Sleeve Notes (EMI/Columbia)
JAKE THACKRAY is 29 years old, 6 ft. 2 ins. tall, and single. He teaches English to classes of young people aged 11 to 17 in a school in his home town of Leeds, Yorkshire. What makes his classes different from anyone else's is the fact that his pupils also do songs and even taped 'musicals', which their teacher writes, as part of their curriculum. They have eight of these •musicals' on tape up to now. And a Christmas Play, with music.
JAKE THACKRAY sings original ditties to his own guitar accompaniment, in Yorkshire pubs and clubs in and around the Leeds area. But not the same sort of songs. Ex-curricular. Different songs, but written by the same fellow.
This musical bent of Jake's is comparatively recent — he took up the guitar only about 21/2 years ago. But prior to that he had written verse, some of which has been published in France, as well as in the sober pages of "The Listener".
He was educated in a Roman Catholic College in Leeds, from which he graduated to the University of Durham at the age of 18. When he graduated he went to France for some 31/2 years teaching English in such far-apart areas as Lille, Brittany, the Pyrenees — followed by a somewhat hectic six months in Algeria (1961/62) which was then at the height of its troubles with the French motherland … then back to Lille. It was at this time that he had some of his verse published there.
Jake returned to Leeds in 1964 to take up the appointment in the school where he still teaches. And writes songs. The words and music he writes for the youngsters are exemplified by his forthcoming disc which is to be released shortly, consisting of two sacred carols "REMEMBER BETHLEHEM" and "JOSEPH". On this his first single, Jake has the backing of a choir, plus orchestra.
The secular side of his career is shown by a selection of 'doggerel ditties' — out of the fifty or sixty he has written so far — which are featured on his first LP. Of these, six have been fully orchestrated, three have a rhythm backing, and the other two are sung to his own guitar accompaniment. Jake himself sums up the two kinds of songs he writes as 'The Holy and the Horrid'!
The recordings came about almost by chance. For some time now, Jake Thackray has been featured on BBC Radio — first in the Northern Region (where he has also appeared on over a dozen "Look North" television programmes), where producer Pamela Howe used his songs in a series about the countryside, and later from the West Region where he did a song a month in a similar kind of programme. One of these broadcasts was heard by arranger/composer Brian Fahey on his car radio one day. He was impressed and told Norman Newell about it. Result was that Norman Newell got in touch with Jake and listened to a couple of his songs. A little later on, Jake Thackray came down to London again and did about 30 songs for him. These first recordings are the result.
As regards sporting activities, Jake used to play Rugby League, both in Yorkshire and in France, but he lost his enthusiasm along with several teeth which were kicked in during a 'friendly' match among the excitable Gallic players! Since then he has confined himself to singing songs for supporters — and others — in the pub after the match. The LP features some of these songs plus some that have become strong local favourites in the rather more 'posh' Clubs of Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury and district.
JAKE THACKRAY is a true original — the modern counterpart of the mediaeval troubadour, at home in any company but still very much his own man.
As his songs will show.
Interpop Publicity Ltd.
Sleeve Notes (Philips)
The songs are wry and witty, often wise and always humorous. They combine the sophistication of Noel Coward and the satire of Tom Lehrer with a touch of Charles Trenet's impudence thrown in for good measure. The composer and singer of these delightful ditties is a young Englishman named Jake Thackray.
For nearly three years, Thackray has been performing his wild words and music in a variety of British pubs and clubs. He's appeared on radio, TV and now, records, yet show business is still more of a hobby than a vocation. (He finally abandoned another hobby, Rugby, when he lost his enthusiasm for the sport along with several teeth that were kicked during a "friendly" game. It not only saved his bridgework, but gave him more time to sing and write.) Like America's Tom Lehrer, Thackray is primarily a school teacher who happens to be a popular performer during his off-hours. But it should come as no surprise that in the course of teaching grade school English, he encourages his pupils to perform his songs, even to the taping of whole musicals.
Those gentle and scholastic tunes will probably be the basis for some future album, but not this one!
These eleven are definitely not the type to be performed by school children or children of any age. They have been culled from the fifty or sixty numbers that comprise the "adult" Thackray collection. Their subject matter ranges from the rustic joys of country bus travel to a bleary eye-witness report on the slightly obscene behaviour of two statues in a park.
But whether he's describing a love affair at a department store rummage sale or the strange slices of life to be found in newspaper personal columns, Thackray always hits his mark with fine humor and amazing insight. He is today's version of the traditional strolling player — a modern minstrel, a jet age troubadour who sticks to material of his own making. He couldn't have asked for a more inspired and gifted composer.