“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
–That guy who painted the Sistine Chapel
“Uncle Brian’s Abattoir” is the simplest of songs, the furthest thing possible from King Crimson, yet the paired down track packs within it the violent grace and fearlessness of a coiled-up cobra. This 2:16 minute one-off comes from Swansea trio Trampoline’s Jack Jones (formerly a poet who specialized in verses about Ketamine) and our favorite grand-slam-breakfast-housing scruffball Pete Doherty (certainly no stranger to Ketamine). The Tramp and the Libertine are not strangers, previously coming together in Pete’s side piece Puta Madres who released one of our fave records of 2019. And now they done gone and crafted damn near our fave single of 2020 as well.
With Jack stuck in the UK during the early phases of the pandemic and Pete holed up in Normandy, this multi-generational gutter-poet duo long-distance-crafted one of the only flashes of light to be seen during those bleak pre-spring months. Anybody not British might wonder what an “abattoir” is, so we’ll set your straight: It’s a slaughterhouse, mate. The idea to name a song after this most horrific of houses came the tried and true way of most frightening concepts: a conversation with a child, in this case a spirited discussion between Pete and his 4-year-old niece. This provides the track it’s key tension, with its childlike spoken-word lyrics and simple G,A,B,A,G chord progression rubbing up against a palpable dread that is implied but never stated. Never known as a singer’s singer, Pete nonetheless ads heavy a heavy dose of sweetness on the chorus, seemingly connecting with this young singer many years his junior in a way he just doesn’t seem to with his old foil Carl Barat any longer. Perhaps it’s time for ol’ Carl to check his songwriting partner’s texts while he’s asleep.
There are Beatles DNA strands all over this track, all of them lashing this slaughterhouse closely with White Album standout and Manson Fam favorite “Blackbird”, a rare song that has kept its charm despite being massively played out. And although this track will certainly not challenge “Blackbird” in long-lasting popularity, it does share a 2:16 running time, a similar chord progression and a childlike wonder masking undefined but prominent adult worries.
When your brain needs Polyfilla
Get me that humane killer
And we’ll toddle off afar
To my uncle Brian’s abattoir
A curious verse gives way to an even curious-er bridge:
If you can tell arse from elbow
Can’t tell a penguin from a cello
You can put your life to rights
Put your life to rights. Obtuse? Yes. And yet if you’re of the right mindset, you get just what these two are trying to tell you. The clue may lie somewhere in the video, where Mr. Doherty flashes a village idiot grin while rolling around with some puppies and Jones boots a soccer ball deep into the sea. It’s the simple enjoyment of life, my friends. Enjoy that which is right in front of you.
Tina Romano & Daniel Falatko