Captain Pop
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Captain Pop

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The best kept secret in music



New album from STEVE ROBERTS who has been perfecting his skills for quite some considerable time now.

That being the case however, I guess you’d be forgiven for wondering whether, over time, a certain amount of jaded

cynicism might creep into the proceedings? Forgiven maybe, but forget it,you’d be way off the mark as this album contains a sprightly freshness that suggests a certain joie de vivre is still alive and kicking in Steve’s approach to making music.

It could be argued that previous album, ‘It Just Is’ was the zenith of his career so far, having been nominated for the Mercury Music prize, and this new album certainly lacks some of the polish of that earlier effort but, in no way does it suffer by comparison, quite the opposite. It is ten songs possessed of a naturalness, a minimalist approach, live and lively, and dripping with the evident enjoyment of those taking part.

Never is this more evident than on ‘Little Bird’ with it’s bouncing bass line, clapping rhythm and sprinkled banjo (courtesy of Robbie Taylor) that picks the whole thing up and swings it around the room with summery joy. ‘Circus’ manages to create - from a very limited palette - a sound that perfectly conjures up the ‘alien’ bustle and the blurry colours, smells and sounds of the big top and, with lines like “I’m dizzy with fright at this circus”, suggests the awed excitement of a child. However, look a bit deeper and the song contains a far more ‘adult’ message, the fear and sickness that’s implied relating to the treatment of all taking part (both human and animal performers?), the final line being, “And no-one’s got rights at this circus”. Very cleverly done.

‘Heartbreak’, despite its title, is another song that bounces along to a driving, clapping rhythm, almost reggae-ish, it is again quite minimal, Steve the sole contributor, yet has no problem sounding fully formed. Available as a single it is the album’s most immediate song and has a melody that’ll run around your head for days after hearing it.

‘Stupid, Stupid, Stupid’ is very beatlesque, particularly vocally and contains a gentle lilting rhythm, some nice harmonica and simple, plucked banjo notes. Probably the most maudlin song on offer is ‘Home’, but it has a lovely chorus that is wonderfully lifted back into it’s verses by some exquisite violin (Mr. Taylor again).

Weaker tracks would have to be ‘The Magic’s In The Trick’ that has a slightly uneven feel despite its Harry Potter popular reference to witches and wizards, and ‘To Be Like You’ with it’s waltz like shuffle, that is just a bit too sugary sweet. Indeed both could have been written for or about his children, nothing wrong in that per se (Woody Guthrie wrote some great children’s songs), but in the context of the album their lightness sits a little uncomfortably.

The album finishes with the best and most complete track on offer, “The Ballad Of Alaska”, which is a great song, beautifully played and carrying a message that suggests we should accept who and what we are, not regretting what we’ve ‘missed’ or envying what others have, a message that you feel is at the heart of Steve Roberts’ musical philosophy, perfectly summed up in the album’s title.

author: Christopher Stevens
- Whisperin & Hollerin

"Shake It, Make It, Don’t Fake It"

It’s not what you know but who you know and usually it’s even better to have both factors in your favour. A veteran of the Liverpool scene, Steve Roberts’ CV reads like a “Who’s Who” of post-1980 Mersey talent. On his second album he enlists the services of ex-Lightning Seeds and La’s man Martyn Campbell whose beat group-style production technique follows a similar course to The House Of Love’s recent comeback record. Given its origins, it’s safe to assume that the music is going to be melodic and although it doesn’t disappoint on that side, Roberts also adds the kind of warm delivery in keeping with an experienced campaigner. Amongst the highlights is the infectious ‘Heartbreak’, the heartfelt ‘Watch And Listen’ and the “no regrets” closer ‘The Ballad Of Alaska’. Then amongst the back to basic songwriting lurks the real gem ‘Circus’; beneath its achingly good tune lies analogies and metaphors which could well be a swipe at modern day pop music. Elsehwere, though, the mood is a positive one on this old-fashioned but thoroughly likeable record
- leonards Lair

"It Just Is"

