The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show

From the darkest depths of Witchampton in Dorset comes a band whose numeracy skills leave a lot to be desired, the irony is that they call themselves “The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show” but clearly there are a lot more of them than just two. Looking at the line-up of players on the back of the album you would expect a typically Dorset folky style album, but you are in for quite a surprise when you actually take a listen. The record has a sort of E.L.O feel to it with frontman Mark Lyons taking on the Jeff Lynne role, surrounding himself with hand-picked musicians to create the sounds needed to bring these songs to life.

The 13 track adventure through a host of genre twists and turns starts off with some birdsong, before a stroll through the countryside with “Winter Walks”. A gentle atmospheric violin helps to conjure up the imagery before Mark’s vocal leads us along the frozen pathway, name-checking English poet John Clare and American singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist Harry Belafonte. The vocals soon take a twist before layered strings and piano up the tempo. “Tick Tick” soon gets the feet tapping with some infectious violin and some Country styling. “Rat in the Palace” gives more of the same with some catchy but meaningful lyrics.

“Won’t Let Me Be” is a slower more delicate number which features some lovely harmonisation and some Lennon-(esque) style vocals from Lyons. “The Serial Killer song” brings in the banjo to introduce things, before taking on a very Beatles-style song that benefits from yet more impressive harmonies with the catchiest chorus you will ever hear from Witchampton. It is clear that the songwriters own a few records by The Beatles, (hopefully on original vinyl) and “Lose your step” takes these influences with a gentle acoustic guitar lead. “The Museum of Me” features yet more acoustic fretwork and the fantastic line “There a gift shop by the door that sells everything and more”. (Don’t you hate it when you have to walk through a gift shop on the way out of an attraction? – very annoying especially if you have children, just saying!!)

At just over halfway through this offering, a tune comes along that turns everything you have already heard on its head. “I Read Magazines” kicks off with a harmonica intro; it is a killer of a tune with a recurring lyric that will worm its way into your head with relative ease, the tune then builds and builds to a fantastic high energy ending. With “Country Singer Theme Park Wonderland” you can’t help but think how on earth the writer came up with this ridiculous lyric, but once you give the tune a listen you find it actually works, and like the previous number easily works its way into your cranial cavity.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show

“Circling the Airport” features some clever lyrical content but I’ll be damned if I can work out what all the pseudonyms actually mean-it’s sometimes best to keep your audience guessing. “Hammer by the Window” is certainly one of the standout tracks of this collection. It has a James Bond-style theme rolling throughout the tune, with some exceptional strings and Mark’s vocals really excel here. The penultimate tune “Tightropin” starts off with fast-played acoustic Levellers-style guitars before the violin comes along to give the tune a highly danceable feel. The final self-titled song ends this collection perfectly with a tune that shows off all the band’s considerable skills where they deliver in all areas. All in all a great thought provoking album that features a host of unexpected tunes and lyrics that really hit the spot. The band can be found playing regular gigs throughout the Summer at many of the South’s festivals if this album is anything to go by they should put on one hell of a show.

Track Listing
1- Winter Walks
2- Tick Tock
3- Rat in the Palace
4- Won’t Let Me Be
5- The Serial Killer Song
6- Lose Your Step
7- The Museum of Me
8- I Read Magazines
9- Country Singer Theme Park Wonderland
10- Circling the Airport
11- The Hammer by the Window
12- Tightropin’
13- The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show are:

Mark Lyons – Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Ali Jay- Violin & Vocals
Rob Vowles – Bass Guitar & Vocals
Martin Giles – Lead Guitar & Vocals
Chris Pearce- Keys & Vocals
Brad Watt – Banjo & Vocals
Steve Wareham – Slapbox & Vocals
Seb Hartley- Harmonica & Vocals
Jamie Lynch – Lyrics




Words by Dave Chinery.

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