Reviews

“The song, ‘Kinnell’, on the new album (The Lost Will and Testament of Jake Thackray), is quite brilliant. It was started by Jake and completed by John Watterson and Paul Thompson… what a masterpiece! The best song Jake never wrote…., and one that he would have loved. A great tribute to him. The performance is quite brilliant and moving. You have outdone Jake. The quirky melodic line and accompaniment feels like the very DNA of JT.”

Victor Lewis Smith – TV and Radio Producer and friend of Jake

“It is marvellous that John Watterson has unearthed this treasure trove of previously unreleased songs written by my dear friend Jake Thackray. Jake was one of the finest wordsmiths this country has produced and these songs are up there with the best of his work. I am sure Jake would be delighted with John’s interpretations and I hope this album succeeds in its ambition of bringing Jake Thackray’s brilliant songs to a new audience.”

Jasper Carrott

“Jake would have loved the skill of ‘The Wordmith’, and the accuracy of the impression, and the affection it contains. But he would have been utterly baffled that anyone would have written a tribute to him. One of Jake’s many unique qualities was that the word flattery was completely absent from his otherwise huge vocabulary. Long may John continue to keep Jake’s memory alive so affectionately and skilfully, and introduce more people to one of the most remarkable talents I ever met.”

Sir Richard Stilgoe

“Fake Thackray celebrates the great songs of the late and much lamented Jake Thackray. He is brilliant. We can’t have Jake back but this is the next best thing – a real tribute.”

Mike Harding

“Jake Thackray’s songs are funny, poignant, witty, tricky, romantic and wise. They are also very hard to perform and that is one of the reasons we don’t hear them so much. John Watterson has made a proper tribute to this unique British song writer. Not only has he taken great care to replicate Jakes phrasing and emphasis but he has managed to play guitar in Jake’s style too. John is now bringing this wonderful work to a new public who will no doubt love them as much as Jake’s old fans. It is marvellous that Jake Thackray’s treasured songs ride again. They are in safe hands.”

Ralph McTell

“John Watterson captures the genius of Jake Thackray wonderfully well; he brings out the poetry of Jake’s lyrics and the deeply felt emotions of the music in a way that nobody has done before. Except Jake, of course! And when John sings it’s as though Jake is with us in the room”

Ian McMillan, BBC Radio 3

“I knew Jake and am sure he would be very proud of what John is doing.”

Richard Digance

“As an old friend of the late great Jake Thackray I can tell you that Jake would have been gobsmacked to see and hear how alike John (Fake Thackray) Watterson’s renditions are to the real thing. Fake Thackray is Jake’s doppelgigger!”

Vin Garbutt

“‘Fake Thackray’ is so good that when I heard his CD.I was convinced it was Jakes album. Fake Thackray is a must see act so check him out.”

Dave Pegg, Fairport Convention

“The Caerleon Festival ‘Llanhennock Autumn Sessions’ drew to a close last night with a performance by John Watterson in his persona Fake Thackray. Some came clueless to the event. The late Jake Thackray was a one-off idiosyncratic singer songwriter whose work is not widely known. Consequently, the performance was a revelation. Not only was Fake convincing and compelling as Jake, but the timeless humour, intelligence, poetry and craftsmanship of the songs captivated the crowd and laughter ensued. As a singer, musician, raconteur and performer of Thackray’s gems, Fake is the real deal.”

Tim Davidson, Chair, Caerleon Festival

“Thank you so much for a brilliant evening in the France Lynch Hall on Saturday. It was one of the best night’s entertainment that we have staged since we started with Air In G several years ago. The most elderly lady in our audience laughed so much her teeth fell out, and she forgot to retrieve them at the end of the performance!”

Aubrey Watson, aubs[at]gable-marketing[dot]co[dot]uk

“I have decidedly mixed feelings about tribute acts; a good majority of them do little or nothing to enhance the reputation of their subject, and very few demonstrate any real sympathy with the music to which they’re allegedly paying tribute. But John Watterson is definitely one very honourable exception, as was proved beyond any shadow of doubt when he was invited to perform the prestigious support role for this year’s Fairport Convention winter tour followed by a slot at the Cropredy Festival.

