Standing on a Chair (Vinyl Re-Issue) and Drunk Folk Stories (Book) by Beans On ToastRelease date: May 1, 2018
I was too young to remember what it must have been like to hear Bob Dylan’s protest songs for the first time. But I do remember what is was like when I first heard Beans on Toast. It was late 2010 and he was on tour with various bands for the Charity Strummerville, who I was particularly fond of at the time. Then he sang that he “fucking loves reggae” ( from ‘Old Grunge‘) and I was sold. No turning back.
Beans has got one of those voices that you’ll always recognize and never forget. It’s like you’ve always known him. The bloke you’d love to go to the pub with, just to hear his tall tales and unbelievable stories.
It was 9 years ago when Beans’ first album Standing On A Chair came out, and to celebrate it’s just been released on vinyl for the first time. This 50 track magnum opus spoke so passionately about life in 2009 and it’s still as true today, although some of the names and places could be changed if they were written now.
Opening the album is ‘The Price of Rice‘ which, in microcosm, tells you what you’re about to hear over the next 2 hours:
“Well, the price of life is precious and you only get one chance
So let the chips fall where they lie and try to have a laugh
Don’t take yourself so seriously, if you wanted to change the world
Start treating everybody, how you’d like to be treated yourself”
This is not the music of an angry young man, although there is undoubtedly some anger in some of his lyrics. This is a man encouraging us all to see the best in our fellow man, regardless of political stance, country of birth or religious belief. Urging us to see the good side, because we only have one life to live. Inspiring us with beautiful words and tender music.
Yes, some things have moved on since 2009; David Cameron screwed the country and then fucked off, and Northern Rock did collapse. Now Theresa May is screwing the country and Brexit will change the cultural balance of our nation. Back then everyone had a MySpace page and now we’re all on Facebook. Plus ça change? The message of this album is just as potent 9 years later.
‘Is this the economics of recession? Or xenophobia? […]
Just don’t believe the bullshit’ – ‘Don’t Believe the Bullshit’
‘There is a problem with society, there’s so much there to lose
Maybe we should blame our children who hide underneath their hoods’ – ‘Dirty Paki’
‘Well I’d like to hold you close tonight,
and make sweet love to you,
Because the peaches down in Wandsworth,
They taste so beautiful’
So why is the album being re-released now? Well, partly in error, because Beans thought it was 10 years ago since the original release, but partly because he’s just release his first book ‘Drunk Folk Stories’, a collection of 10 short tales from the road.
In the book Beans talks about his trips to the Glastonbury festival, unbroken since he was 16 years old in 1997, his first (grunge) band, and his time running a pub putting on gigs and club nights called FROG around London. During his time running FROG the likes of Bloc Party, Babyshambles, The Horrors, The Cribs, Calvin Harris, The Klaxons and Larrikin Love, all played, and he established a long-term connection with Frank Turner.
Then there was the car crash when he was on tour with Kate Nash, the incident with the marker pen at the Reading festival, and the American gigs supporting Flogging Molly. There’s a frank discussion of his overuse of drugs and why that’s now behind him. All the sort or stories you would expect from a veteran rocker.
During May 2018 Beans is on his ‘Sitting On A Chair’ Tour, swapping his usual stand-up performance in pubs and clubs, for seated theatres and a chair. Is this a sign of age, or a bad back? You can’t be an angry young man forever. Nah, whether you are sitting or standing on a chair, you can (and you should) expect Beans on Toast to make exquisite music for years to come.