Deservedly nominated for the Mercury Music Award, the solo debut of Steve Roberts - formerly one of The 16 Tambourines - is a genuinely strong album featuring beautifully crafted songs that fit cohesively together. As Roberts himself admitted, it would have suited vinyl even better than a CD since there are definitely two sides here. The first recurrent theme - as reflected by the inner sleeve illustration - is the sun, and the “first side” is indeed wonderfully sunny. This isn’t the relentless, cold and superficial brightness of the boy and girl acts aimed at tweenagers and below, but a warming and enriching infusion of energy. The Sunny One exemplifies this, being a delicious take on the way some people simply scintillate, as does the superb opener, Pushed Far, Held Near. As well as bestowing life the sun is also a danger (one that will ultimately swallow our world) and Roberts is on to this too, with warnings in Silver Sun not to wallow in self-deluding nostalgia or beliefs. Family is another theme, with birth and fatherhood central to Beautiful Girl, insight and deep feeling thankfully replacing the sentiment that often turns such numbers to goo, Mothers Crown showing similar adeptness. Throughout these songs he marries his lyrics to strong melodies, learning the lessons the Beatles and Kinks taught us without the slavishly copying or pillaging some resort to. The stand-out track, Easily Read, is a tight three and a half minutes of boogie-woogie piano, dishy bass, sharp percussion, a typically strong vocal and a lyric that explores how much writers give away of themselves when penning their lyrics. A fit subject for a singer-songwriter, and in Steve Roberts we have one to treasure. (DM) RevolutionsUK - Revolutions

"Captain Pop Album Out To Press Now Here's Some Ealier Ones"

‘….a fine, largely acoustic debut album welding the creepy folk pop noir of Love with the subtly grained songwriting style and vocal textures of Neil Finn.’ UNCUT Magazine

” Steve’s album arrived in the office and we all fell in love with it. A beautiful record ” Janice Long BBC Radio 2

‘It Just Is damned good. Enjoyable, beautiful strong songs with great music’. RADIO ATL Belguim

‘A collection of wonderfully crafted songs, memorable melodies and lyrics that aren’t just written because they rhyme but because they say something’. Liverpool Echo

‘ ….. Steve Roberts, delivers with an album steeped in the singer-songwriter tradition, finishing with the immortal refrain getting drunk, getting stoned, go to bed’ BIG ISSUE

‘a natural talent as a songwriter, powerful vocals and brutally honest lyrics contrast with the acoustic instruments to produce an excellent and special album’. THE DAILY POST

- Various bits n bobs


Shut Up & Sing debut album released September 2006
Your Papers Please single due out October 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


Life’s all about the trivial. The Common, the ordinary, the everyday. All this combines to make the extraordinary.

The love of trivia is the wind in Captain Pop’s sails. A little guitar click in Big Star’s Thirteen; a vocal surge by Aretha in Say a Little Prayer; ice or not in your whiskey. Captain Pop says the Lord as well as the Devil is in the details.

Captain Pop is a co-operative crew of musicians and singers in love with Pop music. “Pop is the only genre that matters” argues the Captain, “ To us it doesn’t just mean popular, though of course there are many popular pop songs, it means songs with melody and a zest for life. It’s the power of pop that we look for in a song. We might want to do a Dance Band number next week. It’ll still be pop.”

The Captain Pop Crew reside in Liverpool, Brighton, Cheshire and Oxford in the UK. Some of them have played with mighty big bands on Top Of The Pops, others play the local pub. Steve Roberts' aka The Skipper had his first solo album It Just Is nominated for The Mercury Award in 2001; First Mate, Brian Chin co-wrote many of the songs on it. The Ships Cat, Tony Mac has drummed for bands as diverse as Echo & The Bunnymen and Atomic Kitten and Bosun Martyn Campbell plays in Richard Ashcroft's band. “We all love melodic, classic music. We’re all sad enough to covet mundane facts or rumour about the makers of the music we love. What producers produced what song inspired by an argument about what subject is a regular topic round here I’m glad to say. It’s trivial but it’s everything.”

So here’s Catain Pop’s first release: Shut Up & Sing. The music is made using trumpets, strings, banjos, electric guitars, handclaps, voices, acoustic guitars, drums, home made percussion, organs and anything else they could get their grubby little mits on.

Recorded in a week of madness and fun, Shut Up & Sing features toe-tappers, ballads and the slightly esoteric all dressed in a colourful Pop overcoat.

Ah, Captain Pop, let’s get trivial