The Big Oaks
From their beginnings in 1994 to their final show in March 2011, The Big Oaks certainly divided opinion. They were described as "the sort of crippingly unfunny comedy music which could only be appreciated by the friends of the cretins involved, or Red Dwarf t-shirt wearing bell-ends who live with their mams" on a message board once, but for those of us who were around in the North-East underground music scene that loved them, it was a whole different story. In fifteen years they played no more than twenty shows, but nonetheless much deserved cult status in the North East.
At once troubled and bitter yet soul-reflecting, their sharply-observed biting lyrics and fuzzed up instrumentation recalled many of the great british indie bands that used to pepper the Peel Festive 50s in the eighties. Their music encapulates alienation, confusion, anger, loneliness, and (especially) belligerent humour. This music is an incredibly British deconstruction of punk-pop in a post-corporate, globalised, mass-media saturated world, mired in the tea-time and early evening TV of yesteryear, presumably as reference either to chief singer/songwriter Simon 'John the Rat' Windsor's feelings of the past trauma or past fondness of his younger days. It’s also fucking hilariously funny. Think The Shaggs, Ween, and Truman's Water.
Simon passed away on 26th May 2011. Besides a bunch of cassettes that were made in the 90s, this album represents John the Rat's life's work. The lion's share of Monster Turd was recorded in 2008, with the intention of a CD release on Distraction Records. We never did have the funds to release it, and with his family's blessing, and help from a very generous bunch of folk who have crowdfunded this release, we are SO SO pleased to go all out on this one with a gatefold vinyl release and give the man, and the music, the respect that it deserves. He's John the Rat. Legacy lives on, an' that.
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