all its skittish, worrying and head spinning. Now don’t get to scared but on repeat listens elements of the esteemed and oft overlooked Half Man Half Biscuit (whose inspired song title book has a leaf taken out of for the comedically named ‘the primal rhythms of the Bolivian nose flautist’) spring to mind, along with the lunacy of the Cuban Boys while not forgetting a more often than not nod to the lo-fi campfire pop of the Elephant 6 collective (especially on the warped ‘Elmer’ Olivia Tremor Control in the land of the blue meanies doing jackanory excerpts) and the occasional trip into Go Team 70’s children’s TV territories. Throw into the mix the light folk fuzz of the Freed Unit (‘Not’), the music hall Englishness of the Kinks, Irish folk (‘Billy Jones is Dead’) and you have a potentially warming brew that’ll have you laughing in the aisles while scratching your head puzzlingly. The EP also features the unofficial Euro 2004 anthem, ‘The Fair Play Trophy (again)’ sparkling with all manner of pint swilling jollity finding a middle ground between 78’s ‘Ally’s Tartan Army’, Chas ‘n’ Dave and Baddiel / Skinner and Broudie. Elsewhere Altered Images fans might do well to check out ‘Clare’, a loopy ode to the pixie like Ms Grogan with easy sing-a-long lyrics and an impersonation of Scotland’s favourite lass that sounds more like Mrs Doubtfire than anything else all submerged amid what can only be described as a Baron Knights like dig at the White Stripes stripped down dynamic. Alternatively there’s the infectious Weddoes like summer jangle of ‘Things’ll be different (when I’m in charge)’, oh what the hell, go out and treat yourself to something quite splendidly over the edge. www.sorted-records.org.uk www.artistsagainstsuccess.comMark Barton, Losing Today
Meet Mr Hibbett. Favourite of is this music? and Rolling Stone, this mini-album - it’d be a bit churlish to describe it as a Greatest Hits, since it only features 7 tracks - contains some of MJ’s top tunes in an ideal introduction to his slightly warped take on a world of urban architecture, football and death. ‘Things’ll Be Different’, familiar to regular readers of this here rag, opens, and it’s hard to imagine anything else coming close to its relentlessly cheerful plan for world domination. However, another classic - ‘Fair Play Trophy’ - reiterates the writer’s desire for an England that can combine national pride, harmony and success on the football field and in these 3 minutes reclaiming the Union Jack almost seems a possibility. This odd sense of nostalgia is never more evident than on ‘Billy Jones is Dead’, the title almost dropped into a touching yet jaunty tune about friends departed. Hibbett’s humour will also ring true nationwide in ‘Let The Weird Band Win’ which will appeal to anyone who’s ever been in a music competition - one where the judges wouldn’t know originality “if it shat in their hands”. With a hidden track, an acoustic version of live favourite ‘Boom Shake The Room’ and a massive amount of extras in the multimedia section, Shed Anthems is the ideal introduction to a bloke you could - according to preference - have a pint with, or appoint as England’s National Bard.Stu McHugh, Is This Music?