Jake Thackray, an accomplished songwriter and performer with an unique and totally inimitable style, enjoyed extensive fame in the 1960s and 70s with his witty, satirical, hilarious and sometimes sentimental songs. Many of these seem always to have been part of our cultural heritage, and his untimely death in 2002 robbed the world of a master craftsman, a chansonnier par excellence. However, as is the case with any truly individual artist, imitation proves more difficult than might first appear, and nigh impossible to bring off with anything like credibility. Many have tried to perform Jake’s songs in search of a cheap quick round of applause, resulting in nothing but a mannered, tacky mimic, nay sub-parody, of the original. Those with a real feel for Jake’s work will listen beyond the superficial belly-laughs and jokes, for few casual listeners tend to fully appreciate the subliminal, often well-concealed subtleties and telling nuances; his dazzling wordsmithery must be savoured and cherished, and it takes a genuinely gifted performer to convey the appropriate essence, from the heart and without sense of contrivance. John Watterson is such a performer, for he possesses not only the necessary musical talent – vocal and instrumental dexterity – but also the keenest empathy with Jake’s world and creations that can only come from a lifelong fan who’s in complete tune with Jake’s sensibilities. He also has a gift for communicating with an audience, bringing his own personality unobtrusively into the mix to complement the respect (and affection) with which he treats both his listeners and his subject. So this fulsome CD, recorded impeccably faithfully by Ron Angus and Eric Freeman at a gig in Nether Poppleton, presents the unadulterated artistry of John Watterson, the unashamed Fake Thackray (a creative genius in his own right, IMHO) performing 18 of Jake’s songs on stage with brilliant double bass accompaniment by Hugh Bradley. It’s both a perfect memento of a really entertaining and enjoyable gig and an entirely fitting celebration of the genius of Jake. John’s renditions are quite simply unlikely to be bettered.

Of course, there are so many more of Jake’s priceless creations than John has been able to tackle here, and the more serious, deeply reflective side of Jake’s writing is largely eschewed in favour of the humorous patter songs; but this only opens the door for a second helping from John in due course (says he hopefully). My only (very minor) criticism of this disc is that it could have done with some additional cueing points in order to isolate songs from introductions in just a few cases. However, at 77 minutes it’s not only excellent value, but also impossible to tire of, for when you get to the end you are indeed tempted to put it all “on again! on again”… !”

Dave Kidman

“John Watterson performs the witty and pithy humour of Jake Thackray with great precision. Sadly all too often in modern entertainment a ‘tribute’ act is a poor imitation which bears as little resemblance to the original as a plastic seaside bangle does to the crown jewels – however John Watterson is the diamond studded, solid gold exception to this rule! Moreover, his tribute is genuine – being full of warmth and respect and it is clear throughout that he truly enjoyed and appreciated Thackray’s musicianship and the humour of his lyrics. A clever storyteller, much of the humour lies in the close observation of human foibles and while the lyrics of some of his songs seemed quite out of step in our politically correct world – it certainly didn’t stop them from remaining both true and extremely funny! Like his idol, John Watterson is also an excellent musician and this was very much to the fore in many of the numbers – a fact that could often be overlooked because you were so intent on catching every nuance and word in the carefully constructed accompanying lyrics. In this lay one of the first similarities with Reg Meuross.”

Gill O’Donnell – The Craven Herald

“We were delighted to host Fake Thackray, widely regarded as the best performer of Jake Thackray songs; our audience really enjoyed the evening and it was a pleasure to work with him.”

Em Whitfield Brooks – Artistic Director, Helmsley Arts Centre

“Spot on! … it sounded as though Jake were playing in the room.”

Bracknell Folk Club

“John demonstrated his infectious enthusiasm for Jake’s songs – to the delight of an attentive audience.”

Wellington Arts Centre

“Fake Thackray gave us one of the best evening’s entertainment we have had this season…giving an eerie feeling that it was Jake and not John performing.”

Acorn Folk Club, Somerset

“John Watterson brilliantly captures the imagination of the audience and transports them to a more irreverent age with his uncanny interpretations of both the humour and pathos in the songs of Jake Thackray. A startling insight.”

Don Davies – Sale Folk Club

Jake himself was well known to us, so in a way there was an element of risk in booking John as Fake Thackray for our venue, would he be good, would the memory of Jake hold true?

