Joe Stilgoe: Stilgoe In The Shed

The pianist, in his Sussex home studio, covers movie themes plus Wichita Lineman, Big Yellow Taxi and other pops

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Reviewing Joe Stilgoe’s album The Heat Is On! Swinging The 80s in 2019, I commended his vocal and pianistic skills, but wished that they had been expended on superior movie-derived material. Stilgoe In The Shed meets these expectations.

Recorded in his Sussex “shed” – in fact a high-quality studio, and with the acknowledged assistance of his friend James McMillan – it includes songs composed by Leonard Bernstein (Some Other Time), Rodgers and Hart (Mountain Greenery), Stevie Wonder (Happier Than The Morning Sun), Bob Dylan (Make You Feel My Love), Cole Porter (In The Still Of The Night) and No One Is Alone (Stephen Sondheim). Stilgoe’s composition, Seaside, is a wistful evocation of shared summer pleasures, while How Are Things In Glocca Mora? is a delicate piano solo interpretation.

The genesis of these pleasurable performances was the extended coronavirus lockdown that kept him (and many other musicians) confined to their respective barracks. Ever resourceful, Stilgoe contacted over 150,000 viewers through his YouTube channel (67 online shows), asking for their requests, and then broadcasting them on line.

He explains that this 15-song CD includes personally memorable songs that “took on new meaning during the lockdown”. Amazingly, they were recorded in one day. What he doesn’t mention is that some of the proceeds from this and his other recordings have been donated to local charities.

My own favourites from this rich and varied confection are Wichita Lineman, Mountain Greenery and In The Still Of The Night, which receive respectful but innovative readings. There is also a romping and joyous version of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. Final verdict? This was a lockdown that was well-spent.

Discography
Wichita Lineman; Some Other Time; Mountain Greenery; Sunny Afternoon; How Are Things In Glocca Mora?, Seaside; Big Yellow Taxi; Happier Than The Morning Sun; Rainbow Connection; You Meet The Nicest People In Your Dreams; In The Still Of The Night; What’s Up?; Make You Feel My Love; This Will Be Our Year; No One Is Alone (61.01)
Stilgoe (p). “The Shed”, Hove, 23 July 2020.
Silva Screen Records SILCD1630