Rock Of Ages: The Duckworth Lewis Method

A 2009 review of the debut Duckworth Lewis Method album from Rock Of Ages.

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The Duckworth Lewis Method – Self Titled

Details: 2009, Divine Comedy, CD

It shouldn’t work really… a concept album based on Cricket sounding predominantly like ELO singing musings from Wisden Almanac… but it does work, and works surprisingly well.

Following on in some ways perhaps from Ray Davies’ own musings of the game (“Cricket” on “Preservation” and the “Village Green”) Irish wordsmith Neil Hannon (Divine Comedy) and colleague Thomas Walsh (Pugwash) capture a similar melancholy, Betjemen-esque feel on occasion, contrasting the “20Twenty” craze and the new found wealth of cricketers in “The Age Of Revolution” against the tradition of “Gentlemen And Players”.  With the glam rock stomp of “The Sweet Spot” there’s a playful look at hitting the perfect shot whilst “Rain Stops Play” explores the nonsense of a summer game where so much is left at the mercy of the weather. The most hardy of batsmen, “The Nightwatchman” gets a cleverly worded tribute, and the long running Radio 4 ball by ball commentary programme “Test Match Special” is offered due deference.

The cleverest though is the track that breaks the mould stylewise.  Travelling back beyond the 70s, “Jiggery Pokery” is closer to music hall, sounding a cross between Gilbert & Sullivan with a large helping of Monty Python. It superbly tells the story of Mike Gatting’s confusion facing Shane Warne’s “wonder ball” in the 1993 Ashes series.  Capturing the sheer unexpectedness of the situation the line “if it had been a cheese roll it wouldn’t have got past me” seems to sum up the notorious eater Gatting’s defence on that occasion as well as his legendary appetite… “I hate Shane Warne” probably reflecting his thoughts on the way back to the pavilion.  A novelty track?  Probably.  Rock music?  No… but what the heck!

Given the nature of the lyrics this may not have universal appeal to any but the hardiest 70s pop-rock lover but to a cricket loving nation like ours it’s a marvellously enjoyable picture of our summer sport packaged in a musical style still popular.  The release has wisely been timed to coincide with the beginning of The Ashes series, and the quirks, follies and yet unique appeal of the colonial game are observed superbly making this a great disc for when rain stops play this summer and Test Match Special itself is off air.

Highlight: Jiggery Pokery

Score: 4/5

Rock Of Ages - BL