We needn’t have worried, John’s treatment of the songs and guitar playing are simply superb, at times it was as if Jake himself was on our stage again, totally brilliant and delivered with a complete respect and obvious love of, as he proudly admits, his hero. John is indeed the genuine article!

Between the songs John has developed a delightful style of presentation reminiscent of Jake but presented in his own unique and delightful light hearted but hugely knowledgeable style. Our Village hall audience loved every bit of it and I have no doubt will be asking us to bring John back before too long.

Pete Gray/John Hodge – Coal Aston Village Hall

“Nobody wrote songs like Jake wrote songs – hilarious, poignant, complex, simple, sometimes all of those things at once; And John’s brought them all back to life. If you’ve not heard Jake, if you’ve not heard John, it’s time you did.”

Les Barker, Poet

“Latitude is one of the largest spoken word events in Europe and I wanted the great work of JT to be showcased at our festival. I couldn’t have hoped for a better tribute ,… if you shut your eyes you could imagine you were listening to the real thing…. went down very well despite being up against a headline band on the main stage … very professional and pleasant to work with. Heartily recommended!”

Luke Wright, Poet and festival organiser, Latitude Festival

“Fake Thackray is ironically the real deal. He had the audience amused throughout the set with both the old favourites and the lesser known serious aspects of JT’s work. Very funny indeed !!!”

Anthony John Clarke (singer/songwriter)

“A perfect match of performer and song…the great Jake’s timeless legacy lives on.”

Harvey Andrews

“John brought “Fake Thackray” to Malmesbury Town Hall in February 2012. His performance had the audience spell bound and laughing in their seats. They shouted for more and wanted to know when “Fake Thackray” would be returning to Malmesbury. John was very professional and knew his subject matter thoroughly. We are looking forward to John coming back to Malmesbury in the not too distant future.”

Louise Arkley (Events and Facilities Manager – Malmesbury Town Hall)

“We’ve put on six sell-out ‘Fake Thackray’ evenings in three years at our local church hall and have been delighted with the results. Jake’s songs are so entertaining and John’s interpretation of them has been complimented by all and is highly recommended!”

Caroline Richardson (Candlelighters charity – Leeds)

“What can I say…you had The Candlelite rolling in the aisles. Can’t wait till next time, it was brilliant…gonna tell my sister…Josephine about this !!”

Alan Murray, Candlelite Live

“…truly professional. I can strongly recommend ‘Fake Thackray’ to any prospective organiser, be it a folk club, festival or special event as he gives his all and is totally knowledgeable about his subject and it is very obvious that he enjoys what he does. Most people asked “when is he coming back? …the response from the audience said it all…. will definitely book again…”

Dave Minikin (Bridge Folk Club – Newcastle)

“Thank you so much putting on such a polished and well received show last night. There was a lot of positive feedback and I am pleased that the departure from the normal post dinner dancing went so well. For me it was a delight to be back amongst old friends from Jake’s fertile imagination. I have seen Jake in concert many times and if I close my eyes when John is singing I can easily believe that it is Jake himself back with us. Thank you John for keeping the wonderful songs so fresh and accessible.”

Richard Abrahall (President – Ryedale Lions)

“John Watterson, the UK’s foremost interpreter of Jake Thackray… held the audience captivated with his heartfelt, humorous and spirited performance. These amazing songs deserve re-living and John is the man for the job.”

Dan Ashton (Ash Keys Music South West Promoters)

“…The Jake Thackray tribute night was a magnificent success, a well constructed and splendidly executed performance. Other club and festival organisers take note!”

Roland Walls (Black Swan Folk Club – York)

“…excellent after dinner entertainment. The performance was polished and professional. The renditions of Jake’s songs were very authentic and comical, and the standard of the musicianship was most accomplished. We have no hesitation in recommending.”

York Concert Band

“…Fake Thackray gave an impassioned, joyous and fun packed performance, and delighted our audience; much laughter, singing and enjoyment was had by all – he will be back!”

Baldock & Letchworth Folk Club

“…John Watterson as Fake Thackray was a real treat. A terrific performance peppered with humour and snippets about the great man himself.”

Al Hewson, Mad Nanny Music