I don’t know if you could call M. J. Hibbett and the Validators anti-folk… In fact I don’t know that you could call M. J. Hibbett and the Validators anything that would make a great deal of sense, because as a rule they tend not to make a great deal of it themselves. This is clearly something to celebrate. And having said that they make no sense, in truth they’ll make all the sense in the world to all the natural outsiders of the world. This is music for those bed and bar room scholars, the ones knocking back a swift half with one eye on the football scores and the other on their copy of Socialist Worker. Perhaps. Certainly their Shed Anthems (is it a mini-album? An EP?) gives you seven tracks in the spirit of Half Man Half Biscuit and George Formby. But without the banjo. Or the annoying voice. Key track to understanding this rabble might be ‘let the weird band win’, a wonderful tribute to the woeful ‘battle of the bands’ contests that are always won by the drearily competent Blues or Punk band and never, I guess, by the likes of M. J. Hibbett and the Validators. Not that I’d know you understand, never having condemned myself to experiencing such a nightmarish event, but I can imagine… Also wonderful is ‘billy jones is dead’, a paean to those days of nostalgic sadness when you cast your mind back and recall, well, those days of imagining futures that never work out. Recalling the literate ramshackle genius of early Animals That Swim, M. J. Hibbert and the Validators are the kind of quirky English group we ought to clutch to our collective bosom, or alternatively buy a pint. I suspect they would prefer the latter.Alistair Fitchett, Tangents
You remember when the Internet was going to change everything? Record labels were going to become obsolete because bands were all going to release their music themselves. Fans would go out and find music themselves instead of having it rammed down their throats by old men in suits disguised as trendsetters. No more CD's either, everything would be downloaded. Yes, it was all going to be so perfect. Except that the idea was inherently flawed and simply didn't work. Except in the case of MJ Hibbett.Andy Malt, Indigo Flow
Okay, MJ Hibbett doesn't entirely fit in with the purist's view. He is signed to record label (but it is called Artists Against Success and he does co-own it, so it probably doesn't count) and he still releases CD's. He's succeeded because he has embraced and modified the new technology like no one else. His online single Hey Hey 16k (the first ever, according to AAS) has now been turned into a video by B3ta.com's Rob Manuel and within the first 48 hours of it's release it became the fifth most popular download on the whole internet. It seems, after years of hard graft, MJ Hibbett has made it, despite the fact that almost all of the mainstream media pay him no attention whatsoever.
This new EP is the follow-up to last year's excellent album, This Is Not A Library. The release ties in with Euro 2004 including, as it does, Hibbett's own crack at the football song genre, The Fair Play Trophy (Again), which focuses more on the reality of English football than all the other songs it's up against and pleas for our nation team to win the Fair Play Trophy. Preceding this song is Things'll Be Different (When I'm In Charge), taken from This Is Not A Library and featured here by popular demand. The rest of the EP is made up of two new songs (City Centres and Let The Weird Band Win), a live favourite (Billy Jones Is Dead) and a re-recording of an old song as voted for by fans (The Primal Rhythms Of The Bolivian Nose Flautist).
It doesn't finish there though. Oh no. In addition to the six tracks available to you on your CD player (seven if you count the hidden track - an all-time MJ Hibbett classic!) you can also access some "futuristic multimedia" through your computer. This gives you lyrics, annotations and at least one alternative version of every track on the EP, as well as fourteen additional unreleased songs. I dare you to argue that this CD isn't amazing value for money!
Listen ye to MJ Hibbett. He is a man of wisdom and also a giver of chuckles.
It takes a special band to sing a song about the FIFA Fair Play Trophy, and then make you think, ‘My God, Hibbett, I agree with everything you say!’ This is what happens a lot throughout ‘Shed Anthems’ – the latest in a long line of genial records from MJ Hibbett and his lovely Validators. I could tell you a story about the first time I saw this band in Leicester years ago and though that they were called MJ Hibbett & the Vibtrators, but I won’t because that would be plain daft. Instead, I’ll tell you about the euphoric rush of ‘Things’ll Be Different (When I’m in Charge), in which Hibbett says he’ll tax djs to the hilt once he runs the world. And that’s fine by me. But in an ep chock-a-block of ace moments, perhaps the best is the one that doesn’t make you laugh out loud. That being ‘Billy Jones is Dead’ – a sort of ‘Where are they now?’ of all your old school mates. And those who’ve reached thirty and haven’t wondered if your school years happened in a different lifetime are complete liars. Or teachers. Whatever, Shed Anthems is completely bloody brilliant.Luke Drozd, Tasty Fanzine
This EP is an excellent overview of the ramshackle, knockabout romp that MJ Hibbett has perfected to house his clever and humorous observations on modern life. ‘The Fair Play Trophy (Again)’ is a mischievous little brother for Del Amitri’s resigned footy theme ‘Don’t Come Home Too Soon’, while ‘Let The Weird Band Win’ is an expert commentary on the ludicrous battle of the bands process. Prior to this EP’s release, fans could vote from a number of early MJ Hibbett solo demos for the Validators to re-record and I, seemingly with many others, voted for ‘The Primal Rhythms Of The Bolivian Nose Flautist’. It’s a clear highlight, and when you throw in a plethora of extra tunes and material on the CD-ROM, this is wonderful VFM package that I commend to you without reservation. Skif, Vanity Project
An Artists Against Success Presentation
Maintained by MJ Hibbett & The Validators