First released on CD May 1994 by Babel (BDV9401)
How the West was Won
This album was actually recorded
twice. On 29th April the VOGC assembled in the so called 'Front Studio'
at Wood Wharf. B.J. and T.M.(Tony Messenger) were nervous. This was to
be the first full blown recording away from Waterfront Studios. Billy had
surveyed the room daily for maybe two years. Eventually T.M. installed
eight track equipment and at last the great day came. The results of that
spring Sunday afternoon? Well, Billy simply said he just sat and looked
at the river for six hours - something he rarely had time to do. The music,
consequently, was "too laid back." A curious explanation considering the
overall sound of the music was to be small band American folkie/popular/jazzy/bluesy/rootsy.
Nonetheless, BJ knew better and
so he recalled Speake, Watts and Dodds for 9th June, a Saturday - that
probably being the only time the key players could meet. But one could
also presume that BJ anticipated more of a 'Saturday' vibe than a 'Sunday'
With the backing tracks recorded,
T.M. bounced the eight track masters onto sixteen track. Why? Because apart
from upgrading the multi track machine but also knew that an extra
analogue transfer would actually add a touch of 'backwoods field recording'
to the finished article. Sincere eight track simple miking of simple music
could now be hung on a slightly more sophisticated piece of equipment -
which would be used to add slightly more sophisticated sounds, or as BJ
put it in a letter 29.6.90 to featured alto saxophonist Martin Speake:
" .....so Tony and me can carefully weave in a weird-monster-paste-up of
all things American as seen by the disinterested but inevitably inspired
and curious white English person. So we have four sweet players busking
away up front - of which your voice is the fulcrum. Behind - a morass!'
Entertainment U.S.A. Spin-Off
A book of poems inspired
by the music on the CD (Entertainment USA: The Poems) and written by Ivor
Cutler, Mick Gowan, Laurence Staig, Andrew Davies, Nick Moore, Rupert M.Loydell,
Alexis Lykiard, Hugh Lupton and Fred Sedgewick was published by Stride
Publications* (ISBN 873012 99 3).
These poems, accompanied by the
music were premiered at the 1995 Bath Literary Festival.
How times change. Fifteen years
previously T&J had been lampooning such dubious collaborations (documented
on the 'Live From London's Comic Strip' album) with the aptly
named piece, 'Jazz and Poetry.' When pushed on this, BJ insists that
T&J were satirising 'bad' music and poetry, whilst the poems
inspired by 'USA' were 'good,' replying with true American brashness -
"because the music was."
* Further fun can be found at