This week I’ve been listening to the album This Is Sumo, which dates from the halcyon days of 1998 but is completely new to me. I only learned about it while reading up on the career of Patrick Guy Sibley Huntrods — a.k.a. Pat Fish, a.k.a. The Jazz Butcher — following his recent departure from this mortal coil. In the late 90s he had decided to abandon the Jazz Butcher name and formed a new band with a bunch of younger musicians, which they named Sumosonic as (I assume) a pisstake on Semisonic (then topping the pops with “Closing Time”), no doubt to much intra-band hilarity.
Maybe I’m a sentimental fool, but I think this is great stuff. The sound is very much of its time, but the songwriting is top-drawer and, though Pat let others handle some of the vocals, his stamp is all over the thing.
The song that most caught my ear was one called “God’s Green Earth,” in which Mr. Fish was already contemplating his mortality:
Nobody on God’s green earth is going to miss you when you’re gone.
There ain’t nobody’s going to talk about you. Ain’t nobody can’t do without you.
There ain’t nobody on God’s green earth is going to miss you when you’re gone.
Sorry, Pat, but you were wrong. You are missed.
Fortunately, I gather from perusing the discography that there is a lot more of this under-the-radar stuff dating from the sixteen years between Sixteen Years (the last Jazz Butcher album of the 20th century, vintage 1996) and 2012’s Last of the Gentleman Adventurers. I’m in no big hurry; as long as there is new music discover, he remains sort of alive, or at least in limbo.